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In Sofia, a tree in honour of Dimitar Peshev

First step towards a Garden of the Righteous in Bulgaria

Gabriele Nissim and Vesselin Metodiev plant the magnolia tree dedicated to Dimitar Peshev, New Bulgarian University

Gabriele Nissim and Vesselin Metodiev plant the magnolia tree dedicated to Dimitar Peshev, New Bulgarian University Photo by Kossio Hadzhigenchev

To mark the 75th anniversary of the rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews, on 21 June a tree was planted in the Garden of the New University of Bulgaria (NUB) of Sofia, in honour of Dimitar Peshev, the deputy-president of the Bulgarian Parliament who, in March 1943, stopped the deportation of the 48,000 Jews of his country. The ceremony was attended by Gabriele Nissim, Gariwo chairman, who unveiled the figure of Peshev, retracing the relevant political and human events in his book L’uomo che fermò Hitler ("The Man Who Stopped Hitler", Mondadori, 1998): from the “awakening of conscience” thanks to the encounter with his childhood friend who warned him about the Jews’ fate, to the way he stepped in to avert their deportation, until the last years spent in solitude at the margins of social life.

The book, published in Bulgaria in a new edition (translated by Emilia Daskalova, and curated by Neli Radanova) was presented during a ceremony with the author, the historian Vesselin Metodiev and the actress and director Eva Volitzer.

This is the first important step towards the creation of a Garden of the Righteous in the only country of Eastern Europe, an ally of Hitler’s Germany, where all Jews were saved thanks to the courage of a political exponent who stopped the first secret operation of the government,” said Nissim. “The initiative by Peshev and the other Bulgarian deputies proves that you can always opt for yes or no. And the lesson is even more worth for today: telling the truth about the possible consequences of nationalism, you can convince also those who think differently to oppose a cultural resistance to the dissolution of Europe”.

Nissim also launched a call for the citizens, the media and the country’s institutions to urge the Parliament to recognize the European Day of the Righteous of 6 March as a civil feast, connecting it to the celebration of the anniversary of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews (10 March).

The initiative was attended by the representatives of Italy’s Embassy to Sofia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria, UniCredit Bulbank (the main bank of the country), the teaching staff of the New University of Bulgaria, together with students and citizens.

Ambassador Stefano Baldi then received Nissim in the seat of Italy’s Embassy.

The events in Sofia in honour of Peshev, recognized as Righteous among the nations by Yad Vashem and remembered with a tree at Monte Stella hill of Milan, took place a few days after the ceremonies in the Garden of the Righteous of Warsaw (18 June) – where trees were dedicated to Raphael Lemkin, Armin Wegner and Adalbert Wojciech Zink – and Tunis (25 June), where it was chosen to remember Mohamed Abid, the Tunisian man who sacrificed his own life to save a mother and son at sea in Agrigento.

In the "Further Insights" box you can find links to the features broadcast by Channel “Horizont” of Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), the news broadcasting of the Bulgarian National Television (BTV) and of the TV chain Bulgaria on air tv e and the Show by Slavi Trifonov on BTV.

The pictures of the photo-gallery are by Kossio Hadzhigenchev


28 June 2018

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In Sofia, a tree in honour of Dimitar Peshev

in the garden of the New Bulgarian University


Remember the past in order to build a future

The International Committee of the Armenian Righteous. Memory is the Future was founded by Piero Kuciukian in order to commemorate those who went against the genocide of 1915. The title emphasises the function of the memory, which is not a nostalgic look back in history, but a a clear sense of the past to build a future without making old mistakes.
The memory has many solutions and presents conflicting results, either positive or negative depending on how it is treated. Reflections on the previous events help us to understand the present, which means to search for the coordinates that allow us to interpret new situations with awareness of the dangers or opportunities that are triggered by certain mechanisms such as cultural, social and individual. The experience of the genocides of the twentieth century, the phenomenon of totalitarianism, resulted in the devastating world war, the balance of power during the Cold War, provide very precise indications on the geopolitical hegemony and humanitarian frifts to be avoided, while the example of the Righteous, their varied efforts on behalf of the persecuted, the demand for freedom, independence of thought and the instance of the defense of human dignity, are to be taken to avoid the pitfalls of arrogance, denial of truth, the rejection of diversity, closing the other, unilateral decision.

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