Primary Documents - Vasil Radoslavov on Bulgaria's Entry into the War, 11 October 1915
Reproduced below is Vasil Radoslavov's rationale for going to war against the Entente Powers in October 1915.
Radoslavov, the Bulgarian Prime Minister, explained that war was necessary on both economic grounds - Bulgaria's major trading nations comprised the Central Powers - and as a means of defence against Serbia aggression.
Radoslavov stated that both Entente and Central Powers' had approached Bulgaria with offers of economic and territorial gains but that only Germany's proposals could be regarded as genuine.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Vasil Radoslavov on Bulgaria's Entry into the War, 11 October 1915
Today we see races that are fighting, not indeed for ideals, but solely for their material interests. The more, therefore, we are bound to a country in a material way, the greater is that country's interest in our maintenance and increase, since thereby that one will profit who helps us and is tied to us by economic bonds.
If, therefore, we are to change our previous policy for indefinite, unsafe, and to us even unknown advantages, that means the ruin of our agriculture and trade, and indeed everything that we have built up in thirty-six years, the reconstruction of our entire business as a people, and the seeking of new export markets for our goods.
The figures show that our trade, our interests, and our economic life are inseparably linked with Turkey, Germany, and Austria-Hungary...
What would become of Bulgaria if Constantinople should become Russian and we should lose the Constantinople market? We have seen that almost our entire export trade in live stock, cheese, kashkawal, flour, etc., goes to Turkey - that is to say, to Constantinople.
If, now, Constantinople is conquered by Russia, it will introduce there its autonomous protective staff, and will make impossible the present exports of Bulgarian products to Constantinople.
Even as Bulgaria cannot now export anything to Russia, so it will be unable to export anything to the Russian Constantinople. There are no other export markets for these products at present, and such cannot be easily found.
But if we go against Germany, it would for sanitary and veterinary reasons immediately cut off the imports of Bulgarian eggs and make more difficult our tobacco imports.
All this would cause an economic crisis in Bulgaria such as we have never before witnessed and of which we can scarcely form a conception. Our live stock industry, as well as all mills that have been set up in Varna and Burgas to grind flour for Constantinople, will be ruined. Our finest and most useful industry will be destroyed, and the millions invested in them lost. The live stock industry is the basis of our agricultural life.
In heavy days for Bulgaria, Germany assisted and gave it the required loan without any political conditions whatsoever. Every impartial Bulgar is in duty bound to confess that through this loan Germany saved us from bankruptcy, as well as from political subjugation.
The war has shown how mighty Germany, and even Austria-Hungary, is in an economic sense. If these States, therefore, desire it, they have always the power to render us valuable support. They have done so till now, and we have no reason to suppose that they will not support us also in the future.
On the contrary, from the assurances in German newspapers and statements of German statesmen, we can with full confidence count upon German financial help. Even as we write these lines we are informed that Germany has again granted us a loan of 125,000,000 lewas ($25,000,000) for the defraying of current debts, without any political conditions.
Our greatest foe today is Serbia. It has subjugated the purely Bulgarian Macedonia and is administering it in a barbarian manner never before witnessed.
For the Macedonian populace there are no laws and no human rights of any sort. This populace is, without exception, exposed to slaughter; the streams are red with blood; women have been violated, and the male population suitable for military service has been sent into the field to die for the creation of a "Greater Serbia."
One need only profess to be a Bulgar in Macedonia to be beaten to death like a dog, so great is the hatred of Serbia toward Bulgaria. After the wars the Serbs had grown so arrogant that the transit of a Bulgar through Serbia - no matter who he was - was absolutely dangerous to his life, because in that State, which, according to our Government organ, Narodni Prava, is ruled by liars, there exist no laws for Bulgars.
