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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in Bulgaria

Jews from Byzantium - Jews from Bavaria and Spain - anti-Semitism and self-defense after independence since 1878 - Holocaust with discriminations and deportations - Communist regime - emigration wave

from: Bulgaria; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 4

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, col. 1487.
                Front page of the Ladino newspaper "Il
                Trisore" ("The Treasure"), Rushchuk,
                Bulgaria, 1894. Jerusalem, Ben Zvi Institute.
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, col. 1487. Front page of the Ladino newspaper
"Il Trisore" ("The Treasure"), Rushchuk, Bulgaria, 1894. Jerusalem, Ben Zvi Institute.



The solution is the Book of Life with Mother Earth -

<BULGARIA, East Balkan republic located along the Black Sea.

Ancient Period.

[Roman times: Jewish settlements in Macedonia - persecutions under Theodosius I - destroyed synagogues]

A Jewish settlement is known to have existed in Macedonia in the time of Caligula (37-41 C.E.; Philo, Embassy to Gaius, par. 281). A late-second century Latin inscription found at the village of Gigen on the shore of the Danube (near Nikopol, the site of the ancient Roman settlement Oescus) bearing a menorah testifies to the existence of a Jewish community. The Latin inscription mentions the *archisynagogos Joseph. Theodosius I's decree to the governors of Thrace and Illyria in 379 shows that Jews were persecuted in these areas and synagogues destroyed.

Byzantine and Bulgar Rule.

[Jewish refugees from Byzantine territories - religious unrest in early Bulgaria]

When the Byzantine emperor Leo III (718-41) persecuted the Jews, a number of them may have fled to Bulgaria. There, during the reign of the Bulgar czar Boris I (852-89), the Jews are said to have tried to exploit the religious unrest among the Bulgars, then heathens, by converting them to Judaism, but Christian emissaries were more successful. The faith of the early Bulgarian Christians was, however, a syncretistic mixture of Christian, Jewish, and pagan beliefs. A curious insight of the contemporary religious situation is afforded by the 106 questions submitted by Bulgarian representatives to Pope Nicholas I (858-67). Among the questions on which guidance was requested were the proper regulations for offering the first fruits; the law concerning amulets; which (col. 1480)

day is the day is the day of rest - Saturday or Sunday; which animals and poultry may be eaten; whether it is wrong to eat the flesh of an animal that has not been slaughtered; should burial rituals be performed for suicides; how many days must a husband abstain from intercourse with his wife after she has given birth; should a fast be observed during a drought; should women cover their heads in houses of prayer; and so on.

The names of the Bulgarian princes at this time - David, Moses, Anron, and Samuel - may also show Jewish influence.

[Cyril invents the Cyrillic script with Greek and Hebrew elements]

The monks Cyril (Constantine) and Methodius from Salonika, who were sent to Greater Moravia [[Maehren]] in 863 by the Byzantine emperor Michael III (840-67) to convert the Moravians, had mixed with Jews in their native town and studied with Jewish teachers. Cyril invented a new script called Glagolitic (later Cyrillic) in which to write Slavonic. The script was based on the Greek alphabet, but used the Hebrew alphabet as well in order to represent sounds which did not exist in the Greek alphabet, e.g., Sh and Ts. It is believed that Cyril made his translations of parts of the Bible from the Hebrew original.

There is evidence of Jewish settlement in Nikopol in 967. In the early 12th century Leo Mung, born a Jews and later a pupil of the 11th-century Bulgarian talmudist Tobiah b. Eliezer, became archbishop of the diocese of *Ochrida and Primate of Bulgaria. The Bogomil movement, a Christian sect that spread through Bulgaria in the 11th century, rejected most books of the Old Testament, but awakened interest in Judaism as the source of certain Christian theological doctrines. The Bulgarian attitude to Jews at the time was generally favourable; Jewish merchants from Italy and Ragusa (*Dubrovnik) who settled in Bulgaria received royal privileges. Also during the Crusades many Jews may have found refuge in Bulgaria.

Jacob b. Elijah in his polemical letter to the apostate Pablo *Christiani mentions two Jews who were thrown from a mountaintop for refusing to obey the order of Czar John Asen II (1218-41) to put out the eyes of Theodore I Angelus, Greek ruler of Salonika in 1230. Czar Ivan Alexander (1331-71) married a Jewish woman named Sarah, who took the name Theodora on her baptism; her influence on state affairs was considerable.

[Terror Church - excommunication of Jews in 1352 - blaspheming libel and Jews murdered by the mob - influx of Hungarian Jews]

The church's struggle with heresy in Bulgaria also affected the Jews. The Church Council of 1352 excommunicated Jews and heretics. Three Jews were condemned to death on a false charge of blaspheming saints. Although the verdict was repealed by the czar, the mob took vengeance on the accused. (col. 1481)

Many Jews went to Bulgaria from Hungary after the expulsion of 1376. These Hungarian Jews kept their own particular customs, but later adopted the customs of the other Ashkenazim, and eventually all of them adopted Sephardi customs and spoke *Ladino. (col. 1482)

[Cultural life: Byzantine (Romaniot) rite - Greek spoken by the majority - Byzantine prayer book - marriage rites]

The largest part of the Bulgarian Jewish community before the 15th century belonged to the Byzantine (Romaniot) Jewish rite. Only a minority spoke Bulgarian. The *Romaniots had their own special prayer book, which eventually was replaced by the Sephardi prayer book.

