Monument to Bulgarians Who Saved Jews from Holocaust Unveiled in Tel Aviv

September 14, 2018

by: Edgar Asher

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The Varna monument designed by the Bulgarian architect Momchil Tsvetkov

Friday, 14 September 2018 | In a garden, located in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna, is a monument to the bravery of the Bulgarian people and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, who, in 1943, stood up to the Nazi invaders and refused, at great personal danger, to identify and hand over their Bulgarian Jewish citizens to the Nazis so that they could be sent to the death camps in Poland.  Some 48,000 Bulgarian Jews were saved from certain annihilation by the courage of the Bulgarian citizens.  Some eleven thousand Jews living in neighboring Macedonia during the Second World War were not so fortunate and they were sent to the Treblinka death camp in Poland to be later exterminated.

The Varna monument was dedicated in 2013 by the Jewish community in gratitude to the courage of the non-Jewish community who stood by their Bulgarian Jewish citizens.  There are similar monuments erected in the Bulgarian cities of Plovdiv and Sofia.

The three monuments in Bulgaria are all exactly the same. They are a sculptured representation of a shofar, the ram’s horn, the instrument of freedom, which each year on Rosh HaShanah [Jewish New Year] sounds out its piercing call in synagogues all over the world.  A call to bring all Jews together.

The identical monuments were designed by the Bulgarian architect Momchil Tsvetkov.  The last of the three monuments, located in Bulgaria, was dedicated in July 2016 in Sofia by Israeli president Reuven Rivlin, accompanied by Bulgarian president Rosen Plevneliev.

In 1943 it was the voice of the deputy speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament, Dimitar Peshev, who told the then Bulgarian prime minister that, “The expulsion of the Jews to outside the borders of Bulgaria cannot be considered—it will leave a stain on Bulgaria that not only will mark her morally, but also will negate her ethical stance.  We cannot be party to these deeds.”

The decree to ‘assist’ the Nazis by handing over the Jews was cancelled and following the end of the Second World War most of the Bulgarian Jews came to live in Israel.

Now Israel has a version of Momchil Tsvetkov’s monument.  The fourth replica of the shofar monument has just been unveiled in Tel Aviv by the current Bulgarian prime minister, Boyko Borissov.   At the unveiling ceremony Borissov said, “Today, the second and third generation of Bulgarian Jews, citizens of Bulgaria and Israel, are the bridge of friendship and support that make the relations between our two states unique and cordial.”  Today in Israel there are more than 100,000 Jews living here who are descendants of those 48,000 Bulgarian Jews.

Posted on September 14, 2018

Source: (Ashernet originally published this article on 13 September 2018. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO