Shimon Danon

Wedding photo of Shimon Danon and Anna Danon

Shimon Danon
Interviewer: Maiya Nikolova
Date of interview: February 2002

My family background
Growing up
During the war

My family background

The path of my paternal family, after the crusades and the Spanish persecutions, passed through the Mediterranean and Turkey. The ancestors of my father Eshua Danon settled in Odrin [Turkey]. The aftermath of the wars for the liberation of Bulgaria from the Turkish yoke 1 created better living conditions. The economic situation, the relations with authorities, the fact that Bulgarians had recently undergone the hardships of the yoke – and this made them more tolerant and understanding to Jews who had similar fate – made most of the Jewish population that lived in the area of Odrin and Lyule-Bourgas move to the Bulgarian part of Thrace. Many of those Jews were primarily craftsmen, or eventually became traders.

My paternal grandfather, Shimon David Danon, whom I was named after, was born around 1853/55 in Odrin and died in Pazardzhik in 1918/19. He was a craftsman – a leather-worker. I know this, even though he died before my birth, during the European war [WWI]. My grandmother, Simha Danon was also born in Odrin around 1858/59 and died around the same time, also in Pazardzhik. They had both been strongly religious because they came from Spain where the persecutions had been mostly religious. During the Inquisition everyone who did not profess Christian faith had to leave the country. Therefore tradition was the thing that really ‘sealed’ the Jewish community. My father told me that in his family they very strictly observed Jewish tradition, especially Sabbath. Yom Kippur was considered a more important holiday than all the rest. They believed that [every year] from that day on they would start a brand new life, having been forgiven all the bad things they had done. Thus, tradition had a great impact on the relations within the family and outside it, accounting for a better way of living.

Grandpa and granny’s house was made of sun-dried bricks with Turkish roof-tiles. [These are curved tiles, unlike the Bulgarian ones, which are usually flat.] The rooms were painted with various patterns that continued from one room into the other. All the children used to sleep in the bedroom. Both my father’s and my mother’s families were large: there were three brothers and two sisters in my father’s family, and three brothers and three sisters in my mother’s family.

My maternal grandpa Nissim Assa was born in Stara Zagora around 1871/72. I don’t know where and when my granny Dudu Assa was born. They lived in Plovdiv. They had a house before my birth that I don’t remember. Then they built another one, in which an enormous clan used to live – the families of my grandfather and his brother. Their wives had the same names [Dudu Assa]. The land on which the house was built was their property. Whenever a child was born in one of the families, a newly born child in the other family usually followed within 6 months – my mother Ester Danon, born in 1898, matched my aunt Fortuna Assa and so on. If my grandpa’s family had 6 children, doubtlessly my grand-uncle’s family would have 6 also. My grandma died in 1939/40 and my grandpa at the beginning of the 1960s.

The Jewish quarter in Plovdiv, where my grandfather’s house used to be, had a much clearer and firmer distinction than the one in Pazardzhik, where my maternal grandparents lived. About fifty meters away from grandpa’s house was the so-called ‘cortiso’, which means ‘yard’ in Spanish. The houses of some fifty families were situated within that inner space. There weren’t any Bulgarian families there, and Jewish integrity was taken care of.

My maternal grandfather was a religious fanatic. He knew he had to pray and never missed a prayer. He was of those orthodox Jews who were so devoted to religion that every morning and evening they visited the synagogue to pray. There had to be something really unavoidable – some great event – for example, illness, for him to miss his usual visit to the synagogue. He observed the canons of religion without actually understanding its core, without delving into its deep meanings. My grandmother observed religion as far as she was able, as she got paralyzed very early and spent one third of her life in a chair. She had to be looked after. There wasn’t anything particular in the way my grandparents used to dress. They wore normal clothes, nothing especially connected with traditions. 

