1939-1944 1947-1956

Bulgaria after World War II, 1944-1947

Administration A Fatherland Front government was formed, which included the Communists. The latter, at first, were content with the role of a junior partner; they held the position of minister of the interior. Communists were not blamed for the failure of past policies. Membership of the Bulgarian Workers' Party (BWP, Communists) increased significantly. The Communists managed to extend their control over institution after institution, among them the army, the media, local Fatherland Front bodies etc. Here the Soviet-run ACC (Allied Control Commission) assisted the BWP. The U.S. and Britain, via the ACC, attempted to block the transition of Bulgaria from a multiparty democracy into a Soviet-style People's democracy; the one lever they had were the peace negotiations. The USSR maintained control of the political process. After Bulgaria was given her peace treaty (signed Feb. 10th 1947), there was no obstacle preventing the BCP proclaiming the People's Republic.
The BWP's leader was Georgi Dimitrov (not to be confused with a leading politician of the Agrarian party, with the same name).
The monarchy was abolished in a referendum held in September 1946. In December 1947, Bulgaria adopted a new constitution, the Dimitrov constitution, which declared Bulgaria to be a People's Republic.
The Fatherland Front presented a unified list of candidates. Elections were held in 1946; the Fatherland Front got 2.98 million votes, the opposition 1.23 million votes (BBoY 1947 pp.162-163).

Foreign Policy . An Allied armistice with Bulgaria was signed on October 28th 1944. Hitherto a German ally, on September 8th 1944, Bulgaria declared war on Germany.
Sentiment toward the Russians and Communists was favourable in Bulgaria; the people in general were enthusiastically pro-Russian, remembering what Russians had done for Bulgaria in 1878.
Georgi Dimitrov propagated the concept of a Yugoslav-Bulgarian Federation (Balkan Communist Federation); the Bled Agreement of August 1st 1947 foresaw a customs union of Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.
In a peace treaty, Bulgaria had to cede all territorial gains it had made in WW II except the southern Dobrudja.

Domestic Policies . The ACC then proceded to accuse so-called collaborators and war-criminals; despite the fact that Bulgaria had played a restrained role during the war, that it had neither participated in the war against Russia nor handed over its Jewish community to the Germans, a relatively large number of Bulgarians was accused and sentenced. These trials served as a means to eliminate the old political leadership, competition of the BWP; many were executed. Other non-communist leaders fled to avoid arrest and possible sentencing.

Ethnic, Religious Minorities . In 1945 the schism between the autokephalous Church of Bulgaria under an Exarch, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, was ended (NIYB 1945 p.91).

The Economy . In March 1947 Bulgaria introduced a currency reform. A Two Year Plan (1947-1948) was introduced in 1947. The drought of 1946 had created a difficult food situation. In April 1946, prices of industrial goods were reduced (BBoY 1948 p.150).

Social History . In 1944, Bulgaria introduced universal adult womanhood suffrage. In 1946 a land reform was implemented, land owned by the church and by feudal landowners confiscated and shared out to peasants. The 1946 census counted 7.029 million Bulgarians.
CARE distributed food parcels to needy families in 1947, but closed down her operations in the country due to government interference in 1948 (Campbell p.59).

Articles Fatherland Front, Elections in Bulgaria, List of Prime Ministers of Bulgaria, Georgi Dimitrov, Allied Commission, Armistice with Bulgaria, Bled Agreement, from Wikipedia
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Bulgaria
Opposition Parties in Bulgaria, 1944-1948, by Jerzy Jackowicz
The Bulgarian-Yugoslav Rivalry 1943-1948, from Hellenic Macedonia
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 (Jan Lahmeyer)
Bulgaria's flag, 1944-1946, from FOTW, flag 1946-1990 from FOTW
The Yalta Conference Agreement, Feb. 11th 1945, from Britannia Historical Documents, on Bulgaria (Allied Control Commission), scroll down
Armistice Agreement with Bulgaria, October 28th 1944, from Avalon Project at Yale Law School
Paris Peace Conference, July 29 to October 15, 1946, Report by Secretary Byrnes, October 18, 1946, from Avalon Project at Yale Law School (on Peace for Italy, Bulgaria Rumania, Hungary, Finland)
Paris Peace Treaty for Bulgaria, 1947, from Australian Treaty Series
Bulgarian banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money
REFERENCE R.J. Crampton, A Concise History of Bulgaria, Cambridge Concise Histories 1997 pp.169-187 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
Wallace J. Campbell, The History of CARE, NY : Praeger 1990 [G]
Article : Bulgaria, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1946 pp.158-159, 1947 pp.162-163, 1948 pp.150-151 [G]
Article : Bulgaria, in : Americana Annual 1945 pp.120-121, 1946 pp.131-132, 1947 pp.107-108 [G]
Article : Peace Conference and Pacts, in : Americana Annual 1947 pp.542-546 [G]
Article : Bulgaria, in : Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1946, pp.85-86 [G]
Article : Bulgaria, in : New International Year Book Events of 1945 pp.89-93 [G]
Elizabeth Barker, British Policy toward Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary 1944-1946, pp.201-220 in : Martin McCauley (ed.), Communist Power in Europe 1944-1949, London : MacMillan 1977 [G]

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First posted in 2000, last revised on November 25th 2009

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