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Sephardic Jews Call for Truth on Bulgaria's Role in Holocaust

Members of the Sephardic Jewish community plan to call on the Bulgarian government to reveal the truth about Jews it helped kill in the Holocaust.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/14/2011, 4:12 AM / Last Update: 2/14/2011, 7:54 AM

Members of the Sephardic Jewish community are calling on the government of Bulgaria to reveal the truth over its interaction with the Jews during the Holocaust.

A special address on this issue is planned to take place on March 1, 2011 at 7pm at The Sephardic Temple in Cedarhurst, New York, before an audience of community members, activists, scholars and Holocaust survivors.

March 1 was chosen as it is the 70th anniversary of the signing of the pact uniting Bulgaria with Germany as Axis partners. A special report will be released to the public on the same day by Sephardic historian, author and independent scholar, Shelomo Alfassa. Alfassa has documented how during World War II, the Bulgarian government was complicit in the dispossession, torture and murder of thousands of Jews, and has also documented how the Bulgarian government continues to whitewash this fact.

Alfassa has found that while it is frequently retold that the Bulgarian government chose not to deport some 50,000 Jews from Bulgaria to German death camps in Poland, it is not revealed that Bulgaria was also directly complicit in the murder of some 13,000 other Jews from their lands of Bulgarian Thrace and Macedonia. These were mostly Judeo-Spanish speaking Jews of Greek and Ottoman-Turkish descent.

“The Bulgarian government continues to pompously promote the fact that they ‘saved’ (did not deport) one group of Jews (50,000), while not disclosing the fact they indeed deported another group of Jews (13,000),” said Alfassa. “The latter group was sent to their deaths at Treblinka, a subject which is historically well documented.”

“These 13,000 Jews, which have been too often overlooked by history, suffered horrible deaths with the direct participation and knowledge of the Bulgarian government in their alliance and volunteer partnership with the Nazis,” said Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos, President of the Association of Friends of Greek Jewry. “It is time for Bulgaria to set the record straight.”

The event on March 1 will, in fact, launch a larger campaign and will be subsequently followed by a Northeast Regional Colloquium that will be convened to discuss remedies to what has been described as Bulgaria's continued “whitewashing” of their direct role in the murder of the 13,000 Jews. The colloquium will likely be held during the month of June and will be entitled: “Ending 70 Years of Whitewashing and Inaccuracies: the Bulgarian Government and its Treatment of Jews During the Holocaust.”