Bulgaria’s Jews Saved from Deportation

I have been told by a friend who has a Holocaust exhibit in place in Florida that a significant number of people visiting the exhibit and chatting with him do not wish to be reminded of the Holocaust.  Mark Cohen has an exhibit in the Dania Beach Holocaust and Documentation Center.  His work including the painting Mengele’s Children which depicts the children that Mengele experimented on before killing them can be seen through October 4, 2019.  This article is a reminder.  People have to be reminded.

I have already written that the same immigration act that hurt the chances of Jews to find asylum in the United States when Hitler was in power hurts other immigrants today and that the collegial visits of Trump’s supporters to detention centers in Texas remind me of Hitler’s Theresienstadt Ghetto where even the Red Cross could see how well Jews were being treated by the Nazis.  Check out my latest article on that subject.  In addition the recent caravans to the United States did not constitute an “invasion” of the United States, particularly when I cite Jewish history and the struggle to enter Palestine.  The caravans should have borne the names Exodus II, III, and more to express the universality of people seeking a refuge against violence and other evils.  We stand with the immigrants who fight for their families the way that our families fought to come here.  And that applies to men, women, and children without any family here as well.

The Balkan people in Bulgaria were quite xenophobic, but they refused to hand over Jews for deportation.  And today Jews are fighting to prevent the deportations ordered by Trump.  Under extreme pressure, Jews were saved in the final hours though, but Jews in Macedonia and Thrace were less fortunate. 

Among the major sources of help at that moment in history was the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Stefan (he was ready to give his life on the railroad tracks to stop the deportations).  And there was a lack of “popular” anti-Semitism and resistance by Jews.  The Star of David was to be worn by Jews, but a tactic put in place was to wear photos of the king and queen, among other things.  So in March 1943 there was no deportation taking place, even though the plan was in place for years to accomplish deportation.

There was a “leak” of information from the office of the master planner, Alexandur Belev, and we have Liliana Panitska to thank for that.  Here are the details and one could conclude that the same thing could happen in the United States at this time regarding the deportations. 

Sofia Jews were given the leaked information.

They went to a main critic of the policy to tell him and the Interior Minister was later confronted.  A denial was issued, but there was lots of evidence provided.

A postponement was issued contrary to the demands of the cabinet.

Later Bishop Kiril sent a telegram asking that Tsar Boris put an end to all deportations.  Others met with the Tsar to put pressure.  The communist leadership of the Partisans strongly denounced the deportations and organized effective protests.

Tsar Boris was not opposed to any of the deportations which would lead to the death of Jews.  So what probably happened to put him on the right page of history?  Just as I have been calling for Trump to resign because of the weight of evidence against him on various fronts, we must give more thought about the bad things that are going on that upset our values.  We have to do more, much more.  There are too many similarities with the past already, even as people seem to accept much of what is going on.  Bishop Metropolitan Stefan appeared to be ready to give up his life.  I wonder if a similar threat from the leader of the Catholic Church in New York would corral the support to stop the madness of Trump in regard to deportation.  Asher Hananel, the chief rabbi, was arrested for protesting by Belev and brought to the latter’s office where the rabbi was told that Belev that he didn’t do anything without the crown.  Support for deportation was there even though Tsar Boris could at times speak kindly about the Jews (which irritated Hitler).  Boris knew about the deportations taking place in Macedonia and Thrace by train where the first Jews being sent to Treblinka were being witnessed by Belev himself.  Jews cried out for help there (on the train) and their voices were not heard.  Tsar Boris showed no humanitarian passion for the Jews and his later efforts were part of the let’s make a deal program advocated today by the Trump Administration which continues to fail during the humanitarian crisis at the border.

The turning point that I started to explain concerning Tsar Boris was the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943.  The Germans lost and this gave validity to Tsar Boris to play the political game, particularly as he would have to appeal to victorious Allies for forgiveness once the war ended. 

I wonder when Jews and non-Jews will figure out that the Immigration Act of 1929 and other American policies kept Jews out of the United States.  The timing of the section that criminalizes people who cross the border would have affected Jews at that time and now affects mostly Hispanics.  All of this clearly diminishes the United States.  I would hope that by spreading this important fact of history today would help change minds.  I think that if we could tell every immigrant that is being detained that they would ask “What about us?”  And now immigrants being held in Texas detention camps are suing for improvements in conditions and their release.  Draconian Trump policies regarding those people and the family members of immigrants who have been charged with crimes may soon be coming to an end.  And the xenophobia that affects the United States need not be very popular since cabinet members and the Department of Justice continue to behave the way that the Bulgarian cabinet behaved in 1943.

The very latest news tells us about a shooting in San Antonio, Texas in an ICE office.  Statements are already out there blaming politicians that disagree with Trump and his polices.  An investigation is being made about the shooting.  Perhaps the investigation is over since opponents of Trump have been blamed?  Or has that ICE office been reckless in making the statement?  And if there is truth that politicians, the media, and immigrant rights’ advocates are being “reckless” in this very serious matter, shouldn’t both sides get together for a national discussion as Bulgarians in the Interior Ministry were convinced by those who fought for Jews at the very moment that deportations were about to take place?  The ICE statement does appear to me to be propaganda and nothing else.  History may not be repeating itself here, but certain aspects sure do seem similar.  Boris Trump has to be exposed for what he is doing.

Let me share this thought.  Here is information taken from a quote in the book 1949.

The person mentions the primitiveness of the people.

They have almost no education and cannot understand intellectual things.

They are only slightly more advanced than Negroes.

They lacked roots in religion.

They have savage and primitive instincts. 

And they attacked a Bulgarian and others who were staff members.

They live in filth, gamble, get drunk, and promote prostitution.

They suffer from venereal disease.

They are thieves.

They are chronically lazy.

And given that these immigrants were ignorant, primitive, and poverty stricken, a political power shift was going to take place in the land of Israel as Menachem Begin and the Herut Party advocated for them.  These were North African Jews who are part of the greatness of Israel today.  The article was by Arye Gelblum in Haaretz before the large numbers actually arrived from Arab countries.  The full title of the book is 1949: The First Israelis.

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