Birthday of another Peace Warrior

01/30/2013

BORIS III (1894-1943)Twelve years after FDR was born in the US, another important warrior for peace was born on this day in Bulgaria. He was Boris III (January 30 1894 – August 28, 1943) born to mother Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma and father Ferdinand I, Prince of Bulgaria. He was given the long name of Boris Klemens Robert Maria Pius Ludwig Stanislaus Xaver but he will forever be known as King Boris III, the Tsar of Bulgaria, and known as The Unifier. He came to the throne in his early twenties and made some very brave choices.

Bulgaria BORIS III stampUnder this courageous leader, Bulgaria was the only nation in Europe to save its entire Jewish population during the Holocaust because he refused to permit the extradition of Bulgaria’s fifty thousand Jews. He was one of the few world leaders who defied Hitler face-to-face during the war, refusing multiple times to deliver his Jewish citizens beyond the borders of his kingdom.

Happy Birthday King Boris III! You forever remain an inspiration of  genuine strength of will and courage, and the importance of doing the right thing!

Honors and Memorials include:
~ May 12, 1994, United States Congress proclaimed King Boris III a savior of 50,000 Bulgarian Jews during the Holocaust.
~ A huge picture of him is displayed in the Alexandrov Compound in Atlantic City, NJ.
~ King Boris III was posthumously awarded the Jewish National Fund’s Medal of the Legion of Honor, the first non-Jew to receive one of the Jewish community’s highest honors.
~ The Jewish National Fund dedicated to Bulgaria a forest in Israel, a garden named for King Boris, and a Bulgarian square in Jerusalem.
~ The Anti-Defamation League and Chabad have also honored King Boris III for refusing to sacrifice his Jewish subjects to the Nazi juggernaut.
~ Tsar Boris III Boulevard is one of the main boulevards in the Bulgarian cities Sofia and Plovdiv. In Sofia, the largest park is named in his honour.
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11 responses to Birthday of another Peace Warrior

  1. 

    Reblogged this on A Grateful Man and commented:
    Thank you for this post, Gina. I’d never heard of this man, and that is a shame. I’d love for all the students in the world to learn of him and of those like him. They’re models for the future of humanity.

    Russ

  2. 

    I must confess you have given me a lesson today as well with this post. Thank you for sharing and helping me learn about another great and inspirational hero! 🙂 love your posts and your heart!

  3. 

    Wow! A way to warm my Bulgarian heart. I stumbled on your site by chance and I’m glad I did, as recently there are quite a few sources trying to discredit King Boris and even proclaiming him a war criminal because he didn’t save the Jews from the newly annexed territories of Thrace and Macedonia. 11 000 Jews were sent to their deaths in the death camps in Poland and there are those who try to blame it on the King and Bulgarian society as a whole. Why didn’t you stop the trains, they ask.

    Well, for one these territories were given only temporarily under Bulgarian jurisdiction. The people there were not Boris’ subjects. There was nothing he could do about the Jews there, although it is documented that once, a Nazi death train was stormed by indignant Bulgarians who were going about their business on the railway station and when the train stopped, they heard the moans of the people inside, so they tried to force the carriages open and rescue the people inside. With another newly acquainted territory, Southern Dobrudja, it was different – there was a treaty signed, the people there received Bulgarian citizenship and not a single Jew was deported. Indeed, there were cases when the trains were detained and Bulgarian Jews were taken out. As a result, none of them was deported. Not one died. It is a well deserved credit to King Boris, as well to all those who opposed the deportation and the reluctantly passed anti-Jewish laws – Parliament, intellectuals, ordinary people and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and its leaders who took the fate of Jews to heart. It was truly an effort of the entire nation because, as German officials complained in their dispatches, “Bulgarians just don’t get it. They were raised with Armenians, Jews, Gypsies, and Turks and they completely fail to see any major flaw in the Jews that could justify the measures taken against them. They are not ideologically enlightened.”

    I think it should be noted that King Boris ordered the relocation of the Jews from the cities in small towns and villages. They were stripped of their property, the men were taken to labour camps to build roads. That was Boris’ excuse for Hitler – “See? We need them. We cannot possibly deliver them to you.” He knew that had the Nazi so wished, they could have taken the Jews by force, so he delayed and blocked, the society gave a constant outcry against the deportation and at the end, they all survived.

    After the WWII and the foundation of Israel, the great part of the Bulgarian Jews moved there. They still remember fondly the country they came from and they call King Boris III their savior. As one of them said, “I imagine that the Jews from Central Europe would have been happy if all that happened to them was a curfew and labor camps!”

    At the end of it, the State Attorney Bar-Or in the trial against Adolf Eichmann said it all. “Boris was a hero. He absolutely blocked Eichmann and protected Bulgaria’s Jews.”

    • 

      Fantastic comment! My apologies for my delay in replying as I’ve been happily lost in gardening tasks lately but what a joy to come back to your wonderful and educational comment here. When I was researching King Boris, my heart soared at his courage. I truly appreciate your additional information, and the wonderful fact that it was indeed the entire country that rallied together during that unthinkably horrific time. And what that one Jew mentioned seems logical to me as well, as being forced to work as a protective ‘excuse’ would make me happier than the alternative as well! King Boris was truly a hero. Thank you so kindly for your welcomed visit and comment.

  4. 

    Oh sorry. I meant “administration”, not jurisdiction. The newly annexed lands were just administered by Bulgaria under German control. Still, there are some who think that King Boris should have tried to stop the deportation of these non-Bulgarian Jews as well, throwing his 7 million subjects and his far from well-equipped army at war with the power of Nazi Germany. I, for one, very much doubt that the deported jews would have been 11 000. I think the real number would have been around 59 000, non-Bulgarian and Bulgarian alike.

  5. 

    Nice blog! One important correction – in the photo at the top of the page this is actually not King Boris III, but his younger brother, Prince Kyril,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Kyril_of_Bulgaria

    • 

      Hi Bobby – thanks for the comment! I double-checked with another internet search on images for King Boris and still found this image, but I do appreciate the encouragement for more research. Thanks for the link about his younger brother. Kind regards.