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Anniversary of the death of Tsar Boris III

Anniversary of the death of Tsar Boris III

8/28/2009 5:21:01 PM

Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria (January 30, 1894 - August 28, 1943), originally Boris Klemens Robert Maria Pius Ludwig Stanislaus Xaver, son of Ferdinand I, came to the throne in 1918 upon the abdication of his father, following Bulgaria's defeat in World War I. This was the country's second major defeat in only five years, after the disastrous Second Balkan War (1913). Under the Treaty of Neuilly, Bulgaria was forced to cede land to its neighbors and pay crippling reparations, thereby threatening political and economic stability. Two movements, the Agrarian Union and the Communist Party, were calling for the overthrow of the monarchy and change of government. It was in these circumstances that Boris succeeded to the throne.

One year after Boris's accession, Aleksandar Stamboliyski of the Agrarian Union was elected prime minister. Though popular with the large peasant class, he earned the animosity of the middle class and military, which toppled his government in 1923. In 1925, there was a short border war with Greece which was resolved with the help of the League of Nations. In 1934 Boris helped the military establish a dictatorship. The following year, he assumed control of the country, ruling as an absolute monarch.

Boris married Giovanna of Savoy, daughter of Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, first in Assisi in October 1930, and then at an Orthodox ceremony in Sofia. The marriage produced a daughter, Marie-Louise in January 1933 and a son and heir in Simeon in 1937.

In the early days of World War II, Bulgaria was neutral, but popular sentiment swayed toward Germany, which had forced Romania to cede southern Dobruja back to Bulgaria. In 1941, Boris reluctantly allied himself with the Axis Powers and joined Germany's war against Greece and the Yugoslavia in an attempt to regain territories lost under the Treaty of Neuilly. However, in spite of siding with Nazi Germany, Boris consistently refused cooperation on two major issues. In early 1943, Nazi officials requested that Bulgaria's Jews be sent to Poland as part of Hitler's "final solution." The request caused a public outcry, led by prominent figures such as Parliament Chairman Dimitar Peshev and Archbishop Stefan of Sofia. Boris was thus compelled to cancel the deportation of Bulgaria's 50,000 Jews to Auschwitz. Even more threatening to Hitler, however, was the tsar's refusal to declare war on the Soviet Union, particularly as the war was turning against Germany.

In August 1943, Hitler summoned Boris to a stormy meeting in Berlin. While Boris had declared war on the distant United Kingdom and United States, he again refused to get Bulgaria involved in the war against the USSR. The "symbolic" war against the Western Allies turned into a disaster for the citizens of Sofia as the city was heavily bombarded by the US and British Air Force in 1943 and 1944.

Shortly after returning to Sofia, Boris died of apparent heart failure. Many believed he was poisoned by Hitler in an attempt to put a more obedient government in place. Highly unlikely, because his death came several days after his return. The prevoious evening before the illness occured, he had an official dinner in the Italian embassy. Others suggest that this was a Communist plot attempting to destabilize the monarchy. Boris was succeeded by his six-year-old son Simeon II. He was buried in the ancient Rila Monastery. After assuming power in 1944, the Communist-dominated government had his body exhumed and secretly buried in the courtyard of Vrana Palace. At a later time the zinc coffin was removed from there, fate unknown. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was an excavation attempt but only Boris's heart was recovered, as it had been put in a glass cylinder, out of the coffin. It was reburied at Rila Monastery.

Info taken by Wikipedia

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