Shalom announces programme for 75th anniversary of rescue of Bulgarian Jews from Holocaust

Written by on January 18, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Shalom announces programme for 75th anniversary of rescue of Bulgarian Jews from Holocaust

Events and initiatives marking 2018 as the 75th anniversary of the rescue of Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust, and deportation to death camps of Jews from parts of Yugoslavia and northern Greece, were announced on January 18 at a news conference at Sofia Central Synagogue.

In 1943, at a time when Bulgaria was allied to Hitler’s Nazi Germany, leaders of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, civil society and members of the then-ruling majority – notably including Dimitar Peshev – courageously and successfully opposed a plan to send Bulgarian Jews to the death camps.

However, in territories under Bulgarian administration, deportation of Jews – deemed by the anti-Semitic laws of the time not to be eligible for Bulgarian citizenship – went ahead. An estimated 11 343 Jews from these territories were murdered at the hands of the Nazis.

Dr Alexander Oscar, president of the Shalom Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria, noted that 2018 was not only a significant year for the country because of its holding of the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, but also because of the 75th anniversary of the prevention of the deportation of Bulgarian Jews and the mourning for the thousands who had been deported from Macedonia and northern Greece.

He pointed to the Defence of the Nation Act, put in place by Bulgaria’s rulers 77 years ago and modelled on Nazi Germany’s anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws, as context for the measures that Bulgarians had opposed in order to rescue their compatriots of Jewish origin.

Among the forthcoming events marking the anniversary of 1943 is one at the Foreign Ministry on January 26, launching the campaign “75 years – the unforgettable people of the rescue” which highlights the extraordinary deeds of less well-known, ordinary Bulgarians in opposing the official anti-Semitism and deportation plans of the time.

Other events include an international conference against hate speech and intolerance, commemorative ceremonies around the March anniversary of the events of 1943, educational initiatives and specific events in various cities and towns.

Also announced at the news conference was the launch of a campaign for the Bulgarian media to sign a petition pledging to oppose all forms of hate speech, in line with Bulgaria’s traditions of mutual tolerance, irrespective of ethnicity or faith.

Those in attendance at the Synagogue also joined in the international campaign #weremember, launched ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

Taking part means taking a photograph of oneself while holding a sign or paper with the hashtag #weremember, and posting it on social media. That same hashtag is supposed to be posted in writing as well, in order to make sure people can find the post.

(Main photo: Imanuel Marcus)

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