1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bulgaria
BULGARIA (see 4.772). Political History 1908–12.—The condition of Macedonia and Thrace, which since the Treaty of Berlin in 1878 had been a constant source of anxiety and difficulties for Bulgaria, became even worse under the regime of the Young Turks. The Serbs, whose hopes of reunion with their own kin and of an outlet on the Adriatic had been destroyed by the annexation of Bosnia and the Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary in 1908, began to seek expansion in Macedonia towards the Aegean. Rival bands of Serbs, Greeks, Bulgars, Wallachs, Albanians and Turks now carried on the propaganda of their respective nationalities in Macedonia by force of arms, and the life of the peasant became unbearable. The perpetual menace of war with Turkey and, latterly, the strained relations with Greece and Serbia, entailed on Bulgaria a military expenditure which in 1909 was proportionately higher than that of any other European state. Bulgaria was obliged, moreover, to support thousands of destitute refugees who had escaped over her frontier from Turkish territory; current consular reports stated that the Bulgarian population of Macedonia had diminished to a quarter of what it had been 15 years earlier. There was again a fear that the Young Turks meant to exterminate the Bulgars of Thrace and Macedonia altogether, and the Macedonians living in Sofia, many of whom were men of ability and influence, were continually urging the Government to take energetic steps with regard to Macedonia.
The Balkan Alliance.—In March 1911, the Malinov Cabinet fell and Gueshov, head of the Nationalist party, became president of the council. Balkan statesmen were slow to realize that it was to their common interest to put an end to the troubles in Macedonia, and that this could be done only by joint action. In the winter of 1910–1, negotiations in this direction were begun at Athens between Bulgaria and Greece, the first negotiations taking the form of private conversations between J. D. Bourchier, principal Times correspondent in the Balkans, and Venizelos. Eventually, Venizelos entrusted Bourchier with the transmission to King Ferdinand of a definite proposal which was known only to King George, Venizelos and Bourchier; the greatest secrecy was observed throughout, even after the matter had been put on a diplomatic footing. In June 1911, the Grand Sobranye empowered the Government to make secret treaties without submitting them to the Sobranye. In May 1912, a treaty of defensive alliance between Bulgaria and Greece was signed, but this treaty was kept entirely secret for the next two months. Meanwhile, negotiations had also taken place between Bulgaria and Serbia, and in Oct. 1911, the Serbian premier, Milovanovitch, and Gueshov came to a general agreement as to terms of an alliance. The negotiations with Serbia proved difficult throughout. The Bulgars were in favour of autonomy for Macedonia; the Serbs, in favour of dividing the country into three zones, an uncontested Serbian zone, an uncontested Bulgarian zone and a contested zone, the fate of which should be left to the arbitration of the Tsar of Russia. After much discussion in which both sides showed an uncompromising spirit, a treaty of friendship and alliance, with a secret annex, was signed in Sofia on March 13 1912. By this treaty Serbia recognized “the right of Bulgaria to the territory E. of the Rhodope Mountains and the river Struma”; while Bulgaria recognized “a similar right of Serbia to the territory N. and W. of the Shar Mountains”; if autonomy for the rest of Macedonia was found to be impossible, the two states bound themselves to accept an agreed line running southwestwards from Golem Mountain to Ochrida Lake, should the Tsar of Russia pronounce in favour of this line. Russia was kept informed of the negotiations; the Tsar’s Government, while it welcomed the rapprochement between the three Orthodox states, discouraged active measures, but events in Turkey tended to force the hands of the allies. In June 1912, the Young Turk Government fell; a serious Albanian rising led to the concession of a measure of autonomy to the Albanians; there was a bomb outrage at Kochen, followed by a massacre of Bulgars by Turks; Bulgaria considered herself menaced by proposed Turkish military manoeuvres near Adrianople. The Great Powers, which had by the autumn become aware of the Balkan alliance, made efforts to prevent the outbreak of war, which culminated in a proposal from Austria-Hungary that the Powers should guarantee the autonomy of Macedonia. Unfortunately, the offer came many years too late. On Sept. 30, the Balkan allies ordered the mobilization of their armies, and on Oct. 8 Montenegro, with which country no formal agreement had been made, declared war on Turkey. On Oct. 13, the allied Balkan Powers sent a virtual ultimatum to the Porte; on Oct. 17, Turkey declared war on Serbia and Bulgaria, and on Oct. 18 Greece declared war on Turkey.
First Balkan War 1912–3.—The war with Turkey was popular throughout the country, for the people of Bulgaria, though they are often represented as self-centred and materialistic, had felt the sorrows of their kinsfolk in Macedonia as their own, and were prepared for any sacrifices in order to set them free. The campaign in Thrace brought out once more the admirable qualities of the Bulgarian soldier, his power of endurance, his courage and his obedience to discipline, but the success of the campaign was in reality less complete and satisfactory than it appeared to be in press accounts. The Bulgars, it is true, forced the Turkish army back in disorder, after severe fighting near Kirk-Kilisse and Lule-Burgas, to the strong defensive position of the Chatalja lines; but, owing to lack of heavy artillery, they failed to capture Adrianople and proved unable to force the Chatalja lines and so to advance on Constantinople. For all its supplies, the army was dependent on ox transport; nearly every cart and draught animal in Bulgaria had been requisitioned. The rough tracks by which supplies had to travel had been rendered almost impassable by rains, and it was fully ten days' trek from the railhead at Yambol to Lule-Burgas; there was heavy mortality among the draught animals. The enforced pauses, whilst the army was waiting for supplies to come up, twice gave the Turks time to withdraw and finally permitted them to reorganize their forces at Chatalja. The campaign had revealed great shortcomings in the medical and supply services, and the Bulgars suffered only a degree less cruelly than the Turks themselves from shortage of food and absence of sanitary and medical care. The assaults on Chatalja, which cost the Bulgars some 10,000 casualties, were undertaken contrary to the advice of Fichev, chief of staff, and were inspired by Ferdinand, whose ambition it was to take Constantinople regardless of the cost. Fichev, who had realized that the troops were too much exhausted after the five weeks' fighting in Thrace to follow up their success to complete victory, was compelled by the King to ask for sick leave and was succeeded by Nerezov.
On Dec. 4 an armistice between Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia was signed. At this moment the position was everywhere favourable to the allies. The Greeks, who did not sign the armistice, had occupied most of southern Macedonia and held Salonika. The Serbs, after heavy fighting at Kumanovo and Prilep, had taken Monastir, and the Turkish army had retreated into Albania. The Turkish fortresses of Scutari, Yanina and Adrianople still held out, but their garrisons were suffering from shortage of supplies. The signatories of the armistice met in London to arrange terms of peace. The Bulgarian demands, which included the vilayet of Adrianople and the port of Rodosto on the Sea of Marmora, seemed likely to be accepted by the Turks, but a coup d’état in Constantinople brought the Young Turk party back to power, and as the Young Turks seemed as determined to hold Adrianople as the Bulgars were to obtain it, the conference was broken up. On Feb. 3 1913, hostilities again began. Yanina surrendered early in March, the Serbs and Bulgars entered Adrianople almost simultaneously on March 25, and Scutari fell a month later. After the surrender of Adrianople, the Turks sought the mediation of the Powers, and after another conference in London, the delegates were, on May 30 1913, induced to sign a treaty, the terms of which had been drafted by the Powers. Turkey surrendered to the allies all her possessions in Europe up to a line drawn from Enos on the Aegean to Midia on the Black Sea, Midia being about 63 m. from Constantinople. Albania was granted independence. The Bulgarian casualties in the war were officially given as 93,000 while the Serbian and Greek official figures of their respective casualties were given as 31,000 and 29,000.
Rupture of Balkan Alliance.—The discussions at the conferences in London had shown that considerable friction existed between the allies. Apart from the antagonism of national character and the mutual distrust and dislike, which events in Macedonia during the last few years had accentuated, the difficulties which now presented themselves arose from the interpretation of the treaties of alliance. The military successes of the allies had been unexpectedly complete, and had thus created a situation which had not been foreseen in the treaties of alliance. The Serbs claimed that as new conditions had arisen, the treaties should be revised as a whole, and the arbitration of the Tsar should be sought for all matters in dispute. The Bulgars characteristically held out for the letter of the agreement as regards territorial arrangements, and they were, moreover, unwilling to submit even the contested zone to the arbitration of the Tsar, as they doubted his impartiality. By Article 2 of the secret annex to the treaty between Bulgaria and Serbia (March 13 1912), it had been agreed that “all territorial gains acquired by combined action . . . shall constitute the common property (condominium) of the two allies,” and the lines of partition, to be effected within a period of three months after restoration of peace, were then laid down. Serbia, however, as a result of her victories in Macedonia, held much of the territory which had been assigned by the treaty to Bulgaria; whereas Bulgaria held Adrianople and all Thrace, a situation which had not been provided for in the treaty. Moreover, Greece occupied Salonika (where a Bulgarian detachment had been left for political reasons) and many districts of southern Macedonia in which Bulgars formed a majority of the population. It was impossible for Bulgaria to give up her claim to Macedonia, where the bulk of the inhabitants were of Bulgarian nationality, as it had been for their sake that she had made immense sacrifices; on the other hand, since Serbia was now cut off from the Adriatic by the creation of an Albanian state, Serbia was naturally anxious to have access to Salonika, without having to pass through Bulgarian territory before reaching the Greek frontier. Controversy also arose as to the fulfilment of the terms of the military convention of June 1912, in which it had been agreed that Bulgaria and Serbia should each, “if no other special arrangement be made,” send at least 100,000 men to the Vardar theatre of war. Serbia asserted that Bulgaria had sent only 32,000 men to the Vardar theatre, whereas Serbia had voluntarily sent 50,000 men to Adrianople to help the Bulgars, and she claimed that, without the Serbian heavy artillery, that fortress could not have been taken. It must, however, be remembered that the Thracian campaign had proved the longest, the most difficult and the most costly of the allied operations, and that the taking of Adrianople was essential to the allied cause as a whole. The Serbs, again, attributed the prolongation of the campaign to the intransigeance of the Bulgarian delegates in London. It was evident that there was never mutual confidence between the allies, and that personal contact between the respective armies had often given rise to friction rather than good-will. Bulgarian suspicion of Serbian designs was intensified by an official circular written by Pashich in the autumn of 1912, in which he spoke of Prilep and Ochrida as belonging to Old Serbia, although both these places were within the zone allotted to Bulgaria. In Jan. and March 1913, meetings took place between Prince Alexander of Serbia and Prince Nicholas of Greece, and Bulgaria had reason to suspect that some agreement was made as to combined action against herself. The occupation by Serbia and Greece of regions of Macedonia which had not been actually allocated by treaty to either Power seemed to Bulgaria to be assuming a permanent character. The murder of King George of Greece in March 1913 meant the removal of a factor which made for peace and moderation, whereas in Bulgaria, the military party, with whom King Ferdinand was in full sympathy, had, by the early spring, gained ascendancy over the policy of the country. In April a Cabinet council was held at Adrianople when, according to Gen. Savov, it was decided to retain in Thrace only such armed forces as were absolutely necessary for defence, and to transfer the rest of the army as quickly as possible against the Greeks and Serbs in Macedonia. There were good reasons for haste, for the military authorities, with the King at their head, were now convinced that war was inevitable, and, moreover, they were aware that the troops were becoming increasingly anxious to return to their homes. The concentration of troops on the Macedonian frontier was gradually effected during June. The Serbs, on their part, had not failed to make corresponding preparations on the other side of the frontier. On June 1 Gueshov and Pashich, both of them men of moderate and prudent views, met in the hope of coming to an agreement; on the same day a treaty was signed at Salonika between Serbia and Greece. During the month of June the Tsar of Russia put all possible pressure on Serbia and Bulgaria, both directly and through his diplomatic representatives, Hartwig at Belgrade and Nekludov at Sofia, to prevent the outbreak of hostilities, but Ferdinand’s replies to the Tsar’s proffered mediation showed an increasing arrogance. On May 30 Gueshov, finding that his policy of caution and moderation was not supported by the King, resigned: his place was taken by Danev, a politician who stood well with the military party and who had shown marked intractability as delegate to the London conference. On June 19 a speech by Tisza in the Hungarian Parliament indicated that Austria-Hungary considered that the Balkan states should be free to choose their own method of settling their differences.