The strong sense of mutual aid had motivated Jews never to deviate from their Jewishness. For example, when endowments are made, they are not intended for one person only but for the support of poor people in general. Before Yom Kippur, a sacrifice with the slaughtering of birds was performed for the sake of each family member’s health – a cock for men, and a hen for women. [The interviewee refers to the custom of kapores.] In the years before my brother Shemuel Eshua Danon’s birth we used to slaughter 4-5 hens but we couldn’t consume them. It was obligatory for us to give part of this meat to poorer people. Jews who were invited to the synagogue to say the kiddush, were supposed to make matanah after that, which means ‘a gift.’ It was made by the one who had been honored to go up to the almemar. This mutual aid had other material forms. All poor Jews used to study free of charge in the Jewish school. It was also a common practice for all children of poor families to receive clothes that were sewn especially for them for Rosh Hashanah. Shoes, warm clothes and, above all, food had to be provided for the poorer people. There was an organized soup kitchen for the poor children in the Jewish school where I used to study. Each one of them had to receive warm food at lunch. There was an appointed day for every wealthy family, on which the housewife had to provide food for the soup kitchen. Our family was also allotted such a day. There was some kind of a competition for providing better food, or at least food of the same quality that we ate daily at home.

The Jewish community in Pazardzhik numbered some 900-1,000 people. There were about 350 families with 3-4 persons on average. There were streets known as Jewish streets. There were only two Armenian families in our street and one Bulgarian in the next one. It is not true that there wasn’t any anti-Semitism in the Bulgarian circles. There was fear of Jews, as well as envy for the support that we gave each other. The notion that Jews are ‘blood-drinkers’ was constantly imposed on Bulgarian children. [The interviewee refers to the century-old blood libel accusations.] Fights between Jewish and Bulgarian children from close neighborhoods happened quite often. There was always someone who shouted, ‘Why do you drink Christian blood? Why do you slaughter Christians?’ and so on.

My father, Eshua Danon, was a very interesting person. He was a gabbai – this is something like an elder - the first man after the rabbi. People addressed him as a public figure. The gabbai was responsible for solving any problem that proved interesting to visitors of the synagogue. 99 % of the rabbis who read the prayers were not quite aware of what they were actually reading. They used to say the words only by heart, without knowing their meaning. Unlike them, my father knew what he was reading. He used to translate the prayers into Latino [Ladino], as it was the spoken language among Jews. Especially during the family holidays, prayers were usually first said in Hebrew and then in Ladino, which made them clear and understandable for the people present. My father wasn’t a religious fanatic like my maternal grandfather. He made religion somehow close and comprehensible. He ‘updated’ it. He was a progressive man. At one time he even had left-wing convictions. He even participated in the September events [Events of 1923] 2, after which he was wanted by the authorities.

My father’s courtyard in Pazardzhik wasn’t big, but we had fruit trees and a hencoop, in which some 15-20 hens were looked after. My father had various interests, which definitely enhanced the modern development of the village. Pazardzhik was an agricultural region, and there was hardly any industry. In order to improve village life, there had to be some way to make a living. My father took care of this. He organized the breeding of silkworms. Mulberry trees had to be planted, special rooms and pottery also had to be provided. It is true that nothing effective came out of it, but my father was, so to say, the founder of the whole initiative. After that, some 200-300 villagers started do breed silkworm.

My father also cultivated rice, he rented land, hired people, because rice growing was not traditional for Pazardzhik (wheat was usually grown there), and it required a unique approach. Special irrigation ‘cells’ were prepared. The technology that he used was different to the one used in traditional agriculture. My father, who was one of the innovators of the Pazardzhik district, actually introduced rice growing – even though he didn’t make much profit from it.

Later on he started hemp cultivation. All these initiatives didn’t come from the village people, but came from a few enterprising people, one of whom was my father. Hemp growing was very difficult; it had to be reaped, forged out, stapled.

Although it sounds rather unlikely, my father also had a herd of sheep. He had some ideas about changing the old mode of non-profitable sheep breeding. I remember that one of the shepherds he had hired simply robbed him. Every time he came, he responded with the simple ‘They died’ to the question about what had happened with the sheep. At home we had medicines against all sorts of sheep-diseases. My father wanted to make full use of the sheep: for example, to process their fleece into fine, not rough, wool for cloaks. My father, who saw that innovations could bring greater profit than tradition, enthusiastically experimented with lots of things, even though he didn’t benefit much himself. He was an avant-garde thinker.

My father had a good knowledge of French – he could write and speak well, without having studied it anywhere, just due to his own interest. My father never went to bed without turning on the radio to hear the International. And he always cried at it. He imagined that the International would bring the liberation of people all over the world, with equality and respect to their national interests. He also wanted to be seen as an equal among others; therefore, whenever he heard the International, the inspiration usually brought tears to his eyes. At the time of the Holocaust, around 1941, the radio was first stamped and later on we were obliged to give it away. It was as if something had been torn from us.

