On the backfoot since the successful supreme court ruling banning the February 2020 Lukov March, supporters of the Bulgarian general it honours have been claiming that he was not an antisemite.
This has been a recurring theme in the Lukov camp for years – the claim that the torchlight procession is in honour of a patriotic war hero.
The record has long since shown otherwise, and now further documents from the State Archives underline the fascist and antisemitic character of the Union of Bulgarian Legions under Hristo Lukov’s leadership.
Lukov was a founder and leader, from 1933, what first was the Union of Young National Legions and became the Union of Bulgarian National Legions, known as the Legionnaires. Five years after the founding of the Legionnaires, he was fired as minister of war, for his criticisms of the government, and simultaneously consigned to the military reserve.
Lukov took over and merged the two wings of the Legionnaires in January 1942, remaining leader until his February 1943 assassination. After his death, the Union of Bulgarian National Legions explored a merge with the pro-Nazi Ratnik movement, which came to nothing. The UBNL was shut down with the Soviet invasion of Bulgaria in September 1944.
A programme of the Union of Bulgarian National Legions, published on February 19 1942, said that any new immigration of Jews into the Kingdom of Bulgaria would be prohibited. Any Jews who had arrived in the kingdom after 1915 would be expelled.
A programme issued in December 1942, setting out priorities for 1943, had as its first point, at a time that Lukov was its leader: “Combating the destroyers of the Bulgarian nation-state in the form of…Jewry”.
Point nine of the same programme says that the UBNL will “fight Jewish materialism and individualistic spirit”.
Earlier in 1942, a report by the Bourgas directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Public Health described the activities of the UBNL as “A) The fight against communism, Jewry, Freemasonry….D) Oral agitation against communists, Jews, etc”.
In 1943, when the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, some politicians, leading intellectuals and ordinary Bulgarians stood up to resist the planned deportations of Bulgarian Jews, the Legionnaires criticised Bogdan Filov’s government for not resisting the pressure. “Instead of using this rare and only case to resolve the Jewish question radically and once and for all, to put an end to an ulcer in our national organism, has avoided taking this opportunity.”
The forced internal deportation of Bulgarian Jews from capital city Sofia to remote villages also was seen as an insufficient measure by the organisation the by-then late Lukov had led. “The Jews will do whatever it takes to corrupt and decay the fighting spirit of the people.”
In the same document, dating from May 26 1943, it called for the Jews not to be internally deported but “move them outside of the borders of the Bulgarian fatherland, and until then send them to a concentration camp!”