The Minister in Bulgaria (Heath) to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Perkins)

top secret

My Dear Mr. Perkins: The London meeting under your good chairmanship, was a valuable and stimulating gathering. I have just received the conclusions and recommendations of the conference and with one important and a couple of minor exceptions, concur in them.

My principal exception is to the statement towards the end of page 4 that the group “unanimously endorsed” the S/P top secret paper of August 291 and its conclusions which include the assertion “We should, as the only practical immediate expedient, seek to achieve this objective through fostering Communist heresy among the satellite states, encouraging the emergence of non-Stalinist regimes as temporary administrations, even though they be Communist in nature.”

At the meeting I took exception to this particular conclusion as phrased, in so far as Bulgaria is concerned.…

I will not in this letter detail my ideas regarding political resistance in Bulgaria but would refer to your letter to me of September 17 last2 in which you enclosed a photo-copy of an article by Julian Amery entitled “Of Resistance”. The concluding paragraph of that article has, I feel, great application to Bulgaria. It reads: “The vital need is to build up a powerful Resistance network behind the Iron Curtain and in the threatened areas. Exactly how that network should be used would be, of course, a matter of high policy. But in face of the challenge of the Russian ‘cold war’ we can only postpone its creation at our peril.”

As regards the conclusions on East-West trade, I would suggest that, as far as Bulgaria is concerned, a third effect of trade restrictions has been to lower the quality of output and the future potential of Bulgarian industry. Not only do economic restrictions increase economic strain between Moscow and the satellites, but they contribute to continued economic distress within the satellites, thus providing a fertile field for the development of malcontents who, it may be hoped, will, in their disillusionment over the glories of Communism, turn to the West in their search for a way out.

The recommendations of the conference on East-West trade are logical and generally applicable to the satellite area. As I said in the meeting, however, they are not necessarily applicable to Bulgaria. For [Page 363] example, whereas it may be “impossible of attainment and also undesirable to endeavor to cut off trade between the East and the West in Europe,” this does not mean that it might not be quite practicable to do so in the single case of Bulgaria. The Legation has collected figures which indicate that, with the possible exception of western Germany, there is no western European nation appreciably dependent on Bulgaria for imports not freely obtainable elsewhere, whereas Bulgaria is in many instances markedly dependent on its imports from the West. Despite restrictions, Bulgarian trade with the West still amounts to several million dollars annually, and generally in goods most important, if not vital, to the Bulgarian economy. We could, without advertisement, stop or greatly reduce Bulgarian imports of necessitous goods from the West. By doing so, we could without much loss to western states seriously damage the Bulgarian economy, work toward the various objectives discussed above, and, in addition, use Bulgaria as an excellent example for the study of the effect of complete curtailment of trade. I outlined this suggestion at the conference and in my despatch No. 248 of October 14.3

I would also comment on recommendation No. 3 on page 7 that the Voice of America should “avoid… too fervent and high flown moral eulogies on the boons and benefits of democracy.” I fail to recall that this point was made at the conference. I don’t agree with it. I think the comparative record of the democracies justifies the Voice in “plugging” its boons and benefits even more fervently than it is now doing.

With personal regards and best wishes, I am

Sincerely yours,

Donald R. Heath
  1. The reference here is to Policy Planning Staff Paper No. 59, “United States Policy Toward the Soviet Satellite States in Eastern Europe”, not printed. For the final version of this paper as subsequently amended by the National Security Council and approved by the President, see NSC 58/2, December 8, 1949, p. 42.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The despatch under reference here is not printed. For documentation on United States policy with respect to trade with Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, see pp. 61 ff.