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Research Unit X.1 – Vasil Levski: Object, Method and Effect

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This Political Warfare Executive report is an appraisal of the object, method and effect of the clandestine radio station known as X.1 – Vasil Levski, broadcasting to Bulgaria.


To destroy the influence of the Bulgarian Government over the people by giving publicity and support to the views of the militant opposition groups in Bulgaria, by exposing the subservience to German interests of the policy of the Bulgarian Government and by destroying the Bulgarian belief in the invincibility of German arms. Until his recent death, one of the main objectives of the RU was to undermine the great personal influence of the King over the Bulgarian masses. The stimulation of resistance to German economic exploitation and the hindering of the recruitment of Bulgarian workers for Germany are other major objectives.


The X.1 RU began work in November 1941. It normally transmits for 15 minutes every evening but during the critical period following the death of King Boris, an extra late night transmission was temporarily added, in which repeats of refurbished current talks are given. Every effort is made to disguise the use of records to preserve the atmosphere of a clandestine opposition transmitter. Two voices, one male and one female, are used, one of whom is also a writer; another writer is used in the person of an emigre Bulgarian politician of the Left Wing Agrarian Party, on which the general political tone of the RU is based. This writer’s voice is not used as he is a regular BBC commentator to Bulgaria. Within this framework the X.1 RU uses rumours, appeals, denunciations and exposures to obtain its effect. In a series of special transmissions the RU recently reconstructed the circumstances of King Boris’ death at the hands of the Germans: these revelations were transmitted day and night for 6 days in an attempt to exploit popular sentiment by canalising local rumours on the King’s death in an anti-German direction. Output is recorded daily.


Reception has been reported from Bulgaria and from Istanbul where it was said to be very clear. The Bulgarian press in general is seldom long without some references to the “Black” stations, though it is now some time since “Levski” was attacked by name. Official reactions have been received to the RU’s attacks on individual co-operators and particularly recently to its exposure of the flaws in Bulgarian financial policy. One traveller to the Middle East who had listened to the X.1 RU in Bulgaria reported in March 1943 that ‘Secret stations have a certain effect but are listened to by fewer people than London (BBC). Levski is believed to be British but there is no definite opinion as to its location’.

An American press report from Switzerland, of April 1943 named the ‘pro English Vasil Levski’ with its Russian and Middle East colleagues and stated that ‘Government newspapers in Bulgaria have only a tiny circulation and people get most of their news from illegal Radio Stations’.

Of the X.1 RU’s original “gallery of national traitors”, the following have been eliminated during the course of this year:

Colonel Atanas Pantey

General Bristo Lukov

Mr Sotir Yanov

Tsar Boris III


[Source: TNA FO 898/51, transcribed by]



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