Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
The street in front of the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington has been renamed Dimitar Peshev Plaza, in honor of the man credited with halting the deportation of about 50,000 Jews.
In March 1943, Peshev, who was the deputy speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament at the time, heard of a deportation order and decided he had to stop it at all costs. He rushed to the capital city of Sophia, equipped with a petition signed by 43 members of the government. He refused to leave the Interior Ministry office until every deportation center in the country was contacted and everyone released. By the end of that day, the order was cancelled.
Peshev also tried to stop deportations of Jews in northern Greece and Macedonia, but without success.
Because of Peshev’s actions, he was stripped of his position as deputy speaker and then kicked out of Parliament. A year-and-a-half later, when the Soviet-back Communists took over the government, Peshev was tried as a war criminal and sent to jail. One of his crimes was listed as anti-Semitism.
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