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!
A US Holocaust Memorial Museum USHMM article 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.
Further information on Bulgarian history.
Historical footage of the deportation of Jews from Macedonia, which was occupied by Bulgaria during World War Two.
Read this article by the Jewish Virtual Library on the history of 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. While it is true that Bulgarians saved their Jewish population from deportation to the death camps, 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 an essay on those deportations.
An article at Encyclopaedia Judaica with further information about the history of Bulgarian Jews.
Compared to other countries, there was less anti-Semitic resentment 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.
"Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust" - An article by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Here is a brief history of Bulgarian Jewry.
"The Jewish World and the Holocaust" - An article by Yad Vashem.
A Jewish Virtual Library article on Sephardim.
Larry and Roza Anzhel live 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.
Learn more about Leon and Roza Anzhel´s life as a couple.
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.