They regarded the sending of gifts from the groom to the bride as (col. 1481)

part of the marriage ceremony, and if the bride did not later marry the sender of the gifts, she had, in their opinion, to receive a divorce (get) before she could marry another man (see Kid. 3:2). The bride's dowry [[gifts for the husband]] was guarded and the husband was forbidden to negotiate with it. Furthermore, according to their custom a husband could not inherit from his wife. The Romaniots did not accept the decree of *Gershom b. Judah in the 11th century forbidding bigamy. (col. 1482)

[Byzantine (Romaniot) rabbis]

Among the rabbis of the Romaniot synagogue was Abraham Semo (15th century) who befriended the new Ashkenazi community that settled in Sofia (1470). Another famous rabbi of the Romaniots was Joseph b. Isaac ibn Ezra (late 16th-early 17th centuries), who wrote the book Massa Melekh (1601). [[...]]

A famous contemporary sage was Rabbi Shalom Ashkenazi of Neustadt, who founded a yeshivah [[religious Torah school]] at *Vidin. His pupil Rabbi Dosa the Greek wrote in 1430 Perush ve-Tosafot, a super commentary to Rashi on the Pentateuch. (col. 1482)

Turkish Rule.

[Turkish occupation - influx of Ashkenazi Jews from Bavaria in 1470 - with German synagogues and rite - influx of Sephardi Jews from Spain since 1494 - one single rabbi - Shabbateanism]

At the time of the final Turkish conquest of Bulgaria (1396), Jews were living in *Vidin, *Nikopol, Silistra, *Pleven, *Sofia, *Yambol, Philippopolis (now *Plovdiv), and *Stara Zagora.

Jewish refugees came to Bulgaria from Bavaria, which had banished them in 1470, and, according to various travelers, Judeo-German was heard for a long time in the streets of Sofia. Despite their adoption of Sephardi customs, language, and names, the Ashkenazi Jews maintained separate synagogues for a long time and followed the medieval German rite. The Ashkenazi prayer book was printed in 1548-50 in Salonika by R. Benjamin ha-Levi Ashkenazi of Nuremberg who was also the rabbi of the Sofia Ashkenazi community.

Spanish Jews reached Bulgaria apparently after 1494, settling in the trading towns in which Jews were then living. They came to Bulgaria from Salonika, through Macedonia, and from Italy, through Ragusa and Bosnia.

Until 1640 Sofia had three separate Jewish communities - the Romaniots [[Byzantine]], the Ashkenazim [[from Hungary and Germany]], and the Sephardim [[from Portugal]].

Then a single rabbi was appointed for all three communities. R. *Levi b. Habib (Ḥabib) lived for a short time in Pleven and R. Joseph *Caro lived in Nikopol for 13 years (1523-36). Caro founded a yeshivah [[religious Torah school]] there and continued to write his great work Beit Yosef.

In the 17th century Bulgarian Jewry was cought up in the whirlwind of the pseudo-messianic movement of Shabbetai Zevi (
Ẓevi); Samuel *Primo and *Nathan of Gaza, proponents of Shabbateanism, were active in Sofia in 1673. (col. 1482)

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, col. 1481.
                Map of Bulgaria with Jewish communities in the Ancient
                period, in the Byzantin and Bulgar period, in the
                Turkish period, from Byzantine period to 1948, from
                Turkish period to 1948, and from 1878 to 1948.
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, col. 1481. Map of Bulgaria with Jewish communities in the Ancient period, in the Byzantin and Bulgar period, in the Turkish period, from Byzantine period to 1948, from Turkish period to 1948, and from 1878 to 1948.

[Jewish trade connections - Tatar-Pazardzhik - influx of Salonikan Jews - Jewish takeover of the position in Ragusa - products and careers]

Jews conducted trade with Turkey, Walachia, Moldavia, Ragusa, and Venice. Jewish traders were granted firmans giving them various privileges.

One of the most important trading towns in the 16th century was Tatar-Pazardzhik, to which the Jewish merchants of Salonika turned after the wars with Venice (1571-73). They established commercial relations with Sofia merchants and some of them settled there as well.

Merchants from *Skoplje (Turkish Üsküb) bought clothing in Salonika and sold it in Sofia and neighbouring towns. In 1593 Sinan Pasha founded an annual fair at Ozundzhovo in the district of Khaskovo, southern Bulgaria. It was attended by Jews from European Turkey and Western Europe. Some Jews also farmed the taxes on European merchandise.

The Jewish merchants were able to extend their commercial activities when the Ragusa merchants, who had taken part in the Bulgarian rising of 1688 against the Ottoman rule, had to give up their businesses. In Samokov some Jews owned (col. 1482)

quarries and leather tanneries. Jewish government officials of that period are also known. In the early 19th century a Jew, Bakish, of Tatar-Pazardzhik, held an important position in the court of the sultan, and proposed the introduction of a uniform system of Turkish coinage.

