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.