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December 11, 2020 11:54 am

Macedonian Jews Urge Bulgaria to Acknowledge Responsibility for Holocaust Mass Deportations

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Jews from Macedonia who were rounded up and assembled in the Tobacco Monopoly transit camp, before deportation to the Treblinka extermination camp, in Skopje, Macedonia, March 1943. Photo: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The Jewish community in the Balkan state of North Macedonia has published an open letter to the Bulgarian government urging the recognition of Bulgaria’s role in the deportation of Jews during the Nazi occupation.

While the 50,000 Jews in Bulgaria itself were famously spared from extermination, the fate of the 8,000 Jews in the neighboring region of Macedonia — today known as North Macedonia — was very different.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the occupying Bulgarians “deported the Macedonian Jews in simultaneous actions that began in the early morning of Thursday, March 11, 1943. In Monastir, Skopje, and Štip, where there was a tiny population of Sephardic Jews, several hundred police and soldiers, as well as cart drivers with their carts, gathered at municipal police stations at 2 a.m. to receive instructions for the removal of the Jews and their belongings. In Monastir, the Bulgarian military established a blockade around the city to prevent escapes.”

Friday’s open letter from Jewish leaders in North Macedonia — published on the website of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) — stated that “the Jewish Community in the Republic of Macedonia and the Holocaust Fund of the Jews from Macedonia remind everyone of the indisputable and accepted historical facts regarding the role of the Kingdom of Bulgaria in the Holocaust and the deportation of the Jews from today’s North Macedonia.”

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The letter concluded by calling on the Bulgarian authorities “to face the truth about the Holocaust against the Jews in the occupied territories for which the pro-Nazi government in the Kingdom of Bulgaria at that time was directly responsible, and to apologize and accept responsibility.”

The letter asserted: “The sooner democratic Republic of Bulgaria faces the painful and dark moments of its past, a reconciliation will be possible, because the denial of crimes is the first step towards their repetition.”

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