Leontina Arditi -- An Actress Looks Back

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Leontina Arditi's film of growing up in a poor Sephardic familiy in Sofia takes us inside a world now lost to us.
By sharing with us her familiy pictures, and the stories that go with them, Leontina brings her impoverished -- but not unhappy --- childhood to life. Here in one of Sofia's poorest quarters, we meet Jews and non-Jews, parents and boyfriends.
For those who have wondered why Bulgarians have long been considered to be less anti-Semitic than their neighbors, Leontina gives us her opinion, and closes her story with a tribute to Bulgaria's multi-ethnic culture.

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An article provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on the history of Bulgaria during the Second World War.


An article from Britannica Online Encyclopedia on Bulgaria´s early communist era.


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


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


Leontina praises the Bulgarian multicultural society. After the Second World War, however, Bulgaria's Communist leaders often tried to deny the existence of minority groups by manipulating or suppressing census data or by forcibly assimilating "undesirable" groups. After the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, minoritiy communities could enjoy greater freedom of expression. To learn more, go to this website by the US Library of Congress and select "Ethnographic characteristics".

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"Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust" - An article by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.


Click here to learn more about the history of Bulgarian Jewry.


"The Jewish World and the Holocaust" -  An article provided by Yad Vashem.


Learn more about the Jerusalem Holocaust remembrance memorial "Yad Va-shem" and find out about the original meaning of the museum´s name.


To find out more about the Sephardic Jews, read this Jewish Virtual Library essay on Sephardim.


Leontina Arditi grew up in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, which is the heart of the Sephardic Jewish culture in the country. A history of Jewish life in Bulgaria, from The Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture.


Leontina went to a Hashomer Hatzair camp. Learn more about this Socialist Zionist Youth Organization.


A summary of the work by the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in Bulgaria.

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Read an excerpt of Centropa´s interview with Leontina Arditi where she talks about her internment in Bulgaria.


Leontina´s father was sent to a forced labor camp. Click here to see all pictures from forced labor brigades in Bulgaria, from Centropa´s archive.


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


Click here to see Centropa´s hundreds of pictures that are related to Sofia, the city where Leontina Arditi grew up.


An essay about Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.


Click here to learn more about the Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) language.


After her return to Sofia, Leontina became an actress. Among other plays, she did a one-woman performance of "The Demon" by Lermontov. Click here to read the entire poem.


To learn more about the 19th century Russian writer and poet Mikhail Lermontov, click here.


Read the Britannica Online Encyclopedia´s entry on the 19th century English writer William Makepeace Thackeray.


Leontina also mentions Stefan Zweig, one of the great Jewish Austrian writers in the 20th century. Read this Slate article on the life of Stefan Zweig.

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