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November 20, 2014 / 27 Heshvan, 5775
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Bulgaria Commemorates 70 Years of Saving Its Jews

Unlike most other Nazi allies or Nazi -occupied countries, Bulgaria saved its entire Jewish population from deportation to concentration camps.
King Boris III (L), who refused to deport Bulgarian Jews, with a friend.

King Boris III (L), who refused to deport Bulgarian Jews, with a friend.
Photo Credit: Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

The 70th anniversary of the rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews in WW II is being commemorated with a number of solemn ceremonies in Bulgarian capital Sofia Sunday, Sofia News Agency reports.

Unlike most other Nazi allies or Nazi-occupied countries (with the exception of Denmark and Finland), Bulgaria managed to save its entire Jewish population of 48,000 from deportation to concentration camps.

Bulgarian Minister of Justice Dimitar Peshev is credited with playing a major role in preventing the deportations, as well as Bulgarian Church officials and ordinary citizens.

The story of the Bulgarian Jews during World War II is been told in “Beyond Hitler’s Grasp: The Heroic Rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews” by Michael Bar-Zohar, an Israeli historian, politician and former Knesset member who was born in Bulgaria.

The organization of Jews in Bulgaria, Shalom, will unveil a memorial sign near the Bulgarian Parliament, after which a solemn ceremony will be held at the Sofia Synagogue.

The ceremony will be attended by official representatives of the Jewish community in Bulgaria, the state of Israel, and other foreign dignitaries.

On Sunday night, the mayors of Bulgarian towns which helped rescue Jews from the Nazis will be awarded the Shofar prize in a ceremony under the auspices of Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev.

The solemn events Sunday will also mourn the 11,343 Jews who were deported to the death camps from territories in Yugoslavia and Greece occupied by Bulgaria during WW II.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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16 Responses to “Bulgaria Commemorates 70 Years of Saving Its Jews”

  1. So sad. During World War II, Yugoslavia and Greece are not occupied by Bulgaria, but from Germany. And those "11,343 Jews who were deported to the death camps" are Greek and Yugoslav citizenship. Boris 3 could only save Bulgarian Jews. See more:
    Tsar(King) Boris III – concealed savior of the Bulgarian Jews.

    http://mahatma.blog.bg/politika/2011/01/27/tzar-king-boris-iii-concealed-savoir-of-the-bulgarian-jews.674892

  2. Eli Winkler says:

    October will mark 70 years of the Danish rescue of their 7000 Jews, only 400 of which ended up in Nazi hands. Hopefully similar attention and gratitude will be paid to the Danish people for their incredible bravery and humanity.

  3. For 40 years, the organization of Bulgarian Jews "Shalom" argues that the merit of saving the Jews in Bulgaria is on the Bulgarian Communist Party, especially its First leader Todor Zhivkov. Based on this assumption Todor Zhivkov was proposed by the Bulgarian communist regime for the Nobel Prize, which is strongly supported by the organization of Bulgarian Jews "Shalom." Today, the same organization of Bulgarian Jews "Shalom" has a completely different opinion on the rescue of Jews in Bulgaria. Then ask , Which opinion of the organization of Bulgarian Jews "Shalom" is a true? For me personally, both statements are not true, because are based on political (communist) and not historical.

    With regard to the opinion of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee is a creation of some countries like UK, USA and others – 33 in total, participated in the conference Evien, France in 1938. Over on these countries lies stigma that had gathered to solve the problem of persecuted Jews from Nazi Germany, but it left European Jews at the hands of Hitler and even sent him a telegram, which said that "Germany has the right to enforce the law against their citizens as they see fit. " And Germany implement these OWN laws in all the countries, which occupied, including Greece and Macedonia (part of Yugoslavia).

    Evian Conference actually generates the Holocaust. Only three months later came "Kristallnacht". And everything else..

    The tragic fate of the Jews in Macedonia and Aegean lies the conscience of the parties performed and failed conference in Evian. But Kingdom of Bulgaria proved that the Jewish question is had humanitarian solution.. But this humanitarian solution to the Jewish question in Bulgaria in 1943 will never be forgiven. Because, the Bulgarian example dishonoring countries, which refused to survive Jews in 1938 by the Conference in Evian.

    Therefore, Bulgaria and its history, and example about the Holocaust always will be pressured to be a "guilty". At least until the world is run by "those" countries…

    Therefore, I believe that the creature called "Bulgarian Helsinki Committee" is to work in favor of "those" countries from 1938 and thus creating "guilt" for Bulgaria.

  4. Dimitar Bechev says:

    an occasion to remember.

  5. Dimitar Bechev says:

    and some footage from Bulgarian-held areas in Northern Greece and Yugoslavia. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MrzwMW1CA34

  6. Gorazd Rosoklija says:

    Разлика меѓу англискиот и американскиот јазик. На американски насловот на инсертот е: "Депортација на Евреите од Македонија окоупирана од Бугарија". На англиски, во верзијата на Бачев, Македонија станува Северна Грција и Југославија. Ние во САД мислиме дека Англичаните имаат "чуден" акцент, а вушност, едни исти зборови да ти имале различно значење.

