Boris III of Bulgaria
|Boris III of Bulgaria|
|Reign||3 October 1918 – 28 August 1943|
|Consort||Giovanna of Italy|
|Princess Marie Louise
Simeon II of Bulgaria
|Boris Klemens Robert Maria Pius Ludwig Stanislaus Xaver|
|House||House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha|
|Father||Ferdinand I of Bulgaria|
|Mother||Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma|
30 January 1894|
Sofia, Principality of Bulgaria
|Died||28 August 1943
Sofia, Kingdom of Bulgaria
prev Roman Catholic
Boris III the Unifier, Tsar of Bulgaria (30 January [O.S. 18 January] 1894 – 28 August 1943), originally Boris Klemens Robert Maria Pius Ludwig Stanislaus Xaver (Boris Clement Robert Mary Pius Louis Stanislaus Xavier), son of Ferdinand I, came to the throne in 1918 upon the abdication of his father, following the defeat of the Kingdom of Bulgaria during 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 new territories and pay crippling reparations to its neighbours, thereby threatening political and economic stability. Two political forces, the Agrarian Union and the Communist Party, were calling for the overthrowing of the monarchy and the change of the government. It was in these circumstances that Boris succeeded to the throne.
In February 1896 his father paved the way for the reconciliation of Bulgaria and Russia with the conversion of the infant Prince Boris from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, a move that earned Ferdinand the frustration of his wife, the animosity of his Catholic Austrian relatives (particularly that of his uncle, Francis Joseph of Austria) and excommunication from the Catholic Church. In order to remedy this difficult situation Ferdinand christened all his remaining children as Catholics. Nicholas II of Russia stood as godfather to Boris and met the young boy during Ferdinand's official visit to Saint Petersburg in July 1898.
He received his initial education in the so-called Palace Secondary School which Ferdinand created in 1908 solely for his sons. Latter Boris graduated from the Military School in Sofia and took part in the Balkan Wars. During the First World War he served as liaison officer of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army on the Macedonian Front. In 1916 he was promoted to colonel and attached again as liaison officer to Army Group Mackensen and the Bulgarian Third Army for the operations against Romania. Boris worked hard to smooth the sometimes difficult relations between field marshal Mackensen and the commander of the 3rd army lieutenant general Stefan Toshev. Through his courage and personal example he earned the respect of the troops and the senior Bulgarian and German commanders, even that of the Generalquartiermeister of the German Army Erich Ludendorff, who preferred dealing personally with Boris and described him as excellently trained, a thoroughly soldierly person and mature beyond his years. In 1918 Boris was made a major general and with the abdication of his father acceded to the throne as Tsar Boris III on 3 October 1918.
Early reign 
One year after Boris's accession, Aleksandar Stamboliyski (or Stambolijski) of the Bulgarian People's Agrarian Union was elected prime minister. Though popular with the large peasant class, Stambolijski earned the animosity of the middle class and military, which led to his toppling in a military coup on 9 June 1923, and his subsequent assassination. In 1925, there was a short border war, known as the Incident at Petrich, with Greece which was resolved with the help of the League of Nations. Also in 1925, there were two attempts on Boris's life perpetrated by leftist extremists. After the second attempt, the military in power exterminated in reprisals several thousand communists and agrarians including representatives of the intelligentsia.
In the coup on 19 May 1934, the Zveno military organisation established a dictatorship and abolished the political parties in Bulgaria. King Boris was reduced to the status of a puppet king as a result of the coup. The following year, he staged a counter-coup and assumed control of the country by establishing a regime loyal to him. The political process was controlled by the Tsar, but a form of parliamentary rule was re-introduced, without the restoration of the political parties.
Boris married Giovanna of Italy, daughter of Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, first in Assisi in October 1930 (attended by Benito Mussolini), and then at an Orthodox ceremony in Sofia. The marriage produced a daughter, Maria Louisa, in January 1933, and a son and heir to the throne, Simeon, in 1937. Tsar Boris appeared on the cover of Time Magazine on 20 January 1941 wearing a full military uniform.
World War II 
In the early days of World War II, Bulgaria was neutral, but powerful groups in the country swayed its politics towards Germany (whom they had also allied with in World War I), which had gained initial sympathies by forcing Romania to cede southern Dobrudja back to Bulgaria. In 1941, Boris reluctantly allied himself with the Axis Powers in an attempt to recover Macedonia from Greece and Yugoslavia, which had been gained by Bulgaria in the First Balkan War and lost again in the Second.
However, in spite of this loose alliance, Boris was not willing to render full and unconditional cooperation with Germany, and the only German presence in Bulgaria was along the railway line which passed through it to Greece.