Independent Bulgaria.

[Persecutions and expulsions by collaboration libel in 1878]

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, col. 1483.
                The Central Synagogue, Sofia, built in 1878. New York,
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, col. 1483. The Central Synagogue,
Sofia, built in 1878. New York, YIVO.

General rioting, robbery, and arson broke out in Sofia in 1878 when the Turks retreated from the town; the Jews formed their own militia and a fire brigade to prevent the Turks from setting fire to the town; the fire brigade was retained after independence. Among those who welcomed Russian General Gurko were the rabbi of Sofia, Gabriel Mercado Almosnino, and three other Jews.

During the war Jewish property was looted and in Vidin, Kazanlik, and Svishtov, where the local population regarded them as supporters of the Turks, Jewish property was plundered, and Jews were expelled in atrocious circumstances; most of them fled to Adrianople and Constantinople. Before the Congress of Berlin in 1878 the major Jewish organizations of western Europe had tried to secure equal rights for Bulgarian (as well as Serbian and Rumanian [[Romanian]]) Jewry;

[Berlin Treaty with equal rights for Jews - anti-Semitism - farmers prevent the Jews from their rights]

the Berlin Treaty included a clause obliging the Balkan countries to give equal rights to Jews. Rabbi Gabriel Almosnino attended the Bulgarian Constituent Assembly (Sobranie) in 1879 as the Jewish delegate ex officio as the chief rabbi and cosigned the constitution.

In 1880 an official code to regulate the organization of the Jewish communities was formulated. Jews also participated as advisers in town councils. However, the Bulgarian population displayed signs of resentment against the Jews. Most Bulgarian political parties were steeped in anti-Semitism. The Bulgarian peasantry did all in their power to prevent Jews from acquiring land, and from time to time there were blood libels.

[Jews in the army since 1885 - but no equal rights after 1919]

In 1885, during the war between Serbia and Bulgaria, Jews were drafted into the Bulgarian Army for the first time. The principle of equality concerning the defense of minority groups was emphasized after World War I in the Treaty of Neuilly (1919). However, despite all declarations, (col. 1483)

the principle of equal rights had no genuine value for Jews; in practice the various Bulgarian governments discriminated against Jews. Anti-Jewish legislation was introduced indirectly in internal clauses and in secret memoranda. Jews were not accepted at the military academy, the state bank, or in government r municipal service. The national uprising in 1923 prepared the ground for the spread of anti-Semitism and its intensification.

[Nazi structures in the Bulgarian state after 1923]

In the difficult years that followed the Bulgarian people's wrath [[rage]] was channeled toward the minority groups, especially the Jews, whom they held responsible for their hardships. Anti-Semitic nationalist associations sprang up. In 1936 the Ratnik ("Warrior") anti-Semitic association was founded; it was structured on the lines of Hitlerite organizations, accepting their theory of race and adapting it to its own ideological concepts.

Pre-World War II.

In the decades preceding World War II, the relative percentage of Jews within the Bulgarian population declined steadily, indicating a lower birth rate than the national average. The 1934 census showed 48,565 Jews, constituting 0.8% of the total population. (The respective percentages for the years 1920 and 1926 were 0.9 and 0.85). IN the mid-1930s more than half of Bulgaria's Jews resided in Sofia. Most Jews were engaged in commerce, and the majority were self-employed. In the prewar years, the number of wage earners showed a certain upward trend. A growing identification with Jewish national ideals characterized the intellectual development of the Bulgarian Jewish community.

[Dominating racist Zionism]

In the interwar period the [[racist]] Zionist movement completely dominated all Jewish communal organization, including the highest elected body, the Jewish Consistory.


The younger generation spoke Bulgarian rather than the Ladino of their fathers.


[Bulgarian Jews in the racist Zionist movement - emigration - settlements in Palestine]

Bulgarian Jewry joined the movement for national revival as early as the days of Hovevei (Ḥovevei) Zion (founded in 1882). Three Bulgarian delegates attended the First Zionist Congress in 1897 at Basle - Zvi (Ẓvi) *Belkovsky, Karl *Herbst, and Yehoshu'a (Joshua) *Kalef. Before the congress, in 1895, Bulgarian Jews had founded the settlement *Har-Tuv in Erez Israel (Ereẓ Israel). However, there was also considerable emigration to other countries. In 1900 several Jews settled on the land at Kefken in Turkey, on the shores of the Black Sea. Other Bulgarian Jews took up farming in Adarpazari (in the Kocaeli district near Istanbul). Among the pioneers of [[racist]] Zionism in Bulgaria, the most noteworthy was Joseph Marco *Baruch. Between 1919 and 1948, during the British Mandate, 7,057 Bulgarian Jews emigrated to Palestine.


[Reforms within the Jewish community]

After 1878 a chief rabbinate was created, headed by a chief rabbi. In 1900 a conference of Jewish communities assembled and passed a new constitution, which, however, was not recognized by the Bulgarian government. The constitution dealt with elections to synagogue or community and school committees. The community committees chose a central council (Consistory) of Bulgarian Jewry from among their members. The council functioned independently of the chief rabbi, who was also head of the central rabbinical court. The central rabbinical court exercised authority over the rabbinical courts of Sofia, Plovdiv, and Rushchuk (now Ruse).


