The Bulgarian Rescue of Its Jewish Citizens

SaintSofia-073231When I walked out of Saint Sofia church I noticed three marble slabs set up in a garden space in the side yard. Not knowing to what they were dedicated, I was very intrigued. When I walked up I rejoiced. They commemorated how the Bulgarian people resisted the Nazi program of extermination of their Jewish citizens.

Click these to enlarge. The slabs have inscriptions in Hebrew, English, and Bulgarian.

The first was dedicated to King Boris III and Queen Giovanna who contributed to the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews during the dark days of the Nazi anti-Semitism.

The second was dedicated to Metropolitan Kril that is the chief bishop and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, and other brave Bulgarians who struggled to rescue Jews.

The third states how eminent political leadership and the leadership of the church enlightened the people so that they stood united and rescued all 49,000 Jews from deportation.  A memorial outside of one of Sofia’s oldest Christian churches spoke to me of how the faith informed the conscience of the Bulgarian people to resist this Nazi anti-Semitism which the Christian faith not only condemned, but empowered everyone to take action and resist evil. That was an exceptional witness to power of the Gospel.

The Jewish synagogue is the largest Sephardic synagogue and a magnificent structure that was dedicated on September 9, 1909 in the presence of the family of the Russian Tsar. The Jewish community was wealthy and respected.