Despite strong opposition, the Bulgarian parliament voted and approved “The Law for the Protection of the Nation”( Закон за защита на нацията — ЗЗН), an anti-semitic bill, on December 24, 1940. Tsar Boris signed it into law on 21 January 1941..“
In early 1943, Nazi officials requested that Bulgaria deport its Jewish population to German occupied Poland. The request caused a public outcry, and a campaign whose most prominent leaders were Parliament Vice-Chairman Dimitar Peshev and the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Stefan, was organized. Following this campaign, Boris refused to permit the extradition of Bulgaria's 50,000 Jews. Initially, the Bulgarian government, which he controlled, asked for a breakdown of the German plans for the eventual deportees, and was told that roughly one-half will be employed in agriculture in Greater Germany and one-fourth, reported to be semi-skilled laborers, will be allowed to redeem themselves by "volunteering to work" in the war industries of the Ruhr, while the remaining one-fourth will be transported to the Gouvernement General (German-occupied Poland) for employment in "work directly connected to the war". This information was also distributed to the neutral countries via German diplomatic channels and was reported on March 24, 1943 in the New York Times from Bern, Switzerland, along with the rather cynical statement that "the former death rate in the Jewish colonies of occupied Poland has shown a considerable decrease in the past three months", with the listed reason being that "now many of the male Jews are employed in army work near the fighting zones", and these receive approximately the same rations as German soldiers.
Still hesitant to comply with the German deportation request, the Bulgarian government utilized Swiss diplomatic channels to inquire whether possible deportations of the Jews can happen to British-controlled Palestine by ships rather than to concentration camps in Poland by trains, for which the Germans requested a significant amount of money. However, this attempt was blocked by the British Foreign Minister, Anthony Eden. Eventually, Boris did succumb to the German demand for the extradition of 11,343 Jews from those territories re-occupied by Bulgaria, but the extradition of the Jews from pre-war Bulgaria was stopped.
These two decisions have led to a position today where a large number of people regard Boris as a hero for saving Bulgaria's Jews, and a large number revile him for condemning those from the occupied new territories. In point of fact, in wartime Europe, the Jewish citizens of the new territories of Macedonia and Thrace were all under Hitler's direct jurisdiction, since they were not formally Bulgarian citizens. Under King Boris III, Bulgaria was the only nation other than Finland in German-allied Europe to save its entire Jewish population during the Holocaust.
To thank Tsar Boris, in 1998 Bulgarian Jews in the United States and the Jewish National Fund erected a monument in the “The Bulgarian Forest” in Israel, honoring Tsar Boris as a savior of Bulgarian Jews. In July 2003, public committee headed by Chief Justice Dr. Moshe Beiski decided to remove the memorial from the “The Bulgarian Forest”, because Tsar Boris agreed to deliver the Jews from occupied territory of Macedonia and Trace to the Germans.. Boris was one of the few world leaders who defied Hitler face to face during the war, refusing multiple times to deliver his Jewish citizens beyond the borders of his kingdom.
Most irritating for Hitler, however, was the Tsar's refusal to declare war on the Soviet Union or send Bulgarian troops to the Eastern front. On 9 August 1943, Hitler summoned Boris to a stormy meeting at Rastenburg, East Prussia, where Tsar Boris arrived by plane from Vrazhdebna on Saturday, 14 August. While Bulgaria had declared a 'symbolic' war on the distant United Kingdom and the United States, at that meeting Boris once again refused to get involved in the war against the Soviet Union, giving two major reasons for his unwillingness to send troops to Russia — first, that many ordinary Bulgarians had strong Russophile sentiments; and second, that the political and military position of Turkey remained unclear. The 'symbolic' war against the Western Allies, however, turned into a disaster for the citizens of Sofia as the city was heavily bombarded by the US and the British Royal Air Force in 1943 and 1944. Nevertheless, the bombardments started only after Boris' death.
Shortly after returning to Sofia from a meeting with Hitler, Boris died of apparent heart failure on 28 August 1943. Conspiracy theories instantly sprang up, many choosing to believe that he was poisoned by Hitler in an attempt to put a more obedient government in place. The evening before the illness occurred, Boris had an official dinner in the Italian embassy.. The question has never been settled and many people remain of the belief that Boris was murdered, in spite of no evidence being available. According to the diary of the German attache in Sofia at the time, Colonel von Schoenebeck, the two German doctors who attended the king – Sajitz and Hans Eppinger – both believed that the king had died from the same poison that Dr. Eppinger had allegedly found two years earlier in the postmortem examination of the Greek prime minister Ioannis Metaxas, a slow poison which takes weeks to do its work, and which causes the appearance of blotches on the skin of its victim before death. Whether or not Boris was murdered remains a mystery.