Bulgarian Jewish education passed through three periods:

(1) the period of the meldar [[school building]], the Sephardi religious school, equivalent to the Ashkenazi heder (ḥeder) [[Jewish religious school to age of 13]], which flourished in Bulgaria before national independence;

(2) the period after independence during which the Alliance Israélite Universelle maintained many schools; and

(3) the period of modern, national education.

Jewish schools were maintained at the expense of the community. Many Jewish (col. 1484)

children, especially in large cities, attended schools of other denominations.


Rabbi Isaac b. Moses of Beja (16th century), who lived in Nikopol after the Turko-Walachian war (1598), wrote the book Bayit Ne'eman (1621). Rabbi Isaiah Morenzi (d. after 1593), who also lived in Nikopol, introduced new customs into the yeshivah [[religious Torah school]] founded by Joseph Caro. Another rabbi of Nikopol was Abraham Azuz Burgil, author of the book Lehem (Leḥem) Abbirim (1605). Moses Alfalas of Sofia, a famous preacher, published Va-Yakhel Moshe (Venice, 1597). IN the 18th century Solomon Shalem of Adrianopolis and Issachar Abulafia were among the famous rabbis. Chief rabbis after Bulgarian independence (1878) were Gabriel Almosnino, Moses Tadjer, Simon Dankowitz from Czechoslovakia, Mordecai Gruenwald, and Marcus *Ehrenpreis. Zemah (Zemaḥ) Rabbiner was chief preacher to the Bulgarian communities. David Pipano, author of Hagor (Ḥagor) ha-Efod (1925) and other books, was head of the rabbinical court. Other scholars of Bulgaria include Solomon *Rosanes, author of Divrei Yemei Yisrael be-Togarmah, the standard history of Turkish Jewry. Mention may be made also of Saul Mézan, author of Les Juifs espagnols en Bulgarie [[The Spanish Jews in Bulgaria]].


In 1899 the Bulgarian-language newspaper Chelovecheski prava ("Human Rights") was published to repudiate the libels of anti-Semitic newspapers. The first Ladino newspaper, La Alborada ("The Dawn"), was launched in 1884. Later, Ladino publications ceased publication and were replaced by Bulgarian-language periodicals.


In World War II.

[Filov government since 15 Feb. 1940 - Nation law of August 1940 - occupation of Macedonia in April 1941]

Comprehensive anti-Jewish legislation in Bulgaria was introduced after the outbreak of World War II. The regime's main motivation in its anti-Semitic pursuits could be explained by its determination to conform to the orientation of Nazi Germany, with which Bulgaria was allied. The turning point in events came on Feb. 15, 1940, with the appointment of Bogdan Filov, a noted scientist and a determined Germanophile, to the premiership. In July 1940 the government announced its decision to curb the freedom of the Jewish minority. In (col. 1485)

August of the same year

[[two months after the French defeat]]

the cabinet approved the anti-Jewish "Law for the Protection of the Nation", patterned after Nazi regulations. On Dec. 24, 1940, Parliament approved the proposed legislation, which was officially promulgated on Jan. 23, 1941. On March 1, Bulgaria joined the Tripartite Pact and the German Army entered the country.

[[In April 1941 Bulgaria was part of the invasion into Yugoslavia and got Macedonia from Yugoslavia; see: Yugoslavia]].

A declaration of war on the western Allies followed; yet Bulgaria did not enter the war against the Soviet Union, mainly because of Slavophile sentiments.

[Systematic discrimination of the Jews since August 1942 - Commissariat for Jewish Affairs]

In June 1942 Minister of Interior Gabrovski, the architect of the anti-Jewish legislation, demanded and received from Parliament a blank authorization empowering the government with absolute prerogatives on all questions pertaining to the Jews. Protests against this measure, coming from such well-known democrats as Nikola Mushanov, were of no avail. At the end of August the government promulgated new restrictive regulations and provided for the establishment of a Commissariat for Jewish Affairs. On Sept. 3, 1942, the lawyer Alexander *Belev, a German-trained anti-Semite, became the head of this Commissariat. (col. 1486)

[Strict racist regulations in Bulgaria 1941-1944]

Unlike the Italians, the Bulgarians treated the Jews with exceptional cruelty and strictly applied the racial restrictions: the Jews were prohibited the free use of the main thoroughfares [[main streets]], were not allowed to move from one town to another or to engage in commerce, had to wear the yellow badge, and were issued special yellow identity cards. Jewish houses were identified as such by a special sign. In the summer of 1942, several hundred young Jews were sent to forced labour, and in January 1943 young conscripts [[men for draft]] were sent to Bulgaria to work on road construction.

