Germany, Bulgaria, Greece: Their Relations and Bulgarian Policy in Occupied Greece



 Hans-Joachim Hoppe, Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora 11(3), 41-54. (1984)


Introduction

This presentation will deal mainly with the Bulgarian occupation policy toward Greece, but at first, a short survey will be given about the relations between Germany, Bulgaria, and Greece, as the very harsh occupation policy of Bulgaria, which stood in contrast to its cautious foreign and internal policy, cannot be understood without reflecting the mutual relationship between the three countries. The rapprochement between Germany and Bulgaria[1] in the late thirties culminated in the Bulgarian entry in the Tripartite Pact on March 1, 1941, and the transit of German troops through Bulgaria for the campaign against Greece. The Bulgarian readiness was rewarded by territorial promises at the expense of Greece. German-Bulgarian relations have to be, seen in the context of the German-Greek relationship:[2] the inclusion of both Bulgaria and Greece in the national-socialist concept of Southeastern Europe and Hitler's decision to support the unsuccessful Italian troops and expel the British from Greek territory to secure it for the Axis hemisphere.
The Bulgarian-Greek relationship,[3] with its short periods of friend-ship and longer ones of hostility, also has to be considered. As a result of the events of the Second Balkan War and the First World War, Greek-Bulgarian relations were determined by Bulgaria's wish to regain its lost territories. It was a tragedy for the fate of Southeastern Europe that the two countries did not succeed in reaching an understanding because of the lack of readiness to compromise on both sides. The un bridgeable contrasts between the two countries facilitated the influence of the Axis in the Balkan region. The Bulgarian policy in the Occupied-Aegean-Macedonia-Thrace zone will be shown in the context of the German policy in this area. Special consideration will be given to the anti-Jewish measures in the occupied territories.

