Against Military Credits
Shorthand notes 17th National Assembly November 19, 1914, pp. 483-486.
Source: Georgi Dimitrov, Selected Works
Sofia Press, Sofia, Volume 1, 1972, pp. 40-48
Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive
Gentlemen! During previous votes on military credits, our parliamentary group has had occasion to state its reasons for voting against such credits. I do not intend now to go into these basic reasons again, as they are already known to the members of Parliament. But it is my duty, on behalf of our group, to draw your attention to a major and special reason which prompts us firmly to oppose the new military credit of 6,050,000 leva.
We look upon all the funds now being voted for military purposes as a means of pursuing a policy tending to carve up and seize the Balkans. This policy was most clearly defined here in the reply to the speech from the throne by the majority, as well as by all the parliamentary groups of the opposition except ours. At that time it boiled down to the following: Bulgaria should under no circumstances enter into an agreement with the other Balkan states, as this was considered impossible and utopian under the present conditions; and Bulgaria should start negotiations with both groups of great powers in order to secure its independence and integrity and eventually to attain its national ideals. Well, gentlemen national representatives, we consider this policy which, but for differences in shade, is shared by the majority of the house and the bourgeois opposition parties in parliament, as fatal to our nation; hence any means into this policy cannot be approved here, in parliament, by the representatives of the people's masses and of the working class. We are against this military credit and we think that the parliament, if it really represented the interests of the Bulgarian people, and not those of a handful of privileged gentlemen who rule and dominate the country, if in its views it expressed the interests of that people, should not approve the spending of a single penny for military purposes until the present government, or a future government that might take its place, adopts the only salutary policy of an understanding among the Balkan states, of forming a Balkan federation. We still consider the realization of such a policy, as we have stressed here time and again as possible...
Dr. K. Provadaliev: Are you serious?
G. Dimitrov:... as we have always done, so today we quite seriously recommend to the Bulgarian Parliament and to the present government this only salutary policy. This is why it is my duty to affirm here that we cannot cast our vote in favour that parliament, if it does not want to betray the interests of the Bulgarian people, should not vote any credits for military purposes until the time when an indeand free Balkan policy, that would at the same be a Bulgarian policy, is adopted.
In the second place, gentlemen national representatives, you will allow us to differ as to the necessity at this juncture of an extraordinary military credit, much of which would go to maintain reserve troops. For, in spite of the present situation in Bulgaria and the Balkans, we are convinced - on the basis of sufficient data which are probably not unknown to many of the gentlemen national representatives and to the present government - that the calling up of the reserves, of those three series of six levies, is not dictated by any present necessity of preserving the national independence of our country, but that it is, if I may say so, a rehearsal, a partial mobilization. After the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, after the wounds which they inflicted, after the readiness of the masses to fight has been completely exhausted, it is now deemed necessary to sound out public opinion, to test inhowfar the readiness of the masses has been re-awakened. The military authorities themselves do not conceal the fact that the main reason for calling up these levies is precisely the sounding out and testing of public opinion and, on the other hand, the forming of a martial spirit among the masses which may tomorrow have to be called to arms in case of a general mobilization. Well, we feel that the reserves ought not to have been called up, that this is not dictated by considerations of national defence but by quite different motifs and, consequently, that the expenditure it entails might have been avoided. We are not prepared to sacrifice a single penny, or a single drop of blood for a policy that leads not to safeguarding Bulgaria's freedom and independence, but to its ruin. This is our main idea and our guiding principle.
This credit, which you will probably vote, met with approval on this side, too (Pointing to the left). The objections raised there are purely formal in character, and concern only
the system of credits outside the budget, they are not objections of principle, for you may rightly tell those on the left that they, too, have spent considerable sums for military purposes in the same way, that this was not invented by the Liberal Government, but is an old system which is likely to continue in existence for years to come, in spite of everything that might be said to the contrary, if not as long as the bourgeois system prevails. Because the Bulgarian bourgeoisie ruling the country will never have the courage to come out openly before the masses, and say: 'We need so many millions for our war policy, for military purposes,' and to provide for the exact sum in the budget, but it will always try to hide it and throw dust in the eyes of the destitute masses who, if they are interested in the budget, will discover an outlay of only 50 million leva, whereas a correct estimate would show the sum to be not 50, but 150 to 200 million a year. Well, gentlemen, since none of the wings reject the credit in principle, obviously it will be voted. But allow me to ask what the present government, which hastens with credits outside the budget, especially for military purposes, has done, what you, gentlemen of the major who sanction with your vote the various measures of the government, propose to do, so as to guarantee the existence of the thousands of families the heads of which have been called up for a three-week training. Surely you are not unaware of the fact that a great calamity has befallen the country, due to the calling up of the reserves of several levies. Ninety per cent of these people are workers, poor peasants and farmers; they have most of them left their families without a single penny, and that while there is a social crisis; they have no stocks, no savings, they had no way of saving and, consequently, their families are now starving, suffering from the harsh winter.
