B’nai B’rith International marks the 70th anniversary of an incredible story of courage—the rescue of the Jews of Bulgaria.
In 1943, Bulgarians from every segment of society united to prevent 48,000 Bulgarian Jews from being deported to Nazi death camps by the Nazi-allied regime in Sofia. It was the broad involvement of the Bulgarian population—politicians, church leaders, every day citizens—that ensured the continuation of the Jewish community in Bulgaria.
This inspiring story serves as a reminder that courage and determination know no limits and can have an immeasurable impact.
Tragically, Bulgarians had already seen 11,300 Macedonian and Thracian Jews, living under Bulgarian military occupation, deported to concentration camps, on trains that traveled through Bulgarian territory. Witnessing that horror spurred citizens to rise up to prevent more carnage.
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin is in Bulgaria to participate in commemoration ceremonies. “We must pause to reflect on this collective act of defiance and bravery,” he said from Sofia, Bulgaria. “The story of the rescue of the Jews of Bulgaria is truly living proof that intolerance and hatred can be stopped.”
While in Bulgaria, Mariaschin also met with Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, outgoing Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov, Bulgarian Socialist party leader Sergei Stanishev, U.S. Ambassador Marcie Ries and the Israeli Ambassador Shaul Camisa Raz. Mariaschin also observed the 20th anniversary of the re-established B’nai B’rith lodge, which was originally founded in the late 19th century.