124.743/10–1249: Telegram

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

top secret

858. RefLegtel 856, October 11.1 I saw FonMin [Poptomov] yesterday afternoon and for half an hour argued that permission for [Page 352] Shipkovs to leave Bulgaria was necessary to restore some degree of comity to American-Bulgarian relations and to avoid inevitable and most damaging publicity for Bulgaria. FonMin did not attempt to counter my arguments and stated that maltreatment of Shipkov was absolutely against policy of Government and investigation was underway. He implied, without stating as positively as Kamenov had, that those responsible would be punished. He had recommended to Interior Minister to grant passports and exit visas but latter had insisted that there were “reasons”—not specified—against such action. I cited case of former Bulgarian officer married to Swedish woman who, 48 hours after request was made of Dimitrov2 by Swedish lawyer who had defended latter at Leipzig trial,3 had received passports and had left Bulgaria.

I said I Attached such importance to this case that I must place it before PriMin Kolarov. FonMin said he had no objection to my taking the matter to PriMin and that FonOff would try to arrange for me to see Kolarov in next day or two.4

Our conversation was friendly in tone throughout and I am inclined to believe that as he asserted, FonMin had asked Interior Minister to let Shipkovs leave but certainly in no very insistent manner.

  1. In his telegram 842, October 5, from Sofia, not printed, Heath reported upon a conversation that day with Assistant Foreign Minister Kamenov regarding the Shipkov case. Kamenov informed Heath that he had, at the instruction of Foreign Minister Poptomov, taken up with Minister of Interior Khristosov the matter of the police mistreatment of Shipkov. Khristosov allegedly had ordered an investigation and punishment of those responsible. Deep regret was expressed for the action against Shipkov which was characterized as not being in accord with Bulgarian policy (124.743/10–549). In his telegram 856, October 11, from Sofia, not printed, Heath reported being informed by Kamenov the previous evening that “nothing could be done for Shipkov” (124.743/10–1149).
  2. The late Prime Minister Dimitrov.
  3. The 1933 trial of those accused of the bombing of the German Reichstag.
  4. In his telegram 868, October 13, from Sofia, Heath reported being informed by the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry that the state of Prime Minister Kolarov’s health would not permit an audience (124.743/10–1349).