Commemoratory event to mark the 80-th anniversary of the rescue of the bulgarian jews05 June 2023 News
On May 31, 2023, the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Bulgaria in cooperation with the Permanent Representation of the State of Israel, and with the assistance of the UN Office in Geneva, initiated and co-organized an event at the Palais des Nations to mark the 80th anniversary of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from perishing in the Nazi death camps and to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust from territories of the former Yugoslavia and Greece that were governed by Bulgaria during World War II. The purpose of the event was to raise wider awareness about the historical act of saving the Bulgarian Jews during the Second World War and included the screening of the documentary film "Beyond Hitler's Grip", followed by a lively and exciting discussion on the topic with the Bulgarian-born prominent Israeli historian, politician and academic, Professor Michael Bar-Zohar, an eye-witness to 1943 events and author of the eponymous book. Professor Bar-Zohar, who arrived from Israel as a guest-speaker of the event, emphasized the main lesson to be learned from the dramatic developments in 1943: even a small nation can resist the evil that larger powers are trying to impose on the rest of the world if societies are immune to intolerance and racial hatred and if they have courageous and worthy leaders ready to stand up for the principles of humanity and goodwill.
The opening of the commemorative event was personally attended by the Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Mrs. Tatyana Valovaya, who welcomed the co-organizers and participants and expressed her gratitude for the dedicated work of Prof. Michael Bar-Zoar in preserving the historical memory of the efforts of the Bulgarian people to prevent the destruction of the Bulgarian Jewish community in the Nazi concentration camps, and its transmission to future generations through his active literary, historical and political activity.
The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Bulgaria, Ambassador Yuri Sterk, stressed in his welcoming address the unique nature of the actions of Bulgarian public, political and religious leaders, as well as of the Bulgarian society as a whole, which were aimed at saving the Jewish community in Bulgaria and represented one of the brightest pages in Bulgaria’s history. At the same time, the Bulgarian people deeply deplore the tragic fate of the Holocaust victims from the territories of former Yugoslavia and Greece, which were temporarily governed by Bulgarian administration during the years of the Second World War. Ambassador Yuri Sterk concluded that the lessons of history must be remembered so that the tragedies of the past are not repeated - and above all the Holocaust of the Jewish people, one of the most horrific crimes against humanity. He ended by citing the Booker Prize winner for 2023, writer Georgi Gospodinov: "I remember, so as to keep the past in the past".
The event enjoyed a high interest from numerous heads of missions of UN member states in Geneva, including the ambassadors of Germany, the US, Italy, Greece, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Uzbekistan, Panama, Mexico, etc., form other diplomats, as well as representatives of a number of international organizations, the civil society, the local Jewish community, descendants of rescued Bulgarian Jews and Bulgarian citizens working or residing in Geneva.