The 10 of March is Bulgarian Holocaust Memorial Day. Officially called the Day of the Salvation of the Bulgarian Jews and of the Victims of the Holocaust and of the Crimes against Humanity, it is also known as the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and of the Victims of Crimes against Humanity, the Day of the Holocaust and Saving of the Bulgarian Jews, or simply, the Day of Holocaust Victims. The purpose is to celebrate the salvation of Bulgarian Jews and remember the victims of the Holocaust and the 11,343 Jews deported from Bulgarian controlled territories to Nazi death camps in 1943.
This date marks the anniversary of the day in 1943 when Dimar Peshev, the Deputy Speaker of the Bulgarian National Assembly, together with Metropolitan Bishop Stephan of Sofia, Metropolitan Bishop Cyril of Plovdiv, and many other prominent public figures prevented the planned deportation of 50,000 Bulgarian Jews to Nazi concentration camps. The day was first marked with an official commemoration in 2002, and is now celebrated every year in memory of those who suffered and gratitude for those who stood up against the evil intentions of that period.
Thanks to the actions of those brave few in public service, along with popular support from a large swath of the Bulgarian populace, the Bulgarian Jewish population was spared. After establishment of the State of Israel, the vast majority of Bulgarian Jews emigrated there.
While the Bulgarians managed to save their fellow Bulgarian citizens from being deported, they did not protect Jews from neighboring territories under their control during the World War II. As a result, the Jewish communities of North Macedonia and Greece were decimated.
Bulgarian Holocaust Memorial Day Activities
In commemoration of Bulgarian Holocaust Memorial Day, the Bulgarian National Archives launched a special website focused on The Jewish Community in Bulgaria which has collected hundreds of original documents about the conditions surrounding Bulgarian Jews during World War II.
Each year, national political and religious leaders, local public officials, school, and community organizations mark this day with ceremonies and activities in memory of those who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazi Regime.
The Ministry of Education has also joined the commemoration with a series of prepared lessons for use in public schools, where teaching about the Holocaust is required part of the national curriculum. Using the resources collected by the Bulgarian National Archives, school children can investigate the past and interact with real historical documents to learn about the past.
Other Bulgarian Holocaust Memorial Activities
Bulgaria commemorates the Roma and Sinti genocide in conjunction with International Roma Day activities on 8 April.
Famous Bulgarians Jews
Maxim Behar, businessman. Chairman and CEO of M2 Communications Group.
Elias Canetti, writer. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1981.
Joseph ben Ephraim Karo, scholar. Author of Shulchan Aruch, the code of Jewish law.
Solomon Passy, statesman. Former Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Valeri Petrov, writer.
Pancho Haralanov Vladigerov, composer. The National Academy of Music in Sofia bears his name.