Second Balkan War.—On June 29 the Bulgarian Fourth Army, acting on orders signed by Gen. Savov, made the treacherous attack on their Serb and Greek allies which alienated from Bulgaria the sympathy and respect of Europe, and proved the first step towards her downfall. The manner of the attack was unjustifiable, but it must be remembered that the attack was not unexpected, and that it probably forestalled a declaration of war on Bulgaria by Serbia and Greece. The treaty of June 1 between Serbia and Greece, the concreted entrenchments at Oyche Polye, the secret orders given by the Serbian commander-in-chief, Gen. Putnik, ten days before the attack and King Peter’s proclamation, issued to the troops on July 1, must count as evidence that the Serbs were fully alive to the situation. On July 1 Savov forbade further hostilities; he himself was recalled a few days later. It has been officially stated that the reports of the ministerial council contain no minute ordering the opening of hostilities against the Greeks and Serbs June 29 1913, and Danev denied in the press that his Government had ever contemplated such orders. A judicial inquiry into the causes of the second Balkan War was opened in Sofia, but was never concluded. Savov asserted that the King himself, as commander-in-chief, gave the order to attack. The war which was so rashly and unjustifiably started by the Bulgars ended in disaster for them. They were driven back on their own frontier by the Serbs and Greeks and on July 10 the Rumanians, who had given previous warning of their intentions, crossed the Danube and advanced unopposed on Sofia. A few days later the Turks retook Adrianople and invaded Bulgaria. Danev resigned and a Stambulovist Cabinet was formed, with Radoslavov as prime minister. Bulgaria was thus closed in by four enemies at once and had no choice but to submit unconditionally to the Rumanian terms. On July 30 an armistice was signed at Bucharest. The failure of Bulgarian arms in the second Balkan War was due to several causes. The moral of the troops had suffered owing to the prolongation of the campaign in Thrace and discontent had been rife; the troops were exhausted by their forced march in hot weather from Thrace to Macedonia immediately before hostilities, while many had no inclination to fight against their late allies and brother Slavs. The war was the work of politicians rather than of soldiers. Ferdinand and his entourage had underestimated the strength of the Serbian and Greek forces, and they had imagined that if once both these armies could be driven out of territory which had been assigned to Bulgaria by Article 2 of the secret annex to the Serbo-Bulgarian Treaty of 1912, the Powers would acquiesce in a Bulgarian occupation of that part of Macedonia, and also of Salonika. The civil population of southern Macedonia suffered cruelly during the second Balkan War; atrocities were committed both by Greeks and Bulgars.
Treaty of Bucharest.—This treaty, which was signed on Aug. 10 1913 after a fortnight’s conference, deprived Bulgaria of almost all her territorial gains of the first Balkan War and also of any immediate prospect of the reunion into one state of all Bulgarian-speaking people. Rumania acquired from Bulgaria that portion of the Dobruja which had been Bulgarian since 1878, from Tutrakan on the Danube to Balchik on the Black Sea. The inhabitants of this region were almost exclusively Bulgarian and it comprised some of the best cereal-growing land which had been held by the Bulgars. Serbia and Greece divided Macedonia between them, with the exception of the mountainous region of the Perin and Despoto Dagh. Bulgaria thus retained one outlet on the Aegean, in the shallow-water port of Dede Aghach; her so-called harbour at Porto Lagos consisted only of a short length of quay and a score of buildings. Turkey regained Adrianople and most of Thrace. The Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 thus resulted in an increase of territory for Serbia and Montenegro by four-fifths and for Bulgaria by one-fifth, while Greece almost doubled her territory. Serbia and Montenegro increased their respective populations by three-sevenths, Bulgaria by one-twentieth and Greece by two-thirds. The total casualties of the two wars were in inverse ratio to the gains of the three states concerned, viz.:—Bulgaria, 150,000; Serbia, 79,500, and Greece, 50,000. The terms of the Treaty of Bucharest—King Charles of Rumania himself said of it: “It is not a treaty, it is only a truce and it cannot last”—were punitive rather than pacific in tendency, and the attempts of Russia, and possibly of Austria-Hungary also, to secure some modifications for Bulgaria were unsuccessful.
Radoslavov Government, 1913–4.—On July 5 1913 the Radoslavov Cabinet, at the critical moment when they assumed office, addressed a letter to the King, which was probably inspired by him, expressing their opinion that “the salvation of our State can only be found in a policy of intimate friendship with Austria-Hungary. That policy should be adopted at once and without hesitation, because every hour is fateful. We invite you to act immediately in order to save Bulgaria from further misfortunes and the dynasty from further responsibility.” This letter was signed by Radoslavov, N. Ghenadiev and D. Tonchev. In the personnel of the Cabinet the King found ready tools for the pursuance of his policy; several of the ministers, including Radoslavov and Ghenadiev, had been prosecuted for corruption, peculation and illegal practices during their previous tenure of office, and Radoslavov himself had been condemned to a term of imprisonment and loss of civil rights. The elections of Dec. 1913 gave the Opposition a majority of 14 seats in the Sobranye, although the Government had resorted to the usual methods of controlling the elections. Owing to the impossibility of forming a new Cabinet, the Sobranye was dissolved. The suffrage was now extended to the territory which had been ceded to Bulgaria by Turkey by the Treaty of Bucharest. This measure was held by some to be unconstitutional, but the efforts of the Government to conciliate the new Moslem voters and the 150,000 refugees who had been settled in this region resulted in a Government majority of ten in the new Sobranye. The Turkish deputies, many of whom were members of the Committee of Union and Progress, thus held a casting vote in the Sobranye, and, through them, the Sublime Porte was able to exercise a direct influence on the Bulgarian Government. It became imperative to raise a foreign loan in order to meet the obligations of the country and for certain necessary constructive work. Appeal was made to France, England and Russia successively, but assistance was refused or else only offered on conditions which it did not suit the Bulgarian Government to accept. These conditions, however, can hardly have been more unfavourable than those eventually accepted from the German Disconto Gesellschaft which provided the loan of 500 million francs. By the terms of the loan the syndicate secured the control of the state coal mines, of the projected railway which was to connect central Bulgaria with Porto Lagos, and of that terminal port itself. These terms met with angry opposition throughout the country, for it was realized that Bulgaria was handing over some of her chief economic assets to Germany. The syndicate further sought to obtain the control of the export of tobacco, but, owing to strong expression of public opinion, the Government was obliged to refuse this demand. The consent of the Sobranye to the conditions of the loan was only obtained after violent protests from the Opposition, the uproar preventing the actual reading of the bill (June 1914).
