Abstract: This contribution explores the history of the politics of Holocaust memory in Bulgaria. During World War II, Bulgaria refused to deport its Jewish community. Until recently, the image of Bulgaria as a European exception prevailed – though at a cost: this narrative omitted the almost total roundup of Jews in the Yugoslav and Greek territories under Bulgarian occupation between 1941 and 1944 and their deportation to Nazi-occupied Poland where they were exterminated. How does one explain a complex past, a single facet, namely the non-deportation of the Bulgarian Jews? The “rescue” narrative has become the primary avenue of narrating the history of World War II in Bulgaria. This article traces the legal, political and cultural arenas, as well as the multiple local, regional and international spaces where these narratives of the past were formed. The author shows how Jewish wartime destinies became “satellized” around a broad range of topics and cleavages. Moreover, the contribution seeks to bring Jews back into the writing and transmission of these historical events.
Nationalization through Internationalization. Writing, Remembering, and Commemorating the Holocaust in Macedonia and Bulgaria after 1989
Abstract: The author analyses the scholarship, remembrance, and commemoration of the Holocaust in Macedonia and Bulgaria after 1989. She re-examines interpretive schisms between former communists and anticommunists, explores changes in one of the major lieux de mémoire in Bulgaria, the ‘rescue’ of its Jews, and juxtaposes it to the killing of those Jews who lived in Bulgarian-occupied territories. She contextualizes the Bulgarian-Macedonian controversies within European and global frameworks, looking at the process of the institutionalization of Holocaust remembrance in the two countries. She then considers the role of international Jewish communities and the effects of a European Union that since the enlargement of 2007 has been moulding a ‘European’ commemorative landscape from fear of yet another East-West divide. In her conclusion the author outlines an agenda for a transnational social history of anti-Jewish policies and persecutions, and looks at who might be its major actors in Bulgaria and Macedonia.