After Bulgaria’s nationalist United Patriots parliamentary group provoked controversy with a message on Rosh Hashanah that attacked the “enemies of Bulgaria” over Holocaust remembrance issues, the majority partner in government issued its own message reiterating condemnation of the Shoah and mourning for all its victims.
In a declaration in the National Assembly on September 21, the United Patriots, the minority partner in Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government, hit out at “enemies of Bulgaria” that it said emphasised the murder of Jews from Bulgaria’s “new territories” in the Second World War while “downplaying” the prevention of the deportation of many thousands of Bulgarian Jews.
The United Patriots’ declaration drew sharp condemnation from the Shalom Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria.
Tsvetan Tsvetanov, parliamentary leader of Borissov’s GERB party, responded by issuing a declaration that opened by congratulating the Jewish community in Bulgaria on the coming of the year 5778, celebrated in Rosh Hashanah.
Tsvetanov’s statement made no direct reference to the United Patriots declaration, but went on to say that the connection between all religious groups, part of the Bulgarian people, has proved its unshakable resilience in the most difficult and gloomy years of human history.
He said that during the Holocaust, a time of the most cruel persecutions and pillages against Jews, Bulgaria had defended its siblings.
Tsvetanov issued a reminder that those who had stood alongside their compatriots of Jewish origin were the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, representatives of Bulgarian insitutions and the Bulgarians themselves, who had been adamant in the face of the terror that marked Europe.
“As a result, 48 000 Bulgarian Jews were rescued from the death camps. Many others received Bulgarian visas and managed to leave for countries where they lived safely, capable of defining their lives and their future.”
He added that, “at the same time, we also remember those who have been deprived of the opportunity to live free in a world of tolerance and peace, a world in which the lives and rights of every human being are equally respected”.
Tsvetanov said that GERB shared the position declared by Bulgaria’s National Assembly on March 8 2013, “stating that we sincerely and deeply mourn for all the victims of the Holocaust, express our deep respect for their memory, and most severely condemn genocide committed by Hitler’s Germany that destroyed six million Jews in Europe just because they were born as God created them”.
“We should preserve the memory and with sadness read the pages of history, in the name of a worthy present and an even better future,” Tsvetanov said.