World War I, 1914-1918 1926-1934

Bulgaria 1918-1926

Administration . King Ferdinand was succeeded by his son, King Boris III. (1918-1943). The office of PM was held by Alexander Malinov (Democratic Party, 1918), Teodor Teodorov (People's Party, 1918-1919), Alexander Stamboliyski (1919-1923), Alexander Tsankov (1923-1926). General Elections were held in 1919, 1920 and twice in 1923.

Political History . After King Ferdinand's abdication, parliament found itself in command of Bulgarian politics. Yet the countries' political parties had not learned how to come to terms with each other; several parties each commanding a considerable minority in the Subranje - the Agrarians as well as the Communists - wanted to form a government on their own. Alexander Stamboliyski first had the preceding cabinet and all members parliament arrested for "by their Germanophile tendency" have "contributed to the catastrophe" (NIYB 1919 p.122); he then formed a coalition government consisting of the democrats and the liberals. When the communists organized a general strike, the government reacted with a clampdown, ending the threat of a communist revolution (Jan. 1920).
Stamboliyski attempted to improve Bulgaria's relations with it's neighbours. Pursuing this aim, he criticized the Mihailovists (IMRO), Macedonian patriots who had established a stronghold at Petrich, on the Bulgarian-SHS border and from there raided SHS positions in Vardar Macedonia. In 1923 Stamboliyski by changing the election law engineered the election results in his favour; various opposition groups conspired and staged a coup on June 9th 1923. Stamboliyski was lynched by Mihailovists (IMRO).
The new government coalition headed by Alaxander Tsankov faced communist actions (a rising in Sept. 1923, the bombing of Sofia's Sveta Nedelya Cathedral in 1925 in an attempt to assassinate King Boris). In 1925, martial law was declared, the communist party outlawed, communists detained.
In January 1926 Alexander Tsankov, failing to acquire a desparately needed loan, resigned.

Foreign Policy . On November 27th 1919 the Treaty of Neuilly was signed, according to which Bulgaria had to cede all of its occupied territories, in addition Western Thrace (to Greece) and several border regions (Strumitza, Tsaribrod, to SHS). In addition, reparations were to be paid to Greece, Romania and to SHS (what was to become Yugoslavia). Refugees from Vardar Macedonia migrated to Bulgaria proper.
Many in Bulgaria were not prepared to accept the territorial cessions. Organizations such as IMRO and ITRO organized terrorist raids into the ceded territories; Bulgarian authorities were reluctant to curb their activities, as they enjoyed widespread sympathy in Bulgaria. However, their activities negatively affected relations with Bulgaria's neighbours Romania, Greece and SHS. The Tsankov cabinet (1923-1926) tried to contain the IMRO / ITRO.
In 1920 Bulgaria joined the League of Nations.
In 1925, responding to cross border raids into Greece originating from Bulgarian territory, Greek troops invaded, an invasion which was quickly condemned by the League of Nations; the Greeks withdrew.

The Economy . Bulgaria's economy suffered from the reparations (of $ 450 million) it had to pay to it's neighbours, the general post-war depression, from refugees and ex-soldiers to be reintegrated into the country's economy. As Bulgaria was still a largely agrarian country, these problems were of a different nature as in the more industrialized countries of Austria and Germany.
A Land Reform was enacted in June 1920 according to which 'excess property', among it lands owned by monasteries, were sold to peasants. A law was passed which introduced compulsory labour for men over 20 and women over 18. Another law attempted to contain speculation and profiteering. (NIYB 1920 p.111).
In 1918, Bulgaria produced 0.631 million metric tons of wheat, in 1925 1.126 million, in 1926 0.995 million metric tons (IHS p.261).

Social History . The census of 1920 counted 4.84 million inhabitants of Bulgaria, the census of 1926 5.47 million.
The end of World War I and the reduction of the size of Bulgaria's army, as stipulated by the Treaty of Neuilly, resulted in 860,000 veterans having to be reintegrated into the national economy. The cession of territory in consequence of the Treaty of Neuilly had caused an influx of refugees, which continued after Greece and Turkey agreed on the exchange of their mutual ethnic minorities in 1923; overall Bulgaria received c.120,000 refugees. Their social and economic integration was to take years.
Bulgaria being among the losers of World War I, the country experienced the post war crisis extraordinarily severe. The crisis again caused social unrest, as materialized in Communist rebellions and IMRO / ITRO terrorism.

Cultural History . The Bulgarian National Olympic Committee and the Bulgarian Football Union were established in 1923. Bulgarian athletes participated in the Summer Olympics held in Paris in 1924.

Articles List of Prime Ministers of Bulgaria, Elections in Bulgaria, IMRO in the Interwar Period, Bulgaria at the 1924 Summer Olympics, Alexander Tsankov, Alexander Stamboliyski, Incident at Petrich (Greek invasion 1925), Bulgarian Olympic Committee, Bulgarian Football Union, from Wikipedia
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Bulgaria
DOCUMENTS Table of Bulgaria's Prime Ministers, 1879-present, from Bulgaria Online
World Statesmen : Bulgaria, from Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : Bulgaria, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
Treaty of Peace Between the Allied and Associated Powers and Bulgaria, and Protocol and Declaration signed at Neuilly-sur-Seine, 27 November 1919, from World War I Document Archive
Bulgarian banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money
REFERENCE B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]
R.J. Crampton, A Concise History of Bulgaria, Cambridge Concise Histories 1997 pp.147-159 KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.7 C889a
Article : Bulgaria, pp.623-636, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Macropaedia vol.14, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.14
Raymond Detrez, Historical Dictionary of Bulgaria, Lanham Md. : Scarecrow 2006, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 949.9003 D 483h
Article : Bulgaria, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1919 pp.723-731, 1924 pp.716-724, 1925 pp.727-735, 1926 pp.705-714 [G]
Article : Bulgaria, in : The New International Year Book 1919 pp.120-122, 1920 pp.108-111, 1921 pp.107-109, 1923 pp.110-113, 1925 pp.112-14 [G]
Time/Life : Time Capsule 1925, A History of the Year Condensed from the Pages of Time, pp.111-114 [G]
Stephen Graham, Europe - Whither Bound ? Being Letters of Travel from the Capitals of Europe in the Year 1921 (Toronto 1922), chapter IV : Sofia, posted online by Gutenberg Library Online

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First posted in 2000, last revised on October 17th 2007

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