Political Parties and Public Life.—The old broad distinctions of Russophil and Russophobe which had marked the two main political camps in the time of Stambulov, gave place later to an increasing number of subdivisions of parties, between whose respective programmes there was not always much apparent difference. Public life in Bulgaria has hitherto left a good deal to be desired; elections have not been free and ministers have not always been above reproach as regards incorruptibility, patriotism and efficiency, and they have looked on themselves as personal employés of the King rather than as servants of the nation. The King, who was always well informed as to the private affairs of his entourage and who knew their weak points, preferred ministers over whom he had a hold of this description. The Sobranye often showed itself amenable to the manipulation of ministers or of the King. In practice, a change of government meant a change in the holders of most government appointments. The King’s control of the army was absolute; according to the constitution he was commander-in-chief, and the power of promotion and dismissal was in his hands. Each officer was made to feel that the success of his career depended on royal favour. There can be no doubt that Ferdinand used his undoubted talents and power in such a way as to debase rather than to elevate the moral standard of his country. The real life of Bulgaria, however, is not to be found in the bureaucracy, but among the peasants who form about 80% of the population. The peasants have no reason to like politics or politicians and they prefer to hold aloof as much as possible from both. It must be remembered that, in spite of corruption in high places, the standard of life among the peasants compares favourably as regards industry, morality and freedom from crime with that of any other European people.
Period of Neutrality (Aug. 1914-Oct. 15 1915).—At the outbreak of the World War in 1914 the great majority of Bulgars wished to preserve neutrality; from force of circumstances, however, Bulgaria was already more than half way towards the Central Powers. The policy of the Radoslavov Cabinet, the German loan, the establishment of friendly relations with Turkey, resentment against Russia for her non-intervention in Aug. 1913, together with the deep sense of humiliation and disappointment created by the Treaty of Bucharest, all combined to indicate the direction in which Bulgarian sympathy was likely to be drawn. Moreover, Macedonia, the fate of which had been the dominant factor in the policy of Bulgaria during the whole of her existence and the cause of her sacrifices in the two Balkan Wars, was now in the hands of Serbia and Greece. The Bulgarians naturally asked themselves which group of Powers would be able to help them to realize their national ideal and their material ambitions. It seemed to them unlikely that the Powers which were ranged on the side of Serbia would be willing to deprive their ally of the fruits of her victory in 1913 and to restore Macedonia to Bulgaria. The victory of the Entente might mean Russia at Constantinople, the union of the Serb peoples in one important state and the permanent loss of Macedonia. To the King, who held the direction of the policy of the country absolutely in his hands, the victory of the Entente might mean the loss of his throne and the end of his dynasty. From an early date it was clear that Turkey would join the Central Powers, while the attitude of Rumania and Greece was uncertain. Owing to her geographical position Bulgaria would evidently be unable to preserve her “benevolent neutrality” for an indefinite time. Should she abandon it, it would be to join the winning side, and there were many in Bulgaria, including the King himself, who believed that Germany was invincible. It is not yet known at what precise moment Ferdinand secretly promised his support to the Central Powers, but the Agrarian leader, Stamboliiski, as early as Aug. 1914 accused the Government of having bound itself to the Central Powers, and there are certainly indications that the decision had been taken in the early part of 1915. The Opposition press at the outbreak of war appeared to be decidedly pro-Entente, though non-interventionist in tendency. Gueshov and Stamboliiski constantly pressed for an agreement among the Balkan states themselves.
During the year in which Bulgaria maintained her neutrality, the rival groups of Powers made considerable efforts to secure her coöperation. It may be that Ferdinand had from an early date committed himself to a line of policy, but among Bulgars it is thought that, had the Entente encouraged the Opposition, who represented the great majority of the people; had the mentality of the people been better understood; had the Entente been definite in the proposals which from time to time were put before Bulgaria; had these proposals been made at propitious and not always at unpropitious moments; had the Entente been skilful and vigorous in its propaganda, it might well have been that the people would have imposed their will on the rulers whom they hated and despised. But the Entente policy pursued no certain course: the Entente Governments were slow to recognize the importance of Bulgarian coöperation; they were unwilling to pay the price which was asked for that coöperation; they did not realize the importance of the personal element in dealing with the Bulgars and with the King. The best propaganda for the Entente was the declaration that they were fighting for the cause of small nations and for the principle of nationality, since to the Bulgar this declaration meant protection for the Bulgarian state and reunion with the Bulgars of Macedonia and Thrace.
