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“The Rescue of Bulgarian Jews during the Second World War” discussed in the plenary hall of the National Assembly by students

The rescue of Bulgarian Jews during the Second World War was the topic discussed at the National Assembly. The winners of this year’s essay writing contest titled “The rescue of Bulgarian Jews - a lesson for future generations” were awarded at the forum. The participants in the competition have used for their writings the materials collected by Prof. Michael Bar Zoar in his book: “Out of Hitler’s Grasp”. The first three prizes went to high school students from Sofia. They will be traveling to Israel next year and will meet with President Shimon Peres.

The winners of the competition were presented with the Badge of Honor of the National Assembly. In her address towards the participants, the chairwoman of the National Assembly pointed out that today, not less than ever before, the page concerning the rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews should be reread again, for the language of hatred has not vanished from the streets and squares of Bulgaria. The language of hatred leads to crimes and the language of tolerance is what would withstand it.

In the world today - let say it openly – there exists not only the danger of global warming, but the rise in the temperature of intolerance, noted the president of the National Assembly. Mrs.Tsetska Tsacheva added that during the ages Bulgaria had been run over by invaders, but at the same time enriched by the waves of different cultures that had inundated it. Living at a crossroad we had learned to communicate. In her view, the explanation for one of the most important pages in the twentieth century history of Bulgaria, namely the salvation of the country’s Jews during the Second World War, was the ability to understand and communicate with the likes.

The contest’s winners read aloud pieces of their essays. “We have to be proud with the deeds of our ancestors, who at times of madness had not remained indifferent towards the destiny of their Jewish compatriots. Whereas the “civilized” countries handed over, obediently, to certain death, their Jews, Bulgarians were carrying out a heroic deed fighting for their rescue, ignoring their own personal safety. What had happened during the World War II could teach us humaneness, self- confidence, tolerance, could teach us how to defend our convictions and how to be united in order to reach the desired goal.” The words come from the essay written by the first prize winner Emilia Svetoslavova.

The essay competition dedicated to the rescue of Bulgarian Jews is held for a 17 consecutive year. The contest is supported by the parliament of Bulgaria and is organized by the Sofia City Regional Inspectorate for Education and the “Centre for Tolerance” NGO.

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