The Relations Between Germany, Bulgaria, and Greece

Greece and Bulgaria were included in the mid-thirties in Germany's "informal empire" in Southeast Europe.[4] By growing economic penetration, Germany by 1939 occupied first place in the trade of all Balkan states. The German share in trade with Bulgaria was by far the highest-67.8% of exports, 65.5% of imports—while that with Greece was the lowest-29.9% of exports, 31.9% of imports.[5] Increasing German power in Central Europe also effected more or less, a political orientation of the Balkan states toward Germany, which was combined from the Munich Agreement onward, in the case of Bulgaria (and Hungary), with the hope of territorial revision, and in the case of the First World War winners such as Yugoslavia, Rumania, and Greece, with anxiety about maintaining their possessions. To secure its economic and political interests in that region, however, Germany urged the opposing states into a modus vivendi between winners and losers on the basis of the status quo. Whereas Bulgaria pursued a cautious policy of neutrality (with a pro-German accent) and of peaceful revision (recalling the unlucky event of the First World War), Greece was driven by tensions with Bulgaria—and even more with Italy, which controled the Greek border through its satellite, Albania—to its traditional orientation to Great Britain. One cause of tension between Bulgaria and Greece was the unsolved Thracian Question: with the Treaty of Neuilly (1919) and Lausanne (1923), Bulgaria had lost its access to the Aegean Sea. Although both countries agreed upon a voluntary exchange of population in Thrace and Macedonia, Greek authorities exerted pressure to
diminish the proportion of Slays in this region, and they settled Greek refugees from Asia Minor there. Nevertheless, Sofia demanded some outlet to the Aegean Sea, but Athens was only willing to concede a trade deposit. Bulgaria refused this in order not to jeopardize its future claims. A war with Bulgaria was almost caused by General Theodoros Pangalos, who, after a serious border incident in October 1925, ordered Greek troops to invade the Bulgarian border district and to bombard the town of Petrich.[6] Because of the unsolved question of revision, Bulgaria did not join a Balkan Entente, but remained isolated when, in February 1934, Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia, and Rumania concluded the Balkan Pact, which aimed directly against Bulgarian revisionist claims. But even in the following years, Bulgaria did not imitate Hitler's policy of unilateral and arbitrary revision, wanting instead to avoid risks and waiting for a favorable situation to realize its demands. Very late at the end of July 1938, Prime Minister Metaxas and his Bulgarian colleague Kioseivanov signed an agreement in Salonika, which freed Bulgaria from armament restrictions and allowed Bulgarian troops to enter the hitherto demilitarized southern border districts. Kioseivanov and Metaxas, in the name of the Balkan Pact members, confirmed their mutual wish to renounce violence.[7]
In June 1938, Bulgaria was called upon for the first time to incline more clearly to the Axis powers. King Boris refused. But the Munich decisions and the German and Hungarian successes in their territorial claims awakened in Bulgaria a wave of nationalism which the government could not neglect. In October 1938, there were talks with Belgrade about joint endeavors to obtain access to the Aegean Sea. In December, the Bulgarian envoy to Berlin explained the Bulgarian claims on Greece; the officials of the German foreign ministry were evasive, but nourished the Bulgarian wishes in the hope the country would enter into closer political connections with Germany. They wanted Bulgaria to take part in a contest for German favor between revisionist and anti-revisionist states in the Balkans. After the Italian occupation of Albania (April 7, 1939), Britain and France guaranteed their support to Rumania and Greece, but they failed to bring Bulgaria into an anti-Axis position. Considering, too, the Turkish change of policy toward Britain and France (declaration in May/June 1939), Hitler, for the first time (in July), supported Bulgarian aspirations toward the Aegean Sea, "that on one of the most important straits not only Turkey, but also a friendly country (to the Axis) maintains its influence." [8]
After the outbreak of the Second World War, the Bulgarian government emphasized its policy of nonalignment. In autumn 1940, it also turned down plans for a combined Italian-Bulgarian attack against Greece. And when Italy alone invaded Greece, Bulgaria facilitated Greek resistance by its own passivity. When Germany called on Bulgaria to enter the Tripartite Pact and make its territory available as a base for a German attack on Greece, the Bulgarian leadeship succeeded in retarding the talks. At the same time, the Soviet Union, as a Balkan rival to Germany, tried to entice Bulgaria into concluding a pact of mutual assistance by offering the whole of western and eastern Thrace at the expense of both Turkey and Greece.[9] Instead of this, in March 1941, Bulgaria joined the alliance with Germany for territorial promises. It took this step, as the action seemed to be inevitable.[10]

German and Bulgarian Decisions on Thrace and Macedonia

At the solemn ceremony of joining the Pact in the Belvedere Palace in Vienna, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ribbentrop, confirmed in a special note "that Bulgaria shall obtain by a new regulation of borders in the Balkans an access to the Aegean Sea approximately from the mouth of the Strum in the West to the mouth of the Maritsa in the East."[11] On April 6, 1941, German troops simultaneously invaded Yugoslavia and Greece. Even during the campaign, the Bulgarians pressed for realization of the territorial promises to them. On April 17, Berlin allowed them to occupy Greek Thrace and Serbian Macedonia. But the final border regulations were not to be made before the conclusion of a peace treaty. On April 24, the Bulgarians occupied
Thrace, except for a small corner at the Turkish border, the region of Salonika—which remained under German occupation—and a small part of western Thrace, which was given to the Italians.
Although Bulgaria annexed the "new territories" on May 14, 1941, by a formal act, which Berlin tolerated, the regulations remained provisional. Thus it was to the Bulgarians to secure possession of the new regions by creating harsh facts. But actually, they only had full sovereignty in the region by virtue of Germany, which showed the remaining German influence in economic, political, and military affairs. Thus the Bulgarians had to concede to Germany numerous mining and railway claims. The agreement, signed on April 24/27 by Carl Clodius and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivan Popov, stipulated, among other decisions:[12] "In the territory ... occupied by Bulgaria, Germany can continue without restrictions the exploitation of industrial raw materials, above all minerals. This does not only concern the grants already made, but also projects which will be started now or later...." Other points concerned the
expenses for German military areas and the presence of German troops, questions of enemy property, and the recruitment of workers for Germany. Not only the authority, but also the border regulations in occupied territories remained unsecured. So the Salonika district remained occupied by German troops temporarily for strategic reasons; in the long term, the Bulgarians could hope to obtain this region as well, when German troops were needed more urgently on other fronts. But officially Salonika's fate had not been determined, and rumors circulated that the town was to be returned to the Greeks as a reward for obedience. So the Germans effected discontent on both sides and a race between the competitors for favor. The area of Florina and Edessa, which was disputed between the Bulgarians and Italians, was temporarily incorporated into the Salonika zone; one reason was to put the strategically important road and railway line between Salonika and Bitolja under German control. To secure the supply transit Edirne-Salonika, and as a
friendly gesture to Turkey, the Germans also retained the Edirne salient under their rule; but when the hitherto Greek section of the railway line was given to Turkish administration (in connection with the conclusion of the German-Turkish treaty of friendship on June 18, 1941), the Bulgarians regarded this act as prejudicial to a future border regulation.[13] The German decisions about administrative borders in the South Balkans caused permanent conflicts between its partners and disquiet in the population of the occupied areas; the regulations in no way led to the necessary pacification of the Balkans or a reduction of German forces, which were needed urgently on the Eastern front.[14]

