Prehistory From Liberation to the Second Balkan War
The Russian army gave freedom from the Ottoman yoke to Bulgaria. According to the results of the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878. Bulgaria, with its center in Sofia, was declared an autonomous principality, effectively becoming an independent state. However, a significant portion historical Bulgaria - Bulgarian lands south of the Balkans (Eastern Rumelia with a center in Philippopolis); and Macedonia - lands to the Adriatic and the Aegean Sea, remained behind the Ottoman Empire. This did not suit Sofia. The Bulgarian leadership headed for the unification of Bulgaria and Rumelia. At the same time, Petersburg did not want to “rock the boat” in the Balkans and did not support Sofia. Therefore, Sofia gradually began to look for allies in the West.
As a result of the popular uprising in Eastern Rumelia on September 8, 1885, in Philippopolis (Plovdiv), its unification with Bulgaria was proclaimed. This event triggered a Bulgarian crisis. Vienna, fearing the emergence of a powerful Slavic power in the Balkans, which will focus on Russia, pushed Serbia into a war with the still fragile principality of Bulgaria, promising Serbia territorial acquisitions in the Western Balkans. Serbia, to prevent the strengthening of Bulgaria and having a number of territorial disputes with the Bulgarians, declared war on Bulgaria. Serbia hoped that Turkey would support it. But the Ottomans were afraid of the pressure of the great powers, especially Russia, and did not enter the war. The Serbs underestimated the enemy and were defeated. Only the intervention of Austria-Hungary, which warned Bulgaria that if the Bulgarian army did not retreat, Austria would intervene in the war, stopped the Bulgarian offensive. In February 1886, a peace treaty was signed in Bucharest, no territorial changes were made. However, the great powers resigned to the unification of Bulgaria. At the same time, Sofia was greatly offended by Russia.
In Sofia itself, a pro-Russian coup d'état occurred and Prince Alexander, who supported the policy of unifying Bulgaria and was guided by Austria, was overthrown. A new prince was again chosen a man who was also not a supporter of Russia - Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gothic, a protege of Austria-Hungary. Ferdinand claimed the leadership of Bulgaria in the Balkans, considering it as the main contender for the European legacy of the Ottoman Empire, which irritated Serbia and Russia. Therefore, he relied on the support of Austria and Germany.
Thus, Bulgaria met the 20th century, being already a completely different country than after liberation from the Turkish yoke. The struggle between Russophobes and Russophiles in the Bulgarian elite ended in victory for Russophobes. Prince Ferdinand I established a “personal regime,” based on fear and corruption. Russophobia touched even the saint for the Bulgarians, the memory of the national liberation movement 1876-1878. The memorial church of St. Alexander Nevsky, built in 1912 in honor of the Russian soldiers-liberators and standing for three years to the unholy, in 1915 was renamed the Cathedral Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius with the following argument: “The name of Alexander Nevsky ... never did not meet the popular aspirations and ideals. "
The Berlin Peace Treaty of 1878 granted Bulgaria the status of a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. Although in reality the country conducted its own foreign policy and was no longer subordinate to Istanbul, the status of the dependent state infringed upon the national pride of the Bulgarians. After a coup took place in Turkey on 11 July 1908 and the Young Turks government came to power, Sofia decided it was time to reset the formal status of the dependent territory. Bulgaria has shown unequivocally that it wants complete independence. In response, the Ottoman Empire recalled its ambassador from Sofia. The Balkans were again on the brink of war.
In September, 1908 in Sofia held several secret meetings of Ferdinand I with the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph. Vienna supported Sophia’s position, since at that time he was preparing for the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and she needed to divert Russia. September 22 The solemn ceremony of proclaiming a new state, the Kingdom of Bulgaria, took place on September 1908. Ferdinand was declared king.
Despite a number of severe defeats of the Ottoman Empire, she still had large possessions in the Balkans, where millions of Bulgarians, Serbs and Greeks lived. Opponents of the Ottoman Empire decided to unite in order to finally oust Turkey from Europe and restore the integrity of their territories. Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece wanted to include the historical lands and, moreover, to achieve the greatest expansion of the borders of their powers (the projects of "Greater Greece", "Greater Serbia" and "Greater Bulgaria"). These projects were at odds with each other, since Bulgaria and Greece together claimed Thrace; Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria - to Macedonia, Serbia - to access the Adriatic Sea. Greece, Serbia and Montenegro were going to carry out the partition of Albania. However, while they had a common enemy - Turkey. Alone, neither Bulgaria, nor Serbia, nor Greece could resist the Ottoman Empire, which, despite the decline, was still a great power with a large army. In March 1912, an agreement was signed between Serbia and Bulgaria on the creation of a defensive alliance. In May, Greece joined the union. Later the union treaty was signed by Montenegro and Romania.
