Class Notes

In the history of the Holocaust, Bulgaria stands out among other European nations.  King Boris attempted to remain neutral, but in order to remain independent, in 1941 the nation sided with the Germans and elected a fascist government.  With the new alliance, Bulgarian Jews were stripped of their rights and had many of the same regulations as Nazi Germany.  One difference was that they were not removed to Ghettos but did have to labor in work camps during the summer.  Yet even while having to pacify the Nazi’s, Bulgarians never accepted the horrific treatment of the Jewish people.  The history of Bulgaria accepting the Jews went back to 1492, when they took in Jews being kicked out of Spain.  The Jews then fought side by side with the Bulgarians against the Ottoman’s for their independence, even sheltering the hero of the Revolution from capture.  As far as the Bulgarians saw it, Jews were one of them.

In 1943 when the order came to transport all of Bulgaria’s Jews to death camps the people rose up to protest.  Neighbors warned their Jewish friends and important leaders swarmed the Capitol to protest to the Prime Minister and the King.  Even the Orthodox Church, unlike the Catholic Church in other nations, came out in protest. Even under pressure from the Nazis, the King was able to hold off deportations long enough until he felt the Germans were too weak to act.  Because of the resistance of the Bulgarian people against what they saw as wrong, 47,000 Jews were saved from certain death.

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