The Bulgarian Occupation Policy in Thrace and Macedonia[15]

In April 1941, the Bulgarians received from Greece an area of 14,430 square kilometers, with 590,000 inhabitants. The Bulgarian occupation in Aegean Thrace was considerably harsher than in Vardar Macedonia, where the population was largely Slavic. Whereas the Bulgarian policy was to win the loyalty of the Slav inhabitants, the policy in the Aegean littoral was to Bulgarize forcibly as many Greeks as possible and to expel or kill the rest. Bulgarian colonists were encouraged to settle on land expropriated from Greeks in the hope that a Bulgarian majority in the region would ensure permanent Bulgarian control.
During the first few months of the Aegean occupation, the Bulgarians made an effort to gain the support of the local inhabitants. They conducted an extensive propaganda campaign, established Bulgarian schools, and distributed food and milk to Greek children. It quickly became apparent, however, that this approach had little chance of success. The occupation authorities therefore resorted to more drastic measures. The Bulgarians closed Greek schools and expelled the teachers, replaced Greek clergymen with priests from Bulgaria, and sharply repressed the Greek language: even gravestones bearing Greek inscriptions were defaced. Bulgarian families were encouraged to settle in Thrace and Macedonia by government credits and incentives, including houses and land confiscated from the natives. The authorities also confiscated business property and gave it to Bulgarian colonists. In the town of Kavala, for example, over seven hundred shops and other enterprises were expropriated. Large numbers of Greeks were expelled, and others were deprived of the right to work by a license system that banned the practice of a trade or profession without the express permission of the occupation government.[16]
Even by a German report,[17] the Bulgarian occupation has been described as "a regime of terror which can only be described as Balkan"—a regime with expulsions, displacement of refugees, social misery, and shortages of essential goods. But considering this harsh policy, one should not forget that to a large extent this continued the practice which was applied by the Greek government after 1919 to diminish the Slav population in the same former Bulgarian region.
The unclearness of the situation, the change of troops and occupiers, and the provisional character of borders caused the Bulgarian wish to create facts and incited the Greeks to resist the Bulgarian plans. The Greeks were also able to derive a profit from the controversies between German, Bulgarian, and Italian occupiers. The lack of clarity in the situation was realized by the Bulgarian King Boris during a tour of inspection of the occupied territories in spring 1941.He reported "that in some places, for example, in Dedeagach, there is a rather good cooperation between Bulgarian military authorities and
Greek authorities and the population. In general among the German authorities there is to be seen ignorance about the future of Thrace and frequently the opinion that the Bulgarians have no right to be there; this view of course is supported by the Greeks." [18]
To avoid such dissension and to improve contacts with German forces, the Bulgarian government recommended the nomination of a mediator, whereas the German ambassador in Sofia, Richthofen, demanded the opening of a German consulate in Kavala, in order to secure the influence of the German foreign ministry and German economic interests in that region. Besides that, he advised:[19]

that  the administration of the region, so long as German troops are in Thrace and we [the Germans) are able to exert an equalizing influence, will be passed over to Bulgarian hands gradually ... a sudden transfer of the administration might have serious difficulties as a consequence. As the [Bulgarian) Foreign Minister told me, even German generals had to admit, that still about 10,000 (ten thousand) infantry guns are hidden, also prisoners move freely, especially in the towns numbers of Greek officers are to be seen.

