A number of articles have been published recently in some Bulgarian news, – or better, “news” — outlets, pretending that their authors will present the history of the participation of Bulgaria in the Holocaust “in a new way”. Some of them claim that the Bulgarian government was showing great care about the property of the deported (by that same government!) Jews from Thrace, Macedonia and Pirot. The defenders of the tsar’s pro-Nazi regime claim that the property was described with details, and that the names of the owners were written against each item. The conclusion, to which the authors of these articles, are trying to drive us to, is that the government didn’t know that the Jews were sent to Treblinka to be massacred, and that it took good care for the confiscated property. In their desire to read the history in a “new” way, these authors also justify the actions of the Commissariat for the Jewish Affairs.**
The readers can understand easily the obvious absurdity of this reading “in a new way”, if they see what article 8 of the agreement for the deportation of the Jews from the occupied by Bulgaria territories, says. This agreement is known as the Belev – Dannecker Agreement, and here’s the text of the article in question:
8. In any case, the Bulgarian government will not ask for the return of the evicted Jews.
Read it again: “8. In any case, the Bulgarian government will not want the return of the evicted Jews.”
In the case against Adolf Eichmann, on 14 July 1961, he was asked why this condition was set. Eichmann replied that this clause was included upon an order “from his superiors” and that the “concern” to include it was caused by a previous case with another country where difficulties arose. The prosecutor again insisted that he should receive an explanation for the existence of article 8 in this document. Eichmann tried to avoid answering, but under the pressure of additional questions admitted:
“… This point cannot have any other explanation except that the responsible factors in the Reich have made efforts that for any Jew deported from any country, in this case Bulgaria, not to return them, so that they cannot tell what they have experienced and saw. This is the answer I can give (to your question) … “ (translation from German: Milen Radev, at the author’s request)
In other words, not only was the Bulgarian government aware that these Jews would not return, but it explicitly agreed with this.
This is just one of the evidence, proving clearly and categorically that it goes without saying that there is no argument that the Bulgarians were not aware about the destiny of the deported people. You can also see another evidence, from a report Charles Redard, Swiss chargé d’affaires in 1943 in Sofia; a screenshot from Tzvetan Todorov’s book The Fragility of Goodness speaks for itself (left).
Tsar Boris III, Primer-Minister Filov and all other participants in the organization and the implementation of the deportation (and these include dozens at the management level!) were fully aware of what would happen to the 11 343 summoned for deportation people. Their property was auctioned, because the Bulgarian government knew the deported Jews would not return. The Bulgarian rulers handed over 11 343 peaceful people.
The deportation of civilian population during times of war is a war crime and a crime against humanity.
Eichmann was convicted and sentenced to death for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Today in Bulgaria there are people, who request that the war criminal*** tsar Boris III should be awarded with the highest Bulgarian order – Stara Planina, and the names of other war criminals, like the Prime Minister Bogdan Filov, the Minister of Interior Petar Gabrovski, and other members of the cabinet are listed on the monument dedicated to the victims of the communist regime, in front of the National Palace of Culture in Sofia.
In order not to doubt what kind of feelings King Boris III had towards the Jews, it is good to know what he said on April 15, 1943 during his and PM Filov meeting with St. Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church:
“…I will begin with a few words on the first problem treated in that letter, that of the Jews.
And His Majesty began with these ‘few words’ which lasted more than a half-hour… He emphasized, in his speech, the enormous harm inflicted on humanity for centuries by the profiteering spirit of the Jews. This spirit has created hatred, loss of faith, moral degeneracy, and treason among men everywhere. This spirit of profiteering and negation has created and sill creates discontent, quarrels, conflicts, wars, and calamities among peoples and societies. The present global cataclysm is in large measure the fruit of this profiteering spirit…”
(Quote from The Fragility of Goodness by Tzvetan Todorov, Princeton University Press, pp 102-103)
Of course, these words are the end of a process that began more than three years ago when the anti -Semitic legislation was published, with the tsar’s signature.
The tsar knew what would happen to the Jews, and there was no doubt that both he and the state wanted it – that is why they sold their property: they knew that the Jews will not return, i.e. they were sent to certain death.
If someone tries to explain the role of Bulgaria in the Holocaust only by pointing out the halt of the deportation from the pre-war territories of Bulgaria, which resulted in rescue of about 48,000 Jews, it is important to point out that the deportation was temporarily stopped by the interior minister, upon pressure from members of the Parliament, the leadership of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and other prominent figure. But the tsar and his cabinet are responsible for the start of the deportation, which brought 11 343 people to Treblinka. The facts are crystal clear: deportation of civilians during times of war is a war crime and also a crime against humanity, regardless whether the deported people were Bulgarian subjects or not, and regardless whether they were deported from Bulgarian or occupied territory. Actually, even if all the deported Jews would have survived the war (only 12 of them did, as per Tzvetanov, p. 9), the crime by the Bulgarian authorities would still have been a crime.