Plaque unveiled in Varna for Bulgarian soldiers who took Jews to Israel

A plaque, placed by the Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, the country’s EJC affiliate, has been unveiled in the port of Varna honouring the people of the city and the Bulgarian sailors who transported Jews to the Holy Land between 1934 and 1951.

The period of time referred to includes the years of the Holocaust and the time after the Second World War that the majority of the Bulgarian Jews, who had been rescued from being murdered in the Holocaust, emigrated to Israel.

The unveiling ceremony was attended by head of state President Roumen Radev, Varna mayor Ivan Portnih, naval officers, diplomats and members of Varna’s Jewish community, including Oleg Kalderon, head of the regional organisation of Shalom in the Bulgarian Black Sea city.

Beta Haralanova, head of Shalom’s Institute for the Preservation of Holocaust Memory in Bulgaria, said that more knowledge was needed about the role of Bulgarian sailors in the rescue of Jews by sea, and so one of the main tasks of the Institute would be to research and preserve this history.

“There are three key words, ‘identity, memory and heritage’, that should not be forgotten, because memory and history complement each other, and heritage is part of history,” she said.

The words on the plague, in Bulgarian, Hebrew and English, are: “From this place, Port Varna, in the years between 1934 and 1951, thousands of Jews sailed to safety in the Holy Land, Israel. We are forever indebted to the people of Varna and the Bulgarian sailors for their heroism and humanity.”

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