Prime Minister Dr. V. Radoslavov: Who is starving?
G. Dimitrov: The state has not done anything for them.
Minister P. Peshev: The state is doing all that's necessary. Don't talk like a demagogue!
G. Dimitrov: Sir! We are not demagogues, we are just speaking the plain truth which you can check yourself any
Minister P. Peshev: Our state has not let its people go hungry.
G. Dimitrov: All right, then, if you do not want those workers' families in our country to be destitute, this is what you should have done: before introducing this bill for credits outside the budget, you should have introduced a bill to guarantee the relief of families living in distress. This you didn't do, and yet you insist that the state has done everything necessary. The state has done nothing in this respect... .
Minister P. Peshev: It won't forsake them.
G. Dimitrov:... And you are still trying to say that people aren't starving. Let's face it, gentlemen, they are!
From the right wing and right centre: Come, come! This is not true.
G. Dimitrov: You have enough to eat with plenty to spare, and that's why you won't believe those that are hungry (Protests from the right). Well then, gentlemen, if the Government does not introduce such a bill, why didn't the committee of the house come to an agreement with the Government to put on the agenda the bill introduced for the purpose by our parliamentary group as early as the last session and which we re-introduced at the beginning of the present session - a bill that concerns the relief of poor families during mobilization, which could be extended to include relief of workers' families living in poverty due to their men being called up for a three-week training, which incidentally is a partial mobilization in itself? This had not been done either. You know, moreover, that the crisis now existing in this country affects most those who have no property - this at least none of you will try to deny - because there is no social crisis, no economic crisis for the gentlemen who dispose of much capital, for those who keep on pocketing interests no matter what happens. It's the have-nots who bear the brunt of the crisis. Now, gentlemen, so many industrial enterprises have closed down, there is a general economic stagnation and mass unemployment - the Minister of Industry and Labour here could tell you this, as he has a special report on unemployment from the workers' organizations; today over 30,000 men cannot find work anywhere in the country - and they have families - this means that more than 100,000 people' have no means of subsistence, no bread, no sustenance. A bill has been drafted to provide for them, but this bill is not being put on the agenda. The government is doing nothing about it. People are starving while you are going to vote with both hands for new extraordinary credits for military purposes (Protests from the right wing and right centre). Gentlemen! I want to draw your attention to this glaring contradiction, this inconsistency and cruelty shown by the present state, represented by you, by the Government and the majority of the house.
S. Kalenderov: Cruelty, indeed.
G. Dimitrov: Yes, unprecedented cruelty! Gentlemen! A few minutes ago Mr. Koznichki, in order to persuade us that we too should vote for the credits outside the budget, cited the example of other nations: he said that that was what had been done in Germany, Austria and in all the other belligerent nations. The analogy he drew was, however, not exact, since they are fighting there, while we here are not.
V. Koznichki: I was speaking about the non-belligerent countries too, about the neutral ones.
G. Dimitrov: But for his analogy to have been correct, Mr. Koznichki ought to have told us what they are doing about the destitute workers' masses in countries where bills for credits outside the budget have really been passed due to the war.
Minister D. Petkov: Where they are fighting!
G. Dimitrov: You, gentlemen, are not prepared to grant a single penny to the working class, to the destitute masses, whom tomorrow you will be calling to arms, to fight not for themselves, but for you again.
From the right wing and right centre: Hear, hear!
G. Dimitrov:... for your policy and your national ideals, under the guise of your own selfish, capitalist in
Minister P. Peshev: This is outrageous!
G. Dimitrov: I should like to tell Mr. Peshev that this is not outrageous, but the plain truth.
Minister P. Peshev: This is the limit! It's a scandal! The chairman ought not to let you speak like that! This is instigation, demagogy! How dare you instigate?
V. Kolarov: Hunger and poverty are a fact.
Minister P. Peshev: Don't talk like demagogue, about a national problem. This is a wicked shame!
P. Genadiev (to the extreme left) : You are rousing the people to rebellion.
D. Blagoev: You are rousing it.
Minister P. Peshev: (to Mr. Dimitrov): Hold your tongue!
