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203 Settling Into Stalemate

As the First World War moves past the optimistic summer of 1914 it quickly becomes clear to everyone that the war will not end anytime soon. Meanwhile, the intense courtship of Bulgaria as an ally begins, forcing the country to reckon with what its support might be worth.



Major Characters in this Episode:

Tsar Ferdinand

PM Radoslavov

Yane Sandanski

Todor Alexandrov

Foreign Minister Nikola Genadiev

PM Gueshov


Timeline for this episode:

  • 1914, Sep 7th - The opposition parties of the National Assembly issue a manifesto urging the government to begin negotiations with the Entente to join the war on their side.

  • 1914, Sep 10th - The second Austro-Hungarian advance into Serbia is halted at the Battle of the Drina.

  • 1914, Sep 22-29th - The German advance into France is halted at the First Battle of the Marne.

  • 1914, Oct 14th - The Ottoman Black Sea Fleet raids the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

  • 1914, Oct 18th - Russia declares war on the Ottoman Empire followed the next day by Serbia.

  • 1914, Nov 1st - The Ottoman Sultan declares Jihad.

  • 1914, Oct-Nov - VMRO conducts a series of attacks and sabotages on the Nis-Thessaloniki rail line.

  • 1914, Oct-Nov - The German race to the sea is halted at the First Battle of Ypres.

  • 1914, Nov 18th - The Austro-Hungarian army enters Belgrade.

  • 1914, Nov 30th - The Serbian army recaptures Belgrade.

  • 1914, Dec 30th - Foreign Minister Nikola Genadiev returns to Sofia and gives a report to the cabinet insisting Bulgaria must join the Entente. He is later fired on corruption charges in April

  • 1914 - Publication of the Carnegie Report on the Balkan Wars.

  • 1915, Jan 16th - Bulgaria opens its first diplomatic embassy in the Western Hemisphere in Washington DC.

  • 1915, Jan 31st - An attack is carried out on the City Casino in Sofia by a group connected with the Young Turks in an attempt to push Bulgaria away from the Entente?

  • 1915, Jan - The first ever Bulgarian film is screened. Titled “A Bulgarian is Gallant” it runs for 10 minutes.

  • 1915, Feb 5th - Naval operations begin in preparations for the landing at Gallipoli. In response, Bulgaria breaks off negotiations with Germany.

  • 1915, Mar 15th - The Russian Black Sea Fleet shells the entrance to the Dardanelles.

  • 1915, Mar 20th - VMRO blows up a railway bridge near Valandovo.

  • 1915, Mar 23rd - A VMRO-led uprising breaks out in Macedonia.

  • 1915, Apr 14th - Yane Sandanski is assassinated.


Sources used in this episode:

  • Foxy Ferdinand: Tsar of Bulgaria by Stephen Constant

  • The Rose of the Balkans: A Short History of Bulgaria by Ivan Ilchev

  • История на България в Дати by Vasil Katsunov, Plamen Mitev, Valeri Kolev, Evgenia Kalinova, and Iskra Baeva

  • For Freedom and Perfection: The Life of Yané Sandansky by Mercia MacDermott

  • The First World War by John Keegan

  • The Rough Road to Statecraft: The Life of Bulgaria’s Ivan E. Gueshoff by Elena Statelova

  • The Balkans by Misha Glenny


Austro-Hungarian troops crossing the Drina river into Serbia
Austro-Hungarian troops crossing the Drina river into Serbia

A map showing the 2nd and 3rd Austro-Hungarian invasions of Serbia.
A map showing the 2nd and 3rd Austro-Hungarian invasions of Serbia.

The front page of the Carnegie Report on the Balkan Wars
The front page of the Carnegie Report on the Balkan Wars

The body of Yane Sandanski after his assassination.
The body of Yane Sandanski after his assassination.

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