Every town with a Jewish population had its commissioner for Jewish affairs, whose task it was to ensure that the anti-Jewish orders were properly carried out. Any jewelry and gold currency in the possession of Jews was confiscated and handed over to the Bulgarian national bank. Later, the government justified its action by contending that since Macedonia and Thrace were never formally annexed to Bulgaria, and since Thracian and Macedonian Jews were not given Bulgarian citizenship, the regime could not effectively withstand German pressures. (co. 1487)


[20,000 Jews should be deported - resistance - "compromise" by president Filov: deportation "only" of the Macedonian and Thracian Jews]

In January 1943 Adolf Beckerle, the German minister to Sofia, was joined by SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Theodor Dannecker, an associate of *Eichmann, who came to Bulgaria in order to arrange for the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to the eastern territories. By the summer of 1942, the Bulgarian government had already surrendered into German hands Bulgarian Jews residing in countries occupied by Germany. On Feb. 2, 1943, Gabrovski and Dannecker agreed that all Jews living in Greek and Yugoslav Macedonia and in Thrace, administered by Bulgaria since the spring of 1941, would also be surrendered to the Germans for deportation. On Feb. 22, Belev and Dannecker signed a formal agreement to deport 20,000 Jews. As the total number of Jews living in Bulgarian-held Thrace and Macedonia was only slightly over 10,000, Dannecker informed Eichmann that Jews from Bulgaria proper, mainly from the capital and other large towns, would also be deported.

On March 2, the government approved the surrender of 20,000 Jews into German hands, but the fiction that only Jews from Macedonia and Thrace were to be deported continued to be maintained. The collection of Macedonian and Thracian Jews into special transit camps began immediately. Preparations were also begun for the concentration of those Jews from Bulgaria proper who were to make up the agreed figure of 20,000.


Rumours of the forthcoming deportations aroused unexpected opposition. An action group headed by the vice-president of the Bulgarian Parliament, Dimiter Peshev, was organized in the town of Kustendil. Peshev appeared before the minister of interior on March 9, and insisted that the deportation orders be altered forthwith. Both humanitarian and political considerations motivated the protest movement. In the aftermath of the German debacle at Stalingrad [[and of the Romanian and Italian troops, treached by the "neutral" Swiss Information Service]] it was thought that Bulgaria should not endanger her chances of an eventual disengagement from the German alliance by giving her hand to so monstrous an act.

The initiative of Dimiter Peshev developed into a minor revolt within the government's own majority in Parliament. On March 17 Peshev presented the prime minister with a petition against the deportations signed by 42 deputies. Political figures outside Parliament and prominent figures from the Greek Orthodox Church hierarchy joined in the effort. Under the pressure, the government of Bogdan Filov decided on a compromise. It ordered all deportations of Bulgarian Jews to be stopped. The surrender of Macedonian and Thracian Jews, however, was carried out. Transported in part by (col. 1486)

railroad and in part by river boats on the Danube, a total of 11,384 Jews from the "new territories" were taken to the death camps in the east (Poland), where the overwhelming majority perished. (col. 1487)

[Removals in the Bulgarian government - deportation of Bulgarian Jews - mysterious death of King Boris III on 28 Aug. 1943]

On March 26 [[1943]], Dimiter Peshev was reprimanded [[warned]] by Parliament and removed from the vice-presidency. His bold intervention on behalf of the Jews of Bulgaria later helped save his life at the People's Trials held in the winter of 1945. The Nazi representatives in Sofia continued to press for the deportation of the Bulgarian Jewish community during April and May of 1943. In the light of the parliamentary upheavals of March, the government showed signs of vacillation [[falling]]. At the end of May it ordered the resettlement of (col. 1487)

the Jews of Sofia in the provinces as a first step toward their eventual dispatch to the death camps in the east [[and then to the big tunnel systems and bunker systems]].

Neither an abortive mass demonstration attempted by the Jews of Sofia on May 24, nor several protestations by pro-Jewish public figures prevented the execution of the order. Furthermore, several hundred prominent Jewish families were sent to the Somovit concentration camp established on the banks of the Danube. Throughout the war male Jews continued to work in forced labour camps, employed in various public construction projects. With these programs, the summit of anti-Jewish persecution was reached, and the gravest danger of deportation to the German-occupied eastern territories passed.

On Aug. 28, 1943, King Boris III died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. According to N. Oren, Boris showed no special affection for the Jews of his country, nor did he exhibit any particular humanitarian inclinations. The contention [[point of discussion]] that Boris' own act of benevolence [[charity]] had prevented [[hindered]] the deportation of the Jews from Bulgaria proper is without firm foundation, but, in common with his government, Boris responded to the pressures from below generated by Peshev and his friends. According to Nuremberg Document No. NG-062, although Boris had agreed to the deportation of Jews from Macedonia and Thrace, he was unwilling to deport Jews from Bulgaria proper, with the exception of "Bolshevist-Communist elements". The other Bulgarian Jews were to be sent to forced-labour camps to work on road construction. (col. 1488)

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, col. 1489.
                Maran Beth Joseph synagogue, Nikopol, Bulgaria,
                destroyed by the Nazis [[and their collaborators]] in
                1943. Sofia, Jewish Scientific Institute
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, col. 1489. Maran Beth Joseph synagogue, Nikopol, Bulgaria,
destroyed by the Nazis [[and their collaborators]] in 1943. Sofia, Jewish Scientific Institute


[Pro-Jewish measures since Sep. 1943 to appear more reasonable in the eyes of the western Allies - abolished anti-Jewish legislation on 29 Aug. 1944 - government under Muraviev]

In September a Regency Council and a new government headed by Dobri Bozhilov were established. Minister of Interior Gabrovski was not included in the new cabinet. Belev, the head of the Commissariat for Jewish Affairs, was also dropped and replaced by the more moderate Khristo Stomaniakov. In December the resettled Jews of Sofia were allowed to return to the capital for brief periods in order to attend to private affairs.

