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Press ReleaseHolocaust/Nazis

Palm Beach, February 13, 1998...Paying tribute to the valiant efforts of a country, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today recognized Bulgaria for saving Jews during World War II. President Petar Stoyanov accepted the ADL’s Courage to Care Award on behalf of Bulgaria and in honor of the heroism of its people under King Boris III.

Addressing a gathering of national leaders at the League’s National Executive Committee Meeting in Palm Beach, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, presented the award to President Stoyanov. "Today I am here to say thank you – thank you to a people and a nation that unanimously said ‘no’ to the Nazi killing machine, ‘no’ to the deportation trains and concentration camps, and ‘yes’ to its 48,000 Jews," said Mr. Foxman. Mr. Foxman’s own life was saved during the Holocaust when his Catholic nanny hid him in Poland.

President Stoyanov expressed gratitude for the honor, but referring to his country’s courage stated, "What happened then should not be seen as a miracle. My nation did what any decent nation, human being, man or woman, would have done in those circumstances." He talked of Bulgaria’s major contribution to World War II – that Bulgaria saved its Jews – and the relationship it has fostered. "The events of World War II have made the Bulgarian Jews forever the closest friends of my people," he said.

While Bulgaria was allied with Germany during World War II, its people courageously resisted Nazi efforts to have Jews deported to the death camps. They brought the country’s Jews from the cities in which they lived to rural areas, saving Bulgaria’s entire Jewish community. The Bulgarian people rallied support for the Jews under the leadership of King Boris III, whose personal defiance of Hitler and refusal to supply troops to the Russian front or cooperate with deportation requests set an example for his country.

Avis Bohlen, United States Ambassador to Bulgaria, opened the ceremony by discussing the progress Bulgaria has made under President Stoyanov.

The ADL Courage to Care Award pays tribute to those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Initiated in 1987, it honors the bravery of individuals, groups, and even inhabitants of whole towns and countries, who risked their lives to save Jews during the Nazi regime. Previous recipients of the award include Jan and Meip Geis, honored for protecting Anne Frank and her family; Sempo Sugihara, Japanese Consul in Lithuania who issued Japanese transit visas to nearly 6,000 Jews against the fierce objections of his government; and the French village of Le-Chambon-Sur-Lignon, which hid 5,000 Jews in homes in the towns and farms in the surrounding countryside from Nazi occupation forces.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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1998 Anti-Defamation League