My father had a medal for bravery from the Balkan war [1912-1913]. Can you imagine a Jew having a medal for bravery, when everywhere Jews were denounced as the most cowardly people – and a ‘faint-hearted’ Jew used to be a byname? My father was a corporal in a battery – 6 men for 1 gun – that was surrounded during the war at the pass of Odrin [in Turkey]. The sergeant major in charge pulled out his sword and cried: ‘Onward - for mother Bulgaria!’ in order to show patriotism, and the Turks killed him. My father was left alone with the 6 soldiers, who wanted to surrender. My father saw that night was falling and tried to raise their spirit. He told them to hold on until it got dark. He examined the area and saw that there was a covered ravine to which they could possibly withdraw. He took the responsibility for the battery and gave orders to carry out the withdrawal. Some had to keep up fire while the rest stripped the gun and divided it amongst each other. And they succeeded in withdrawing to that ravine; and thus, he saved the 6 soldiers and the weapon. He was awarded with a medal for bravery in front of the whole regiment. It was noted that in spite of his bravery, the sergeant major had shown a rather meaningless patriotism – unlike my father, who had done a truly courageous deed by saving the battery and the 6 men, who certainly would either have been captured or killed, if it hadn’t been for him. Because of this medal my father was a little more privileged in comparison to other Jews. When everyone, including me, wore yellow badges, my father wore a yellow button, which was meant to show that the fascist country was somehow obliged to him.

My father’s sister, Roza Sizi, was married to a man more enterprising than my father – Bohor Sizi. Everything that could possibly appear in the town, he had first. He was the first one to have a radio. In his yard there were fruit trees with everything from fig to almond trees. Note that it was the yard of a Jew, who initially was not an agricultural worker. When I entered his yard, I had the feeling that it was a paradise. He didn’t have any farm hands or other workers. He took care of his yard by himself. He even cut logs alone, and for that purpose he had made a special device. He used to joke that he would rather cut two pieces of wood instead of doing gymnastics. And he was among the richest people in town thanks only to his enormous drive.

He knew French very well; he used to read classics in original – Hugo, Eugene Sue. He was definitely the most knowledgeable man. I remember how amazing it was for us, the children, when we saw him listening to the radio with those enormous headphones. In Pazardzhik, where there wasn’t a house higher than 2 floors, he had a 30-meter gantry that could be seen by the whole city. He informed us about what was happening in Brussels, Paris, especially around Munich, 1939, and the invasion in Czechoslovakia. He received newspapers and magazines from abroad. He used to read and translate them for us. He was not a café-admirer but he had some games at home, and visiting his house was always a special event. He was a unique man. I don’t know if genes have something to do with it, but his grandson Alkalai was nominated for a Dimitrov award. [This was one of the highest governmental awards in communist times, named after communist prime minister Georgi Dimitrov]. He invented a machine for tobacco planting, which became known all over the world, as tobacco planting is a very labor-consuming activity. Thus, Bulgaria became a top country in agriculture. When Todor Zhivkov visited Plovdiv, his first stop was usually Alkalai, as he wanted to get acquainted with the latest innovations in the domain of agriculture.

My mother, Ester Danon, was an open-minded person, even though she was deeply religious. For example, she didn’t always observe the custom of not eating pork, but during difficult moments, she always turned to God. My mother was a typical Jewish woman who had to take care of her children. My mother and my father didn’t marry for love – because of those times and an age-difference of thirteen years that separated them. My father got married quite late – in 1921 – because of the wars between 1913 and 1920 [the Balkan wars and WWI]. They certainly had a religious marriage in the synagogue, as secular marriage wasn’t a common practice then. My father was a handsome man, a dandy – he was interested in clothes and fashion. My mother was just the opposite. My father was keen on decorating our house with sculptures and paintings. My mother paid less attention to those things. She loved reading novels instead. We used to read at home. I cannot say that we did it from dusk till dawn, but we were bright and aware of what was to come. During the war we had a chart where we used to mark the events – we were informed, and eagerly discussed everything. My father was a classical music fan. We had a gramophone with records and we used to listen to arias sung by world famous singers. His greatest pleasure was to ‘wind up’ the gramophone and enjoy Rigoletto and Traviata. Such things were not very common for 99% of the people in a town like Pazardzhik.