Following a large and impressive state funeral at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia, where the streets were lined with weeping crowds, the coffin of Tsar Boris III was taken by train to the mountains and buried in Bulgaria's largest and most important monastery, the Rila Monastery. After taking power in September 1944, the Communist-dominated government had his body exhumed and secretly buried in the courtyard of the Vrana Palace near Sofia. At a later time the Communist authorities removed the zinc coffin from Vrana and moved it to a secret location, which remains unknown to this day. After the fall of communism, an excavation attempt was made at the Vrana Palace, in which only Boris's heart was found, as it had been put in a glass cylinder outside the coffin. The heart was taken by his widow in 1993 to Rila Monastery where it was reinterred.
A wood-carving is placed on the left side of his grave in the Rila monastery, made on 10 October 1943 by inhabitants of the village of Osoi, Debar district. The wood-carving has the following inscription:
|“||To its Tsar Liberator Boris III, from grateful Macedonia.||”|
Honours and memorials 
The United States Congress proclaimed King Boris III savior of fifty thousand Bulgarian Jews on 12 May 1994.
King Boris III was posthumously awarded the Jewish National Fund's Medal of the Legion of Honor, the first non-Jew to receive one of the Jewish community's highest honors.
The Jewish National Fund dedicated to Bulgaria a forest in Israel, a garden named for King Boris, and a Bulgarian square in Jerusalem.
The Anti-Defamation League and Chabad have also honored King Boris III for refusing to sacrifice his Jewish subjects to the Nazi juggernaut.
Borisova Gradina is the largest park in Sofia.
A huge picture of Tsar Boris hangs in the Alexandrov compound in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
See also 
- History of Bulgaria
- "Guide to Jewish Bulgaria" by Dimana Trankova & Anthony Georgieff, Sofia, 2011; http://www.vagabond.bg/jewishbulgaria
- R. J. Crampton – "Bulgaria", Oxford University Press, 2007, page 258
- Geoffrey Hindley – "The royal families of Europe", 2000, Constable, page 91
- Biljana Vankovska, Håkan Wiberg – "Between past and future: civil-military relations in the post-communist Balkans", 2003, I.B.Tauris, page 76
- Jean W. Sedlar – "The Axis Empire in Southeast Europe 1939–1945", 2007, page 79
- "Ludendorff's own story, August 1914 – November 1918: the Great War from the siege of Liège to the signing of the armistice as viewed from the grand headquarters of the German Army Volume I", Harper 1919, , page 301.
- Tsar's Coup Time Magazine 4 February 1935. retrieved 10 August 2008
- Balkans and World War I SofiaEcho.com
- King Boris III Time Magazine 20 January 1941. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- World War: Lowlands of 1941 Time Magazine 20 January 1941. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- NOTES FROM HISTORY: 'The man who saved the Jews' The Sofia Echo 13 March 2006. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- Balkans into Southeastern Europe, pg. 154
- BULGARIA United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 1 April 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time by Howard M. Sachar, Alfred A. Knopf, N.Y., 2007
- King Boris III: A Hero or a Villain of the Holocaust? iSurvived.org Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- ADL HONORS BULGARIA FOR SAVING JEWS FROM HOLOCAUST ADL.org 13 February 1998. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- "Bulgarian Rule Goes to Son, 6. Reports on 5-day Illness Conflict", United Press dispatch in a cutting from an unknown newspaper in the collection of historian James L. Cabot, Ludington, Michigan.
- Tzar Boris III – Famous Bulgarians Information Invest Bulgaria, Retrieved 3 October 2011
- Belogradchik, Bulgaria thesavvyexplorer.com Retrieved 3 October 2011
- "Wily Fox: How King Boris Saved the Jews of Bulgaria from the Clutches of His Axis Allie Adolph Hitler", AuthorHouse 2008, 213
- Bulgaria in the Second World War by Marshall Lee Miller, Stanford University Press, 1975.
- Boris III of Bulgaria 1894–1943, by Pashanko Dimitroff, London, 1986, ISBN 0-86332-140-2
- Crown of Thorns by Stephane Groueff, Lanham MD., and London, 1987, ISBN 0-8191-5778-3
- The Betrayal of Bulgaria by Gregory Lauder-Frost, Monarchist League Policy Paper, London, 1989.
- The Daily Telegraph, Obituary for "HM Queen Ioanna of the Bulgarians", London, 28 February 2000.
- Balkans into Southeastern Europe by John R. Lampe, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2006.
- A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time by Howard M. Sachar, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2007, ISBN 978-0-394-48564-5
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- Historical photographs of the royal palace in Sofia
- Find-A-Grave biography
- Empty Boxcars (2011) Documentary * at IMDb  link Vimeo
- Clarifying 70 Years of Whitewashing and Inaccuracies: The Bulgarian Government and its Interaction with Jews During the Holocaust *.
Boris III of Bulgaria
Cadet branch of the House of WettinBorn: 30 January 1894 Died: 28 August 1943
|Tsar of Bulgaria
3 October 1918 – 28 August 1943