Kingdom of Bulgaria

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Tsardom of Bulgaria

Царство България
Tsarstvo Bŭlgariya
1908–1946
Motto: Съединението прави силата
Sŭedinenieto pravi silata
("Unity makes strength")
Anthem: "Maritsa Rushes"
Шуми Марица  (Bulgarian)
Shumi Maritsa  (transliteration)
Royal anthem
"Anthem of His Majesty the Tsar"
Химн на Негово Величество Царя  (Bulgarian)
Himn na Negovo Velichestvo Tsarya  (transliteration)
Kingdom of Bulgaria (1942).svg
The Kingdom of Bulgaria in 1942.
Capital Sofia
Common languages Bulgarian
Religion
Bulgarian Orthodoxy
Government
Tsar (King) 
 1908–1918
Ferdinand I
 1918–1943
Boris III
 1943–1946
Simeon II
Chairman of the Council of Ministers  
 1908–1911
Aleksandar Malinov (first)
 1944–1946
Kimon Georgiev (last)
Legislature National Assembly
History 
5 October (o. s. 22 September) 1908
1912–1913
10 August 1913
27 November 1919
9 September 1944
15 September 1946
Area
190895,223 km2 (36,766 sq mi)
1946110,994 km2 (42,855 sq mi)
Population
 1908
4,215,000
 1946
7,029,349
Currency lev
ISO 3166 code BG
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Bulgaria.svg Principality of Bulgaria
People's Republic of Bulgaria Flag of Bulgaria (1948-1967).svg
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Flag of SFR Yugoslavia.svg

The Kingdom of Bulgaria (Bulgarian : Царство България, Tsarstvo Bǎlgariya), also referred to as the Tsardom of Bulgaria and the Third Bulgarian Tsardom, was a constitutional monarchy in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, which was established on 5 October (O.S. 22 September) 1908 when the Bulgarian state was raised from a principality to a kingdom. Ferdinand I was crowned a Tsar at the Declaration of Independence, mainly because of his military plans and for seeking options for unification of all lands in the Balkans region with an ethnic Bulgarian majority (lands that had been seized from Bulgaria and given to the Ottoman Empire in the Treaty of Berlin).

Bulgarian language South Slavic language

Bulgarian, is an Indo-European language and a member of the Southern branch of the Slavic language family.

A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the sovereign exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchy differs from absolute monarchy in that constitutional monarchs are bound to exercise their powers and authorities within the limits prescribed within an established legal framework. Constitutional monarchies range from countries such as Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain, where the constitution grants substantial discretionary powers to the sovereign, to countries such as Japan and Sweden where the monarch retains no formal authorities.

Central and Eastern Europe Geographic region in Europe

Central and Eastern Europe, abbreviated CEE, is a term encompassing the countries in Central Europe, the Baltics, Eastern Europe, and Southeastern Europe (Balkans), usually meaning former communist states from the Eastern Bloc in Europe. Scholarly literature often uses the abbreviations CEE or CEEC for this term. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development also uses the term "Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs)" for a group comprising some of these countries.

Contents

The state was almost constantly at war throughout its existence, lending to its nickname as "the Balkan Prussia". For several years Bulgaria mobilized an army of more than 1 million people from its population of about 5 million and in the 1910s it engaged in three wars – the First and Second Balkan Wars, and the First World War. Following the First World War, the Bulgarian army was disbanded and forbidden to exist by the Allied Powers, and all plans for national unification of the Bulgarian lands failed. Less than two decades later Bulgaria once again went to war for national unification as part of the Second World War, and once again found itself on the losing side, until it switched sides to the Allies in 1944. In 1946, the monarchy was abolished, its final Tsar was sent into exile and the Kingdom was replaced by the People's Republic of Bulgaria.

Prussia state in Central Europe between 1525–1947

Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Königsberg and from 1701 in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.

First Balkan War 1910s war between the Balkan League and the Ottoman Empire

The First Balkan War, lasted from October 1912 to May 1913 and comprised actions of the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success.

Second Balkan War war

The Second Balkan War was a conflict which broke out when Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its share of the spoils of the First Balkan War, attacked its former allies, Serbia and Greece, on 16 (O.S.) / 29 (N.S.) June 1913. Serbian and Greek armies repulsed the Bulgarian offensive and counter-attacked, entering Bulgaria. With Bulgaria also having previously engaged in territorial disputes with Romania, this war provoked Romanian intervention against Bulgaria. The Ottoman Empire also took advantage of the situation to regain some lost territories from the previous war. When Romanian troops approached the capital Sofia, Bulgaria asked for an armistice, resulting in the Treaty of Bucharest, in which Bulgaria had to cede portions of its First Balkan War gains to Serbia, Greece and Romania. In the Treaty of Constantinople, it lost Edirne to the Ottomans.