Because of such stocks of weapons, combined with the growing unrest of the population, the situation grew to be very "explosive." Already a few months after the Bulgarian takeover, hatred mounted in the population, manifesting itself in several terrorist acts and finally in insurrection. The revolt broke out in the city of Drama on the morning of September 28, 1941, and quickly spread throughout Greek Thrace and Macedonia. In Drama, a crowd attacked the city hall and killed four Bulgarian policemen; in Doxato, the entire Bulgarian police force of twenty men was massacred; in Choristi, armed Greeks seized the town and called on other towns to join them; and in many other villages there were clashes between Greeks and Bulgarian authorities. The rebellion was short-lived. On September 29, Bulgarian troops moved into Drama and the other rebellious cities and seized all men between the ages of 18 and 45. Over three thousand people were reportedly executed in Drama alone; in the countryside, entire villages were machine-gunned and looted. An estimated fifteen thousand Greeks were killed during the next few weeks.[20] About the same uprising, the Bulgarian prime minister, Filov, told the German ambassador, Adolf-Heinz Beckerle, the following on October 6: [21]

On September 28 the insurrection broke out. It had encroached on about 30 villages south, west and north of Drama. About 2,000 insurgents had taken part. The starting-point was the village of Doxato. There the police guard was attacked. The rebels were excellently armed. Besides guns they also possessed machineguns. The policemen had barricaded themselves in the police office and contacted the police chief of Drama. He had come to help them with 12 other policemen. But this reinforcement could not effect anything, either, and had to retreat into the police building as well. During the night, after two policemen had been killed by shots of the rebels, the building was set on fire by them.
The policemen then tried to escape. One group of them numbering 6 men was killed. Apparently the plan was, by means of the insurrection in the surrounding villages to withdraw the police and army forces from Drama. But this did not work. Drama was then virtually encircled by the insurgents and cut off from the outside world. For 48 hours no contact with there was possible. The rebels had also blown up a railway bridge near Angista. The situation was cleared up by action of Bulgarian troops and air force. On the Bulgarian side the losses sustained were about 20-30 dead police and army personnel. After this the rebels retreated into the mountains of Bostagh. They took with them some deputy village mayors as hostages. During the attack of (our) groups the rebels were annihilated. The hostages succeeded in escaping. Since yesterday it has been relatively peaceful, apart from occasional raids. Important is, that it has evidently been a communist uprising. A large number of leaflets have been found which were apparently printed in Salonika and which clearly showed the communist tendency ... A further important point is that the leaders of the insurgents had come over from the Greek area from Salonika ... Also the rations they carried with them did not originate from Bulgaria. So biscuits of English origin were captured from them. The news lead to the conclusion that the rebel movement was only a first attempt, and that the rebels had expected and had been told that similar uprisings would be attempted in other parts of Bulgaria at the same time.

