Bulgaria’s caretaker Cabinet, at a meeting on March 8, approved the country’s accession to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
The decision came two days before Bulgaria’s annual commemoration of the country’s 1943 prevention of the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to the Nazis’ Holocaust death camps where more than six million Jews were murdered.
For most of World War 2, Bulgaria was allied to Hitler’s Germany but a campaign notably featuring the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, some politicians and civil society stopped Bulgarian Jews being handed over to die in the Holocaust.
A total of 11 343 Jews from northern Greece and Yugoslavia, who were not Bulgarian citizens, were murdered after being deported from that part of Nazi-controlled territory which at the time was administered by Bulgaria. This fact was acknowledged in 2013 as Bulgaria commemorated the 70th anniversary of the prevention of the deportations.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance currently has 31 member states and 11 observer countries, including Bulgaria. The alliance is open for membership to all democratic states that adhere to the Stockholm Declaration on the Holocaust.
The declaration commits to national policies to combat acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
A statement by Bulgaria’s caretaker Cabinet said that the country, through its active participation as an observer over the past four years, had demonstrated its deep and consistent commitment to remembrance, research and the study of the Holocaust.
“Taking the next step – towards full membership in IHRA is a natural continuation of Bulgaria’s commitment to the issue of anti-Semitism and tolerance as part of the main priorities of EU human rights,” the statement said.
About 20 Bulgarians are commemorated by the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum as Righteous Among the Nations for their part in the 1943 prevention of Bulgarian Jews to the Nazi death camps.
Jews in Israel have nominated Bulgaria for a Nobel Peace Prize for the country’s 1943 action to prevent 48 000 Bulgarian Jews joining the more than six million who died at the hands of the Nazis.
On International Holocaust Day in January 2017, Bulgaria paid special tribute to diplomats who acted – against official orders – to help Jews escape the Holocaust, for instance by issuing transit visas to enable them to travel beyond the reach of the Nazis.