Shalom organization of Bulgarian Jews irked by ‘Patriots’ declaration on Rosh Hashanah
The Shalom Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria has responded with extreme concern to a declaration in Parliament by the nationalist United Patriots group, that used the occasion of Rosh Hashanah to take a sideswipe at “enemies” of Bulgaria over the events of 1943.
During the Second World War, the majority of Bulgarian society stood up to successfully resist the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to the death camps of the Holocaust where more than six million Jews were murdered. In 1943, the planned deportations of Bulgarian Jews were postponed and never carried out.
However, Bulgaria allowed the deportation of more than 11 000 Jews from the “new territories” under its administration in northern Greece and Yugoslavia. All but a very few of these Jews were murdered in Treblinka within a few days of their arrival.
In a declaration in the National Assembly in Sofia on September 21, marking the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the United Patriots – a grouping of far-right and nationalist parties that is the minority partner in government – accused “enemies of Bulgaria” of downplaying the prevention of the deportation of the Bulgarian Jews while emphasising what had happened to those in northern Greece and Yugoslavia.
“Today, the enemies of Bulgaria, actively supported by people with no country born here, try to downplay this fact and stick a shameful accusation against the Bulgarians, deleting the memory of salvation, emphasizing only the fallen Jews from Macedonia and Thrace,” the United Patriots’ declaration said.
In its response, Shalom said that the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews is a historical fact that neither the Jewish community in Bulgaria nor the Bulgarian Jews in Israel and their descendants will forget.
“However, the deportation of the Jews from the territories administered by Bulgaria during the Second World War is also a fact, and denying that is an attempt to erase the memory of those who died in the death camps, and to rewrite history.”
Shalom said that it has a political position on the issue of the fate of the Jews under Bulgarian rule during the years of the Holocaust in Europe. This position was adopted by the organization’s highest body, the Management Board (Consistory) in 2011.
The position said that in the years of the Second World War, the Bulgarian Jews were saved from deportation to the Nazi death camps. This salvation was the result of the actions of the majority of the Bulgarian people, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Bulgarian non-fascist community. For this action, Bulgarian Jews will be grateful eternally.
It added that the deportation of the Jews from Aegean Thrace, Vardar Macedonia and the town of Pirot at the time these territories were under Bulgarian administration in the years of the Second World War is a historical fact that cannot be denied.
“We, the Bulgarian Jews, mourn for the innocent victims, honour and will in the future continue to honour their memory.
“The blame for the deportation of the Jews from these territories lies with the German authorities, along with the Bulgarian pro-Nazi government. It is therefore important that the Bulgarian Government, at a time and place that it deems fit, should accept moral responsibility for the actions of the pro-Nazi government towards the Jews in the period 1941-1943,” the position adopted in 2011 said.
“Historical facts about the fate of the Jews during the Second World War in Bulgaria and in the territories administered by the Bulgarian pro-Nazi government cannot be a reason for anti-Bulgarian propaganda today and in the future,” Shalom said.