On October 8, 1912, the First Balkan War began. In May 1913, the war ended with the complete victory of the Balkan allies over the Ottoman Empire. Under the London Peace Treaty, Bulgaria acquired the province of Thrace with access to the Aegean Sea, as well as part of Macedonia. The first Balkan war allowed Bulgaria to create a fairly strong army with modern artillery and the first aviation detachment. Actively developed the young Bulgarian industry. King Ferdinand was generally open to everything new and tried to develop the country.
The Treaty of London opened the way to a new war. The Ottoman Empire abandoned most of its possessions in Europe in favor of the Balkan Union, but the member countries of the union themselves had to, without foreign mediation, divide the conquered territories. None of the founding states of the Balkan Union was fully satisfied with the London Agreement and the result of the war. Serbia did not receive access to the Adriatic because of the formation of the new state of Albania, Montenegro did not occupy Shkodra, Greece did not annex Thrace and part of Albania. Bulgaria was dissatisfied with the claims of the Serbs to Macedonia. There was a mass of territories where the Bulgarians lived interspersed with Romanians, Serbs or Greeks. There was a dispute over the "Macedonians", the Serbs considered them Serbs, the Bulgarians - the Bulgarians. In Greece, Macedonia was considered part of ancient Greece. The division of prey led to a new war.
Because of Albania, the war did not start, as the new independent state was under the protectorate of the great powers (primarily Austria-Hungary and Italy). Therefore, Macedonia and Thrace became the main stumbling block. Bulgaria and Serbia laid claim to Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria claimed Thrace. Germany and Austria-Hungary played an important role in unleashing the war, they wanted to destroy the Balkan alliance and entice its participants to their camp on the eve of a major war in Europe. German and Austrian diplomats in Belgrade bowed the Serbian king to war with Bulgaria and Greece. They say that since Serbia was unable to gain access to the Adriatic Sea, it can compensate for this by capturing Macedonia and Thessaloniki. Thus, Serbia would get access to the Aegean Sea. In Sofia, the envoys of Vienna and Berlin said the same thing, but to the king Ferdinand. Austria-Hungary promised Bulgaria support in the Macedonian issue.
As a result, Serbia began to prepare for war and concluded an anti-Bulgarian alliance with Greece, which did not want to strengthen Bulgaria and already had a common border with Serbia. Montenegro is a traditional ally of Serbia. British diplomat George Buchanan, on the occasion of the start of the war, declared: "Bulgaria was responsible for the discovery of hostile actions, Greece and Serbia fully deserved the accusation of deliberate provocation." Indeed, it was an unjust war, all participants were in one way or another aggressors.
In the summer of 1913, Bulgaria began the war, hoping for a complete capture of Macedonia. Originally, the Bulgarians were successful, but then they were stopped. Serbian-Greek troops came to their senses from the first unexpected strike and launched a counteroffensive. In addition, Romania (which claimed land in South Dobruja) and Turkey decided to take advantage of the moment. They opposed Bulgaria. There was almost no resistance to the Romanian troops, since all the Bulgarian forces were far to the west of the country - on the Serbian-Bulgarian and Greek-Bulgarian fronts. The Turks seized Eastern Thrace and Adrianople. Bulgaria suffered a complete defeat.
10 August 1913 was signed the Bucharest peace treaty. Bulgaria, as a loser in the war, lost almost all of the territories captured during the First Balkan War and, moreover, South Dobrooja, which Romania gained. 29 September 1913 was signed the Constantinople Peace Treaty. The Ottoman Empire returned part of Eastern Thrace and the city of Adrianople (Edirne).
It is clear that Sophia was unhappy with this outcome of the war and wanted revenge. It is believed that the Bulgarian king Ferdinand I after signing the contract, he uttered the phrase: "My revenge will be terrible." Among the losers was also Russia, which suffered a serious diplomatic defeat in the Balkans. Slavic "bratushki" massacred the joy of Germany and Austria. The Balkan knot was not unraveled, but only added new reasons for a big war. So Serbia on the wave of victory was radicalized. In Belgrade, they dreamed of “Greater Serbia”, into which the lands should now have entered the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Vienna, they were very worried and were looking for the possibility of "neutralizing" Serbia. Revanchist Bulgaria dreamed of restoring the borders of May 1913 in May, for which it was necessary to break Serbia. In addition, the Bulgarians had territorial claims to Romania, Greece and Turkey.
