Bulgarian Jewish organisation rejects Russian historian’s claim Tsar and government prevented Holocaust in Bulgaria
Bulgarian Jewish organisation “Shalom” has sharply rejected a claim by Russian historian Konstantin Mogilevskiy that there was no Holocaust in Bulgaria and this was an achievement of the then-monarch Tsar Boris III and his government.
Mogilevskiy, one of the people involved in a highly controversial exhibition that opened at the Russian embassy in Sofia on September 9, made the claim in an interview with Bulgarian National Radio.
Shalom rejected as unacceptable the interference of foreign countries in the interpretation of events that had been dramatic for Bulgaria and to which witnesses were still living.
The organisation, the largest and most representative Bulgarian Jewish organisation, said that the “Defence of the Nation” legislation, tabled by the pro-Nazi government of Prime Minister Bogdan Filov and enacted by a decree signed by Boris III, aimed to address – as in other countries – the “Jewish Question”.
Drafted in line with Nazi Germany’s legislation on racist and national socialist grounds, the provisions of the legislation were degrading to Bulgarian citizens of Jewish origin, and contrary to the Turnovo Constitution in force in Bulgaria at the time that the legislation was adopted.
“Although the anti-Jewish policy in Bulgaria did not end with deportation to the concentration camps, this fact does not eliminate the severe suffering suffered by our compatriots during the Second World War,” Shalom said.
Between 1941 and 1944 Bulgarian Jews were deprived of much of their civil rights, the statement said.
They were subject to a number of economic and social constraints and Jewish men were compelled to do forced labour.
“Only the worthy position of the Bulgarian people, some of the people’s representatives, public and spiritual leaders of the nation, managed to prevent the most terrible thing – the final deportation – and thus to preserve, as one of the letters against the Defence of the Nation Bill said, ‘the prestige of the nation and the established traditions of tolerance and humanity’.”
Shalom said that gross rewriting of history afflicted both the painful memories of the survivors and the memory of the victims, including the 11 343 Jews from Aegean Thrace, Vardar Macedonia and Pirot, then territories under Bulgarian administration, who were deported to the Nazi death camps.
“Preserving Holocaust memory is a top priority in the work of our organisation, and any attempt at historical revisionism will be invariably, sharply and strongly condemned,” Shalom said.
(Photo: Mayer Rafael Alhalel with fellow Bulgarian Jewish forced labourers in a camp in Bulgaria during the Second World War)