History

Formation

Ferdinand I of Bulgaria at the proclamation of Bulgarian independence, 1908 Tzar Ferdinand at proclamation of Bulgarian-independence.jpg
Ferdinand I of Bulgaria at the proclamation of Bulgarian independence, 1908

Despite the establishment of the Principality of Bulgaria (subject to Ottoman suzerainty) in 1878, and the subsequent Bulgarian control over Eastern Rumelia after 1885, there was still a substantial Bulgarian population in the Balkans living under Ottoman rule, particularly in Macedonia. To complicate matters, Serbia and Greece too made claims over parts of Macedonia, while Serbia, as a Slavic nation, also considered Macedonian Slavs as belonging to the Serbian nation. Thus began a three-sided struggle for control of these areas which lasted until World War I. In 1903, there was a Bulgarian insurrection in Ottoman Macedonia and war seemed likely.

Principality of Bulgaria principality on the Balkan Peninsula between 1878 and 1908

The Principality of Bulgaria was a de facto independent, and de jure vassal state under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. It was established by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.

Ottoman Empire Former empire in Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa

The Ottoman Empire, historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.

Macedonia (region) geographical and historical region in southeastern Europe, today forming parts of Greece and North Macedonia

Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time; however, it came to be defined as the modern geographical region by the mid 19th century. Today the region is considered to include parts of six Balkan countries: Greece, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, and Kosovo. It covers approximately 67,000 square kilometres (25,869 sq mi) and has a population of 4.76 million.

In 1908, Ferdinand used the struggles among the Great Powers to declare Bulgaria an independent kingdom with himself as Tsar. He did this on 5 October (though celebrated on 22 September, as Bulgaria remained officially on the Julian Calendar until 1916) in the St Forty Martyrs Church in Veliko Tarnovo. Even before then, however, Bulgaria had only acknowledged the overlordship of the sultan in a formal way. Since 1878, Bulgaria had had its own constitution, flag and anthem, and conducted a separate foreign policy.

Holy Forty Martyrs Church, Veliko Tarnovo Church in Bulgarian

The Holy Forty Martyrs Church is a medieval Eastern Orthodox church constructed in 1230 in the town of Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria, the former capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire.

Veliko Tarnovo City in Bulgaria

Veliko Tarnovo is a city in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province.

Ferdinand took the Bulgarian title "Tsar" in honor of the rulers of the First and Second Bulgarian Empires. However, while previous Bulgarian "tsars" were reckoned as emperors, Ferdinand and his successors were called "king" outside Bulgaria. The Tarnovo Constitution was retained, with the word "tsar" replacing the word "prince."

First Bulgarian Empire medieval Bulgarian state that existed in southeastern Europe between the 7th and 11th centuries AD

The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state that existed in Southeastern Europe between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. It was founded in 681 when Bulgar tribes led by Asparuh moved to the northeastern Balkans. There they secured Byzantine recognition of their right to settle south of the Danube by defeating – possibly with the help of local South Slavic tribes – the Byzantine army led by Constantine IV. At the height of its power, Bulgaria spread from the Danube Bend to the Black Sea and from the Dnieper River to the Adriatic Sea.

Second Bulgarian Empire medieval Bulgarian state

The Second Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state that existed between 1185 and 1396. A successor to the First Bulgarian Empire, it reached the peak of its power under Tsars Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II before gradually being conquered by the Ottomans in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. It was succeeded by the Principality and later Kingdom of Bulgaria in 1878.

Tarnovo Constitution

The Tarnovo Constitution was the first constitution of Bulgaria.

The Balkan Wars

In 1911, the Nationalist Prime Minister Ivan Geshov set about forming an alliance with Greece and Serbia, and the three allies agreed to put aside their rivalries to plan a joint attack on the Ottomans.

Ivan Evstratiev Geshov Bulgarian politician

Ivan Evstratiev Geshov was a Bulgarian politician who served as Bulgarian Prime Minister.

Boundaries on the Balkans after the First and the Second Balkan War (1912-1913) Balkan Wars Boundaries.jpg
Boundaries on the Balkans after the First and the Second Balkan War (1912–1913)
The areas where the Ethnic Bulgarians were the majority of the population (in light green) in 1912 Bulgarians in 1912.jpg
The areas where the Ethnic Bulgarians were the majority of the population (in light green) in 1912

In February 1912 a secret treaty was signed between Bulgaria and Serbia, and in May 1912 a similar treaty was signed with Greece. Montenegro was also brought into the pact. The treaties provided for the partition of Macedonia and Thrace between the allies, although the lines of partition were left dangerously vague. After the Ottomans refused to implement reforms in the disputed areas, the First Balkan War broke out in October 1912. (See Balkan Wars for details.)

