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THE FIRST WORLD WAR (1914 - 1919)

Bulgaria entered WW I on 1 October 1915 on the side of the Central Forces against Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, and fighting against its enemies in the Inter-Ally War - Greece, Serbia and Romania. The goal was to restore the territories of Macedonia and Dobrudzha lost in 1913, following the Bucharest Peace Treaty.

In the autumn of 1915 the Bulgarian army won a victory over the Serbians and defeated two French divisions advancing along the valley of the river Vardar. But it received an order from the German Supreme Command to stop at the Greek border. The Thessalonica front was created and it doomed the army to three years of positional war for which it had no resources. There were 878 000 men on the front, about 15% of the population of the country. 87 000 soldiers and officers were killed on the battlefield but no banner fell into the hands of the enemy.

In the summer of 1918 Bulgaria was in deep crisis since its resources were completely exhausted. Between 15 and 18 of September the Macedonian Front was broken at Dobro pole because of the supremacy of the allied forces both in number and in technical equipment. The retreat of the army turned into mutiny. The insurgents took the headquarters in Kyustendil and on 27 September 1918 the agrarian leader Raiko Daskalov declared Bulgaria a republic in Radomir. The insurgent soldiers headed for Sofia but on 30 September they were crushed near the village of Vladaya. On 20 September 1918 the government was forced to sign the Thessalonica Peace under very unfavourable conditions. On 3 October King Ferdinand I abdicated in favour of his son King Boris III. The peace treaty, signed on 27 September in the Paris suburb of Neuilly by the Bulgarian Prime Minister Alexander Stamboliyski, imposed severe requirements on Bulgaria. The country lost its access to the Aegean Sea and 11 278 sq km of its territory (Western Thrace, the Strumitsa region, Bosilegrad, Tsaribrod and part of the area of Trun and Kula), and confirmed the clauses of the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1913 for giving away Southern Dobrudzha to Romania. Heavy reparations of 2, 25 billion gold Franks, 70 825 heads of cattle and 250 000 tons of coal were imposed on Bulgaria. The army, the police and the soldiers at the borders could not exceed 30 000 and specific kinds of weapons were prohibited. Using the treaty of 27 November 1919, Greece made Bulgaria sign the so-called convention for ,,voluntary deportation". In his book ,,Bulgaria after the Neuilly Treaty" (1930) the French scholar George Desbont writes that, following its clauses, Serbia received 2566 sq km and Greece received 8000 sq km of Bulgarian territory.

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