Growing up

I was born in 1927. I have a sister, Simha Moshe Danon, born in 1923 and a brother, Shemuel Danon, born in 1943. My brother was born ‘thanks to’ the Holocaust, so to speak, because the whole family was gathered in a small room. The house was crowded with exiles from Sofia. When he was born, I was 16-17 years old and our sister was 20. We took care of our brother. The situation was quite delicate, as our sister could already have her own children. My mother gave birth initially thinking that she had a terrible disease. The cancer that the doctors diagnosed actually turned out to be her pregnancy with my brother.

I completed elementary and secondary school in the Jewish school in Pazardzhik. We studied Hebrew and Jewish literature, as well as the Tannakh there. The other school subjects were the usual ones, the same as in the Bulgarian school. Until the 4th grade we also studied mathematics in Hebrew, as well as the Torah. I graduated from high school in Pazardzhik also – but from the Bulgarian one. At that time there wasn’t a Jewish high school in Bulgaria. The Jewish school in Pazardzhik was very interesting. There was a teacher there, Geveret Semo [geveret is Hebrew for teacher], who lived more than a hundred years. She settled in Israel. On her 100th birthday all her former students from Pazardzhik, who lived in Israel, prepared a great celebration. There were really a lot of people – now there are some 30 Jews in Pazardzhik left of the thousand Jews who once used to live there. Geveret Semo was a very interesting person. She only spoke Hebrew with her students. In the end her persistence proved helpful for those who left for Israel, as they had already acquired a considerable knowledge of the Hebrew language.

Every year there were theater performances at the Jewish school that were performed entirely in Hebrew. The spirit of Jewry was conveyed through them. I remember a play in which my sister Simha Moshe Danon participated. The play was staged by a Bulgarian director. A farewell dinner was given in his honor, to which all the actors were invited. It was a grandiose event for the Jews in our town. The play was about the massacre of Jews in Poland. It was around 1939/1940, just before the persecutions against Jews in Bulgaria had started, and when there were rumors about new restrictive laws against Jews [The so-called Law for the Protection of the Nation] 4. This united the Jewish community. To represent the burning of the Jewish houses in the play, newspapers and burning torches were waved behind the stage during the performance. There was a window close to the stage and the fire could be seen from the yard of one of the richest Jews – he used to buy up tobacco and his stores were in this yard – so his workers jumped in to put out the fire.

Around the time I started high school, the anti-Jewish laws had already come into force. Despite that, I enrolled in high school because my father had a medal for bravery from the Balkan war. The law at the time allowed the children of the Jews who had been presented with a medal for bravery to study. At the beginning of the first high-school class I had to sit with the village boys. There were one or two guys from Pazardzhik who were notorious for their bad behavior and unwanted by the other classes. At that time there were both Branniks 5 and legionaries 6 already.

When I started high school, my classmates used to tell me, ‘Hey, you don’t look like a Jew. You are good, you don’t lie, why aren’t all Jews like you?’ Those types of comments were common among the village boys. (As I was a Jew, I studied in the class of the village boys, not in the class of the city boys.) The village boys’ anti-Semitic attitude was rather naive and not based on any material interest, but that of the city boys’ was much stronger because they were sons of merchants and craftsmen who used to compete with the Jews. Envy existed. In my family they used to say: ‘Fine, be good at school, stay among the best students, but never actually be the first.’ My father used to tell me: ‘Even if there is no anti-Semitism, I always put you one point ahead of the others, because when they examine you, they usually take it away, because you are a Jew.’

A deep feeling that our capabilities were underestimated was implanted among Jews. Even in the best times a Jew could not hold a high position in the army, police or in finances. Although we constituted about one-twentieth of the town’s population, there wasn’t a single Jewish police officer, nor was there an army officer, or a city community official. This certainly provoked Zionist interests and it can be said for sure that Pazardzhik was a town with a strong Zionist influence. We had two official Zionist organizations. The first one was Betar. It was more like a political party, a right-wing oriented organization. The other one was the youth sports organization, the Maccabi, which I was a member of.      

I wouldn’t say that I have any particular sports talent but I was athletic and a quite good short distance runner, especially in 100 meters. I was good at it. I have 7-8 prizes from Jewish organization sports events. I was a member of the Maccabi – the Jewish sports organization. At a city competition in short-, and long-distance running I had to compete with the winner of the city boys’ class – one of the Brannik boys – in order to become a representative of the high school. The teacher would never have allowed me under different circumstances, but in this case he had no choice – I was the winner of our class. The guy could never cope with the fact that a Jew had beaten him.

