Treti Balgarsko Tsarstvo Balgariya/Third Bulgar Empire of Bulgaria/Drittes Zarentum Bulgarien





Head of State

Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria, Known as Tsar Unifier and Tsar Liberator (1918-1981), Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria (from 1981)

Ruling Party

Natsionalen Sayuz 'Ataka'/ National Union 'Attack' (from 1943)

Head of Government

Georgi Kyoseivanov (1935-1940), Bogdan Filov (1940-1943), Dr Hristo Kunchev (1943-1947), Aleksandar Tsankov (1923-1926, 1947-1959), Ivan Mihailov (from 1959)


Bulgaria was a close ally of Italy, due to the influence of the tsarina Giovanna, Emperor Umberto’s sister, and the country’s uncomfortable relationship with Germany.

Bulgarian concessions to Germany were mainly superficial, such as the official renaming of the country the ‘Third Bulgaryan Empire’. This new name, in imitation of the Third German Reich, the Third Hellenic Civilisation and the Third Egyptian Empire, stressed continuity with the Turkic-Iranian Bulgars, thereby minimising the Slavic heritage of the Bulgarians. Bulgaria also took part in the punitive invasion of Yugoslavia, annexing substantial Bulgarian regions, especially in the south (Macedonia).

However Bulgaria refused to declare war on the Soviet Union, or to deport Bulgarian Jews (though Jews from the annexed parts of the former Yugoslavia were deported). Following Italian advice, Boris dismissed his Premier, the moderate pro-German Bogdan Filov and appointed a marginal though more radically pro-German political figure, Dr Hristo Kunchev. Cabinet members Petur Gabrovski and Dimitar Peshev were also dismissed, the latter being driven into exile.

Dr Kunchev's Bulgarian National Socialist Workers' Party became the sole legal state party, absorbing the National Socialist Movement, the Union of Bulgarian National Legions, the Warriors for the Advancement of Bulgarian National Spirit (Ratniks), Zveno, the Bulgarian Action Committees, and a variety of factions of the IMRO to form the National Union, known as 'Ataka', after its 'Ataka' newspaper.

Tsar Boris is known as the Tsar Unifier, or, especially in the annexed, ethnic-Bulgarian areas of former Yugoslav Macedonia, as the Tsar Liberator. He was regarded as one of the most pro-Italian political figures outside of Italy's direct sphere of influence. Boris considered associating his country with Italy in some more formal way, but this never took place.