The German ambassador also presumed that the revolt had been plotted by the Anglo-American side and was connected with the simultaneous dropping of Soviet parachutist agents near the Bulgarian harbor of Burgas. Another version had it that the entire rebellion had been instigated by Bulgarian agents provocateurs. Whatever its origins, the revolt allowed the authorities to justify the subsequent atrocities by claiming "military necessity." The massacres precipitated a mass exodus of Greeks from the zone of Bulgarian control into the German-occupied region. Bulgarian "reprisals" continued after the September revolt, adding to the torrent of refugees. Villages were destroyed for sheltering "partisans," who were in fact only the survivors of villages previously destroyed. There were some Greek partisans in Macedonia, but they were of little significance.[22]
The terror and famine became so severe in the region that the Athens government considered plans for evacuating the entire population of Aegean Macedonia to German-occupied Greece. The exodus of many Greeks and the settlement of Bulgarian families in "Belomorie" altered the ethnic composition of the region in favor of the Bulgarians. But the disturbances in the Aegean zone by no means suited the Germans because it seemed to require the intervention of German troops, which were more necessary in other war areas, and it disturbed relations with the Athens government and German economic interests (especially the production of tobacco) in that region.
New unrest was evoked by the Bulgarian citizenship law of June 10, 1942, which penalized those who did not take Bulgarian citizenship with loss of property and expulsion.[23]The Greek politicians Louvaris and General Liotis protested against it in an aide-memoire directed to the German plenipotentiary for Greece, Giinther Altenburg, in Athens on August 24, 1942.[24]  The German ambassador several times applied to the Bulgarian government for Changes in this law because of the severe consequences. The commander southeast and the plenipotentiary for Greece reported to the German High Command (OKW) their objections to the Bulgarian act. In their reports to OKW and the foreign ministry, they referred to the provisional nature of boundaries in the Greek regions and disputed the Bulgarian right to make such laws in their occupation zone. Apart from that, they thought that the Greeks should not be aroused; on the contrary, because of German defeats in North Africa, Greece ought to be kept quiet, perhaps by the prospect of revision of boundaries.
The German authorities often had to intervene in Bulgarian occupation policy because so many measures aggravated the German position in Greece. Thus it was not well-received when Bulgaria, desiring Salonika, Florina-Edessa, and western Macedonia, established propaganda centers to secure the allegiance of the approximately 80,000 Slays in these regions. And the German government repeatedly had to urge Bulgaria to make an adequate contribution to supply Greece, which was threatened by increasing prices and famine.
But because of the critical development of the war, Germany needed more and more to rely on the Bulgarians to control the Balkan region. Thus it had to tolerate Bulgarian measures. The heavy losses on the Eastern front, the collapse of Italy, and the growing partisan movement in Yugoslavia, forced Germany in 1943 to thin out its forces in the southern Balkans. Germany had first requested Bulgarian participation in Balkan occupation duties in late 1942, but Bulgarian assistance now became a necessity. Hitler raised the problem at a meeting with King Boris in August 1943, urging the. Bulgarians to occupy northeast Serbia and an additional section of Greek Macedonia. The king agreed in principle but postponed a decision pending "consultations,' during which he vacillated between territorial avarice and the fear of further involvement in the war (especially in partisan-infested areas to which Bulgaria had little valid claim). His death left to his successors the task of expanding the Bulgarian occupation zone.
In the summer of 1943, the Germans ceded to the Bulgarians a new zone of occupation west of the river Struma. The Bulgarian occupation in Greece was further expanded in February 1944 by the addition of three additional provinces in western Macedonia. But it was an illusion to believe that the region would be pacified thus, because Bulgarian policy increased the hatred Greeks felt toward their occupiers. And the Greeks blamed the Germans for inflicting the Bulgarians on them. Bitterness was also caused by the policy toward Thracian Jews.