Early in 1944 a small number of Jewish families were permitted to leave the country for Palestine. These and other signs of relaxation were aimed at establishing Bulgaria's greater independence in foreign affairs, and the Bozhilov regime's effort to appear more reasonable in the eyes of the western Allies. Representations on behalf of the Bulgarian Jewish community by Jewish organizations to both Washington and London produced a number of Allied protests, communicated to the Bulgarian government throughout 1943 and 1944.

At the end of May 1944 the cabinet of Bozhilov was replaced by a new cabinet headed by Ivan Bagrianov. Determined to extricate Bulgaria from her war involvement, the Bagrianov regime opened truce negotiations with the western Allies. Earlier, secret talks were held between Nikola Balabanov, Bulgaria's minister to Turkey, and Ira Hirschmann, representative of the United States War Refugee Board. In August Hirschmann was informed of the decision of the Sofia government to abolish all anti-Jewish measures. On Aug. 24 the minister of interior told representatives of the Bulgarian Jewish community that the Commissariat for Jewish Affairs had been abolished. All anti-Jewish legislation was officially abrogated on Aug. 29. The decrees of abolition were published on Sept. 5, 1944, by which time a new government, headed by the democratically oriented agrarian leader Kosta Muraviev, had come to power.

[Soviet occupation and Communist government since 8 Sept. 1944 - reestablished Jewish life - numbers]

On Sept. 5, 1944, while truce talks were being held between Bulgarian and Anglo-American representatives in Cairo, the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria. On Sept. 8, the Soviet Army entered the country, and on the following day the Muraviev government was overthrown and replaced by a coalition government of the Fatherland Front, which was dominated by the Bulgarian Communist (col. 1488)

Party. Following an armistice agreement, signed in Moscow on Oct. 28, 1944, Bulgaria was placed under the surveillance of a Soviet-controlled Allied Control Commission, which governed the country until the ratification of a peace treaty in 1947. With the institution of the Fatherland Front regime, organized Jewish life was reestablished. After September 1944 there existed 34 Jewish communities headed by a Central Jewish Consistory as well as a Jewish weekly, Yevreyski vest ("Jewish News"), and an anti-Fascist Jewish society named "Ilya Ehrenburg". According to Consistory figures, there were a total of 49,172 Jews in the country in the autumn of 1945. More than three-quarters of them lived in seven urban communities: Sofia, 27,700; Plovdiv, 5,800; Ruse, 1,927; Varna, 1,223; Kustendil, 1,100; Yambol, 1,076; Dupnitsa, 1,050. (col. 1489)

[[The Jews who had converted, or had changed names, or had changed religion, are not mentioned in this article. Probably there was also a resistance movement and partisans which are forgotten in the article]].

Jews in Bulgaria 1878-1967
% of total population
Number of Jews

0.930 1905 37,656xxxxxxxx
0.920 1910 40,076xxxxxxxx
0.890 1920 43,232xxxxxxxx
0.800 1934 48,565xxxxxxxx
0.800 1945 49,127xxxxxxxx
[[Jewish survirors, returnees and
probably also influx from "Soviet Union" as D.P.s]]
[[Emigration movement]]
[[Emigration movement]]
0.007 1967
from: Bulgaria; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 4

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, col. 1485.
                Demography of Jewish Population (within the boundaries
                of historical Bulgaria) [[1878-1967]]
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 4, col. 1485. Demography of Jewish Population
(within the boundaries of historical Bulgaria) [[1878-1967]]

The Postwar Period.


[Jewry in Bulgaria under Communist law - racist Zionists are dominating the scenery]

From the beginning of the Fatherland Front's rule, Jewish communal life fell under the control of the Communists and their sympathizers. Jewish communities were controlled by the Central Jewish Committee of the Fatherland Front, which was in turn subordinate to the Front's Commission for National Minorities. The Communists supervised the Central Jewish Consistory, and, as a rule, policy statements were signed jointly by the Central Jewish Committee and the Consistory.

In January 1945 the official Jewish Communist leaders announced Bulgarian Jewry's severance from all international Jewish organizations, [[racist]] Zionist or otherwise. Bulgarian Jews were to be considered Bulgarians of Jewish origin, having nothing in common with other communities around the world. The [[racist]] Zionist organization was called bourgeois and chauvinist. The majority of Bulgarian Jews, however, continued to support the [[racist]] Zionist organization.

