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Dr. Rumiana Marinova-Christidi reveals why the Bulgarian Jewish community thrived while across Europe Jews were persecuted.

December 20, 2010 11:06
1 minute read.
A Bulgarian stamp

Bulgarian stamp 311. (photo credit: Leadel)


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"The Bulgarian people used to live side-by-side for centuries with Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Jews - we were part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years. There was never a negative image of the Jews in the Bulgarian historical textbooks," explains historian Dr. Rumiana Marinova-Christidi, who goes on to state that, "all Bulgarian Jews, almost 50,000 survived the Holocaust. This is really a European exception."

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The survival of the entire Bulgarian Jewish community – almost 50 thousand people - is an amazing phenomenon. While the Danish saved over 99% of their Jewish citizens during the holocaust, Denmark was an occupied state, where Bulgaria was an ally to Nazi Germany.

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According to Dr. Marinova- Christidi one root cause of the heroic efforts of Bulgarian people to save the Bulgarian Jews during WWII is the country’s history of “co-existed for centuries with other religions” - giving it a unique multi-cultural and multi-ethnic history.  As a result, "as seen in German documents, there was no comprehension of the Jewish question in Bulgaria."Following end the war, between 1948 and 1950, 90% of Bulgarian Jews left to Israel, primarily because of the “Bulgarian support for the new born state."

Today massive efforts are underway to revive the Bulgarian Jewish community. According to Oscar, President of the Sophia Jewish community “From the very beginning we have actively been supported by the American Jewish Joint Distribution committee - the main partner in our Jewish community; they support us financially, logistically, and giving us the best advice we can receive. Additionally, other Jewish organizations, the World Jewish Relief, European Jewish Congress act as serious partners of our organization."

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