The Policy Toward Jews in Bulgarian-Occupied Thrace and Macedonia

How much Bulgarian occupation policy differed from the otherwise moderate home policy of the government can be teen especially in its policy toward the Jews in the occupied territories.[25] In the summer of 1940, the Bulgarian government introduced measures against Jews, which proved unpopular with the Bulgarian population "because of its lack of understanding for racism." Under German pressure, the Bulgarian minister of internal affairs presented the Council of Ministers with a "Law for the Defense of the Nation" on October 7, 1940, which imposed several restrictions on Jews, but in contrast to German laws, it applied religious criteria rather than racial ones, which gave some Jews the chance to avoid prosecution by a quick conversion to Christianity. Parliament and the king were in no hurry to pass the unpopular law, the latter waiting with his signature until the end of January 1941, when Bulgaria's accession to the Tripartite Pact became inevitable. And even after this, the Bulgarian authorities were not zealous in applying it. In October 1941, there followed certain professional restrictions, which prohibited Jewish activities in trade and industry. These and other restrictions were extended to the Jews in the "new territories" from summer 1941 onward.
After the ill-famed "Wannsee Conference" of January 20, 1942, with its talk of "the final solution of the Jewish question," Bulgaria enacted sterner legislation against Jews, involving high taxation, the need to wear a Star of David, the dissolution of Jewish organizations, the evacuation of Jews from several towns to the country. On August 26, 1942, a "Commissariat for Jewish Affairs" (KEV) was set up in Sofia, with Alexander Belev as its head, which was to prepare "the transfer of Jews into the province or outside the Kingdom." On January 21, 1943, Theodor Dannecker, an SS-Hauptsturmfiihrer and a colleague of Adolf Eichmann, came to Sofia for talks with Belev. On February 22, they concluded an agreement "for the deportation of the first 20,000 Jews from the new Bulgarian lands Thrace and Macedonia into the German eastern regions."[26]  It seemed that the Jews of Macedonia and Thrace had to be sacrificed in favor of Bulgarian Jews.
The Bulgarian government succeeded in postponing the eventual deportation of Jews from Bulgaria by arguing that its "own" Jews were needed in Bulgaria for public works, especially for road construction. Jews were temporarily settled in the provinces and assembled in labor camps. But in the critical weeks of March 1943, because of massive opposition (by prominent persons, deputies, church representatives) and also later because of the German defeats, the Bulgarian government did not agree to the deportation of its own Jews to the extermination camps in Poland. In August 1944, Bulgaria was already preparing to change sides, contacting the Western allies. The commissariat for Jewish affairs was dissolved; the Jewish community obtained its old rights. Full rehabilitation was conferred by the "Patriotic Front" government in September. Thus nearly all 51,000 Bulgarian Jews survived the war.[27]
A different fate was in store for the Jews in the occupied territories. The decree of June 1942, which prevented them from obtaining Bulgarian citizenship, had already led to the expectation of deportations, which in fact began in March 1943. Nearly at the same time, deportations began from Vardar-Macedonia and formerly Greek Thrace. On March 11, 1943, the Jews of Macedonia, most from Skopje, Bitola, and Shtip, were transported in goods trains to the Skopje camp and, at the end of March, in three trains from there to the Treblinka concentration camp in Poland. A total of 7,144 Jews were deported, and none of them returned.[28]
The deportation of the Thracian Jews began on March 4, 1943,[29] even before Bulgarian deputies had drafted their protest. In all the cities of Eastern Thrace with major Jewish populations—Giumiurdzhina, Dede Agach, Kavala, Drama, Xanthi, and Seres—the commissariat representativei proceeded in a similar manner: for the duration of the action, the police placed the cities under blockade and curfew, beginning sometime after midnight until seven or eight in the morning. Shortly before the action began at 4:00 a.m., policemen in groups of three received their instructions, including the lists of Jewish families to be assembled and the necessary equipment for sealing Jewish homes.The police informed the Jews that the government was sending them
into the interior of Bulgaria and that they would return to their homes shortly. They were then marched through the main streets of the cities, their numbers swelling at each intersection until they reached their destinations—the tobacco warehouses which served as temporary camps. The Jews remained in the camps for one or two days, then they were sent to the major departure centers at Dupnitsa and Goma Dzhumaia. The German general consulate in Kavala reported the following to the German embassy in Sofia:[30]

The evacuation of the Jews from the Belomorie-region has been ... largely finished. Some of the Jews are on the way to the Gorna Dzhumaia assembly camp with their luggage, others have already arrived there and been interned. According to reports received so far, a total of about 4,500 Jews in the Belomorie district have been registered. As far as I could establish, their deportation is proceeding without particular difficulties or incidents. The only remarkable thing was the evident sympathy of the Greek population, which in Kavala and Drama, for example, offered the departing Jews presents and disgustingly hearty farewell ovations. As reported by reliable German sources, some Bulgarians, evidently communist influenced, have also taken part in this unpleasant spectacle in Drama. The Jews themselves are said to have taken the evacuation at least outwardly with indifference.