Bulgarian King Ferdinand I
On the way to war
The defeat in the Second Balkan War was regarded in Bulgaria as the “First National Catastrophe”. Vasil Radoslavov became prime minister, who was guided by foreign policy towards Germany and Austria-Hungary. Ferdinand I supported this course. In Bulgaria, held a "purge" among the pro-Russian generals. Thus, the former head of the Bulgarian General Staff, commander of the Bulgarian army during the First Balkan War and assistant commander-in-chief during the Second Balkan War, General Radko-Dmitriev was sent as an envoy to Russia (and during the First World War will fight on the side of Russia).
In Bulgarian society, they actively cultivated ideas of revanchism. Many leading newspapers were anti-Serb and anti-Russian propaganda and were pro-German. The press propagated the idea that Bulgaria lost the war, since the Entente countries (including Russia) supported the enemies of Bulgaria - Greece and Serbia. Therefore, in the future confrontation, in order to regain lost territories, it is necessary to support Germany. Politicians often openly declared the need for revenge. In addition, the country was inundated with forced refugees from Macedonia, Thrace, South Dobrudja, which increased the discontent of the people and the position of revanchists. However, not everyone in Bulgaria believed that their country should get involved in a world war. In Bulgaria, there were still many supporters of an alliance with Russia.
Before the outbreak of the First World War, the Austro-Hungarian empire was the most interested in Bulgaria, frightened by the growing power of Serbia. Bulgaria also considered Serbia as the main opponent, which could lead to the formation of the Austro-Bulgarian alliance. However, at this time Berlin did not share the aspirations of Vienna. Kaiser Wilhelm II believed that Bulgaria suffered a strong defeat and its army lost its combat capability. Germany was more interested in Romania and Greece. Therefore, before the outbreak of the war, Berlin for a long time did not allow Vienna to take active actions against Bulgaria. Russia at that time unsuccessfully tried to restore its influence in Bulgaria. Petersburg offered to transfer to Bulgaria the important port of Kavala on the Aegean coast, but France and the United Kingdom did not support this initiative. All attempts by Russian diplomats to restore the Balkan Union failed.
A big role in the behavior of Bulgaria played finance. During the Balkan Wars, Sofia got into big debts. The defeat led to serious problems in the economy and finance. At the end of 1913, the Bulgarians began to look for the possibility of obtaining a large loan abroad. The envoys were sent to Paris, Vienna and Berlin. During the negotiations in Paris, the Bulgarians were given to understand that the loan is possible only if the cabinet of Radoslavov refused the course of rapprochement with Austria-Hungary and Germany. Austria and Germany met Bulgaria.
In mid-June, the Bulgarian government decided to conclude an agreement with the Austrian and German financiers. Russia and France, in order to disrupt this agreement, sent a proposal to the Bulgarian government on a loan of 1914 million francs without any political conditions and burdensome applications. However, Sofia, despite the profitability of the French proposal, refused it. At the same time, the Bulgarian government hid from the public the fact that France offers a loan without conditions. As a result, the German bankers granted Bulgaria a loan in the amount of 500 million francs. Lenders received the right to build a railroad to the Aegean coast, a royalty-free concession to operate coal mines, Bulgaria had to spend part of the money on a military order at German and Austro-Hungarian enterprises. After the signing of the agreement, the German influence on Bulgaria significantly increased.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Vasil Radoslavov
Bulgaria during the First World War
The Austro-Serbian conflict that began after the Sarajevo assassination delighted Sofia. It was hoped that this conflict would solve the Bulgarian territorial problems. In addition, the beginning of the world war strengthened the importance of Bulgaria for the opposing alliances. For each of the two coalitions, the Bulgarian army and resources were essential. At the maximum voltage, Bulgaria could have deployed a half-million army. Bulgaria occupied an important strategic military position in the region: the country had access to the Black and Aegean Seas, and had a common border with all significant Balkan states. For Germany and Austria, Bulgaria was important as a strategic communication to Turkey and the Middle East. Bulgaria, according to Vienna and Berlin, could neutralize Romania and Greece, and help in the defeat of Serbia. Especially after the failure of the Austrian army to defeat Serbia during the 1914 campaign. For Atlanta, Bulgaria was a corridor linking Serbia with Russia. The transfer of Bulgaria to the side of the Entente could lead to the breaking of ties between Germany, Austria and Turkey, increase pressure on the Ottoman Empire and strengthen Serbia.