In 1946 its president, Vitali Haimov, claimed 13,000 active members. [[Racist]] Zionist organizations continued to function in the face of continuous harassment. Independent weeklies were published until 1948 by the General [[racist]] Zionists and Po'alei Zion. The majority of Jewish youth were organized by He-Halutz ha-Za'ir (He-Ḥalutz ha-Ẓa'ir) and *Ha-shomer Ha-Za'ir (Ha-shomer Ha-Ẓa'ir). (col. 1489)

[[Since 1945 the non-Zionists were dominated by the racist Zionists and had to be quiet. But the non-Zionist knew that the foundation of a racist "Jewish State" with the propaganda booklet of Theodor Herzl "The Jewish State" would lead into a war trap of a huge Arab anti-Semitism...]]

Since political power resided with the Jewish Communists, whereas rank-and-file support was given to the [[racist]] Zionist groups, the Communists, under the leadership of Zhak Natan, undertook to absorb the Zionists by way of "unification" in the common "struggle against anti-Semitism and Fascism". In May 1946 the [[racist]] Zionist groups joined the Communists in a formal agreement providing equal representation in the Consistory, the Central Jewish Committee of the Fatherland Front, and all other Jewish communal organizations. An effective Communist majority was assured, however, since the balance of power was in favour of pro-Communist Jewish Social Democrats and pro-Communist "non-partisans".

[[The Communist strategy was to establish a Communist "Jewish State", a new Communist satellite on the Mediterranean Sea. The Communist Stalin regime gave all support for the racist Zionists up to 1948. When came out that the racist Zionist regime in Jerusalem would go along with the CIA of the criminal "USA" the Communist states turned against the Jews...]]


The economic condition of Bulgarian Jews was desperate. Immediate restitution of property lost during the war was essential if the Jewish population was to recover from the deep poverty to which it had been reduced. In March 1945 the government passed the Law of Restitution, providing for the return of all Jewish rights and property, but many months passed before the law began to be enforced.

Determined to achieve the eventual socialization of all property, the Fatherland Front regime actually prevented the execution of its own laws. Throughout the existence of the Front, there continued to be a huge discrepancy between the letter of the Law of Restitution and its implementation. Only a small part of Jewish losses were actually recovered, and these were further reduced by the postwar inflation. Thanks to relief measures from international Jewish organizations, a large number of Bulgarian Jews were able to carry on until their eventual emigration. The regime exhibited greater interest in punishing those guilty of anti-Jewish persecutions during the war. A special section of the People's Court, set up at the end of 1944, dealt with crimes against the Jews, and the sentences it issued were among the most severe in postwar Europe.

EXODUS TO [[racist Zionist Free Mason CIA Herzl]] ISRAEL.

During the first two years of its tenure, the Fatherland Front regime expressed open hostility to Jewish emigration, particularly to Palestine. The first signs of change in this attitude came in 1946. The reversal of Soviet policy on Palestine was reflected in Bulgaria and reinforced by local conditions that showed the [[racist]] Zionist movement to be much more influential in the Jewish population than expected. Upon assuming the premiership in December 1946, the veteran Communist leader Georgi Dimitrov told a group of Jewish leaders that, in principle, resettlement in Palestine would be allowed. The real turn in events came with Gromyko's U.N. speech in favour of the partition of Palestine and the establishment of an independent Jewish state [[but this should be a Communist satellite]]. Although they supported the Jewish efforts in Palestine, the Communist Jewish leaders continued their assault on all [[racist]] Zionist manifestations at home

[[because the Zionist plan was a racist "Greater Israel" from the Nile to the Euphrates according to 1st Mose, chapter 15, phrase 18, and according to Herzl the Arabs could be driven away as the natives in "America" had been driven away, and Arabs should be the slaves of the Jews]].

Ironically, the campaign against local [[racist]] Zionists was intensified alongside growing Jewish Communist support for the Haganah and Israel's War of Independence [[with the hope that Israel would become a Communist satellite]].

[Emigrating Jews - shot Jews on the Bulgarian frontier - emigration wave in 1947]

Throughout the postwar period "illegal" movement from Bulgaria to Palestine was considered a crime. On several occasions frontier guards shot and killed Jewish youth attempting to leave the country. clandestinely, though groups of children whose aliyah certificates had been issued within the framework of the Youth Aliyah movement during the wartime regime were allowed to leave legally. Only after the United Nations' Partition Plan was voted upon did the regime permit the emigration of able-bodied young men and women, who were to join in the "fight against imperialism".

Between September 1944 and October 1948, 7,000 Bulgarian Jews left for Palestine. The exodus was due to deep-rooted [[racist]] Zionist sentiments, a relative alienation from (col. 1490)

Bulgarian intellectual and political life, and depressed economic conditions. Humanitarian considerations and a general feeling of goodwill on the part of the Bulgarian people helped to ease the process of resettlement. The Bulgarian Communist Party was not weakened by the exodus because few Communist Jews held central positions of power. Bulgarian policies toward national minorities were also a factor that motivated emigration.