If we do not more quickly deliver our brothers in Macedonia from the unbearable, cruel, and bloody yoke, not a Bulgar will be left in this purely Bulgarian land. Things are, moreover, already in such a condition that Bulgaria cannot possibly exist next to a "Greater Serbia," inasmuch as the latter, which lays claim to our country up to the Jantra, will continually challenge us until it destroys us.
We do not know the wording of the famous note which the Quadruple Entente has delivered to the Bulgarian Government, but from what has been said and written in the newspapers, these facts are seen:
1. That Russia and its allies give us nothing for our neutrality, but, on the other hand, demand that we shall take part in the war as soon as possible.
2. That Bulgaria is to turn over its armies to the Quadruple Entente, placing them fully at the Entente's disposal, leaving the Entente to command them and send them wherever it seems advisable.
3. That the Bulgarian Army must conquer Constantinople and then hand it over to Russia; and,
4. In return for all this Bulgaria is permitted to retain the territory up to the Enos-Midia line, and it is promised some obscure and insufficient compensations in Macedonia, but only in case Serbia is sufficiently compensated by Austria.
That means: give your army, so that we may mix it up with our wild hordes and send them out for destruction on the various scenes of battle; and then, when Serbia has grown great and has taken South Hungary, Croatia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, and has grown to a State of from fifteen to twenty millions Bulgaria will get a small bit of land.
This shows most clearly how strongly the Quadruple Entente is allied to Serbia; how it is unwilling to persuade the latter to make concessions, and how it mocks our legitimate demands.
The Quadruple Entente is known for its noise and its making of alarms. It is known, too, that during our last negotiations for a loan they published secret notes and even meddled in our internal affairs merely in order to evoke disturbances in the country to win Bulgaria for the Quadruple Entente.
In this respect Germany and Austria-Hungary work quietly and without noise. From what well-informed persons have told us we can with certainty state that the promises of Germany and Austria-Hungary to Bulgaria for its neutrality are, in the main, as follows:
1. All of Macedonia, including Skopie, Bitolia, Ochrida, etc.
2. Friendly mediation between Bulgaria and Turkey for the purpose of ceding the line to Dedeaghatch and the territory west of the right bank of the Maritza. This agreement with Turkey is expected in a short time.
Still further territorial promises have been made to us at the expense of Serbia by the Central Powers in case of our active military assistance.
These promises are in accordance with our demands for a common frontier with Austria-Hungary along the Danube. The present war has shown how absolutely necessary it is that we should have a direct and immediate connection with Hungary in order that we may be independent of a Serbia that has gone crazy. But also other parts of Old Serbia have been set forth for us in prospect.
Here we can see clearly the Quadruple Entente, in return for slight, uncertain, and doubtful advantages, demands great sacrifices from us, and that Germany and Austria-Hungary give us clearly and categorically to understand the things they are willing to give us in return for incomparably slighter sacrifices on our part.
But the question has another side as well - we do not believe in promises of any sort any more, anyway, and still less those of the Quadruple Entente, which took up Italy as an ally after it had in such treacherous fashion trampled under foot its word of honour and broken a thirty-three-year-old treaty of alliance.
On the contrary, we have full reason to believe in a treaty with Germany, which has always fulfilled its treaty obligations, and is fighting the whole world merely in order to live up to its treaty obligations to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
Finally, we must hold to that group of the powers which will win the victory in the present war, since only so can the important territorial extensions and further developments be insured.
From the developments of the operations in the various theatres of the war, on the front against France and Belgium as well as the fronts against Italy, Russia, and Serbia, one recognizes more clearly day by day that victory is inclining on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary.
We need not linger long over the question, inasmuch as it has become clear to the point of certainty for every observer that Russia, which has lost fortresses like Warsaw and Ivangorod, will soon be overthrown, and then the turn will come for France, Italy, England, and Serbia.
Germany has proved that it is so strongly organized in a military and material sense and can dispose of such enormous, superior, and inexhaustible forces as will enable it soon to overthrow its foes.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. III, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
A "chit" was British slang for a piece of paper.
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