According to the reports of commissariat representatives, they accomplished
the Thracian operation very efficiently.[31] It did, in fact, proceed as planned, without any significant deviations. However, the official reports do not show the tragedies and hardships that occurred along the way. The Jews were evicted from their homes without adequate warning, placed in camps without sufficient food, water, toilet facilities, and medical services, and subjected to delousing operations and humiliating searches, which caused loss and damage to the little property the police allowed them to bring with them. The long journey in open cars through Thrace was difficult. Many fell ill, and a few died. Some women gave birth. Observers reported unbelievable misery: cries of fear and despair among the expellees, including the lame and sick, children, the aged, and pregnant women, as well as harsh and sometimes brutal treatment, both physical and psychological, by the guards and officials. On the other hand, occasionally an official pressed into service against his will, perhaps feeling the unfairness himself, treated the Jews decently.
At Demir-Hisar and Simitli, where the track gauge changed, the Jews had to transfer to different trains. The first stations on the Thracian Jews' journey to Poland were the departure centers in southwest Bulgaria—Gorna Dzhumaia and Dupnitsa. In all, over 2,500 Jews actually went to the former camp and fewer. than 1,500 .to the latter. Apparently only the Giurmiurdzhina and Xanthi Jews went to Dupnitsa and the entire remainder to Gorna Dzhumaia. At the departure centers, the authorities revised the story of resettlement in the interior of Bulgaria. Now they said rather that the government had made arrangements with the British to send the Jews to Palestine and that they were to leave the camps for ports on the Adriatic and Black Seas. But the Jews did not believe it.
Responsibility for the transfer of the Jews from the departure centers to areas under German authority belonged primarily to the Bulgarian State Railway and the Commissariat (KEV). The transport of the Thracian Jews to the Danubian town of Lom required two trains. From Lom, the Jews traveled through Vienna to Katowicz in Poland under the responsibility of Dannecker. The Bulgarian police served as guards on the trains, not only through Bulgaria (in conjunction with the Germans) but also up to Katowicz. Guard groups on the trains consisted of a police chief, two senior officers, and forty ordinary officers. To accompany the barges in Lom, the Commissariat ararnged for guard groups of fourteen to thirty-two—altogether eighty-six men.
On the March 18 train from Gorna Dzhumaia, there were actually 1,985 Jews; the trains on March 19 carried 692 Jews from Gorna Dzhumaia, 1,380 from Dupnitsa, and 158 from Pirot. The Thracian group leaving the departure centers, not considering those on the Pirot train, had 4,057 Jews. During their fortnight's journey from Thrace, some late arrivals and a few newborn children were added to the original group, but a number of them had already died. The trains arrived in Lom on March 19 and 20, after having stopped at Sofia for an hour and a half, and the barges left on March 20 and 21. Four ships left Lom, each had 875 to 1,100 passengers, and in all 4,219 Jews left. As arranged, a Bulgarian guard went along; and Bulgarian doctors traveled with the Jews as well (they left the convoy at Vienna). Although most of the security force was Bulgarian, German guards supervised the operation. The journey to Vienna lasted about five to ten days. From Vienna, the Jews traveled on to Katowicz and then Treblinka, where they were killed a few days later. Nevertheless, among the German authorities there remained an undercurrent of dissatisfaction, because the March deportations from the Bulgarian-occupied territories were only 56 percent successful: under 11,500 of a planned 20,000. And the 51,000 Jews still present in Bulgaria behind German lines disturbed the RSHA.[32]

Final Remarks

The Bulgarian occupation authority was restricted in the new territories by the provisional nature of the boundary regulations and the decisive amount of German economic and political influence (see Clodius Agreement of April 24, 1941). The Germans tried to use the boundary question to secure the obedience of competing partners—Bulgarians, Greeks, and Italians—but in fact they created more unrest instead of the order and peace which were needed to concentrate all German forces on the main fronts.
Because of the lack of clarity, the Bulgarian occupation policy was guided by the wish to create "facts." So the Bulgarians applied harsh measures to diminish the Greek population and to increase the Bulgarian one. Their brutal government in the new territories stood in contrast to the very cautious internal and foreign policy the Bulgarian leadership otherwise applied, especially in their relations to Germany. The contradiction between the general political line of Bulgaria and the occupation policy becomes tragically clear in measures against Jews: whereas the Bulgarian leadership, in view of pressure from the public and respect for foreign opinion, was anxious to save the Jews of "Old Bulgaria," they "sacrified" those of the occupied territories and assistedthe Germans to transport them to extermination camps.
In the first days of September 1944, Bulgarian troops and administrative
authorities left the occupied territories, including Greek
Thrace and Macedonia. The following year, the Bulgarian authorities responsible were put on trial before "People's Courts" for their actions during the war. Thousands of them were sentenced, many (about 2,000) to death.


