Economics, Diplomacy, and War: Britain and Bulgaria, 1936-38

By Leonard, Glenn | Canadian Journal of History, Winter 2012 | Go to article overview

Economics, Diplomacy, and War: Britain and Bulgaria, 1936-38


Leonard, Glenn, Canadian Journal of History


The decision by Bulgarian leaders to join the Tripartite Pact on 1 March 1941 was a product, in large part, of the Balkan state's economic domination by Germany. There was, however, a chain of events and diplomatic policies stretching back to the mid 1930s that led to the particular circumstances of that decision in 1941. The Bulgaria of the 1920s and 1930s did not desire war, nor was the country in any way equipped for a major conflict. The foreign policies of the future Allied states, for all intents and purposes, created the economic conditions in which Bulgaria had little choice but to accept an alliance with the Nazis. Western policies had done nothing to help Bulgaria maintain any freedom of diplomatic movement in the economic arena, nor did they provide any expectation of treaty revisions which had, by the end of 1938, already been achieved by the other defeated powers of World War I, primarily Germany and Hungary. An explanation of Western, and particularly British, inaction despite Bulgaria's strategic importance in the Balkans is the focus of this paper.

Two interpretations have dominated the analysis of Bulgaria's 1941 choice. On one side is the view that Tsar Boris III's government was more ideologically disposed to a Fascist form of government than to the democratic models of the West and therefore that the western powers had little influence in the country. Marshall Lee Miller, in his study, Bulgaria During the Second World War exemplifies this view. As he states, "Great Britain and France had but slight political influence in Bulgaria, although they had some importance elsewhere in the Balkans." (2) He concedes the point that in some sectors the West had its attractions. Bulgarian students traveled to Paris to study, and the British system of government was a model for those advocating an alternative to totalitarianism. However, his point is that neither Britain nor France showed much interest in Bulgarian problems. (3) Miller's reference to totalitarianism reveals his view that the government of Boris was more closely aligned to the German and Italian model than the democracies of the West. The author holds this position in spite of the existence of a Bulgarian parliament and Boris's repeated claims that the democratic form of government was his preferred choice. (4)

The other predominant interpretation is that given the circumstances of 1941--both within Bulgaria in regard to its relations with Germany and the general European situation--the country had little choice but to join the Axis powers. In many studies the decision has been viewed as the lesser of two evils: join with the Nazi state or be subject to occupation. (5) This interpretation has also tended to shy away from characterizing Boris's regime as totalitarian. Nissan Oren makes the point that it is very difficult to define the true nature of Bulgarian politics in this period. (6) It is more the case that "... the circumstances of the Second World War and developments in the larger world converged on Bulgaria and limited its range of choices." (7) The effect of the strangling German economic influence and the desire for territorial revision proved too strong a combination to resist. The decision for war was economic and political, not ideological in Oren's view. As he points out, "... under Boris, Bulgaria did not become a full-fledged totalitarian state." (8) The trend in historical thinking is that the small powers had but few options in the early days of the war. What remains is to determine how matters reached that point. The historiography of British, American and French policy during the interwar period is considerable, but little has been written on these countries' specific policies with respect to Bulgaria. (9)

The period under examination is book-ended by two significant events that had ramifications for Boris's personal rule and the formation of foreign policy: the Zveno coup of 1934, which led to Boris's personal rule and the evolution of the circumstances leading to the decision of 1941 and the Munich agreement of 1938. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Economics, Diplomacy, and War: Britain and Bulgaria, 1936-38
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.