Cold War in the Balkans

Cold War in the Balkans: American Foreign Policy and the Emergence of Communist Bulgaria 1943--1947

Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 264
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    Cold War in the Balkans
    Book Description:

    As World War II drew to a close, the United States and the Soviet Union began to maneuver for position in postwar Europe, in the first exploratory moves of what would soon become a worldwide contest for power and prestige. In Bulgaria, Michael Boll finds a unique vantage point for study of the processes of international politics during these years of the emergence of the Cold War. Bulgaria, he writes, was to assume a significance for both the United States and the Soviet Union greater than that small nation's intrinsic importance to either Great Power.

    Bulgaria had joined the Axis -- under pressure -- during the war, though it alone among the Axis satellites had refused to declare war on the Soviet Union. Willing in 1943 to lend support to an American plan devised to bring about Bulgaria's surrender and its participation in the war against Germany, the Soviet by the fall of 1944 was to invade Bulgaria and form an alliance with the Bulgarian Communists, who offered dependable support in the Red Army's continuing war effort. When military objectives were replaced by the Soviet's political drive for consolidation of its newly won empire, the Bulgarian Communists remained indispensable allies and continued the determined campaign that culminated in 1947 in declaration of the People's Republic of Bulgaria.

    Boll refutes the frequent charge of American "nonpolicy" toward Eastern Europe in this period, concluding that the "loss" of Bulgaria was the result not of the lack of determined policy, but of a realistic assessment of American capabilities and strategic priorities. Cold War in the Balkans, drawing on important new Eastern European sources and newly declassified British and American archives, relates international diplomatic history to local political developments in a way that gives new depth to the study of Cold War origins.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6217-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The mid-1940s were formative in the emergence of an intense East-West rivalry, which has diminished little to the present day. Reflecting upon the defeat of Hitler and its implications, Joseph Stalin informed a visiting American senator in the fall of 1945 that “we shall have to find a new basis for our close relations in the future. And that will not be easy.”¹ That such a basis remained undiscovered has inspired a plethora of studies of postwar international diplomacy, each seeking to attribute fault or ignorance in varying degree to the policies pursued by the victorious powers once the common...

  5. 1 Wartime Planning for Bulgaria
    (pp. 7-28)

    Bulgaria on the eve of World War II was a small Slavic state often described as the “key to the Balkans.” Located along the Black Sea and bordering on Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey, and Rumania, Bulgaria possessed a population slightly in excess of 6 million and embraced just over 103,000 square kilometers, its borders having been determined by the Treaty of Neuilly at the close of World War I. Bulgarian politics had experienced a stormy path in the interwar period under the guidance of its monarch, King Boris, who had established tight control over domestic and international policy following a palace...

  6. 2 The Diplomacy of the Bulgarian Surrender
    (pp. 29-51)

    Although Secretary of State Cordell Hull’s endorsement of the OSS plan to detach Bulgaria from the Axis in the fall of 1943 lent a sense of urgency to deliberations within his department about that nation’s future, a Bulgarian surrender had been broached within the State Department’s Post-War Foreign Policy Advisory Committee some eighteen months before. The major task confronting the civilian planners from late 1943 onward was to convert the plethora of ideas and suggestions into an agreement that could get Bulgaria out of the war while meeting both the needs of the War Department and the changing realities of...

  7. 3 Perceptions of Revolutionary Bulgaria
    (pp. 52-76)

    In the thirteen-month period from initial approval of the OSS plan in the fall of 1943 to the actual occupation by Soviet troops, U.S. postwar planning had been premised upon a Bulgaria administered by the two Western Allies dealing with a friendly cabinet in Sofia dominated by the Bulgarian army. The events of September 1944 abruptly ended assumptions. By the time of the October 28 armistice, a heretofore little-known revolutionary coalition, the Fatherland Front, sat as the government in Sofia. Equally unsettling, the Soviet High Command now dominated both military and political affairs in Bulgaria, reforming the Bulgarian army into...

  8. 4 Yalta and the Postponement of Elections
    (pp. 77-101)

    The final months of 1944 ushered in a period of renewed American uncertainty concerning Soviet policy in southeastern Europe during the remaining days of the war. Hugh De Santis titles his chapter covering this period “Distress Signals in Eastern Europe.”¹ Even before the arrival of Maynard Barnes in Sofia, other U.S. representatives abroad cautioned that Soviet military victories portendes harsher demands and more stringent rules against states occupied by the Red Army. In September, George Kennan, chargé in Moscow, warned: “People at home would find Soviet words and actions easier to understand if they would bear in mind the character...

  9. 5 The Campaign for Tripartite Administration
    (pp. 102-127)

    The political disputes that surfaced in the spring of 1945 both in Rumania and Bulgaria brought into sharp relief the disadvantages under which the U.S. military missions in the Balkans continued to operate. The earlier distinctions drawn by the State Department as to differing degrees of American interest in the future of these states began to wane in the face of a perceived common threat posed by Soviet and domestic Communist activities that followed a disturbingly similar pattern. During the Rumanian crisis in March, the Soviet refusal to consider formation of a tripartite commission for fear of undermining the Rumanian...

  10. 6 Planning for Postwar Bulgaria
    (pp. 128-155)

    No one who has inhabited the offices of the State or Defense departments during periods of change from one presidential administration to another ever forgets the creative confusion that overwhelms the everyday routine of business, confusion whose plasticity makes most difficult the historian’s efforts to impose form or coherence. Individuals once assumed to be placid and uncaring suddenly write daily memorandums to section heads, revealing whirlpools of personal and professional discontent where before indifference seemed to reign. Previous supporters of existing policy directives and their underlying assumptions take on a conservative posture, awaiting emergence of a new consensus they can...

  11. 7 The Search for Compromise
    (pp. 156-173)

    While the Allied foreign ministers gathered in London to debate the future of the former Axis satellites, the Bulgarian Communists were taking steps to ensure that the recent election postponement would not rebound to their disadvantage. On August 27, the party’s Central Committee approved the postponement and, three days later, resolved to admit into the reorganized Fatherland Front all groups sincerely in support of its programs who “stand on the position of defense of Bulgaria’s independence from foreign interference.” A proposal to allow separate lists for the individual Front parties was rejected, and the following day all Agrarians who had...

  12. 8 The Decision to Recognize
    (pp. 174-188)

    The spring 1946 Soviet notes rejecting a compromise solution for Bulgaria and the failure of Prime Minister Georgiev to arrange an agreement in Sofia reached a State Department already deeply divided over the nature of the Soviet threat in Europe and how best it might be met. Early in the new year, President Truman had directly challenged the optimistic assumptions underlying Byrnes’s negotiating stance at the Moscow Conference, remarking to his secretary of state that “unless Russia is faced with an iron fist and strong language another war is in the making. Only one language do they understand—‘how many...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 189-192)

    The decision to extend recognition to Bulgaria, although derived from sound arguments, soon proved incapable of reestablishing even a modicum of American influence in Sofia as Bulgaria continued her course toward socialism. In 1949, Bulgaria became a founding member of the Soviet-sponsored Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), having rejected participation in Marshall Plan aid. In 1955, Bulgaria became a founding member of the Warsaw Pact. By this latter date, the American presence in Bulgaria had ceased, the result of an official break in diplomatic relations during the Bulgarian purge trials in 1950. Contrary to the initial hopes of Secretary...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 193-226)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 227-242)
  16. Index
    (pp. 243-250)