The first time I entered the classroom (I was late because I had to take care of all the high school enrolling formalities), some Brannik boys stood up and said that they were forbidden to share a desk with a Jew. So the richest boy from Malo Konare village, whose brother was a partisan and a political commissar of the partisan detachment in the Pazardzhik district, offered me a place next to him. His name was Rangel Karaivanov. When [during WWII] the rest of the citizens received 300 gr. bread per day, Jews were given 150. Every morning, over the course of several years, Rangel used to pass me half of his breakfast slice of bread under the desk. He didn’t do it out of fear but because he didn’t want to hurt my dignity. When he passed away I said – and I have said it many times – that trees should be planted in Israel in memory of such people, who helped Jews on a daily basis, and not only for those who spoke loudly. Rangel himself was in a much more difficult position because his parents were sent to a camp, as his brother was a partisan. They watched and followed him, and also warned him not to carry out any anti-fascist actions – which he did, anyway.

During the war

Jews began to anticipate that they would have to resettle somewhere else. Around 1941 a ship, which was on its way to Israel, sank in the Black Sea. There were many people from Pazardzhik on board. Mishel Pamukov, who led the Jewish youth organization in Pazardzhik and was one of the most popular Jewish young men, drowned with it. He inspired many people with his nationalist sentiments. I know that he is now honored in Israel. He is mentioned as being one of the founders of the Jewish State in the memorial services that are held there.

It is mere talk that there was no fascism in Bulgaria. The atmosphere was rife with chauvinist tales about Great Bulgaria, Bulgaria above the other Balkan peoples, etc. Back then village boys in the education system didn’t have the opportunities that the city boys had. The village was quite backward compared to the town. There were children who came to school without having seen electricity. They lit their homes with kerosene lamps. In Pazardzhik there was electricity, running water, cinema, theatres – it wasn’t that underdeveloped culturally. Villages were millions of years backward, although there were some very bright and intelligent children, much more gifted than the city kids. For example, our alumni produced two ministers – Todoriev, of energy and Serafim Milchev – of mines. Bulgaria owes much to Todoriev. He is an innovator.

During the Holocaust we stayed in Pazardzhik. I would like to emphasize here that a wrong notion exists that the Bulgarian people saved its Jews. I have a slightly different opinion concerning this. I think that Jews in Bulgaria became more confident about their future not because of Bulgarian society as a whole. I cannot deny that there were quite a lot of Bulgarians who were helping Jews for different reasons. Actually, the ones who used to chase our people were rather shocked by the losses of the Germans on the East front. The more the Red Army approached our borders, the more some people felt ‘close’ to their Jewish compatriots. After the Stalingrad battle they began to fear that retribution would reach them for the things they had done. And they had done awful things. I remember the Brannik boys (only young people) one evening loading up some carts with paving stones and marching in our street. Ours was an entirely Jewish street. There weren’t any Bulgarian families there. There were only two Armenian houses: one in the beginning and one in the middle of the street. The youngsters systematically smashed windows and sashes. They only left out the Armenian houses. First they threw one big paving stone to break the window frame and after that – smaller ones – like a hailstorm. A large paving stone broke our bedroom window. We all lay under the beds because glass and stones were falling down and we feared for our lives. On the same night they attacked the Jewish community building as well. Everything was vandalized and robbed. There was a guy, Gogo Dulgia, who usually carried a whip in his hands. We could only go out from 4 to 6 p.m. It was the only time we could buy ourselves something. Everyone who hired Jews had to get special permission.

On my mother’s side our family suffered great losses. My aunt lost both her sons. Although they had left-wing convictions, they studied in the English College in Sofia. One night, Branniks came to my uncle’s place and blackmailed him to give them several million leva within two hours. As he couldn’t do it, they killed his children on the same night. The monument that was built in their memory has been ruined by Bulgarian neo-fascists.
My brother and my sister are both associate professors. My sister is a senior research professor in medical hygiene. My brother works in the oncology hospital. Until recently he was deputy director, and now he’s in charge of the state register of people with oncology diseases, a very responsible job.


I reached the highest levels of power. I was deputy prosecutor-in-chief of the Republic [in communist times]. It means that I was responsible for a whole department in the chief prosecutor’s office. There isn’t a town in Bulgaria that I haven’t visited. There isn’t a prosecutor in Bulgaria who wouldn’t know me. I have appeared dozens of times on TV and radio with my full Jewish name – Shimon Eshua Danon. 