The most propitious moment to secure the support of Bulgaria would have been at the time of the Russian successes in the Carpathians in 1915, as the old feeling for Russia had never died out among the peasants. The chances of winning Bulgaria for the Entente lessened after the failure to pass the Dardanelles in March. German propaganda was skilfully handled; war news came chiefly through German sources; Tarnowski, the Austro-Hungarian minister at Sofia, either from personality or from force of circumstances, apparently controlled the situation there. The Entente proposals were hedged about with conditions; at the end of May 1915, they offered the Enos-Midia line and the uncontested zone in Macedonia, provided that, at the end of the war, Bosnia and the Herzegovina had been united to Serbia. Early in June, Austria-Hungary promised to Bulgaria, as the price of her neutrality, all Serbian Macedonia as well as the territory claimed by Bulgaria and now occupied by Rumania and Greece. On June 15 Bulgaria replied to the Entente note, asking for more specific guarantees. During July personal pressure was brought to bear at Sofia by special missions—a British mission composed of Mr. O'Beirne, Sir Valentine Chirol and Mr. G. Fitzmaurice; a French mission, and, on behalf of Germany, by Prince Hohenlohe—while active negotiations continued with Turkish delegates. On Aug. 3 the Entente answered the Bulgarian note of June 15; the Entente offered to Bulgaria, if she declared war on Turkey, the occupation of half the non-contested zone at once, the fate of the rest of this zone and of the contested zone to be decided at the peace; the immediate occupation of Seres and the promise of Kavalla, if Bulgaria would renounce all claims to Salonika, Kastoria and Vodena; and the promise of the Enos-Midia line. As these terms involved the retrocession of certain territories and places then occupied by Serbia and Greece, the allied representatives in Belgrade and Athens had the ungrateful task of trying to persuade Serbia and Greece to give up what they had won by force of arms, as the price of Bulgaria’s coöperation. Greece, inspired by Germany, refused absolutely to consider any cession of territory and Serbia, where the military party was at the time dominant, was equally intransigeant.
On Aug. 19 Gen. Fichev, Minister of War, who was thought to be averse to further military adventures, resigned, and was succeeded by Gen. Jekov, who had lately been acting as negotiator with the Turks. The Opposition, becoming increasingly anxious, in vain demanded that the Sobranye should meet. On Aug. 23 Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary, and on Aug. 25 Venizelos returned to power. The moment had now come when the Central Powers desired the entry of Bulgaria into the war, and the Duke of Mecklenburg, who as special personal representative of the Kaiser and from his ability and personality was known to have a strong influence on the King, was sent from Germany to make the final arrangements. On Sept. 6 a military convention and treaty between Bulgaria and the Central Powers was signed at Pless. By this convention Germany and Austria-Hungary each agreed to send six infantry divisions within a space of 30 days, and Bulgaria four infantry divisions within 35 days, against the Serbs; F.-M. von Mackensen was to be commander-in-chief of the combined force. Turkey was, if so desired, to send troops to Dede Aghach to prevent an enemy landing. Germany agreed to advance 200 million francs to Bulgaria for military expenses, and to provide as much military material as she could spare. On Sept. 10 the existence of the treaty was admitted by Radoslavov, who stated that Bulgaria was “coming in on the side of the victors.” On Sept. 12 the Opposition issued a manifesto, signed by many notable Bulgars, protesting against the policy of the Government and urging all citizens to unite to prevent the fatal step; the manifesto was, however, suppressed and the Opposition then demanded an audience of the King. On Sept. 15 the Entente made a final effort to induce Bulgaria to declare war on Turkey; Macedonia was promised unconditionally and the allied troops would occupy Macedonia for the time being, if Bulgaria so desired, as a guarantee that it would eventually be handed over to Bulgaria. On Sept. 17, at 11 P.M., the King received the Opposition leaders in audience. Malinov warned the King that if Bulgaria remained neutral, she might become the battlefield between the Germans invading Serbia and the Allies who would land at Salonika; and that, if she joined the Central Powers, she would be fighting against three Balkan peoples and four Great Powers and that it would mean the end of her national existence. Stamboliiski—it was the first time a representative of the Agrarians had entered the palace—put the views of his party before the King with characteristic vigour and brusquerie. The Agrarians, he said, desired to preserve neutrality; they demanded the convocation of the Sobranye and the formation of a national Government. He rejected all appeal to sentiment, whether on behalf of Russia or of Germany, and he warned the King that the people were still suffering from the terrible effects of the débâcle of 1913 and that they had lost all confidence in their rulers, including the King himself. He told the King that after the Treaty of Bucharest, it was only the leaders of the Agrarians who prevented a general movement against the authors of the pogrom, among whom the King held the chief place, and that, should the King repeat the criminal act of plunging his country into war, the leaders would not check the revolt against him but would themselves head it. Tsanov, the Radical leader, spoke with equal emphasis and sincerity. An account of the audience was published, but its circulation was forbidden, and Stamboliiski was condemned to imprisonment for life on a charge of lèse-majesté. On Sept. 22 the terms of the Turco-Bulgarian agreement were published; the Bulgarian frontier was to follow the Tunja valley as far as the suburbs of Adrianople, including the railway station, and then to follow the left bank of the Maritsa southwards at a distance of about 2 km., thus safeguarding Bulgarian railway communication between Sofia and Dede Aghach.
Mobilization was decreed on Sept. 22, the Greek army being mobilized immediately afterwards. On Oct. 4, Savinski, Russian minister at Sofia, informed the Bulgarian Government that he had been instructed to leave the country if within 24 hours Bulgaria did not break with the enemies of the Slav cause and forthwith send away the military officers of hostile belligerent states. On Oct. 5 the Bulgarian Government replied that the mobilization was a measure of internal importance only, that the landing of Allied troops at Salonika did not tend to reassure Bulgaria as to the friendly intentions of the Entente, and that it was impossible to send away the German officers, as, with the exception of officially accredited military attachés, there were no such officers serving with the Bulgarian army. It is still maintained by the Bulgars that no German officers arrived till after the departure of the Entente ministers. On the receipt of this note the ministers representing the Entente Powers asked for their passports and left Sofia for Dede Aghach. On Oct. 12 Bulgaria declared war on Serbia; on Oct. 15 Great Britain declared war on Bulgaria, while France and Italy declared war on her on Oct. 16 and Oct. 17 respectively.
