March 3rd 1918: Russia Capitulated to Bulgaria?
The Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty of March 3, 1918, between the Quadruple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire on the one hand, and Bolshevik Russia on the other, ended Russian participation in the First World War.
Great credit for the collapse of Russia on the southern flank of the Eastern Front goes to the 1st Cavalry Division of Gen. Ivan Kolev on the Dobruja front.
Bulgaria took part in this war with the aim of uniting in a single national state its historical lands and the Bulgarian population, fragmented indiscriminately as a result of the successive efforts of the Russian Empire. Part of the Russian anti-Bulgarian activity is the insidious orchestration of the decisions of the Berlin Congress through secret protocols, as well as the provoking of the Serbian-Bulgarian and the Second Balkan (Inter-Allied) Wars. Bringing Russia to its knees in Brest-Litovsk was an act of historical justice and played an important role in preserving Bulgaria as a state. Russia exerted enormous diplomatic pressure for the obliteration of Bulgarian sovereignty after WW1, but because of the capitulation, it was not admitted to the negotiations on the side of the winners in Neuilly and their efforts were unsuccessful. Moreover, the impressive Bulgarian victories in Macedonia and Dobrudja won the respect of the British Empire, France and the USA. These victories prove the monolithic and strong cultural identity of the Bulgarian nation and personally impressed President Woodrow Wilson - our only defender at the negotiation table in Neuilly.
Captured Russian soldiers:
In the light of these indisputable events, deliberately neglected by our servile, pro-Russian historiography, March 3 really appears as a bright date in Bulgarian national history. It is our duty to the new generations to proclaim historical justice and to honor the names of the heroes who fought for a free, united and sovereign Bulgaria.
This is one of the few moments in the history of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom, in which our homeland signs a peace treaty as a winner.
On the other hand, Russia loses 1 million square kilometers of territory and 60 million people, is obliged to pay 6 million marks and contributions in kind, part of which Bulgaria also receives.
Thanks to this development, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Finland left the Russian Empire and restored their statehood.
On March 7, 1918, a unilateral treaty was signed with Romania, which exited the war, returning territories taken from Bulgaria during the Second Balkan War. Northern Dobruja remained a condominium of the Central Powers, which on September 25, 1918 handed over almost all of Northern Dobruja to Bulgaria.
Thus, together with the rest of the conquered territories, in 1916-1917, Bulgaria with its area came as close as possible to the Bulgarian ethnic land, which is estimated at nearly 215,000 sq. km.
The Bulgarian delegation at the signing of the capitulation of the Russian Empire in Brest-Litovsk:
The treaty of 03/03/1918 is not bilateral, but multilateral. Second, it is not preliminary, but final, and after the mandatory ratification procedure, it entered into force. With it, the First World War on the Eastern Front ended with the victory of Germany and its allies, including Bulgaria.
The next important point is that at the conference in Brest-Litovsk Bulgaria participated with its delegation, unlike San Stefano, where not a single Bulgarian was admitted due to Russia's interference. And this was inevitable, because in Brest-Litovsk, unlike San Stefano, Bulgaria is already a sovereign state.
Bulgaria had its own head of state with the title "king" (tsar) Ferdinand, recognized by all the great powers in 1909 after the settlement of the disputed issues related to the declaration of independence of 22.09.1908.
Bulgaria also had its own sovereign government, headed by Dr. Vasil Radoslavov, which protected Bulgarian national interests.
In general, in 1918, unlike 1878, Bulgaria was a legitimate subject of international law. It was an independent country, which unilaterally broke with the act of 22.09.1908 with all the dependencies imposed on it by the great powers under the Treaty of Berlin.
The Brest-Litovsk peace treaty of March 3, 1918 is the date of the real liberation of Bulgaria from Russia.
After Russia and Romania exited the war only Southern Dobrudja was returned to Bulgaria. Northern Dobrudja remained a condominium of the Central Powers. This caused dissatisfaction among the Bulgarian public opinion against the government, which was blamed for not protecting the Bulgarian national interest in the negotiations with the allies preceding the conclusion of the peace treaty with Romania.
In 1918, the Bulgarians and their allies fell into a difficult situation. Their economies began to suffer, the Bulgarian economy was in decline, there was a shortage of labor. Mass hunger was a huge problem. After the October Revolution in Russia, riots and Bolshevik sentiments in the Bulgarian army became more frequent. The anti-war propaganda of the Bulgarian Communist Party intensified.
At the front, the situation worsened. Food and ammunition were in short supply. Many factories were no longer in operation due to labor shortages. The allies of the Southern Front were increasing their military presence, and the Bulgarians did not have enough reserves. It was becoming clear that it was only a matter of time before the front collapsed. And that happened in September. The idea of the allies was for the front to break through at Dobro Pole and Doiran, and in this way the nearly 1 million Bulgarian army to be trapped in a "sack". On September 14, the offensive began. After three days of fighting at Dobro Pole, the Bulgarians were defeated, thus the remaining soldiers in the west were captured. At Doiran, the Bulgarians under the command of Gen. Vladimir Vazov defeated the allies, but soon they too were forced to retreat, albeit undefeated. The oppressed and exhausted soldiers set off for the capital Sofia to seek a reckoning from the rulers. The Vladai uprising broke out. In this environment, on September 29, the Thessaloniki Armistice was signed, with which the country exited the war. King Ferdinand abdicated in favor of his son Boris.
After the end of the war, the country experienced its so-called "second national catastrophe". The period from the restoration of the Bulgarian state (1878) to the end of the First World War (1919) is marked in Bulgarian history by the desire for national unification. In the name of national unification within the ethnic Bulgarian borders, Bulgaria participated in three consecutive wars (Balkan, Inter-Allied /Second Balkan/ and First World War). The loss in the latter put a tragic end to the national ideal. From the beginning of the Bulgarian renaissance, marked by Slavo-Bulgarian History, to the Treaty of Neuilly, the nation had three consecutive goals: the fight for the Bulgarian Church, the fight for national independence, and the fight for national unification. The possibility of achieving the latter goal diminished with the end of the First World War.
Besides the killed and missing during the First World War over 115,000 soldiers and officers, plus the wounded and captured, the losses among the Bulgarian civilian population and the destruction, this was the collapse, at least until the Second World War, of the national goals and ideal. Bulgaria also lost half of its land - the Bulgarian ethnic territory was divided between all of Bulgaria's neighbors. The most critical was the situation with the newly formed state of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, to which Pomerania, Timoška, Vardar Macedonia and Prizren were given to. The situation of the Bulgarians and the Bulgarian lands (Aegean Macedonia and Western Thrace), which became part of Greece, especially after its loss in the Asia Minor Adventure (1923), was no better. Eastern Thrace (annexed by the Ottomans in 1913) remained in the composition of the newly emerged Turkey (as successor to the fallen Ottoman Empire), and Romania occupied all of Dobrudja.
The internal state of the country was in chaos. Inflation continued to grow. The economy, as a result of the war and imposed reparations and requisitions, was in decline. The opposition leftist, agricultural parties came to power. Bulgaria was occupied by the Entente. On November 27, 1919, the Neuilly Treaty was signed, which had extremely serious consequences for the Bulgarian nation and state. By virtue of this treaty, also called the "Neuilly Dictate", Bulgaria's sovereign right to maintain its own armed forces was also taken away.
In this post-war environment, the agrarian government blamed the rulers of the country during the First World War for the unprecedented national catastrophe that ended in the collapse of the much-desired national unification. The adoption of extraordinary criminal legislation by the governing Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BANU) party had begun, the purpose of which was to hold the former rulers accountable.
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