1 August 1914 The city of Radoslavov announced in the National Assembly the determination of the Bulgarian government to maintain neutrality until the very end of the war. Actually it was a hoax. Sofia started bargaining with Berlin and Vienna. Ferdinand and the Bulgarian government were not going to immediately rush into battle. They used the “wise neutrality” to bargain for the highest wages for entering a warrior and see which side military success was leaning on. In addition, Bulgaria was exhausted by the previous wars, it was necessary to recuperate. Yes, and to raise the Bulgarian people to the new war was not easy. In addition, neighboring Greece and Romania took a neutral position.
5 August 1914, Russia's envoy to Sofia, A. Savinsky, presented to King Ferdinand a document inviting Bulgaria to join Russia in the name of "... the realization of popular ideals." Sofia declared a strict neutrality. It must be said that the Entente powers had good trumps - they could seduce Sofia with the prospects of a possible section of the Turkish inheritance. However, the weakness of the unity of the positions of France, Russia and England affected. Britain quite often refrained from actively supporting the position of the representatives of Russia and France in Sofia.
In this regard, it was easier for Vienna and Berlin to develop a common position and jointly press Turkey to make concessions to Bulgaria. True, they had to take a low profile against the Balkan countries, which so far remained neutral, so as not to push them into the camp of the Entente. As a result, the struggle for Bulgaria dragged on.
November 1 Bulgaria 1914 officially confirmed its neutrality after the Ottoman Empire entered the war. Sofia took into account the successes of Serbia in the fight against Austria-Hungary, the neutrality of Greece and Romania, and the successes of the Russian army in the Austrian Galicia. In addition, Bulgarian society was not enthusiastic about the possible participation of Bulgaria in the European conflict. At the same time, the Bulgarian government was still hostile to Russia. The request of St. Petersburg about the passage through the territory of Bulgaria of Russian transports with grain for Serbia, the office of Radoslavov categorically rejected. In turn, transports from Germany and Austria-Hungary followed the territory of Bulgaria to the Ottoman Empire.
At the initiative of Russia, the diplomats of the Entente began discussions on the size of the possible territorial increments of Bulgaria, which can lure Sofia into their camp. In addition to the Turkish territories, the Entente tried to persuade Serbia to cede part of Macedonia. Traditional British-Russian contradictions in the Balkans and in the zone of straits, as well as the intransigence of Serbia, did not allow for a long time to work out a common position on this issue. Only 7 in December 1914, Sofia, was given a document stating that if Bulgaria remained neutral in the war, she would receive insignificant territorial compensation in Eastern Thrace at the expense of Turkey. If Bulgaria enters the war on the side of the Entente, then it was promised an expansion of territorial increments in Eastern Thrace. Sofia promised to maintain neutrality, although she continued active negotiations with Berlin and Vienna.
At the end of 1914, the Bulgarian government was in no hurry to enter the war. The failure of the German offensive in France, the successes of the Russian troops in the struggle against Austria-Hungary and the unwillingness of the people to fight soberly acted on the highest ruling circles of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom. At the same time, the right-wing political forces declared “the leading role of Bulgaria in the Balkans” and plans to create “Great Bulgaria”, with access to the three seas - the Black, Marmara and Aegean.
In January, 1915, Austria-Hungary and Germany, despite the severity of the war, granted Bulgaria new loans in the amount of 150 million marks. At the same time, the Germans and Austrians financed Bulgarian newspapers, bribed politicians and provided financial assistance to pro-German political forces (the same policy was carried out in Greece). Therefore, Sofia in February 1915 again allowed the transit of goods from Austria and Germany to Turkey. Bulgaria made a fascinating offer at the expense of Turkey, the Turks offered great compensation at the expense of Serbia.
The beginning of the Dardanelles operation contributed to the increased interest of Britain and France to Bulgaria. Entente powers began funding newspapers and politicians in Bulgaria, following the example of Austria-Hungary and Germany. Envoys were sent to Sofia who tried to convince Ferdinand of the advantages of an alliance with the Entente. Bulgaria offered concessions at the expense of Turkey, access to the Sea of Marmara from Rodosto, the possibility of returning part of Dobruzhdi (Romanian possessions), indicating that Romania is reciprocal of this after the war, part of Hungary, whose population is Romanians. However, Bulgaria demanded more parts of Serbian and Greek Macedonia with the port of Kavala.
The Bulgarian Bride was still in doubt. The Bulgarian government was ready to support the Central Powers. However, in Bulgaria they were still afraid of Russia. At the same time, Sofia was annoyed by Russia's plans to get Constantinople. Therefore, bargaining continued.
Bulgarian units go to war
Bulgaria decides to go to war
In the spring of 1915, Bulgaria continued to maintain “wise neutrality”, which enabled the politicians of this country to consistently sell either Germany or the Entente. Waiting and lavishing declarations on benevolent neutrality, Bulgarian politicians, like the Greeks, scattered in the assertions of friendship to the Anglo-French, while they themselves were inclined to the side of Germany. As a result, Britain and France, confident that Bulgaria would not oppose the Entente, did not force the negotiations.
