Beyond Hitler's Grasp; The Heroic Rescue of Bulgaria's Jews

Jeffrey L. Ward (Map) Avon, Massachusetts: Adams Media Corporation, 1998. First Paperback Edition [Stated], First Printing [Stated]. Trade paperback. xiii, [1], 298, [8] pages. Cover has some wear and soiling. Map. Includes Foreword, Introduction, Acknowledgments, Epilogue, Notes, and Index. Chapters cover Alarm; The Fox; The Law for the Defense of the Nation; The Commissar; An Order for Deportation; The Lovers; A Thracian Nightmare; Boxcars at the Station; An Order from the Highest Place; Trains; Forty-Three Signatures; The Bluff; The Metropolitans; Belev's Devious Plan; Despair; The King Has Vanished; Belev's Revenge; The Last Effort; The Mysterious Death of Boris III; A Body in a Ditch; and The Hour of Reckoning. Michael Bar-Zohar (born 30 January 1938) is an Israeli historian, novelist and politician. He was a member of the Knesset on behalf of the Alignment and Labor Party in the 1980s and early 1990s. As a protégé of Moshe Dayan, Bar-Zohar was known as a hawk within the Labor Party. In 1965 Bar-Zohar won the Sokolov Award for his achievements as a journalist. He published several books, including biographies of David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres, several books about the Israeli security organizations, and an account of the rescue of Bulgarian Jews from the Nazis in World War II. The Bulgarians, indeed, were among the least anti-Semitic Peoples in Europe. Unlike other European Jews they were integrated in the Bulgarian society. They had not been subject to persecutions, expulsions, and pogroms. The anti-Semitism they had encountered had been rare and had almost never turned violent. Although staunchly Zionist, and proud of their Jewish identity, they deeply loved Bulgaria. After all, some of their forefathers had come to Bulgaria even before the Slavs and the Bulgars. In the centuries that followed, Bulgaria became a land of refuge for Jews exiled from Hungary, France, Bavaria, and other countries of Central and Western Europe. They survived an occupation of Bulgaria by Byzance that lasted more than a century. In 1185, Byzance was routed, and the second Bulgarian kingdom became the mightiest power in the Balkan peninsula. Yet, on the eve of World war II, hostility was beginning to brew. A cabinet minister made some offending remarks about the Jews in a radio broadcast, and when the Jewish leaders complained to the justice minister, he fired back at them, "What do you want, that we sacrifice Bulgaria for fifty thousand Jews?" Derived from a Kirkus review: A fast-paced account of the dramatic rescue of 50,000 Bulgarian Jews from probable annihilation during the Holocaust. Former Israeli Knesset member Bar Zohar vividly describes the Bulgarian effort to keep Bulgaria’s Jews beyond Hitler’s grasp. Despite deportation orders, not one Bulgarian Jew is known to have been delivered to the Nazis. Providing a historical backdrop to this largely unknown story, the author disputes allegations of anti-Semitism in Bulgaria. The Bulgarians, he asserts, were unusually tolerant of Jews, Greeks, and other minorities; pogroms weren't a native tradition. Other interesting facts: Bulgarian Jews were for the most part a nonobservant lot, not set apart in public by distinct garb or by rites and dietary habits. Nor were they wealthy. They were modest workers—largely craftsmen and peddlers—who lived alongside Christians in the poorest sections of Bulgarian towns. Despite their firm Zionist leanings (90 percent immigrated to Israel after the war), they “felt so strongly for their homeland they were willing to die for it.” Unsurprisingly, then, the Bulgarian people remained mostly indifferent to the extreme right’s attempts to incite hatred against the Jews. Rather, Bulgarian society—especially the cultural and political elite—was determined to protect its Jewish minority. Standing particularly firm against anti-Semitism was the Bulgarian Church itself. Bar Zohar documents how, time and time again, the Church confronted the government and challenged anti-Semitic measures. But the Jews of Thrace and Macedonia were less fortunate: he describes the vicious treatment and deportation of these 11,343 forlorn people through Bulgarian territory to the death camps of Treblinka and Majdanek. Weaving elements of romance and espionage into a dramatic tale of redemption, Bar Zohar intrigues and informs us. Condition: Good.

Keywords: World War II, Jews, Bulgaria, anti-Semitism, Holocaust, Nazi, Alexander Belev, King Boris III, Theodore Dannecker, Bogdan Filov, Peter Gabrovski, Deportation, Dimiter Peshev, Jeffrey Ward

ISBN: 158062541X

[Book #82119]

Price: $125.00

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