874.00B/11–1649: Telegram

The Minister in Bulgaria (Heath) to the Secretary of State 1

top secret

954. The ceaseless purges which have been taking place in all ranks of Bulgarian Communist Party since fall of Traicho Kostov,2 and [Page 361] clear intimations in speeches by Chervenkov, Poptomov and other currently powerful officials that these purges will continue, has created in entire Communist structure a state not too far removed from panic. Never entirely secure in their positions or their lives, Bulgarian Communist officials in all echelons are now filled with unprecedented anxiety, fear and distrust of each other.

Though there is little doubt in my mind that a majority of Bulgarian Communists would welcome greater degree of independence from Kremlin, that many may sympathize with Traieho Rostov and have a sneaking admiration for Tito, I do not believe that even the basis of a plot has been organized. Elements of the plot, however, were there and Soviets have shrewdly taken precautionary measures to frustrate their coordination into an organized threat. But arrest of potential deviationist leaders will not, I believe, eradicate the swell of Communist resentment against Kremlin as long as Tito holds out and life here continues to be hard and insecure partly as a result of Soviet exploitation and domination. That the present wave of intraparty terrorism has by no means run its course is indicated not only by words of leaders, but by strain of violence in Bulgarian character, and in Bulgarian Communist Party in particular, which, following September 9, 19443 annihilated thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands of its “enemies” in comparison with smaller numbers disposed of by Communist parties in other satellite states. And many of those threatened by purging now were, after September 9, in a position to know only too well how thorough going a Bulgarian Communist purge can be.

Under more favorable circumstances, this feeling of personal insecurity and fear, combined with resentment of Kremlin domination, might be developed into a Titoist rebellion. Unfortunately, such a development is not likely for two reasons: One, that Tito is presently not yet in a position to concentrate on an organization to bring about such a rebellion, and two, the general belief here that Russian troops would immediately occupy country in event of a coup.

This situation, however, by no means precludes opportunities for exploiting the schism, adding to confusion and strain of government by playing on individual fears, and further shaking the not too steady structure of party.…

Encouragement of a Titoist development in Bulgarian Communist Party, though of great importance and necessity, can, however, in nowise replace or overshadow the most necessary and urgent task of all—the too long deferred erection of a carefully selected anti-Communist passive resistance network within Bulgaria through aid and counsel to refugee resistance organizations abroad.

Sent Department, repeated Belgrade 64.

  1. The substance of this telegram was contained in a circular telegram of November 18 to various missions in Europe (800.00 Summaries/11–1849).
  2. Regarding the fall of Kostov, see footnote.2 to the Department of State Policy Statement on Bulgaria, July 1, p. 333. During September and October 1949 the Legation in Sofia reported frequently on the dismissal or disappearance of an increasing number of high Communist officials.
  3. The date of the Communist seizure of power in Bulgaria.