Only 29 May 1915, the representatives of the Entente handed the Bulgarian government a document in which Bulgaria was again offered to side with England, France and Russia. Entente countries guaranteed the return of Eastern Thrace at the expense of Turkey to the Bulgarian kingdom. The Allies promised to begin negotiations with Belgrade, Athens and Bucharest on the transfer of Bulgaria to some parts of Vardar Macedonia, Aegean Macedonia and South Dobrudja. 14 June, the Bulgarian government proposed to clearly define the boundaries of the territories in Vardar and Aegean Macedonia, which should become part of Bulgaria. However, the Entente could not do it. If Serbia, forced by military circumstances, was ready to make concessions, then Greece and Romania did not want to give up. In addition, among the representatives of France, Great Britain and Russia, there was still no unity on how to attract Bulgaria to the war on the side of the Entente powers.
Germany and Austria-Hungary were more generous. They unequivocally stated that in the case of Bulgaria’s performance on their side, Sofia would receive all of Macedonia, Thrace, and also South Dobrudja (if Romania entered the war on the side of the Entente). In addition, Germany pledged to provide Bulgaria with a military loan in the amount of 500 million marks. Germany also managed to reconcile Bulgaria and Turkey. The Germans prepared a treaty that satisfied the Bulgarians at the expense of Turkey. In addition, the situation on the fronts was unfavorable for the Entente. England and France failed the Dardanelles operation. Russia suffered a heavy defeat on the Eastern Front, lost Galicia, Russian Poland. Anglo-French troops behaved passively on the Western Front. This convinced the Bulgarian leadership that the Central Powers were winning up in the war, that it was time to enter the war and get their share of the spoils.
6 September 1915 in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, a convention was signed between Germany and Bulgaria. Bulgaria was represented by the head of the government Vasil Radoslavov, and Germany - George Michaelis. According to the terms of the convention. Germany and Austria-Hungary had to deploy six infantry divisions for 30 days, and Bulgaria - four divisions for 35 days for action against Serbia. The general command of the Austro-German-Bulgarian group was to be assumed by the German General Augustus von Mackensen. In addition, it was planned to deploy a mixed German infantry brigade in Varna and Burgas and conduct submarines to the Black Sea. Bulgaria pledged to mobilize four divisions by September 21 and October 11 to launch an operation in Serbian Macedonia. Germany pledged to provide Bulgaria with financial and material support. Bulgaria opened its territory for the transit of goods from the Ottoman Empire to Germany and vice versa.
It was only when Bulgaria had already determined its position that the Entente powers became alarmed and began to make more attractive offers. So, September 15 1915 of the Entente proposed the territory of Macedonia to Bulgaria, which relegated to Serbia following the results of the 1913 war. The Serbs, having learned about the preparation of a large offensive operation by Austro-German troops, also became excited and agreed to all the sacrifices that Britain and France offered to do. However, the proposals, firstly, were late, and secondly - they were much less profitable than those made by the Central Powers. Therefore, the Bulgarian government replied, with the aim of delaying time, that it would refer the matter to the Bulgarian Tsar Ferdinand. Although the alliance with Germany has already been concluded, and there was a process of mobilization of the Bulgarian army.
Belgrade vainly asked for permission to attack Bulgaria before it finished mobilization, but the French were still hoping for success in the negotiations and were denied to the Serbs. As a result, Bulgaria calmly conducted its mobilization, continuing to reassure the Entente of its neutrality. The Russians put an end to this stupid situation by sending the 3 of Sofia to 1915 in October an ultimatum demanding to remove the German and Austrian officers from the Bulgarian army in the 24-hourly period and stop the concentration of Bulgarian troops on the Serbian border. The result of this ultimatum was the issuance of October 4 1915 Russian, British and French representatives of their passports.
October 14 Bulgaria declared war on Serbia. Neither the Bulgarians nor Russia had any claims to Russia, nor to Britain and France, but, proceeding from the principle of solidarity, they themselves declared war on Bulgaria in the following days. October 15 300-th. the Bulgarian army crossed the border with Serbia throughout its length. The defeat of Serbia was predetermined - the country had waged war against the Austro-Hungarian Empire for more than a year and was exhausted by war and blockade. In addition, several days earlier, German units had already entered Belgrade. Greece and Romania have maintained their neutrality.
Bulgarian cavalry in the captured Serbian city. October 22 1915 of the year