The World War 1915–6.—The King’s proclamation to his people showed the same duplicity as had marked all his diplomatic dealings with the Entente. After enlarging on his efforts to maintain neutrality, he said: “Both groups of belligerent Powers acknowledge the great wrong inflicted on us by the partitioning of Macedonia, and both belligerent parties are agreed that the greater part of Macedonia should belong to Bulgaria. Only our treacherous neighbour, Serbia, has remained obdurate to the counsels of her friends and allies. Serbia not only refused to listen to their advice, but, inspired by envy and cupidity, even attacked our territory, and our brave troops have been obliged to fight in defence of their own land. . . . Our Allies the Serbs were then (in 1913) the chief cause of our losing Macedonia. . . . The European War is drawing to a close. The victorious armies of the Central Empires are in Serbia and are rapidly advancing.” Mobilization, as eye-witnesses have stated, was not effected with the willingness which marked the mobilization of 1912—there were even attempts at mutiny in some centres—though the presence in Sofia of the Macedonian divisions to whom Serbian acts of oppression in Macedonia were a burning personal wrong and not merely a pretext for war, served to stimulate public enthusiasm. When once the country was actually at war, the Opposition became silent, partly from force majeure and partly from patriotic motives; all Bulgars realized that the fate of their country was at stake. Malinov, to whom the King made overtures, declined to take office in the Radoslavov Cabinet, and Stamboliiski, who was perhaps the only man in the country who could have led a revolution, was already in prison. Public meetings were forbidden and a strict censorship of the press established. The Bulgarian campaign in Serbia was, in spite of gallant opposition by the Serbs, completely successful. By the end of the year the Serbian army had retreated through Albania to the Adriatic and the Entente troops had retired within the Greek frontier, which the Bulgars did not then attempt to cross, although they themselves were confident that they could have taken Salonika. But on the one hand the attitude of Greece was still uncertain, and on the other it was to the interest of Germany that Entente troops should remain at Salonika and thus reduce the numbers available for the western front. In June 1916 the Bulgarian army occupied Seres, Drama, and Kavalla. The Sobranye had met in Dec. 1915, but, in spite of the apparently complete success of the campaign, the Radoslavov Government narrowly escaped defeat in the budget debates in July 1916. Several of the Agrarian deputies who were deemed compromised by their earlier negotiations with an agent of the Entente were imprisoned, and the Government secured the return of their own supporters in their place. On Aug. 27 1916 Rumania declared war on Austria-Hungary and, in spite of the efforts of Malinov and others to induce the Government to remain neutral, Bulgaria declared war on Rumania on Sept. 1. This war was, however, more popular than the campaign against Serbia, for the resentment caused by the action of Rumania in July 1913 was specially bitter. The Bulgarian troops were, nevertheless, unwilling to cross the Danube, as they considered that their work was finished when once the Dobruja was again in their possession; some mutinies even took place. Though the Bulgarian forces here were commanded by Gen. Tochev, F.-M. von Mackensen actually directed the operations, and, almost immediately, friction developed between the allies, resulting in Tochev’s supersession. The harvest of 1916 was not a good one; the whole population was rationed for meat, bread, sugar, rice, soap and salt, and considerable discontent arose when it was found that large quantities of produce, especially of wheat and eggs, were going to Germany. German officials took over the technical control of the railways, especially the Macedonian, Dobruja and Trans-Balkan lines, which were worked with great efficiency; the railway employés remained Bulgarian. The Germans did not otherwise interfere with the civil administration of the country, while, on the military side, they restricted their active intervention to the broader issues in the conduct of the campaign. In addition to the larger formations which Germany contributed to the Bulgarian fronts in accordance with the military convention, many German technical units reinforced the Bulgarian army and were allotted to the more important sections of the front: these included machine-gun, artillery, air force, wireless and railway construction units, and hospital staffs. These units were highly efficient, and, on the whole, the two personnels worked amicably together. In Nov., Monastir was taken by the allies.
1917.—In March news of the revolution in Russia roused once more the instinctive sympathy of the Bulgars for Russia. No stenographic reports of the debates in the Sobranye have been published, but it is known that the Opposition pressed their view that Bulgaria, having gained Macedonia and the Dobruja, should now retire from the war. A war credit of 350 million levas was, however, voted in March. It was by no means certain that Bulgaria’s allies would allow her to retain all her gains: neither Germany nor Austria-Hungary was willing that Bulgaria should remain in northern Dobruja, and Turkey opened negotiations for the return of that portion of the Maritsa valley which had been ceded to Bulgaria by the Turco-Bulgarian agreement of 1915. During the summer secret negotiations were carried on in Switzerland between agents of the Entente and Bulgarian agents, but though Ferdinand may have been aware of the negotiations, the Bulgarian representatives lacked the authority and personality necessary for bringing matters to a definite issue. In Oct. the Kaiser visited Sofia and attempted, by the bestowal of decorations, to restore cordial relations with Bulgaria, but it was a matter of common knowledge that the personal relations between the Kaiser and the King were anything but friendly.
