874.001/1–1448: Telegram

The Minister in Bulgaria (Heath) to the Secretary of State

secret   urgent

47. Attention Hickerson1 and Barbour.2 For Lovett from Heath. I suggest you read Prime Minister Dimitrov’s speech transmitted Legtel 40 [41], January 14.3 Seldom in recent history has there been public utterance on part of chief of government so cynically truculent and so brutally vindictive. Speech is one taunting sneer at US impotence, at generous interest accorded by American Government and people to Petkov’s martyrdom and at our long-suffering and patient efforts normalize relations and help Bulgarian people on road recovery and national integrity. Protected by his now nearly absolute power and encouraged by his successes and immunity to date he feels he can with impunity fling such challenges in our face and openly avows his intention to exact, when war comes or before, vengeance on those who do not prostrate themselves before him. In bald words Prime Minister [Page 287] of defeated country bound in its peace treaty guarantee to its people “human rights and fundamental freedoms” hurls threat of death from podium of his Legislative Assembly in retaliation against seven elected deputies who offered no more than normal parliamentary criticism government’s budget proposal.

We realize that in larger scheme of things and considering exigencies of strategy, Bulgaria may not in Department’s eyes be primary tactical arena. Be that as it may (and I have set forth my views this regard in Legtel 1248, December 31)4 in this instance I feel honor and good faith US are in jeopardy and in our concentration on other urgent issues we should not ignore that it is a jeopardy that is dangerously contagious. It moreover matter which concerns not only public opinion and belief in America and eastern Europe but also Bulgarian Government itself. For if we fail publicly to react to this bald challenge we are by our silence acquiescing in that government’s mockery of treaty observance and are encouraging it on path that leads only towards war.

Therefore I recommend statement on your part with view to reproducing strong world reaction that attended your statement on hanging of Petkov. Since only portion Prime Minister’s speech transmitted by local representatives of US press I suggest that it be accompanied by carefully translated text of speech as transmitted by Legation. In following telegram5 I venture suggestions as to contents statement.

Publicity produced by such statements should, I would think, be helpful in pointing up urgency and importance of larger constructive program of US in furthering recovery and peace in democratic west. It would also prepare ground for later and more cogent measures which Department may decide take here6 (see last six paragraphs Legtel 1248, December 31).

  1. John D. Hickerson, Director, Office of European Affairs.
  2. Walworth Barbour, Chief, Division of Southern European Affairs.
  3. Telegram 41, January 14, from Sofia, not printed, but see telegram 40, supra.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. iv, p. 190.
  5. Telegram 49, January 14, from Sofia, not printed (874.00/1–1448).
  6. There was no reply to this telegram.