Today marks 80 years since the Rescue of the Bulgarian JewsCulture | March 9, 2023, Thursday // 08:58| views
March 2023 marks the 80th anniversary of the rescue of Bulgarian Jews in the old borders of the Kingdom of Bulgaria from the Nazi death camps. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Exarch Stefan, Patriarch Kirill, public figures, individual politicians such as Dimitar Peshev, the protests of our civil society had an active role in it.
Along with these events, we honor the memory of the Jews who died in the death camps, were deported from the territories administered by the Kingdom of Bulgaria in 1943 - Belomorska Thrace, Vardar Macedonia and the town of Pirot. Of the 11,343 Jews were put on the trains to the concentration camps "Auschwitz" and "Treblinka", 12 survived.
A ceremony on the occasion of the cancellation of the deportation of Plovdiv Jews in 1943 and a ceremony with the laying of flowers and paying tribute to Exarch Stefan and Patriarch Kirill for their role will be held today by the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria "Shalom".
Today's ceremony on the occasion of the cancellation of the deportation of Plovdiv Jews in 1943 will be in front of the Salvation Monument in Plovdiv. Later in the day, a tribute to Exarch Stefan and Metropolitan of Plovdiv, later Patriarch Kirill, will be paid at the Bachkovo Monastery.
An anti-Semitic policy began to be promoted in the Kingdom of Bulgaria before our country joined the Tripartite Pact, when it officially became an ally of Nazi Germany. In 1940, the National Assembly passed the anti-Jewish Law for the Protection of the Nation. Anti-Jewish legislation prohibited intermarriage, prohibited Jews from practicing certain professions and from owning shares in businesses. Jews were required to wear yellow Stars of David and were subject to curfews and restrictions on grocery shopping hours. Jews were fired from public service because they are Jews; they were excluded from schools and universities because they were Jews. Much of their property had been nationalized. In 1942, their resettlement outside the big cities began in order to prepare for deportation to the death camps, which for the old borders of the Kingdom of Bulgaria was thwarted.
On March 2, 1943, the Commissariat for Jewish Affairs, headed by Alexander Belev, was assigned and organized the deportation of Jews from the annexed territories administered by the Kingdom of Bulgaria, which was carried out. According to his original plan, the exodus should also include thousands of Jews from the old territories.
On the night of March 9-10, Plovdiv Jews were gathered in the yard of the city's Jewish school for deportation. A group of Jews managed to reach the home of Metropolitan Kiril. The future patriarch declared that he will go with the deportees if they are not released. Going to the imprisoned people with yellow stars of David, he told them:
"I will lie down on the tracks, but I will not let the trains to the death camps go."
He also sent a telegram to Tsar Boris III with the text: "In the name of God, I earnestly ask Your Majesty for mercy for the Jews".
A wave of resentment arose in the country. People's Representative and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Dimitar Peshev tried to influence the ministers, but without much success. He and other deputies submited a signature to the National Assembly.
Society rose in protest. The first reaction was from Kyustendil, where Peshev is from.
Under pressure, the deportations were postponed and subsequently thwarted in the conditions of political instability, to which the sudden death of the tsar in August 1943 from a heart attack due to thrombosis of the left coronary artery contributed. The trains intended to take the Bulgarian Jews from the old territories to the death camps never left.
Anti-Jewish legislation was repealed in September 1944 by the government of Konstantin Muraviev.
Throughout tomorrow, on the occasion of the anniversary, prayers for the peace and prosperity of Bulgaria will be offered in the churches of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, the Armenian Church, the United Evangelical Churches and the Muslim denomination, as well as in all synagogues, reported the "Shalom" organization.
On the same day, "Shalom" and the Metropolitan Municipality organized a March of Tolerance from the Church of Saint Sofia to the Salvation Monument behind the National Assembly. There is also a naming ceremony for the garden in front of the "Rila" hotel of Rabbi Gavriel Almosnino - the chief rabbi of Sofia during the Russo-Turkish war (1877 - 1878), who saved Sofia from burning.
On Friday, there will also be a ceremony with the laying of flowers on the monument of the then Member of Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Dimitar Peshev.
The commemorative stamp "Unforgotten Faces of Salvation" will be presented on the occasion of the 80th anniversary and commemoration of the fallen Jews - Museum of Sofia. The event is organized jointly with "Bulgarian Posts".
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