1918.—The winter of 1917–8 brought a further shortage of supplies and increased discontent and suffering. The Bulgarian soldier had been accustomed to campaigns which, though they entailed severe fighting and hardships, had only lasted a short time: in the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885 fighting had lasted a fortnight; in the first Balkan War, some six months; and in the second Balkan War, a nominal 40 days. The Bulgarian women had as a matter of course replaced the men in all agricultural work, but the Bulgarian soldiers, most of them peasant proprietors, were anxious to be at home for the harvest, and their restlessness showed itself in an increased number of desertions. Trench warfare was, moreover, peculiarly uncongenial to troops who were accustomed to open warfare. In Jan., Germany ceased to pay the annual subsidy of 50 million francs, which she had given Bulgaria since she entered the war, and after March she sent her no further supplies of munitions and equipment. The publication of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points (Jan.) had great influence on feeling in Bulgaria. Relations had never been broken off with the United States, and attempts were made to induce the President to promise Macedonia to Bulgaria. Articles in praise of the United States were allowed to appear in the press, and the Bulgars, on their part, professed to be ready to desist from the offensive which was then projected, and to make a separate peace. In May, Rumania signed the Treaty of Bucharest, by which the Dobruja was ceded to the Central Powers in condominium, Bulgaria regaining what Rumania had taken from her in 1913. In June the Radoslavov Cabinet, which was despised and detested throughout the country, fell and the King selected Malinov to form a new ministry. The change of Government did not mean a definite change of policy, and Malinov was reproached later for not insisting at once on a separate peace, as he fully realized that all was not going well. At home, the new Cabinet endeavoured to improve the food conditions and to put an end to the corruption and inefficiency in the public service which had prevailed under Radoslavov. After the Austro-Hungarian defeat in Albania in July, when it became necessary to extend the Bulgarian front still further, the Bulgars pressed Germany to send the help which from the first had been promised to them. Of the six German divisions guaranteed by the military convention, only three had actually materialized and when at last German troops, in response to further urgent appeals, began to arrive in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian line had already been broken, Serbs were at the frontier and Allied troops were actually invading Bulgaria. On Sept. 25 Malinov asked for an armistice and delegates left at once for Salonika accompanied by the diplomatic representative of the United States. On Sept. 30 the Armistice was signed, the Bulgars accepting the Allied terms unconditionally. Stamboliiski, who with other Agrarian deputies had been in prison since 1915, was released on Sept. 25 and went immediately to the front where there was great unrest among the troops. At one moment it seemed probable that a revolution would take place and a republic be proclaimed, and there was serious fighting outside Sofia in which many lives were lost, the German troops being employed to restore order. On Oct. 4 the King was informed by his ministers that he had better abdicate; that same night he left Sofia by train, having nominated his son Boris as his successor. His departure was received with absolute indifference by the people; there were no demonstrations either of regret or joy. Radoslavov fled the country immediately afterwards. On Nov. 28 Malinov resigned, as a protest against the installation of Rumanian officials in the southern Dobruja contrary to the terms of the Armistice. Todorov, who had been Gueshov’s second in command, succeeded in forming a coalition Cabinet.
Treaty of Neuilly.—On Nov. 27 1919 the Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Bulgaria was signed at Neuilly-sur-Seine, Stamboliiski signing on behalf of his country. The territorial provisions (Arts. 27-35) included the cession to Rumania of the southern Dobruja; the cession to Serbia of the Bulgarian towns of Tsaribrod and Strumitsa and the renunciation (Art. 48) “in favour of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers of all rights and title over the territories in Thrace which belonged to the Bulgarian Monarchy, and which being situated outside the new frontiers of Bulgaria . . . have not at present been assigned to any State.” The Powers undertook “to ensure the economic outlets of Bulgaria to the Aegean Sea.”
At the conference of San Remo in April 1920, a small portion of Eastern Thrace was assigned to Turkey and the remainder of Thrace to Greece. Bulgaria was not represented at the conference, though some 400,000 Bulgarians were concerned in the decisions as to Thrace; the Bulgarian delegate who had been sent from Sofia in the hope that the Allies would allow him to put the Bulgarian case before them was prevented by the French authorities from crossing the Italian frontier until the session had practically concluded.
The reparation (Arts. 121-146) payable to the Allies was fixed at two and a quarter milliards of francs (gold) or £90,000,000 sterling, to be paid in half-yearly instalments within 37 years; the cost of the armies of occupation and of various commissions was also to be borne by Bulgaria. The Reparation Commission, which began work in March 1921, could at their discretion reduce or postpone particular payments and could assume full control and management of the taxes and sources of revenue.
The military clauses (Arts. 64-104) provided for the disarmament of Bulgaria. The total numbers armed with rifles, including military forces, gendarmes, frontier and forest guards and police, were limited to a maximum of 33,000 men. The troops were to be recruited on a voluntary basis and to be exclusively employed for maintenance of order and frontier guard duties. All officers were to be regulars, serving for 20 consecutive years; other ranks were to serve for 12 years. Only one military training school and one State controlled munition factory were allowed. The manufacture of tanks, armoured cars, poison gas and aeroplanes, the export and import of arms, instruction in the use of arms in schools, clubs or organizations, arrangements for mobilization, new fortifications were all prohibited. Only four torpedo boats and six motor boats were permitted, all without torpedoes and all manned by civilian crews. No artillery of calibre greater than 4.1 inches was authorized. All surplus war material had to be destroyed or surrendered within three months of the signing of peace.
Recruiting for the forces as constituted by the treaty proved very unsatisfactory, as but few Bulgars of a good stamp could be induced to leave their homes for a long period of service.
In Aug. 1919, elections were held which resulted in the following distribution of seats:—Agrarians, 86; Communists, 47; Social Democrats, 28; Nationalists, 19; Danevists, 8; Radicals, 8; Radoslavists, 3. The Agrarians had been weakened by the secession of Draghiev and his followers in 1915, and even with the support of Gueshov and the Nationalists, were in a minority in the Sobranye. Stamboliiski became prime minister. In Feb. 1920, the Sobranye was dissolved; new elections gave the Agrarians a majority of two, and in April, Stamboliiski became premier of a Cabinet composed of his own supporters. In the course of the year 1920 Bulgaria was admitted into the League of Nations.
