The Kingdom of Bulgaria
Head of State: Tzar Boris III
Leader: Hristo Lukov
Government: National Socialist Monarchy
Ruling Party: Union of Bulgarian National Legions (UBNL)
Category: Minor Power
In the past century, the Kingdom of Bulgaria has proved itself to be an unwaveringly loyal ally to the Germans, coming to their aid and fighting alongside them till the very end in the past two World Wars. In the Spring of 1941, Adolf Hitler conducted a state visit to the nation's capitol of Sofia to have an audience with Tzar Boris III and discuss potentially forming an alliance. The Tzar ended up admiring the German Führer during his visit and formally agreed to join the Axis. However, Bulgaria would not directly participate in the war until 1943 when Italian and German forces stormed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Greece, both posessing territory in which the Tzar sought to claim for his Kingdom. Bulgarian forces invaded Yugoslavia from the east while German and Italian forces charged in from the north and southwest, quickly overwelming the Yugoslavian military which quickly crumbled under the weight of the invading forces. The Bulgarian military proved to not have as much fortune when aiding the Italians in their costly invasion of Greece however. Invading Greece from the north with the intent of splitting the region of Thrace in half as to cut off Greek supply lines, the Bulgarian advance was cut off just miles from reaching the Aegean coast and were swiftly pushed back to the north. The Tzar soon requested the assistance of the Germans in the form of air support and Fallschirmjäger paratroopers to drop into fortrified Greek positions and capture them, allowing the Bulgarian army to advance. This proved to be a success as Bulgarian divisions moved into Thrace, quickly dispatching the undefended Greek army and capturing the coastline.
After the defeat of Greece and Yugoslavi, the Axis Powers divided up the Balkans accordingly. Bulgaria annexed the regions of Vardar Macedonia, Southern Pomoravlje and Western Thrace, all containing ethnic Bulgarian populations and providing the Kingdom direct access to the Aegean Sea once again after it was lost as a consequence of their defeat in the Great War. With these territorial accessions, the country's population increased almost by a third, as well as adding vital industrial centers, resources, and rich waters for fishing. The power of the Kingdom increased significantly from its former pre-war status.
In the summer of 1943, much was happening within Bulgaria. The Tzar allocated 150,000 military personnel for assisting the Axis armies on the Eastern Front. The Bulgarian military mainly served in the Caucasus region of the Soviet Union, helping in both offensive and occupational operations in the region. Having Bulgarian forces aid in the occupation of the Soviet Union freed up German forces and allowed for less strain on a military force that is already strectched to its absolute limit. This proved to make Bulgaria an invaluable ally in the invasion and proved to expidite the push toward Moscow in 1945 before another harsh winter was to set in a halt the German advance, potentially allowing for disastrous consequences.
In the beginning of 1944 it was obvious that great politically change was in the air for Bulgaria. While the people had unwavering admiration and loyalty for their Tzar, they viewed the government as a rather stagnated body that simply wasnt providing the level of significant change that many within Bulgarian society longed for. They had for many years witnessed in awe the rapid and prosperous development in both the German Reich and Kingdom of Italy after their adoption of more revolutionary governments like that of National Socialism and Fascism. For many years, the Union of Bulgarian National Legions, a political party containing a platfrom with strong elements of National Socialism, went otherwise unnoticed until 1942 when its popularity began to rapidly increase. Its charismatic leader, the war hero lieutenant general Hristo Lukov began attracting fame among the Bulgarian working class and military personnel after a series of charitable actions carried out by him and his party's paramilitary force, the Legionary Guard. His public actions included assisting the homeless through a successful program which saw them gain employment in large numbers. These actions along paired with energetic political rallies saw the UBNF stand as the top political party in the country by 1944, with much of the public demanding he be granted a seat of power by the Tzar. The Kingdom of Bulgaria didnt have any elections however as Tzar Boris III and his cabinet served as the leading governing body. A comprimise was met between Lukov and the Tzar, with Lukov suggesting they establish a balance of power similar to Italy with Mussolini and the Fascists governing the country but King Victor Emmanuel III possessing the final word on most matters. The Kingdom of Bulgaria was now a National Socialist Monarchy, the first of its kind.
Bulgaria underwent massive reforms in almost every aspect. A militarized workforce similar to the German Labor Front was formed, seeing them tasked with a multitude of ambitious projects including an exponential expansion of the Kingdom's industry and mining sectors, along with the construction of a nationwide freeway network dubbed "The Bulgarian Autobahn". Multiple contracts have been signed with the German Reich for various military armaments and production liscences in an effort to modernize the military. The Bulgarian armed forces is also reforming its military doctrine, recieving training directly from German military officers. At the rate its going, Bulgaria stands to become the most powerful country in the Balkans.
Now at the beginning of 1946, much work still lies ahead for the Kingdom. There is still significant modernizing to be had in the country and diplomatic turmoil between the German Reich and Italy threatens the security of the Balkans. Will Bulgaria be caught in the middle of another large-scale conflict, possibly even forced to chose a side? Or will it remain a neutral power as it continues to modernize?