The Stolen Narrative of the Bulgarian Jews and the Holocaust shares a complex tapestry of voices of memories previously underrepresented, ignored and denied. An alternative perspective that includes stolen, silenced, but now reclaimed Jewish narrative based on our peoples’ experiences. It contextualizes and personalizes our history, reconstructs the puzzle, praises those who helped the Jews and shares their exemplary acts of humanity for future generations.
Jacky Comforty is an award-winning filmmaker, oral historian, and media creator who has worked for over thirty-five years creating films and videos in the United States, Germany, Israel, and Bulgaria.
Martha Bloomfield is an award-winning author, oral historian, photographer, and independent scholar who has written several books about immigrants, migrants, and the formerly homeless.
List of Figures
Foreword by Omer Bartov
Part 1 Identity - Who We Are
01 The Jewish Diaspora
02 The Jews of the Iberian Peninsula
03 The Jews of the Balkans
04 Jewish Migration waves to the Balkans
05 Jewish Life 15-19th centuries
Part 2 Collective Memory of the Balkan Jews
06 Multicultural Multi religious and multi ethnic Balkans
07 Shared History
08 Religious Tolerance and Freedom of Conscience
09 The Balkan Wars and World War I
10 Bulgarians and Jews
11 Jewish Traditions, Heritage and Community
12 How Life Was
13 Zionism And Patriotism
Part 3 The Bulgarian Jews during Hitlerism 1933-1945
14 Clouds on the Horizon
15 Growing Threats
16 Escaping Anti-Semitism
17 Law for the Defense of the Nation
18 The Fox in the Chicken Coop
19 Life under the Swastika: Deteriorating Conditions
20 Jewish Forced Labor
Part 4 The Final Solution and Bulgaria
21 Bulgaria Prepares for the Final Solution
23 Friends and Neighbors
24 Roundups and Continued Resistance
25 Train to Treblinka
26 My Father’s Injury Story
27 Between Deportations
28 Deportations and Ghettoization
29 Meanwhile in Labor Camp
31 Concentration Camps
32 Game of Nerves
Part 5 The Silenced Narrative of Bulgaria’s Victims
33 "Instincts of an Animal"—Jennie Lebl’s Survival Story
34 "To and Through Hell and Back" - Israel Behar’s Survival Story
35 "Burdensome to this Moment"--Rudi Abarbanel’s Escape Story
Part 6 The Aftermath of the Holocaust
36 Rivers of Tears--After the War 1945-1948
37 "We Overcame It!" Bulgaria in Jaffa
Part 7 The Stolen Narrative of the Bulgarian Jews
38 A Myth is Born
39 “Who Saved the Jews?”
40 The Balkan Fox
41 Territory and Accountability
42 Wheeling and Dealing Memory
43 Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial
Part 8 The Reclaimed Narrative
44 Reflections--Mixed Accounts
45 The Moral Lesson
46 “To Be a Mensch!"
Epilogue: Tribute to Decency
Appendix I: List of Interviewees
Appendix II: Timelines
Appendix III: Further Reading
About the Authors
Drawing on a rich collection of oral and visual sources, most previously unknown, this book presents an account of Bulgarian Jews and Bulgaria’s role in the Final Solution like no other book on its subject. First-person oral testimonies and accompanying graphics make for engaging, gripping, reading. An historical narrative at its best!
This valuable contribution to the history of Bulgarian Jews and those under Bulgarian rule during the Holocaust offers a patiently assembled and processed collection of individual voices which blend into a telling polyphonic narrative. The myriad personal memories convincingly demystify well-established canonical stories and pay a deserved tribute to human decency.
An excellent combination of rich documentation, critical study, responsible research and grounded insights. A flowing, important, fascinating historical narrative--the results of years of diligent work. Highly recommended!
Jacky Comforty is not only an avid collector of historical memories and visual sources of the Jews of Bulgaria, but also—as this book proves—the voice of the survivors. The book tells a story on the Shoah in the Balkans which is much more complex than the established varieties: a story of deportation and annihilation, but also one of solidarity and rescue.
A compelling and very personal book whose rich, poignant testimonies provide a welcome addition to recent scholarship on writing and remembering Jewish history in Bulgaria. Alongside Jewish witness accounts, a wealth of photographs bring back to life the experiences of Jewish persecution during World War Two and successfully reclaim the Bulgarian Jews’ roles in their own ‘rescue.’ The social lives of this collection of testimonies may also invite scholars to consider this volume as an object of research in its own right.