Bulgarian government nationalist minority partner says country should not apologise for deportation of Jews from ‘new lands’

The National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, part of the United Patriots grouping of far-right and nationalist parties that is the minority partner in Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government, says that during Borissov’s March 12 visit to Skopje, he should not apologise for the deportation of Jews from northern Greece and Macedonia during the Second World War.

There have been media reports in recent days saying that during his visit to the Republic of Macedonia, the first time that a Bulgarian Prime Minister goes there for Holocaust commemorations, Borissov will issue an apology for the deportations.

During the Second World War, Bulgaria was allied to Hitler’s Axis. In 1943, 11 343 Jews from northern Greece and parts of Yugoslavia were deported. Within days, they were murdered at the Treblinka death camp.

The March 11 statement by the executive committee of the NFSB, a party led by Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov, said that the issue of an apology had not been discussed by the Bulgarian Cabinet nor by the political council of the government coalition partners.

This meant that an apology could not be an official position of the government, the party said in its media statement.

Such an apology would mean that Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people bore the blame for the tragic fate of the people sent to the death camps, the NFSB executive said.

“That is, Bulgaria will take the blame for crimes committed by another regime and another country – Nazi Germany.”

The NFSB said that the “historical facts are indisputable. After Germany occupied these territories as a result of military action, it handed them over to a temporary civilian administration of the Kingdom of Bulgaria, with the military command and administration remaining in the hands of the Germans”.

People of Jewish origin had not been allowed to gain Bulgarian citizenship, the party said, a reference to a law at the time that conferred such citizenship on all in the “new lands” except Jews.

“The creation of the death camps in Europe and the deportation of millions of innocent people to them, including the Jews from the occupied territories of the former Yugoslavia and Greece, was carried out by decision of the leadership of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party,” the NFSB said, using the formal name of the Nazis.

It said that Germany’s attempt to force Bulgaria to deport its citizens of Jewish descent encountered extremely strong and massive resistance from Bulgarian society and state, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, politicians, public figures and citizens.

The NFSB said that the then-head of state, Tsar Boris III, had strongly opposed the deportations.

Public rejection of the deportation plan had been led by Bulgarian Orthodox Church Plovdiv Metropolitan Kiril, Sofia Metropolitan Stefan, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Dimitar Peshev, Vladimir Kurtev and hundreds of others, the NFSB said.

“Thanks to this unprecedented resistance, Bulgaria managed to save all our fellow citizens and compatriots of Jewish origin – more than 48 000 – from deportation and physical destruction,” the party said.

“We express our profound sorrow for the victims of the Holocaust and the regret that Bulgaria has not been able to save those nearly 11 000 innocent souls from the territories under temporary Bulgarian administration, but we reject any attempts for Bulgaria and the whole Bulgarian people to reckon with the stigma of complicity in this horrific and cruel crime against humanity – the Holocaust,” the NFSB said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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