The allies had an astonishing success. The Bulgarian army inflicted several crushing defeats on the Ottoman forces and advanced threateningly against Constantinople, while the Serbs and the Greeks took control of Macedonia. The Ottomans sued for peace in December. Negotiations broke down, and fighting resumed in February 1913. The Ottomans lost Adrianople to a Bulgarian task force. A second armistice followed in March, with the Ottomans losing all their European possessions west of the Midia-Enos line, not far from Istanbul. Bulgaria gained possession of most of Thrace, including Adrianople and the Aegean port of Dedeagach (today Alexandroupoli). Bulgaria also gained a slice of Macedonia, north and east of Thessaloniki, but only some small areas along her western borders.

Bulgaria sustained the heaviest casualties of any of the allies, and on this basis felt entitled to the largest share of the spoils. The Serbs in particular did not see things this way, and refused to vacate any of the territory they had seized in northern Macedonia (that is, the territory roughly corresponding to the modern Republic of North Macedonia), stating that the Bulgarian army had failed to accomplish its pre-war goals at Adrianople (i.e., failing to capture it without Serbian help) and that the pre-war agreements on the division of Macedonia had to be revised. Some circles in Bulgaria inclined toward going to war with Serbia and Greece on this issue. In June 1913 Serbia and Greece formed a new alliance, against Bulgaria. The Serbian Prime Minister, Nikola Pasic, told Greece it could have Thrace if Greece helped Serbia keep Bulgaria out of Serbian part of Macedonia, and the Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos agreed. Seeing this as a violation of the pre-war agreements, and discreetly encouraged by Germany and Austria–Hungary, Tsar Ferdinand declared war on Serbia and Greece and the Bulgarian army attacked on June 29. The Serbian and the Greek forces were initially on the retreat on the western border, but they soon took the upper hand and forced Bulgaria into retreat. The fighting was very harsh, with many casualties, especially during the key Battle of Bregalnica. Soon Romania entered the war and attacked Bulgaria from the north. The Ottoman Empire also attacked from the south-east. The war was now definitely lost for Bulgaria, which had to abandon most of her claims of Macedonia to Serbia and Greece, while the revived Ottomans retook Adrianople. Romania took possession of southern Dobruja.

World War I

The largest territorial extent of Kingdom of Bulgaria (1915-1918) during World War I (including occupied territories) WWI BG MAP.jpg
The largest territorial extent of Kingdom of Bulgaria (1915–1918) during World War I (including occupied territories)
Bulgarian officers on the Macedonian Front Vladimir Vazov at Furka 20 February 1917.jpg
Bulgarian officers on the Macedonian Front

In the aftermath of the Balkan Wars, Bulgarian opinion turned against Russia and the western powers, whom the Bulgarians felt had done nothing to help them. The government of Vasil Radoslavov aligned Bulgaria with Germany and Austria–Hungary, even though this meant also becoming an ally of the Ottomans, Bulgaria's traditional enemy. But Bulgaria now had no claims against the Ottomans, whereas Serbia, Greece and Romania (allies of the UK and France) were all in possession of lands perceived in Bulgaria as Bulgarian. Bulgaria, recuperating from the Balkan Wars, sat out the first year of World War I, but when Germany promised to restore the boundaries of the Treaty of San Stefano, Bulgaria, which had the largest army in the Balkans, declared war on Serbia in October 1915. The UK, France, Italy and Russia then declared war on Bulgaria.

Bulgaria, in alliance with Germany, Austria–Hungary and the Ottomans, won military victories against Serbia and Romania, taking much of Macedonia (taking Skopje in October), advancing into Greek Macedonia, and taking Dobruja from the Romanians in September 1916. However, the war soon became unpopular with the majority of Bulgarian people, who suffered great economic hardship and also disliked fighting their fellow Orthodox Christians in alliance with the Muslim Ottomans. The Agrarian Party leader, Aleksandur Stamboliyski, was imprisoned for his opposition to the war. The Russian Revolution of February 1917 had a great effect in Bulgaria, spreading antiwar and anti-monarchist sentiment among the troops and in the cities. In June Radoslavov's government resigned. Mutinies broke out in the army, Stamboliyski was released and a republic was proclaimed.

