Scrapbookpages Blog

March 10, 2013

48,000 Bulgarian Jews were saved from the Holocaust

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 1:29 pm

Fox News is reporting that today (March 10, 2013), Bulgaria is commemorating the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from the Nazis during World War II.  How did that happen?  Hint: Bulgaria and Germany were allies and Bulgaria refused Hitler’s order to deport the Bulgarian Jews to the death camps.

How do we know how many Jews there were in Bulgaria during World War II?  On January 20, 1942, the Wannsee Conference took place in a mansion in a suburb of Berlin; the minutes of that meeting listed the number of Jews in all of Europe, including 48,000 Jews in Bulgaria. It was at the Wannsee Conference that “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe,” aka the “Genocide of the Jews,” was planned.

Were there any Bulgarians among the 4 million Jews that were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, according to the Soviet Union? After the war, the Soviets prepared the following report which includes Bulgarians among the 4 million:

DOCUMENT 008-USSR

Report by the Soviet War Crimes Commission, 6 May 1945

There were usually 200,000 inmates at one time in the extermination camp of Auschwitz. Over 4 million people from the countries occupied by Germany were killed in Auschwitz, in most cases by gas immediately after their arrival; the remainder were first used for labour or for medical experiments and later killed in various ways (injections, ill treatment etc.). Details relating to the camp and the persons responsible for the crimes.

Description

Record no. 56 of the Soviet War Crimes Commission, second edition. Russian language. Signatures ink. With German translation.  […]

Since the Germans also burnt a great number of bodies on pyres, the capacity of the installations for the extermination of human beings in Auschwitz must be considered to be much higher in fact than this figure would suggest. But even when one considers that individual crematoria may not have worked to full capacity, or they might have been shut down for repairs part of the time, the technical commission established that the German hangmen killed not less than 4,000,000 citizens of the USSR, Poland, France, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Roumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Holland, Belgium, and other countries during the period of the existence of Auschwitz camp.

Read more at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/History/Articles/SovietCharges.html

The 4 million figure, which included citizens of Bulgaria, has now been changed to 1.1 million by the Auschwitz Museum.

This quote is from the Fox News story which you can read in full here:

SOFIA, Bulgaria –  Bulgarians on Sunday commemorated public protests that led to the rescue of more than 48,000 Jewish countrymen from deportation to Nazi death camps.

Ceremonies across the country Sunday marked the 70th anniversary of protests by Bulgarian clergymen, intellectuals, politicians and others that ultimately stopped the Nazis from deporting any Jews from Bulgaria.

Though an ally of Germany during the war, Bulgaria was the only Eastern European country that saved its Jews from the Holocaust. This act of salvation is a unique chapter in the history of the Holocaust, but its full story remained largely unknown until the fall of communism in Bulgaria in 1989.

But Parliament admitted for the first time on Friday that Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps from areas under Bulgarian control during World War II.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/03/10/bulgarians-commemorate-anniversary-rescue-country-jews-from-holocaust/#ixzz2NADT2VWf

Monument at Mauthausen in honor of Bulgaria resistance fighters

Monument at Mauthausen in honor of Bulgarian resistance fighters

But what about the monuments to the Bulgarians at Mauthausen and Treblinka? The photo above shows a monument at the Mauthausen Memorial Site that was erected in 1976 in honor of the Bulgarian “political prisoners” at Mauthausen.  The “political prisoners” in the Mauthausen camp may or may not have been Jews; they were sent to the Mauthausen Class III concentration camp because they were captured Resistance Fighters, who were fighting as illegal combatants in World War II.

Hungary was also an ally of Germany and the Hungarian Jews were sent to Nazi camps in May 1944.  The photo below shows a monument to the Hungarian Jews that were sent to Mauthausen because they were Resistance fighters.

Hungarian Monument at Mauthausen

Monument to Hungarians that were sent to Mauthausen

At the Treblinka Memorial Site, there are 10 monuments to the countries from which Jews were sent to Treblinka.  The photo below shows the stones for Poland and Czechoslovakia.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the stone for Bulgaria.

