The Washington Post has published an article Bulgarian street-naming request in DC stirs broader debate over country’s role in Holocaust
The authors have properly found out that the history of the Holocaust in Bulgaria is not well known – I have to say neither in Bulgaria, nor in the US.
But I don’t believe that’s a fault of the Bulgarian Embassy. It’s a fault of the Bulgarian political elite.
Earlier this year, the Bulgarian Parliament passed a resolution (in Bulgarian), where it actually made the mistakes, described in the article. And to which the Parliament received a response from the US Holocaust Museum.
The Bulgarian Parliament stated that there has been an effort, initiated by the then deputy-chairman of the Parliament Mr. Peshev (in fact it was driven mainly by the Bulgarian East Orthodox Church), to stop the deportation of the Bulgarian Jews. But the Parliament denies that this deportation has actually already been started by the pro-fascist Bulgarian government by sending 11343 people from the territories of today’s Macedonia and Greece, which were then under Bulgarian occupation, to the Treblinka concentration camp.
The Parliament tries to waive any responsibility about the deportation from tzar and the government of Mr. Filov, by stating that the deportation was the result of the “actions of the Hitler command”, from territories that were “under German jurisdiction”. This presents a pathetic attempt to present the deportation as something bad, but for which the then pro-fascist Bulgarian government and administration in the occupied territories, are not responsible at all. As if it is not clear that Mr. Peshev started his campaign against the deportation, which was prepared, organized, and performed by… the very same Bulgarian government!
The truth is actually very sad, but at the same time simple and easy to explain:
The Bulgarian state under tzar Boris III is the one that organized and executed the deportation of our fellow Bulgarian Jews from the territories of Macedonia and Trace. Bulgaria commissioned this deportation to the Germans, and even paid them money for the transportation!
This is the same Bulgarian state, which accepted the antisemitic laws in the beginning of World War II.
And this is the same Bulgarian state, which really did something no other country did: it stopped the deportation of the other 48000 Bulgarian Jews from the territory of Bulgaria proper!
Within 3-4 years the same people did completely different things! Are you perplexed? You shouldn’t be. In 1941 the Bulgarian people were waiving Nazi flags and welcome the Nazi troops that were en route to occupy Greece, and in 1944 the same people waved Soviet flags and greeted the Soviet troops, which entered the country just a few days after the Soviet Union has declared war to Bulgaria! (Little is known that while Bulgaria declared war to the USA and the UK, it did not do that to the USSR)
The bottom line: the Bulgarian pro-fascist government is responsible for the deportation. Accepting publicly this responsibility is something, which we still have to see. But Mr. Peshev deserves to have a square named after him in Washington, DC, as he did the right thing in 1943, when initiated the protest of members of the Parliament against the deportation of of the Bulgarian Jews, and thus saved 48,000 of them.