In September 1918, the French, Serbs, British, Italians and Greeks broke through on the Macedonian front and Tsar Ferdinand was forced to sue for peace. Stamboliyski favoured democratic reforms, not a revolution. In order to head off the revolutionaries, he persuaded Ferdinand to abdicate in favour of his son Boris III. The revolutionaries were suppressed and the army disbanded. Under the Treaty of Neuilly (November 1919), Bulgaria lost its Aegean coastline to Greece and part of its Macedonian territory to the new state of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and had to give Dobruja back to the Kingdom of Romania (see also Dobruja, Western Outlands, Western Thrace). Elections in March 1920 gave the Agrarians a large majority, and Stamboliyski formed Bulgaria's first genuinely democratic government.

The interwar years

Boris III of Bulgaria reigned from 1918 to 1943. BASA-3K-15-636-1-Boris III of Bulgaria.jpg
Boris III of Bulgaria reigned from 1918 to 1943.

Political history

Territorial changes after the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine Map of Bulgaria after Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine-en.svg
Territorial changes after the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine

Although it had not lost large amounts of territory, the nation had again struggled hard for nothing. The lost territories, especially the Dobroujea and Macedonia, were considered integral parts of Bulgaria and the pressure to retake them became an ultimately fatal obsession that drove the country into the arms of Nazi Germany. However, unlike the other defeated Eastern European state, Hungary, Bulgaria continued with essentially the same government as before.

Stamboliyski faced huge social problems in what was still a poor country, inhabited mostly by peasant smallholders. Bulgaria was saddled with huge war reparations to Yugoslavia and Romania, and had to deal with the problem of refugees as pro-Bulgarian Macedonians had to leave the Yugoslav Macedonia. Nevertheless, Stamboliyski was able to carry through many social reforms, although opposition from the Tsar, the landlords and the officers of the much-reduced but still influential army was powerful. Another bitter enemy was the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO), which favoured a war to regain Macedonia for Bulgaria. Faced with this array of enemies, Stamboliyski allied himself with the Bulgarian Communist Party and opened relations with the Soviet Union.

Aleksandar Stamboliyski StamboliskiEnLaConferenciaDeGenova1922-2.jpeg
Aleksandar Stamboliyski

The Bulgarian government had the same handicap as most constitutional monarchies, which was not drawing a clear line between what powers were granted to the king and what were granted to Parliament. The 1879 constitution was intended to put power in the hands of the latter, but still allowed a clever enough monarch to gain control of the machinery of government. Such was the case with the wily Tsar Ferdinand, who however had been forced to abdicate after the back-to-back losses of the Balkan Wars and World War I. His son Boris then succeeded him to the throne, but the young king could not replace the power his father had built through decades of intrigue. As such, Parliament came to dominate after Boris appointed Alexander Stamboliyski as prime minister. Stamboliyski's Agrarian Party soon dominated Parliament with over half the seats. The rest of the seats were taken by the Bulgarian Communist Party, which was the country's second largest political party and the only other one of any significance (there were a dozen or so minor parties, but they had no representation in Parliament or any real significance). The Agrarian Party chiefly represented peasants, and especially those who were disgruntled with the government in Sofia since Ferdinand's reign saw extensive corruption and theft of money from the peasantry. Also while most of the lower classes in Bulgaria supported annexation of Macedonia, they were disgruntled about the heavy bloodshed incurred in two unsuccessful wars to retake it. Indeed, Stamboliyski actually spent the war years in jail due to his vociferous criticism of it. As for the BCP, it was mainly staffed by intelligentsia and urban professionals, but its chief constituents were the poorest peasants and other minorities. The AP by comparison represented better-off peasants. Under this climate, Stamboliyski hastily enacted a land reform in 1920, which was designed to break up some state properties, church lands, and the holdings of wealthier peasants. Predictably, it gave him widespread support and forced the BCP into an alliance with the AP mainly to gain a voice in Parliament.

However, Stamboliyski was a convinced anti-communist and sought to create an international movement to combat Marxism. This was his so-called "Green International", a counter to the communist "Red International". He traveled to Eastern European capitals promoting his view of a peasant alliance. But trouble began when he tried to spread it in Yugoslavia, a country that had very similar conditions to Bulgaria (i.e. very little industry and a large communist presence). Stamboliyski was well-liked in Belgrade because of supporting a peaceful solution to the Macedonia problem. He also advocated uniting all the Slavic-speaking nations in Eastern Europe into one large Yugoslav confederation. But he got into trouble because of the militant IMRO faction at home. Many Macedonian leaders had lived in Sofia since the failed 1903 revolt against the Ottoman Empire, and now they were joined by others who fled the Yugoslavian government (which maintained as its official position that Macedonians were ethnic Serbs). Since Bulgaria had been forced to limit the size of its armed forces after World War I, IMRO chieftains gained control of much of the border area with Yugoslavia.