Two of the 10 stones at Treblinka in honor of countries

Two of the 10 stones at Treblinka in honor of countries

At the Treblinka Memorial Site, below where a symbolic cemetery is located, there are 10 large stones with the names of the countries from which the victims came. These countries were Poland, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, the Soviet Union, Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, France, and Belgium. According to Martin Gilbert in his book “Holocaust Journey,” there were 13,000 Jews deported to Treblinka from the Greek provinces of Macedonia and Thrace, which were then occupied by Bulgaria, so their stone says “Bulgaria.” Bulgaria was an ally of Germany, but no Jews from that country were deported. There is another stone at Treblinka for the 43,000 Jews from German-occupied Greece.

The following is a quote from the Judgment handed down at the Nuremberg IMT:

German missions were sent to such satellite countries as Hungary and Bulgaria, to arrange for the shipment of Jews to extermination camps and it is known that by the end of 1944, 400,000 Jews from Hungary had been murdered at Auschwitz. Evidence has also been given of the evacuation of 110,000 Jews from part of Romania for “liquidation.” Adolf Eichmann, who had been put in charge of this programme by Hitler, has estimated that the policy pursued resulted in the killing of 6,000,000 Jews, of which 4,000,000 were killed in the extermination institutions.

Note that the judgement at Nuremberg did not say that Jews were sent to extermination camps from Bulgaria.

Adolf Eichmann did not testify at the Nuremberg IMT, although he was quoted in the Judgement. The text of the Judgment at Nuremberg, with regard to the killing of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, was mostly based on hearsay testimony given in an affidavit, dated 26 November 1945, by former SS officer Wilhelm Höttl. Höttl stated that Adolf Eichmann, the head of the Jewish section of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), had told him in August 1944 that four million Jews had been killed in the extermination camps, and another two million had been killed by the Einsatzgruppen on the Eastern front. After the German surrender in May 1945, Höttl had been recruited to work with American intelligence.

What about the other “death camps,” for example, Majdanek?  According to a book entitled Majdanek, by Jozef Marszalek, which I purchased in 1998 at the Visitor’s Center at the Majdanek Memorial Site, the prisoners at Majdanek were from these 28 countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the USSR, the United States of America, and Yugoslavia.  Note that Bulgaria is mentioned, as is the United States of America.  It could be that the prisoners from Bulgaria, at the Majdanek camp, were not Jews. Or maybe they were from countries occupied by Bulgaria.

Getting  back to the Wannsee Conference, the mansion where the Conference was held is now a Museum.

Section 7 in the Wannsee Museum is about the “Deportations” which was “the sending of the Jews to concentration camps in the East, beginning in February 1942.”

Section 8 in the Wannsee Museum is devoted to the “Countries of Deportation.” According to the Museum, when I visited in 2001, Jews from the following countries were deported to the east: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and last of all, Hungary.

Again, it could be that Bulgaria was included in the list of countries, from which Jews were deported, because those countries were occupied by Bulgaria.

Why is there so much nit-picking about whether or not Bulgarian Jews were deported?

This quote from the Fox News story tells why:

Though an ally of Germany during the war, Bulgaria was the only Eastern European country that saved its Jews from the Holocaust. This act of salvation is a unique chapter in the history of the Holocaust, but its full story remained largely unknown until the fall of communism in Bulgaria in 1989.

But Parliament admitted for the first time on Friday that Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps from areas under Bulgarian control during World War II.

“The objective evaluation of the historic events cannot ignore the fact that 11,343 Jews were deported from northern Greece and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, then under German jurisdiction,” legislators said in a declaration and expressed regrets that “the local Bulgarian administration had not been in a position to stop this act.”

The Shalom Organization of Jews in Bulgaria had repeatedly demanded the state to take responsibility for the deportations.

“The Bulgarian government must assume the moral responsibility for the Nazi death camp deportation of ethnic Jews from the regions of Thrace and Macedonia regardless of the fact that Bulgaria saved its almost 50,000 Jews,” the group’s chairman, Maxim Benvenisti, told The Associated Press before the declaration.

It is all about the burden of shame, for allowing Jews to be sent to camps, and it’s about reparations that must be paid to the Jews by the countries that deported Jews during World War II.  What about German citizens who were kidnapped in South America, during World War II, and imprisoned in internment camps in America?  Do they deserve any reparations?  No, nobody cares about them.