A monument erected in Bulgaria’s Vidin by Israelis from the town has been defaced, daubed with the words “Allah”, “Palestine”, “Hamas” and the star and crescent moon symbol, the Shalom Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria said in a Facebook post on August 21.
The Thanksgiving Monument was put up in 2003 by Jews as an expression of gratitude to the Vidin community for acting to prevent the deportation of Bulgarian Jews from the town to the Nazi Holocaust death camps.
In 1943, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, some politicians and many members of civil society stood up in successful opposition to Bulgarian Jews being sent out of the country to the mass-murder machine of the Holocaust in which more than six million Jews were killed by the Hitler regime.
Shalom quoted the mayor of Vidin municipality, Ognyan Tsenkov, as describing the August 19 2017 vandalism incident as “outrageous and unacceptable”. Tsenkov took immediate action to have the monument cleaned.
In a letter to the mayor, the president of Shalom, Dr Alek Oscar, thanked him for his firm position, timely action and emphasised that the monument would continue to be “a symbol of fraternity and a long history between our two peoples”.
In a statement on August 21, the Embassy of Israel in Sofia said that it severely condemns the outrageous defacing of the Thanksgiving Monument” in Vidin.
The statement noted that the monument was erected by Israelis of Bulgarian origin to thank the people of Vidin for their support to the Jewish community during the Holocaust, the heroic act that prevented the deportation of the Jews to the Nazi death camps.
“Those who defaced the Monument committed a barbaric act of disrespect towards the historic legacy of the Bulgarian people.”
“We hope that the vandals will be found soon and be brought to justice,” the Israeli embassy said.
Israel’s ambassador to Bulgaria, Irit Lillian, will meet Vidin mayor Ognyan Tsenkov next week, will thank him for his immediate reaction and discuss with him means to prevent such actions in the future, the statement said.
In 2018, Bulgaria’s Jewish community will mark the 75th anniversary of the prevention of the deportation of 50 000 Bulgarian Jews, and mourn the more than 11 000 Jews from territories under Bulgarian administration on behalf of Berlin in the Second World War. These Jews were deported from territories in parts of northern Greece and Yugoslavia, and the vast majority were murdered. They did not have Bulgarian citizenship because of the provisions of the anti-Semitic 1940 Defence of the Nation Act.
(Photos: Shalom Vidin)