Aleksandar Tsankov Aleksandar Tsankov.png
Aleksandar Tsankov

In March 1923, Stamboliyski signed an agreement with Yugoslavia recognizing the new border and agreeing to suppress IMRO. This triggered a nationalist reaction, and on 9 June there was a coup organized by the armed forces under General Ivan Valkov's Military Union with support from the Tsar and other right wing elements of the Tsardom after the AP controlled 87% of Parliament in the elections that year. The Bulgarian government could only muster a handful of troops to resist, and even worse was a peasant mob with no guns rallied by Stamboliyski. Despite this, the streets of Sofia erupted in chaos and the hapless prime minister was lynched in addition to attacks on unarmed peasants. The whole affair seriously tarbrushed Bulgaria's international image. A right wing government under Aleksandar Tsankov took power, backed by the Tsar, the army and the VMRO, who waged a White terror against the Agrarians and the Communists. The Communist leader Georgi Dimitrov fled to the Soviet Union. There was savage repression in 1925 following the second of two failed attempts on the Tsar's life in the bomb attack on Sofia Cathedral (the first attempt took place in the mountain pass of Arabakonak). But in 1926 the Tsar persuaded Tsankov to resign and a more moderate government under Andrey Lyapchev took office. An amnesty was proclaimed, although the Communists remained banned. The Agrarians reorganised and won elections in 1931 under the leadership of Nikola Mushanov.

Georgi Kyoseivanov Georgi Kyoseivanov2.png
Georgi Kyoseivanov

Just when political stability had been restored, the full effects of the Great Depression hit Bulgaria, and social tensions rose again. In May 1934 there was another coup by the military organization Zveno, and an authoritarian regime headed by Colonel Kimon Georgiev was established. They dissolved all parties and trade unions and suppressed the IMRO. Their government introduced a corporatist economy, similar to that of Benito Mussolini's Italy. After participating in the Bulgarian coup d'état of 1934, Zveno supporters declared their intention to immediately form an alliance with France and to seek the unification of Bulgaria into an Integral Yugoslavia. [1]

In April 1935 Boris III staged a counter-coup with the help of monarchist Zveno member General Pencho Zlatev and took power himself. The political process was controlled by the Tsar, but a form of parliamentary rule was re-introduced, without the restoration of the political parties, prime ministers were appointed by the monarch. [2] With the rise of the "King's government" in 1935, Bulgaria entered an era of prosperity and astounding growth, which deservedly qualifies it as the Golden Age of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom. [3] It lasted nearly five years, governed by prime minister Georgi Kyoseivanov. Kyoseivanov's Premiership oversaw the trials of the instigators of the 1934 military coup and also concluded pacts with Yugoslavia and Greece as Nazi Germany undertook a policy of economic isolation of the Balkans. His government also oversaw a policy of rearmament after a treaty concluded with Ioannis Metaxas overturned the military clauses of the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine and the Treaty of Lausanne. Although the signing of the Salonika Agreement of 1938 restored good relations with Yugoslavia and Greece, the territorial issue continued to simmer.

Economy

Interwar Bulgaria was highly backwards from an economic standpoint. Heavy industry was almost nonexistent due to a lack of major natural resources, and whatever manufacturing did exist consisted almost exclusively of textiles and handicrafts. Even these required extensive tariff protection to survive. Some natural resources did exist, but bad internal communications made it impossible to exploit them and nearly all important manufactured implements were imported. Farm machinery and chemical fertilizers were nearly unheard of. Agricultural products were almost the only thing Bulgaria could export and after 1929 it became very hard to do this.

Bulgarian peasant girl in the 1930s. BASA-2072K-1-320-7-Viticulture in Bulgaria.JPG
Bulgarian peasant girl in the 1930s.

Bulgarian agriculture was almost entirely one of small farmers and peasants. Plots were small and almost exclusively under 50 acres, but they were working intensively and even the tiniest 5-acre farms often produced crops for market sale. As elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Bulgarian peasants traditionally grew grains for their landowners which after the war could not be effectively marketed due to competition from the United States and Western Europe. However, they were able to switch with little difficulty to garden crops and tobacco in contrast to other countries where the peasantry suffered harder due to continued reliance on corn and wheat.

While more successful than the rest of Eastern Europe, Bulgarian agriculture still suffered from the handicaps of backwards technology and especially rural overpopulation and scattered plots (due to the traditional practice of a peasant dividing his land equally among all surviving sons). And all agricultural exports were harmed by the onset of the Great Depression. On the other hand, an underdeveloped economy meant that Bulgaria had little trouble with debt and inflation. Just under half of industry was owned by foreign companies in contrast to the nearly 80% of Romanian industry.