G. Dimitrov: I should beg the Minister of Education to keep calm.
Minister P. Peshev: Hold your tongue!
G. Dimitrov: Sir! We know what we are talking about.
Minister P. Peshev: No, you don't.
G. Dimitrov: What we have said we can prove with documents.
Minister P. Peshev: You don't seem to realize what the consequences of your words can be.
G. Dimitrov: Don't let us rake up old accounts now.
From the right wing: A-ha!
S. Kalenderov: You don't know what you are talking about.
Chairman: Mr. Dimitrov! Stick to the point or I shall ask you to leave the floor.
D. Blagoev: Mr. Chairman, you have no right to tell him what he ought to say. >We protest against this outrage.
P. Genadiev: Mr. Blagoev! You forget that the calling up of reserves is for the good of your country. You forget it at your age.
D. Blagoev: You there, keep quite!
The Chairman: I call on Mr. Dimitrov to keep to the subject. Our patience is exhausted. Else, according to the rules, I shall have to withdraw his permission to speak.
G. Dimitrov: Gentlemen! If you wished and if you had the patience to hear me out instead of losing your tempers.. .
S. Kalenderov: How can we stand this?
G. Dimitrov: . . . I could point out to you here a dozen of patriots, who have robbed Bulgaria and for whose sake the Balkan Wars were waged. They are both here (Pointing to the right) and there (Pointing to the left). (Loud protests and thumping of feet from the right).
M. Nichov: Point them out, tell us who they are!
G. Dimitrov: As you know, a parliamentary inquiry was instituted which has found out many and is going to find out more.. .
M. Nichov: Go on, tell us who they are!
G. Dimitrov: ...scores and hundreds of self-styled Bulgarian patriots, both there (Pointing to the right) and here (Pointing to the left).
Someone from the right: There are none here.
T. Loukanov: Look at Mr. Gendovich, he is a great patriot, the good man! Why do you say there are none?
The Chairman: Mr. Dimitrov! If you don't keep to the subject and continue to irritate the national representa I shall withdraw your permission to speak.
G. Dimitrov: You have no right to do it, Mr. Chairman. Let me finish.
The Chairman: We have no time for nonsense and illattacks here.
G. Dimitrov: I protest: The chairman has no right to say who is talking sense and who is talking nonsense.
The Chairman: I shall demand that you leave the floor.
D. Blagoev: How can you do this? It would be quite arbitrary!
The Chairman: He should keep to his subject. He should not make light with the National Assembly.
D. Blagoev: You don't like it, because you won't hear the bitter truth.
The Chairman: Mr. Dimitrov! Keep to your subject. Don't compel me to make you leave the floor!
G. Dimitrov: Mr. Chairman would not have been offended and he would not have reprimanded me if, say, like Mr. Grigor Vassilev, I had sung the praise of our Bulgarian army and asked for an increase of military credits. But because I come out as a representative of a party which cannot share this view and is openly against it, in order to speak against the credits, all of you start arguing and want me to leave the floor. This is not consistent with the prinof parliamentarism, it is most unprincipled of you who like to boast of your parliamentary principles. Let me finish now. I wanted, gentlemen, to draw your attention to the fact that, while the voting of extraordinary credits for military purposes is being rushed, absolutely nothing is being done - and this is the truth - to guarantee the lives of Bulgarian families in distress. This was my whole point.
S. Kalenderov: Do you suggest that these sums be included in the credit now discussed?
G. Dimitrov: You find the means for introducing so many credits outside the budget, and when it comes to social re you find only words.
T. Loukanov: That's how it will be, of course, when a budget of 60 million is submitted and, at the same time, milcredits are asked for 200 million leva.
G. Dimitrov: Millions upon millions are voted for military credits, while for social legislation and labour protecthere remains only what was said in the speech from the throne and the promises of the cabinet. Well then, gentle we are here to tell you that the working class, the broad masses, part of whom have elected some of you, canbe solidary with such a policy. And when our government declares that the people approve of this policy, that they give their tacit consent to this policy, the Government should knew, and you, gentlemen, should know that the people, who are suffering in poverty and distress, and with whose money you are building up a military organization, in order to use it as an instrument, not in defence of the nation....
S. Kalenderov: In defence of what then?
G. Dimitrov: ...but, consciously or unconsciously, for the ruin of our national freedom and independence, that the people will not support you, that they are against it and, on their behalf, we resolutely oppose the policy pursued here, which is directed against the nation's freedom and in (Applause on the extreme left).