Between Occupation and Annexation

Bulgarian Rule in Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia during the First World War, 1915–1918

In my presentation I will analyse the ways in which Bulgarian military and civil
authorities administered the occupied lands of Eastern Serbia, Kosovo, and Mace-donia during the First World War. Bulgarian administration of the occupied lands will be examined in the context of the international law of occupation, other occupation regimes, the totalising tendencies of the First World War, the country’s
long-term political goals, and the civil-military divide. The presentation will also address the problem of violence against civilians committed by Bulgarian authorities and offer an interpretation of the different types of violent acts.
While most specialists in the history of the Balkans usually treat military occupations only within a regional framework and the longue durée perspective of ethnic nationalism and irredentist territorial ambitions promoted by the nation-state, this presentation will demonstrate that Bulgarian occupation had much more complex dynamics. By focusing on the institution of the army as being instrumental in administering the occupied territories, the presentation will situate Bulgarian occupation within a larger European war-time framework and point to the conflicting views held by
Bulgarian government and High Command, the fractured, even chaotic, decision-making, improvised character of the occupation institutions, and total war characteristics of military practices on the ground.
Martin VĂLKOV teaches Modern Bulgarian History at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. He holds a B.A. in History and an M.A. in International Relations from Sofia University and an M.A. from the Central European University. In 2015 he received his PhD degree in History from Sofia University. His doctoral thesis was entitled “Bulgarian Military-Administrative Rule in the Regions of the Pomoravlje, Kosovo, and Vardar Macedonia, 1915-1918”. Martin Vălkov’s main research interests include the history of the First World War, the role of international law in the wars of the 20th century, occupation and occupation regimes, repressive state practices, (para)military violence, and armed resistance movements. His current project studies the history of war crime tribunals, established in Bulgaria after the First Word War.