Center for Jewish-Bulgarian cooperation

A Jew from the US tells about the feats of Bulgarians from Bourgas who saved her husband and his family from the death camps

Elaine Issa arrived from California, USA in Bourgas at invitation of  Center “ALEF”.

Here is her story:

BULGARIAN SPEECH  APRIL 11, 2018

I HAVE A PERSONAL STORY TO SHARE WITH YOU REGARDING MY OWN FAMILY AND THE STORY OF BULGARIA. AS A GIRL GROWING UP IN THE UNITED STATES I HAD NEVER HEARD ABOUT BULGARIA.

IT WAS BECAUSE OF A MAN WHO WAS TO BECOME MY HUSBAND, HAIM ANRI ASA, WHO WAS BORN AND RAISED HERE IN BOURGAS JUST 2 BLOCKS AWAY FROM WHERE WE ARE NOW GATHERED,  THAT I HEARD ABOUT THE MIRACLES THAT TOOK PLACE IN YOUR COUNTRY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR. IT WAS THE  STORY OF A PEOPLE WHO STOOD UP AND SAID NO TO HATRED AND INJUSTICE WHICH WAS VERY RARE DURING THAT PERIOD. IT WAS BECAUSE OF A BULGARIAN WOMAN, MARIKA KOLAROV, WHO WOULD HAVE BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR SAVING MY HUSBAND HAD THE EDICT BEEN SIGNED TO SEND JEWS TO THE CONCENTRATION  CAMPS, AND OTHER BRAVE BULGARIANS LIKE HER THAT YOUR COUNTRY IS CONSIDERED AMONG THE RIGHTEOUS OF THE NATIONS. THESE ARE THE LESSONS THAT ALL COUNTRIES NEED TO LEARN.

IT IS BECAUSE OF WHAT BULGARIANS RISKED THAT MY HUSBAND, HIS FAMILY, AND ALL THE JEWS WERE SAVED AND SO I HAVE COME TO GIVE MY PERSONAL THANKS, FOR WHOEVER SAVES ONE HUMAN LIFE, SAVES A WHOLE UNIVERSE AND BECAUSE YOU SAVED MY HUSBAND, I HAVE 4 CHILDREN, 14 GRANDCHILDREN, AND NOW 3 GREAT GRANDCHILDREN. AND TO

END WITH MY THANKS I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU WHAT MY GRANDDAUGHTER,  LIZA, SHARED WITH ME RECENTLY AFTER HER YOUTH MOVEMENT TRIP TO POLAND, AND SPECIFICALLY TO TREBLINKA. SHE SHARED WITH ME THAT THOUGH SHE DIDN’T CRY AT OTHER DEATH CAMPS, IT WAS ONLY AS SHE STOOD AT TREBLINKA, THE CAMP WHERE THE BULGARIAN JEWS WOULD HAVE BEEN SENT, THAT SHE REALIZED THAT  IF HER SABA, HER GRANDFATHER, HAD NOT BEEN SAVED BY YOUR PEOPLE  THAT HER MOTHER WOULD NOT BE ALIVE AND THUS SHE WOULDN’T BE ALIVE, AND THAT REALIZATION WAS OVER-

WHELMING TO HER AND SO PLEASE KNOW THAT I AM ETERNALLY GRATEFUL FOR EVERYTHING YOUR COUNTRY DID AT A TIME WHEN THEY RISKED EVERYTHING TO SAVE NOT JUST 1 LIFE BUT AN ENTIRE PEOPLE. I AM SO HONORED TO BE WITH YOU TODAY AS PART OF THIS VERY SPECIAL EVENT ESTABLISHED BY THE CENTER ALEF ORGANIZATION WHO HAS CREATED THIS AWARD CEREMONY COMMEMORATING THE EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE DURING THE HOLOCAUST.  YOU SHOULD BE PROUD OF THE LEGACY OF YOUR GRANDPARENTS WHO STOOD UP TO INJUSTICE AND HATRED. YOU ARE A PART OF A RIGHTEOUS NATION WHO SAVED ITS JEWS FROM EXTERMINATION. THIS WRITING COMPETITION  BRINGS TO YOU, THE YOUNGER GENERATION OF BULGARIANS WHO DID NOT EXPERIENCE THIS PERIOD IN HISTORY THE LESSONS THAT WE ALL NEED TO LEARN.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE MESSAGE OF NEVER AGAIN HAS NOT BEEN LEARNED.YET, THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR OUR WORLD AND FOR THE YOUNGER GENERATION TO LEARN FROM THE PAST  SO AS NOT TO REPEAT IT.

I THANK THE CENTER ALEF FOR THIS WONDERFUL ESSAY COMPETITION AND I THANK EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU FOR BEING AN ACTIVE PART OF REMEMBERING THE STORY AND ENSURING THAT IT WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN.

LEARNED.YET, THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR OUR WORLD AND FOR THE YOUNGER GENERATION TO LEARN FROM THE PAST  SO AS NOT TO REPEAT IT.

I THANK THE CENTER ALEF FOR THIS WONDERFUL ESSAY COMPETITION AND I THANK EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU FOR BEING AN ACTIVE PART OF REMEMBERING THE STORY AND ENSURING THAT IT WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN.”

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