Demographics

Since the population was 85% ethnic Bulgarians, there was relatively little social strife aside from the conflict between the haves and have-nots. Most inhabitants of Sofia maintained close ties to the countryside, but this did not prevent a rift between the peasants and urban class (i.e. Sofia versus everyone else), although some was the result of deliberate manipulation by politicians seeking to take advantage of traditional peasant distrust of the "effeminate city slicker". Mostly however, it was due to a quarrel between the rulers and the ruled. Around 14% of the population were Muslims, mostly Turks (i.e. the remnant of the landowning class), but also a handful of so-called "Pomaks" (ethnic Bulgarians who practiced Islam). The Muslim population was alienated from the dominant Orthodox Christians both due to religious and historical reasons. They neither pressed for minority rights nor tried to set up their own schools, and instead asked nothing more than to be left alone to mind their own business. The Bulgarian government obliged except for a great willingness to assist them in emigrating back to Turkey.

Sofia University in 1935 Sof.University~1935.jpg
Sofia University in 1935

By comparison to economics, Bulgaria's educational system was highly successful and less than half the population were illiterate. Eight years of schooling were required and over 80% of children attended. For the few special students who went past elementary school, the high schools were based on the German gymnasium. Competitive examinations were used to judge college applicants, and Bulgaria had a number of technical and specialized schools in addition to the University of Sofia. Many Bulgarian students also went abroad, primarily to Germany and Austria (educational ties with Russia ended in 1917). Overall, education reached more of the lower classes than anywhere else in Eastern Europe, but on the downside all too many students obtained degrees in the liberal arts and other abstract subjects and could not find work anywhere except in the government bureaucracy. Many of them gravitated towards the Bulgarian Communist Party.

World War II

The government of the Kingdom of Bulgaria under Prime Minister Georgi Kyoseivanov declared a position of neutrality upon the outbreak of World War II. Bulgaria was determined to observe it until the end of the war; but it hoped for bloodless territorial gains in order to recover the territories lost in the Second Balkan War and World War I, as well as gain other lands with a significant Bulgarian population occupied by neighboring countries. However, it was clear that the central geopolitical position of Bulgaria in the Balkans would inevitably lead to strong external pressure by both World War II factions. On 15 February 1940, following the resignation of Georgi Kyoseivanov, Bogdan Filov was appointed Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bulgaria. On 7 September 1940, Bulgaria succeeded in negotiating the recovery of Southern Dobruja in the Axis-sponsored Treaty of Craiova.

Bulgaria during World War II KingdomOfBulgaria1941-1944.png
Bulgaria during World War II
Bulgarian army entering Southern Dobruja BASA-3K-7-436-9-Photo of South Dobruja, 1940.JPG
Bulgarian army entering Southern Dobruja

On 1 March 1941, Bulgaria formally signed the Tripartite Pact, becoming an ally of Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan, and the Kingdom of Italy. German troops entered the country in preparation for the German invasions of the Kingdom of Greece and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. When Yugoslavia and Greece were defeated, Bulgaria was allowed to occupy all of Greek Thrace and most of Macedonia. Bulgaria declared war on Britain and the United States, but resisted German pressure to declare war on the Soviet Union, fearful of pro-Russian sentiment in the country.

In August 1943 Tsar Boris died suddenly after returning from Germany (possibly assassinated, although this has never been proved) and was succeeded by his six-year-old son Simeon II. Power was held by a council of regents headed by the young Tsar's uncle, Prince Kirill. The new Prime Minister, Dobri Bozhilov, was in most respects a German puppet.

Resistance to the Germans and the Bulgarian regime was widespread by 1943, co-ordinated mainly by the Communists. Together with the Agrarians, now led by Nikola Petkov, the Social Democrats and even with many army officers they founded the Fatherland Front. Partisans operated in the mountainous west and south. By 1944 it was obvious that Germany was losing the war and the regime began to look for a way out. Bozhilov resigned in May, and his successor Ivan Ivanov Bagryanov tried to arrange negotiations with the western Allies.

Meanwhile, the capital Sofia was bombed by Allied aircraft in late 1943 and early 1944, with raids on other major cities following later. But it was the Soviet army which was rapidly advancing towards Bulgaria. In August Bulgaria unilaterally announced its withdrawal from the war and asked the German troops to leave: Bulgarian troops were hastily withdrawn from Greece and Yugoslavia. In September the Soviets crossed the northern border. The government, desperate to avoid a Soviet occupation, declared war on Germany, but the Soviets could not be put off, and on September 8 they declared war on Bulgaria – which thus found itself for a few days at war with both Germany and the Soviet Union. On September 16, the Soviet army entered Sofia.

