Saturday, 6 Jun 2020 - 14 of Sivan, 5780

Bulgaria prevents annual neo-Nazi march

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The annual torch-lit Lukov march is named after Bulgarian Gen. Hristo Lukov, founder of the pro-Nazi Union of Bulgarian National Legions movement, which supported the deportation to Treblinka of more than 11,000 Jews from territories controlled by Bulgaria in Macedonia, northern Greece and eastern Serbia.

The Bulgarian government has prevented an annual neo-Nazi march in Sofia, the country’s capital. The march was to take place last weekend.

The annual torch-lit Lukov march is named after Bulgarian Gen. Hristo Lukov, founder of the pro-Nazi Union of Bulgarian National Legions movement, which supported the deportation to Treblinka of more than 11,000 Jews from territories controlled by Bulgaria in Macedonia, northern Greece and eastern Serbia.

Lukov was responsible for a Bulgarian law, based on the 1935 Nuremberg Laws in Germany, that stripped Jews of their civil rights. He was assassinated in 1943 by Communist partisans.

The Lukov demonstration usually draws thousands of neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists.

Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court prohibited the march, ruling that the far-right demonstrators could only lay wreaths at Lukov’s home.

The Sofia Municipal Police also reportedly advised the organizers of the march that any person who violated this order would be stopped. In the end, only some 60 supporters were in attendance.

World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder expressed his personal gratitude to the Bulgarian political and judiciary authorities, including Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova.

“For the first time in more than a decade, the Jewish community of Bulgaria has been spared its yearly day of fear and apprehension from shameful flame-wielding thugs who parade through the streets to glorify the very ideology that brought the near destruction of the Jewish people,” Lauder said. “At this frightening time of rising antisemitic activity across the world, this is a moment of true victory for the Jewish community, the people of Bulgaria, and all promoters of justice and tolerance worldwide.”

“The court decision, as well as the cooperation of senior Bulgarian government officials, is a victory for the Bulgarian Jewish community,” said B’nai B’rith International president Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in a statement on Tuesday.

EJP comment:

The 50,000 Jews who lived in Bulgaria before WWII were saved from deportation largely due to the intervention of various elements in the Bulgarian society, including the clergy, the liberal intelligentsia and the king.

There was an intense national outcry. Protests against the deportations were held throughout the country, with both ordinary citizens and religious leaders, including bishop Kiril of Plovdiv, threatening to block the path of Holocaust trains by lying on the railroad tracks.

The deportations, set to take place after the arrival of the Holocaust trains on March 10, 1943, were never carried out.

However, the Jews of Bulgarian-occupied Thrace and Macedonia were deported by the Bulgarians to the death camps. After the war, about 90% of Bulgarian Jewry emigrated to Israel.

The rescue of the Bulgarian Jews was an historical event.

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