Finance and Trade.—The following table shows the effect of the wars on finance and trade:—
The budget estimates for 1921–2—the financial year begins in April—thus showed a deficit of over £11,000,000. The consolidated and non-consolidated debts, including the war indemnity, amounted to £909,434,547, and, further, there was liability for military pensions, which would, for the next few years, amount to 7 or 8 million pounds annually. The outlook, according to the Finance Minister, was not very satisfactory. The debt per head of the population was £240 (as against £6 in 1912), and taxation had, in his opinion, reached the highest possible limit, viz. 500-540 levas per head. The townspeople had suffered much more than the peasants both during and after the war; according to the director of statistics, the annual bread budget for a family of five was 17 times higher in 1920 than in 1900; the meat budget was 28 times higher; and clothing showed a very large increase in price. During the World War, the savings banks had, owing to high prices for agricultural produce, shown a steady increase of deposits, but in 1919, withdrawals exceeded deposits by £800,000; and in 1920, by about £300,000. In 1920, although Bulgaria comprised 25% more land fit for cultivation than in 1911, cultivation had decreased by 20% as compared with 1911, and her production of cereals was smaller than in 1911. On the other hand, owing to the greatly increased selling price of tobacco—it had risen from 1 to 2.50 francs per kilo before the World War to 36 francs per kilo in 1919—the area cultivated in tobacco was more than double in 1920 what it had been in 1911; also the 1920 potato crop was double what it was in 1911. The attar of rose industry, which in Europe is almost peculiar to Bulgaria, naturally suffered during the wars, and only 15,000 ac. are now under rose cultivation; it is estimated that, although the demand for rose essence is now increasing, several years must pass before the industry is fully reëstablished and equipped with modern machinery.
Bulgaria’s international trade had always been primarily with Austria-Hungary and Germany owing partly to the fact that the Danube has hitherto constituted her chief means of communication and partly to the fact that these countries made a more careful study of Bulgarian markets than seemed worth the while of more distant countries. For the first six months of 1920–1, imports, which reached £68,000,000, nearly doubled exports in value. After the treaty, Bulgaria’s unfavourable rate of exchange tended to direct her commerce yet more towards Central Europe.
Communications.—Better means of communication and capital are needed to develop the natural resources of the country—forests, mines and water power. Railway construction practically ceased with the outbreak of the first Balkan War in 1912, but the Trans-Balkan Trnovo-Stara Zagora line was completed since that date, and proved of great importance during the World War for the transport of war material from the Central Powers to Turkey. In 1912, Bulgaria owned about 1,200 m. of normal gauge railway; in 1920 about 1,600 m., including some 250 m. of 2 ft. gauge which had been laid for military purposes. The following are among the railways projected and partly constructed:
1. Rakovska-Mastanli, part of the line planned in 1913 to connect central Bulgaria with Porto Lagos on the Aegean. Length, about 60 m.; gauge 30 in.
2. Sarambe-Lyana-Nevrokop, passing through the pine forests of the Upper Myesta. Length, about 110 m.; gauge, 30 in.
3. Mezdra-Vratsa-Vidin, begun in 1906 and now in operation as far as Alexandrovo, 25 m. from Vidin.
Some 500 m. of link lines and some short lengths of railway for the exploitation of forests are also projected, but work is held up for lack of funds. A law of 1921 sanctioned the construction of railways not only by local bodies but by individuals, and special privileges were offered in the hope of attracting private enterprise. In 1921, Bulgaria owned some 9,900 m. of telegraph line, and some 2,700 m. of telephone line. There were four fixed radio telegraphic stations: Sofia (Telefunken 10 kilowatts) Varna (Marconi), Shumen and Kyustendil, Kyustendil being not yet completed: according to the terms of the treaty, these stations may only be used for commercial purposes.
Social Conditions.—The programme of the Agrarian Government under the leadership of Stamboliiski was framed primarily in the interests of the peasants in contradistinction to those of the bourgeoisie. Some of the measures already in operation or contemplated in 1921 evoked much hostile criticism on the part of the Opposition, but though they involved some radical changes there seemed no probability of an outbreak of Bolshevism in Bulgaria. Stamboliiski had no wish to change the constitution, and King Boris had won the respect and affection of the people. The peasants were too much attached to their own homes and to their own way of life to desire great changes, provided they were spared further wars and were given a fair chance of peace and prosperity.
The Bulgars have always put a high value on education, and statistics show a steady increase in the number of those able to read and write; in 1910, Bulgaria ranked first in this respect among Balkan peoples, having 33.7% of literates, and in 1919–20, only 17% of the children of school age had failed to attend school: but the type of education so far provided had led to the overstocking of the clerical professions and to the neglect of technical occupations. The educational programme of the Agrarian Government aimed at giving a more practical bent to instruction generally and at affording equal opportunities to all classes of the community. The total period of compulsory education was to be extended from four to seven years; a large number of additional primary schools had already been opened and many pro-gymnasia were to be established, as well as professional schools, where a training could be obtained in agriculture, industries and practical science. Great results, both material and moral, were expected from the law of May 1920 which imposed a period of forced labour on all members of the community. This law, as originally drafted, provided for one year’s service for all males on completion of their 20th year and six months for females on completion of their l6th year, the time being devoted half to theoretical training and half to manual labour on works of public utility. Bulgaria’s neighbours, however, suspected that a military organization of the country might be effected by means of this compulsory service and, in deference to the Council of Ambassadors, the law had not been fully put in force in the spring of 1921. All classes of the community now give ten days' service annually to the State, and the results of the reconstruction work undertaken—bridge building, road making, repairs to buildings, forestry, etc.—seem satisfactory. Much, of course, depends on the technical supervision provided and on the practical organization of the work. School children, numbering 600,000, and students devoted in March-April 1921 a week to manual labour—cleansing buildings and streets, preparing gardens, planting trees, etc.
Other legislative measures taken include up to May 1921 expropriation of Crown and Church lands as well as of private properties of over 300 décares (say 75 ac.), the expropriated land being allotted to landless peasants; the commandeering of private houses for public purposes or for the accommodation of necessitous families; and proceedings by court-martial under Article 4 of the Law for Prosecution of War Criminals, against persons accused of being parties to the entry of Bulgaria into the World War and of contravention of laws during the war. The prosecutions resulted in long terms of imprisonment and heavy fines, and were naturally regarded by those affected who belonged to the bourgeois class, as vindictive and arbitrary acts of oppression. The Sobranye assented in March 1921 to the prosecution of Radoslavov and his Cabinet for violation of the constitution, notably by raising a loan in Germany with the object of directing the policy of Bulgaria towards the Central Powers and by declaring war on Serbia in 1916 without the consent of the Sobranye.
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