Communist coup

The Fatherland Front took office in Sofia following a coup d'état, setting up a broad coalition under the former ruler Kimon Georgiev and including the Social Democrats and the Agrarians. Under the terms of the peace settlement, Bulgaria was allowed to keep Southern Dobruja, but formally renounced all claims to Greek and Yugoslav territory. 150,000 Bulgarians were expelled from Greek Thrace. The Communists deliberately took a minor role in the new government at first, but the Soviet representatives were the real power in the country. A Communist-controlled People's Militia was set up, which harassed and intimidated non-Communist parties.

On 1 February 1945, the new realities of power in Bulgaria were shown when Regent Prince Kiril, former Prime Minister Bogdan Filov, and hundreds of other officials of the old regime were arrested on charges of war crimes. By June, Kirill and the other Regents, twenty-two former ministers, and many others had been executed. In September 1946, the monarchy was abolished by plebiscite, and young Tsar Simeon was sent into exile. The Communists now openly took power, with Vasil Kolarov becoming President and Dimitrov becoming Prime Minister. Free elections promised for 1946 were blatantly rigged and were boycotted by the opposition. The Agrarians refused to co-operate with the new regime, and in June 1947 their leader Nikola Petkov was arrested. Despite strong international protests he was executed in September. This marked the final establishment of a Communist regime in Bulgaria.

See also

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The Balkan Wars consisted of two conflicts that took place in the Balkan Peninsula in 1912 and 1913. Four Balkan states defeated the Ottoman Empire in the first war. The main victor of the four, Bulgaria, fought and pushed back all four original combatants of the first war along with halting a surprise attack from Romania from the north in the second war. The conflicts ended catastrophically for the Ottoman Empire, which lost the bulk of its territory in Europe. Austria-Hungary, although not a combatant, became relatively weaker as a much enlarged Serbia pushed for union of the South Slavic peoples. The war set the stage for the Balkan crisis of 1914 and thus served as a "prelude to the First World War".

The history of Bulgaria can be traced from the first settlements on the lands of modern Bulgaria to its formation as a nation-state and includes the history of the Bulgarian people and their origin. The earliest evidence of hominid occupation discovered on what is today Bulgaria date from at least 1.4 million years ago. Around 5000 BC, a sophisticated civilization already existed and produced some of the first pottery and jewelry in the world. After 3000 BC, the Thracians appeared on the Balkan peninsula. In the late 6th century BC, most of what is nowadays Bulgaria came under the Persian Empire. In the 470s BC, the Thracians formed the powerful Odrysian Kingdom, probably after the Persian defeat in Greece, which subsequently declined and Thracian tribes fell under Macedonian, Celtic and Roman domination. This mixture of ancient peoples was assimilated by the Slavs, who permanently settled on the peninsula after 500 AD.

Boris III of Bulgaria Tsar of Bulgaria

Boris III, originally Boris Klemens Robert Maria Pius Ludwig Stanislaus Xaver, was Tsar of Bulgaria from 1918 until his death.

Aleksandar Stamboliyski Bulgarian prime minister

Aleksandar Stoimenov Stamboliyski was the prime minister of Bulgaria from 1919 until 1923. Stamboliyski was a member of the Agrarian Union, an agrarian peasant movement which was not allied to the monarchy, and edited their newspaper. He opposed the country's participation in World War I and its support for the Central Powers. In a famous incident during 1914 Stamboliyski's patriotism was challenged when members of the Bulgarian parliament questioned whether he was Bulgarian or not, to which he shouted in response "At a moment, like the current, when our brothers South Slavs are threatened, I am neither a Bulgarian nor a Serb, I am a South Slav (Yugoslav)!". This statement relates to his belief in a Balkan Federation which would unite the region and supersede many of the national identities which existed at the time. He was court-martialed and sentenced to life in prison in 1915 due to his opposition to Bulgaria joining the Central Powers in WWI.

Demographic history of Macedonia

The region of Macedonia is known to have been inhabited since Paleolithic times.

Treaty of Bucharest (1913) 1913 peace treaty in the Second Balkan War

The Treaty of Bucharest was concluded on 10 August 1913, by the delegates of Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece. The Treaty was concluded in the aftermath of the Second Balkan War and amended the previous Treaty of London, which ended the First Balkan War. About one month later, the Bulgarians signed a separate border treaty with the Ottomans, who had regained some territory west of the Enos-Midia Line during the second war.