[1]0n German-Bulgarian relations, see Hans-Joachim Hoppe, Bulgarien-Hitlers eigenwilliger Verbiindeter, Stuttgart, 1979, and Marshall Lee Miller, Bulgaria During the Second World War, Stanford University Press, 1975.
[2] Ehrengard Schramm von Thadden, Griechenland and die Grossnachte im Zweiten Weltkrieg, Wiesbaden, 1955.
[3] See Gunnar Henning's essay about Greek policy from 1923 to 1974 published in Theodor Schieder (ed.), Handbucb der europäischen Geschichte, vol. 7,Stuttgart, 1979, pp. 1313-1338.
[4] See Hans-Joachim Hoppe, "Die Balkanstaasen Rumanian, Jugoslawien,Bulgarien: Nationale Gegensatze and NS-Grossraurnpolitik," in: Erhard Forndran et al (ed.), Innen-und Aussenpolitik unser nation sozialistischer Bedrochung,Opladen, 1977, pp. 161-175.
[5] Ibid., p. 161.
[6] For details, see J. Barms, The League of Nations and the Great Powers:The Greek-Bulgarian Incident, 1925, 1970.
[7] See Georgi Markov, Bulgaro-germanskite otnosehiia 1931-1939, Sofia, 1984,p. 169.
[8] Hoppe, Bulgarien, p. 65.
[9] Ibid., p. 104, see also ADAP, ser. D, vol. XI, doc. 403.
[10] Hoppe, Bulgarien, p. 108-118.
[11] See ADAP, ser. D, vol. XII, doc. 114.
[12] Hoppe, Bulgarien, p. 123. The text of the "Clodius Agreement" has been found in the Bundesarchiv Afilitirarchiv in Freiburg.
[13]Hoppe, op. cit., p. 123; see also Lothar Krecker, Deutschland and die Tiirkei im Zweiten TVeltkrieg, Frankfurt/M., 1964, pp. 149-151.
[14]See Klaus Olshausen, "Die deutsche Balkanpolitik 1940-1941," in: Manfred Funke (ed.), Hitler, Deutschland and die Allichte, Dilsseldorf, 1976, pp. 707-727.
[15] See Hoppe, Bulgarien, pp. 124-127, and Miller, Bulgaria, pp. 122-130.
[16] Miller, op. cit., p. 127.
[17] Hoppe, Bulgarien, p. 126. The secret report about the situation in occupied Greece, dated October 5, 1941, has been found in the Bundesarchiv/Militararchiv.
[18] Hoppe, op. cit., p. 125.
[19] Ibid., pp. 125/126.
[20] MiIler, op. cit., p. 127.
[21] Hoppe, op. cit., pp. 126/127.
[22] Miller, p. 128.
[23] Ibid., p. 125.
[24] Hoppe, op. cit., p. 127.
[25] See Hoppe, op. cit., pp. 93-96, 138-141; also the monographs of Wolf Oschlies, Bulgarien—Land ohne Antisemitismus, Erlangen, 1976, and Frederick B. Chary, The Bulgarian Jews and the Find Solution, 1940-1944, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1972.
[26]Text of the Dannecker-Belev Agreement is published (in English translation) by Chary, op. cit., p. 208-210.
[27] Oschlies, op. cit., Chary, op. cit.
[28] Chary, pp 122-125.
[29] Ibid., pp. 101-114, 117-122.
[30] Oschlies, op. cit., p. 75.
[31] Chary op. cit., pp. 108-109.
[32] 1bid., p. 141.