Bulgarian Community in Israel Plans WW II Rescue Monument

Diplomacy | October 24, 2012, Wednesday // 09:34|  views

Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, who is on an official visit to Israel, met Tuesday evening with about 500 Bulgarian Jews.Photo by BGNES

The Bulgarian community in Tel Aviv is planning to build a monument as a tribute to Bulgarian people for the rescue of 50 000 Bulgarian Jews during World War II.

The news was reported Wednesday by the largest, private TV channel bTV.

Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, who is on an official visit to Israel, met Tuesday evening with about 500 Bulgarian Jews. About 50 000 of the latter live in Israel, but there isn't exact statistics on the first emigrants, who arrived in 1948. Another 7 000 have come since 1990.

"To be a Bulgarian in Israel is a constant source of pride," says Rina Bakalova, quoted by bTV. She is the Chair of the Bulgarian Culture Club in Israel.

Bakalova further informed that the Bulgarian-Jewish community is starting preparations to build the monument and to mark officially the 70th anniversary of the WW II rescue effort.

"We want to tell the truth, to show the truth. Those, who at the time had transit visas, and those Jews who were in Bulgaria, got the chance to live not because of the government or the politicians, but because of Bulgarian people," the President said at the meeting.

Plevneliev was greeted by veteran paratrooper Sami Rafael.

In WW II Bulgaria saved from Nazi concentration camps 48 398 Bulgarian Jews, and another 15 000 from other countries by the issuing of transit visa.

Israel's President, Shimon Peres, when greeting his Bulgarian counterpart during their official talks said: "Welcome to Israel and to its ancient capital, Jerusalem. Bulgaria is a true friend of Israel, which worked to save the Jewish people 70 years ago in Europe."

The site for investigative journalism, Bivol.bg notes that such admission for the role of Bulgaria in opposing WW II massacre of Jews is unprecedented, and these words, coming from the Head of State of Israel, have an exceptional value and demonstrate a firm position on the issue.

Peres' praise is even more important, because it comes at a time Bulgaria is subjected to a feverous discrediting attack and accusations it is responsible for the massacre of 11 000 Jews in Macedonia and Thrace. The government in Skopje is considered the moving force behind this campaign, spending EUR millions for discrediting propaganda such as movies, documentaries, museum exhibits, conference and publications, Bivol reminds.

The issue with the Macedonian blame was even debated in the EP after outraged Bulgarian MEPs brought it to the forefront.

Regretfully, as Bivol points out, the accusations have found some supporters in Bulgaria.

Macedonia and Thrace at the time were occupied by Germany, and were later transferred to be administered by Bulgaria, but remained a German protectorate until the end of the War.

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Tags: Tel Aviv, Rosen Plevneliev, president, Nazi concentration camps, Jewish, Jews, Shimon Peres, monument, gratitude, rescue, WW II, Israel, community, Bulgarian, transit visas, Skopje, macedonia, Thrace, EP, MEPs


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