After the Russo-Turkish War, an autonomous Bulgarian state was created within the Ottoman Empire by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878. Although remaining under Ottoman sovereignty, it functioned independently, taking Alexander of Battenberg as its first prince. In 1885 it took control of the still-Ottoman Eastern Rumelia, officially under a personal union. Following the abdication of Alexander, Ferdinand I was elected prince in 1887. Full independence was declared in 1908.

Bulgarian Agrarian National Union political party in Bulgaria

Bulgarian Agrarian National Union also translated to English as Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union is a political party devoted to representing the causes of the Bulgarian peasantry. It was an agrarian movement and was most powerful between 1900 and 1923. Unlike the socialist movements of the early 20th century, it was devoted to questions concerning agriculture and farm workers, rather than industry and factory workers. The BZNS, one of the first and most powerful of the agrarian parties in Eastern Europe, dominated Bulgarian politics during the beginning of the 20th century. It is also the only agrarian party in Europe that ever came to power with a majority government, rather than merely as part of a coalition. It is a founding member of the former International Agrarian Bureau.

Military history of Bulgaria during World War II aspect of history

The military history of Bulgaria during World War II encompasses an initial period of neutrality until 1 March 1941, a period of alliance with the Axis Powers until 9 September 1944 and a period of alignment with the Allies in the final year of the war. Bulgaria functioned as an authoritarian state during most of World War II. Tsar Boris III ruled with a prime minister and a parliament.

Greater Bulgaria irredentism

Greater Bulgaria is a term to identify the territory associated with a historical national state and a modern Bulgarian irredentist nationalist movement which would include most of Macedonia, Thrace and Moesia.

Balkans campaign (World War I) part of World War I

The Balkans campaign, or Balkan theatre of World War I was fought between the Central Powers, represented by Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany and the Ottoman Empire on one side and the Allies, represented by France, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, and the United Kingdom on the other side.

Bulgaria during World War I aspect of history

The Kingdom of Bulgaria participated in World War I on the side of the Central Powers from 14 October 1915, when the country declared war on Serbia, until 30 September 1918, when the Armistice of Thessalonica came into effect.

1923 Bulgarian coup détat coup détat

The 1923 Bulgarian coup d'état, also known as the 9 June coup d'état, was a coup d'état in Bulgaria implemented by armed forces under General Ivan Valkov's Military Union on the eve of 9 June 1923. Hestitantly legitimated by a decree of Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria, it overthrew the government of the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union headed by Aleksandar Stamboliyski and replaced it with one under Aleksandar Tsankov.

Bulgaria–United States relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Bulgaria and the United States of America

Bulgarian-American relations, first formally established in 1903, have moved from missionary activity and American support for Bulgarian independence in the late 19th century to the growth of trade and commerce in the early 20th century, to reluctant hostility during World War I and open war and bombardment in World War II, to ideological confrontation during the Cold War, to partnership with the United States in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and growing political, military and economic ties in the beginning of the 21st century.

History of the Macedonians (ethnic group)

The history of the ethnic Macedonians has been shaped by population shifts and political developments in the southern Balkans, especially within the region of Macedonia. The ideas of separate Macedonian identity grew in significance after the First World War, both in Vardar Macedonia and among the left-leaning diaspora in Bulgaria, and were endorsed by the Comintern. During the Second World War this ideas were supported by the Communist Partisans, but the decisive point in the ethnogenesis of this South Slavic people was the creation of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia after the World War II, as a new state in the framework of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Rayko Daskalov politician

Rayko Ivanov Daskalov was a Bulgarian interwar politician of the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BANU). One of the chief leaders of the republican Vladaya Uprising organised by deserted Bulgarian Army troops in 1918 against the government, from 1919 to 1923 Daskalov was a prominent member of the BAPU governments which were in power in Bulgaria in the early post-World War I period.

Association against Bulgarian Bandits

The Association against Bulgarian Bandits was a paramilitary organization based in Štip, then in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

Yordan Tsitsonkov

Yordan Tsitsonkov was a Bulgarian revolutionary from Macedonia and activist of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), who assassinated the exiled Bulgarian politician Rayko Daskalov on 26 August 1923.

References

  1. Khristo Angelov Khristov. Bulgaria, 1300 years. Sofia, Bulgaria: Sofia Press, 1980. p. 192.
  2. "Balkans and World War I" Archived 12 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine SofiaEcho.com
  3. King of Mercy, by Pashanko Dimitroff, Great Britain, 1986

Coordinates: 42°42′N23°19′E / 42.700°N 23.317°E / 42.700; 23.317