On the 22 February 1943, an agreement was signed between the Bulgarian commissioner of the European question Alexander Belev and the German attorney Theodor Danekere on the matter of deporting “firstly 20, 000 from the new lands” (the term “new lands” refers to the newly gained territories of West Thrace and Macedonia). In the header of the document, the word “new” was crossed; the agreement was accepted by the cabinet and on 2 March the same year an action of the deported was voted.
Originally, lists of Jews prepared for deportation were sent to Kyustendil. A delegation of four prominent men living in Kyustendil: Asen Suichmezov, Petar Mihalev, Ivan Momchilov and Vladimir Kurtev were sent off to Sofia with the purpose of assuring the cancellation of the deportation. The delegation comes into contact with the Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly Dimitar Peshev, also from Kyustendil.
Parallel to their actions follows an operation in Plovdiv. During the night between the 9 and 10 of March about 1500-1600 people were arrested and gathered in a school, after which with a special train to be transported them to the death camps. The Plovdiv Bishop Kiril, a prominent opponent of the anti-Semitic policy of the Government arrived at the school, jumped over the fence, entered at closed door, and firmly declared: “Where you go, I go.” The future Bulgarian patriarch sends an express telegram to Tsar Boris III quoting: “In God’s name I sincerely beg Your Majesty for mercy for the Jews!”
The action of one of the reputable leaders of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church categorically alarms the leaders about the discontent and resentment in the country, concerning the anti-Jewish policy. A powerful social and political resistance comes from the side of writers, artists, musicians, publicists, craftsmen, politicians and national representatives follows, led by Dimitar Peshev, which prevents the deportation of the Jew population from the old limits of Bulgaria. Pressured by the outrage and demands of the intercessors, which overflow the Bulgarian society, the Government retreats and on 9 March 1943 an order was released concerning the cancellation of deportation.
On the 10 March 1943 the Jews prepared for deportation were released and sent back home. Bulgaria is the only country in Europe in alliance with the Third Reich, in which the Jewish minority was not only preserved, as well as increased its population in comparison to the beginning of the war. A similar turn of events can only be observed in Denmark.
Because of these historical events 10 March is celebrated by the Bulgarian society as the Day of Salvation, commonly called the Bulgarian Purim, based on holiday from the Jewish calendar, which also marks the failed attempts on destroying the Jewish population. In a number of Bulgarian cities commemorative plaques and gratitude monuments have been placed in the name of the Bulgarian nation, defending their Jews in the years of the Holocaust. We pay tribute to the same monuments every year in the name of 11,343 Jews, which in March 1943 were deported to the death camps from West Thrace and Macedonia to “Treblinka”.