Bulgaria joins the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance as full member
Bulgaria’s accession as full member of the the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) was approved at the organisation’s plenary meeting in Ferrara, Italy, the country’s Foreign Ministry said on November 29.
Bulgaria was represented at the meeting by the Foreign Ministry’s director-general for global affairs Plamen Bonchev, who presented the country’s report for full membership on November 27.
Last year, Bulgaria’s government decided to apply for full membership of IHRA and was accepted as a liaison country in June 2017, making it the first state to take the next step towards full membership since 2009. Its accession makes Bulgaria the 32nd full member of IHRA.
The IHRA unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research world-wide, and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.
For most of World War 2, Bulgaria was allied to Hitler’s Germany but a campaign notably featuring the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, some politicians and civil society stopped Bulgarian Jews being handed over to die in the Holocaust.
A total of 11 343 Jews from northern Greece and Yugoslavia, who were not Bulgarian citizens, were murdered after being deported from that part of Nazi-controlled territory which at the time was administered by Bulgaria. This fact was acknowledged in 2013 as Bulgaria commemorated the 70th anniversary of the prevention of the deportations.
“Bulgaria’s membership will provide a platform for an even wider global popularisation of the act of saving Bulgarian Jews during World War 2 and will contribute to the full and meaningful research of the history of the Holocaust,” the ministry said in its statement.
At the same plenary meeting of the IHRA, the European Commission became a permanent international partner to the organisation, following up on EC president Jean-Claude Juncker’s call for closer international co-operation in his statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 2018, as well as the European Parliament’s resolution on combating Antisemitism of June 2017.
“With a decreasing number of Holocaust survivors and at a time when Antisemitism is on the rise, we need to foster the memory of the darkest chapter in our history. The EU joining the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance will help promote understanding so that future generations will heed the lessons of our past,” EC vice-president Frans Timmermans said.