  7. Dimitar Bechev says:

    Горазд, не сум Англичанин етнички Македонец сум. Оди да спамуjеш некоj друг. Κατάλαβες;

  8. Dimitar Bechev says:

    Wouldn't be surprised if Gorazd's grand-dad was hsppily wearing a Bulgarian uniform at the time. Could be wrong too

  9. Conference in Evian (1938) democracy gave the Jews at the hands of Hitler. Tsar Boris III does not comply with the judgment of Evian and non-admitted Holocaust in Bulgaria.

    http://watchtowerman.blog.bg/politika/2013/03/12/na-konferenciiata-v-evian-1938-demo-kraciiata-dade-evreite-v.1063355

  10. Aron Bally says:

    The ally of Nazi Germany -tzar Boris and his government supported the plans to exterminate the Jews and adopted the laws for protection of the nation , which were copies of the neurenberg laws. The Jews were deprived from civil rights , had to wear the yellow stars etc humiliations and restrictions.Hitler had his supporters in the government and in the court of king Boris. They sent the jews from Macedonia and Thrace to Treblinka . There can be many attempts to whtitewash their crime and hide their role behind the fearless goodwilling Bulgarian clergy , intelectuals and ordinary people.

  11. Aron Bally says:

    You can put the responsibility of this crime on many authorities , try to diminish the guilt of king Boris and his government for sending jews to Treblinka.Nazi Germany had its allies all over Europe, who helped to carry out the plans to exterminate European Jewery. They were in Hungary, Poland , Ucraine, Baltic states as well as Bulgarian Nazi supporters- police and army. We have to glorify the role of the inteligencia and the Bulgarian orthodox chirch and just the people of Bulgaria.

  12. When the Bulgarian Jews are expressing concerns about certain events in Bulgaria during WWII, they should definitely bear in mind that the death camps were not created and ran by Bulgarians in the first place. To blame Bulgaria for not stopping some of the deportations that took place in some newly recovered territories of the Bulgarian Kingdom during the war is same as Russia blaming Bulgaria for not stopping some Bulgarian citizens of being volunteers in the Nazi German army on the Eastern front, while Bulgaria never sent any troops there despite the imperative German demand.
    When speaking of this issue we, the Bulgarian Bulgarians feel like the focus of the events is not placed on the right spot.
    Another inexactness is the statement that all citizens of the newly recovered Bulgarian territories during the war were given a Bulgarian citizenship. That is simply not true. All Greek nationalities were simply expelled.
    Finally, Thrace an Macedonia were not occupied but rather recovered and reincorporated to the Bulgarian state. As a Bulgarian Jew you should know better on this matter.

  13. Lyna Polikar, I am sorry but the link you show here is just a piece of random writing. I can easily write the exact same with only opposite emphasis, not to mention how ignorant it sounds to the Bulgarian ear in terms of geography and history. In order to be looked upon seriously you need to turn in some vast amount of legitimate information.
    I don't deny that there were deportations but like I said before, the death camps were not a Bulgarian idea. As a matter of fact the whole history of the Bulgarian involvement in WW2 by Germany is very similar in a way to the Soviet one few years later. None of them desired by the people of Bulgaria, the same people who saved Jews.
    So please be very careful when putting pressure on a touchy subject like that and please have a open agenda of what do you want to achieve. Are you really a Bulgarian who struggles for justice or do you only represent the embarrassing Helsinki committee?
    Which one?
    By the way, are you a Bulgarian citizen?

  14. My family throwing Jews?! Sorry, this is out of hand. It's not even funny. My name is Mihail Slavkov if that makes you feel better and yes, my family also keeps track or who we are and the reality is that you are talking to a regular Bulgarian man not guilty neither him nor his family of killing anyone except in defending act of our homeland. Honestly I don't see many Jews to be active plus I don't see a reason why I should not post on this so cal Jewish forum. Moreover I see a countryman of mine participating so it is only normal, don't you think? I am even temped to turn the language to Bulgarian, but for the sake of the rest of the people of non Bulgarian origin I would not.

  15. My family throwing Jews?! Sorry, this is out of hand. It's not even funny. My name is Mihail Slavkov if that makes you feel better and yes, my family also keeps track or who we are and the reality is that you are talking to a regular Bulgarian man not guilty, neither him nor his family of killing anyone except in defending act of our homeland. Honestly I don't see many Jews to be active here plus I don't see a reason why I should not post on this so cal Jewish forum. Moreover I see a countryman of mine participating so it is only normal, don't you think? I am even temped to turn the language to Bulgarian, but for the sake of the rest of the people of non Bulgarian origin I would not.
    What I recommend to you is to read the book "Out of Hitler's grasp" and see testimonies of many Bulgarian Jews and their own prospective about the events in Bulgaria from that period . Your views might change a bit and you would learn more about Tzar Boris III and his personality.
    Speaking of civilized countries and their opinions about Holocaust I am very curious where would you place Germany?

  16. My family throwing Jews?! Sorry, this is out of hand. It's not even funny. My name is Mihail Slavkov if that makes you feel better and yes, my family also keeps track or who we are and the reality is that you are talking to a regular Bulgarian man not guilty, neither him nor his family of killing anyone except in defending act of our homeland. Honestly I don't see many Jews to be active here plus I don't see a reason why I should not post on this so cal Jewish forum. Moreover I see a countryman of mine participating so it is only normal, don't you think? I am even temped to turn the language to Bulgarian, but for the sake of the rest of the people of non Bulgarian origin I would not.
    What I recommend to you is to read the book "Out of Hitler's grasp" and see testimonies of many Bulgarian Jews and their own prospective about the events in Bulgaria from that period . Your views might change a bit and you would learn more about Tzar Boris III and his personality.
    Speaking of civilized countries and their opinions about Holocaust I am very curious where would you place Germany?

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