After initially remaining neutral and refusing to participate in the military conflict that had broken out in Europe, in March 1941 the Kingdom of Bulgaria entered the Second World War on the side of the Axis Powers. In the course of the military operations, the Bulgarian state established its own administration in Vardar Macedonia and Aegean Thrace. On 4 September 1944, the Kingdom of Bulgaria terminated its alliance with Nazi Germany and began to disarm the German troops on Bulgarian territory. On 5 September, the Soviet Union declared war on the Kingdom of Bulgaria, after which units of the Red Army’s 3rd Ukrainian Front entered Northeastern and Southeastern Bulgaria. On 9 September 1944, a coup d’état brought to power the Fatherland Front, a communist-dominated coalition. The following years saw the establishment of a totalitarian regime governed by the Bulgarian Communist Party, based on the class-party principle and accompanied by a repressive model characteristic of the whole period of socialism (1944–1989).
The article deals with several main topics related to armed resistance against the communist regime in Bulgaria (1944–1956). More than 3,000 goryani and over 10,000 helpers of theirs took part in the conflict against a vastly superior opponent. The article offers a detailed review of the domestic and foreign political factors that provoked the armed conflict. A series of examples are used to illustrate the characteristics of the two belligerent parties. The composition, structure, number and tactics of the participants in the armed resistance are described, as well as the means employed by the state institutions to fight against “political banditry”.
The end of the Second World war did not mean the end of violence for many regions in Eastern Europe. The establishment of Communist-led governments often met not only civil but also armed resistance. These actions were taken by partisan groups and paramilitary forces which in some cases had been formed already during the war to support axis forces. In other cases – like Poland’s Armia Krajowa – they fought Nazi and Soviet occupiers with the same fervour. The aims of the ﬁghters were the end of Communist rule and – like in the Baltic region – independence from the Soviet Union. Diﬃculties in accessing sources and research taboos as well as a focus on other aspects of the Cold War are reasons why violent resistance in Europe after the Second World War is a topic yet rather underestimated and comparably little investigated by historiography. This book gives a comprehensive ﬁrst overview of the ultimately futile attempts to end the rule of Moscow and her proxies.