Larry and Rosa Anzhel -- Married twice in a lifetime

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After Larry Anzhel's father died in 1932, the family moved from Yambol to the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. There Larry met Rosa Varsano. In 1939 he asked her "do you want to be my commrade?" Thus began a lifelong relationship. Shortly thereafter Larry and Rosa were sent to Vratsa for forced labor. It was during their internment that they were married.

Together they lived through a changing Bulgaria, witnessing the end of the war, the Communist regime, and the Fall of the Soviet Union. Having gone through so much together, they decided for their 60th anniversary to get married again!

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Britannica Online Encyclopedia provides a brief overview on the history of Bulgaria.

Beginnning in July 1940 Bulgarian officials implement legislation that restricts the occupations Jews can have, the areas that they can live in, and excludes them from public sservice. Click here to learn more about the history of Bulgaria during the Second World War

More information on the history of the Yellow Badge, which Jews were forced to wear starting in 1938.

See historical footage of the deportation of Jews from Macedonia, which was occupied by Bulgaria during World War Two.

The Jewish community of Bulgaria can trace its history back to the first century CE, and today the Jewish population of Bulgaria is approximately 2,000 people. The Jewish Virtual Library provides more information on the Jewish history in Bulgaria.

Larry Anzhel, who was in a Bulgarian forced labor brigade, tells us that he witnessed a train passing through Bulgaria, filled with Jews from Thracian Greece. Dimitar Peshev, the Vice President of Sbranie - Bulgaria's parliment, prevented the deportation of Bulgaria's Jews. However, the Bulgarian government did round up, and deport, Jews from the two countries they occupied during the Second World War: Macedonia (which had been one of the Yugoslav republics) and the Greek province of Thrace. Here is a detailed article from Yad Vashem looking at those deportations.

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The World Jewish Congress provides a historical overview of Bulgarian Jewry.

Compared to other countries, there was less anti-Semitic sentiment felt in Bulgaria before the Second World War, as Jews were an integral part of Bulgarian society. This excerpt from Manus Midlarsky´s book: "The Killing Trap. Genocide in the 20th Century," touches upon the exceptional fate of Bulgarian Jewry.

Many Bulgarian Jews were spared from deportation to the extermination camps, there were however many restrictions against Jews put in place, such as the Law for the Protection of the Nation.

Larry and Roza Anzhel live in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. According to the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture Sophia was the centre of Sephardic Jewish culture in the country. 

Ladino - a Spanish-Jewish dialect was spoken by Sephardic Jews living in Bulgaria. 

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Learn more about Leon and Roza Anzhel´s life as a couple.

Read an excerpt of a Centropa interview with another Bulgarian Jew, Leontina Arditi, in which she talks about her internment in Bulgaria. Here you can also watch Centropa's film on Leontina Arditi.

A collection of Centropa´s pictures from Bulgaria, showing youth group activities.

Roza and Leon Anzhel were born in Bulgaria during the 1920s. Read this article about what the 1920s meant for the art scene in Bulgaria.

Roza and Leon Anzhel always celebrated Jewish High Holidays, though they did not adhere to all traditional customs. Using Encyclopedia Britannica or the Jewish Virtual Library of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and other sources, one can find out more about Jewish High Holidays like Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Purim and Pessach.

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