In the late 1940s Bulgaria was anxious to rid itself of national minority groups, such as Armenians and Turks, and thus make its population more homogeneous. Further numbers were allowed to depart in the winter of 1948 and the spring of 1949. The mass exodus continued (between 1949 and 1951, 44,267 Jews emigrated to Israel) until only a few thousand Jews remained in the country. [[...]] (col. 1491)


The organized religious life of the community has steadily declined, and there are no recognized rabbis to provide leadership or religious schools to perpetuate Jewish education. The rate of intermarriage is on the increase. Religious affairs are directed by the Jewish Religious Council, which is affiliated with the Cultural and Educational Society of Jews in Bulgaria, a non-religious, Communist dominated organization that replaced the Consistory in 1957 and is responsible for conducting Jewish affairs and officially representing the Jewish community.

It conducts lectures, supports a theater group, and has presented programs and exhibitions honouring Jewish anti-Nazi resistance. The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences published a number of works on Jewish subjects, among them an authoritative collection of responsa pertinent to the economic history of the Balkan Jews (A. Hananel and E. E¨kenazi, Fontes Hebraici... [[Hebrew Sources]], 2 vols., 1958-60, Heb., Bul., Fr.).

The Hebrew Scientific Institute was founded in 1947; since 1952 it was a part of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The Jewish Religious Council also continues to publish Yevreyski vesti, which incorporates news from the Jewish press in other countries - including news on [[racist Zionist Free Mason CIA Herzl]] Israel. The Bulgarian government  looks with disfavour on ties with other Jewish communities, but the remnant of Bulgarian Jews lives free from persecution. [[...]]

Their estimated number in the late 1960s was 7,000, half of whom reside in Sofia, 1,000 in Plovdiv, and the remainder in other cities. [[...]]

[NI.O.] (col. 1491)

Relations with [[racist Zionist Free Mason CIA Herzl]] Israel.

Bulgaria recognized the [[racist Zionist Free Mason CIA Herzl]] State of Israel upon its establishment, and formed diplomatic ties with her [[in the general Communist hope that Israel would become a Communist satellite]]. The two states also developed trade relations. Over the years, however, Bulgaria grew closer and closer to the official Soviet line on relations with [[racist Zionist Free Mason CIA Herzl]] Israel. IN the process of deteriorating relations, a Bulgarian Air Force plane shot down an El Al passenger plane that had crossed the Bulgarian border in error in August 1955, killing all the passengers aboard.

[[It is a normal procedure of the CIA to use passengers as a mean for spying work]].

In 1967, after the *Six-Day War, Bulgaria severed diplomatic relations and discontinued trade relations with [[racist Zionist  Free Mason CIA Herzl]] Israel (the expected turnover for 1967 was to have been about $10 million). In addition, Bulgarian representatives in the U.N. were conspicuous [[marking]] in the sharpness of their attacks against [[racist Zionist  Free Mason CIA Herzl]] Israel.

[[The racist Jewish government in Jerusalem said that the occupation of the new territories would be a big step forward towards the "Greater Israel" (between Nile and Euphrates), for example Mr. Dayan...]]

In the beginning of 1968,however, Bulgaria resumed trade relations with [[racist Zionist  Free Mason CIA Herzl]] Israel.




The solution is the Book of Life with Mother Earth -


-- Rosanes, Togarmah, passim
-- idem, in: El mondo sefardi [[The Sefardi World]] (Ladino, 1923), 33-38
-- P. Meyer: Jews in the Soviet Satellites (1953), 559-629
-- Belkovsky, in: Ha-Perotokol shel ha-Congress ha-Ziyyoni ha-Rishon: Mazzav ha-Yehudim be-Vulgaryah (1947)
-- Marcus, in: Sinai, 26 (1950), 236-46
-- idem, in: Mirah u-Ma'arav, 4 (1930), 152-8
-- idem, in: Mahberet, 1  (1952), 30-31; 3 (1954), 61-62; 10 (1961), 19-23
-- S. Mézan: Juifs espagnols en Bulgarie [[Spanish Jews in Bulgaria]] (1925)
-- N.M. Gelber, in: JSOS, 8 (1946), 103-26
-- N. Greenberg (ed.): Dokumenti [[Documents]] (Bul., 1945)
-- N. Oren, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 7 (1968), 83-106 (col. 1491)
-- Bulgarian Atrocities in Greek Macedonia and Thrace (Athens, 1945) (col. 1491-1492)
-- R. Kashani: Sekirat Sefarim al ha-Yahadut be-... Bulgaryah (1962)
-- B. Arditi: Yehudei Bulgaryah bi-Shenot ha-Mishtar ha-Nazi (1962)
-- BJPES, 2 (1935), 19-25
-- Godishnik ("Yearbook"), 1 (1966), 63-79 (Eng. summ. 178); 2 (1967), 21-40 (EWng. 232-3), 65-110 (Eng. 236-7); 3 (1968), 31-58 (Eng. 201-2)
-- J. Caleb: La situation des Juifs en Bulgarie [[The Situation of the Jews in Bulgaria]] (1919)
-- A. Hananel and E. E¨kenazi: Fontes hebraici ad res aeconomicas socialesque terrarum balcanicarum, 2 vols. (1958-60)
-- S. Levy, in: Cahiers Sefardis, 1 (1947), 142-6
-- F.B. Chary, in: East European Quarterly, 4 (1970), 88-93. (col. 1492)

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