My wife, Anna Danon, is a doctor. I met her in the reading-room of the library of the Jewish community in the 1950s. At that time I was a law student but I also worked there as a librarian. It was a rich library, visited by a lot of Jewish students. There I met Anna and we soon got married – we had a secular wedding. We have one daughter Raia, who is a teacher of Spanish language at the Spanish high school in Sofia. In my adult life I have kept my Jewish identity by regularly observing certain Jewish traditions, like Pesach, for example. As I am a member of the Jewish community in Sofia, I often visit lectures and various events that are organized by it. And, throughout the years, I have maintained regular contact with my mostly Jewish friends. I visited Israel in 1993-1994. It was a visit to my wife’s relatives.

To pretend that there is no fascism in Bulgaria today is nonsense. Now Mein Kampf is sold here without any obstacles. Books are distributed that deny the Holocaust and speak the same way of the Jewry as of the Mafia, claiming that they destroy nations. Anti-Semitism, the international language of fascism, is now gaining power again. ‘Jews on soap’ is written on the walls of the French high school in Sofia – after everything that has happened, after the death of 6 million people. There are skinheads who speak on television about destroying the Jews. If Jews are still emigrating, it’s because – even since the beginning of democracy – anti-Semitism still continues to grow. And, in spite of the propaganda that is spread by some Jewish agencies that in communist times the position of Jews had been very bad, I would even say that it wasn’t bad then. It is bad now. It’s true, for example, that the relatives of some Jews who were living abroad were monitored and watched; they weren’t allowed to hold governmental and state posts. The number of Jews working in the network of the state security system was very limited. And now – for example, Jews in Bulgaria haven’t yet been compensated for their property losses during the Holocaust. On the contrary, and not without the support of famous Jewish circles, a certain policy is now circulated that – can you imagine? – there has never been fascism in Bulgaria. This is an absolute lie. And at the same time they say: ‘We saved you from fascism.’

Principally, the Jewish community exists only when it is necessary. I have the feeling that now it’s stronger – with the emphasis put on the concept of ‘Jewry’ in the community itself because of the need for protection. Recently I was at a meeting where my compatriots, in the presence of the ambassador of Israel and other official figures, said that anti-Semitism continues to grow in Bulgaria. There are authors, newspapers, TV magazines with obvious anti-Semitic sentiments. They say there are no laws to oppose that. I am a jurist and I can tell you that there are texts against pro-fascist activities and racial hatred in our constitution. Because the leading posts of SDS [Union of the Democratic Forces] were held by people with pro-fascist convictions some people prefer to close their eyes.


1 Liberation of Bulgaria

Bulgaria regained its independence as a result of the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878, which freed the country from the Turkish yoke.

2 Events of 1923

By a coup d’état on 9th June 1923 the government of Alexander Stamboliiski, leader of the Bulgarian Agrarian Union, was overthrown and the power was assumed by the rightist Alexander Tsankov. This provoked riots that were quickly suppressed. The events of 1923 culminated in an uprising initiated by the communists in September 1923, which was also suppressed.

3 Dimitrov, Georgy

A Bulgarian revolutionary, who was the head of the Comintern from 1936 through its dissolution in 1943, secretary general of the Bulgarian Communist Party from 1945 to 1949, and prime minister of Bulgaria from 1946 to 1949. He rose to international fame as the principal defendant in the Leipzig Fire Trial in 1933. Dimitrov put up such a consummate defense that the judicial authorities had to release him.

4 Law for the Protection of the Nation

Law adopted by the National Assembly in December 1940 and promulgated on 23rd January 1941, according to which Jews did not have the right to own shops and factories. Jews living in the center of Sofia were forced to move to the outskirts of the town. The internment of Jews in certain designated towns was legalized, in preparation for their deportation to concentration camps.

5 Brannik

Pro-fascist youth organization. It was founded after the Defense of the Nation Act was passed in 1939 and the Bulgarian government forged its pro-German policy. The Branniks regularly maltreated Jews.

6 Legionaries

Members of the Union of the Bulgarian National Legions. The UBNL was a pro-fascist non-governmental organization, established in 1930. It aimed at building a corporate totalitarian state on the basis of military centralism, following the model of Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy. It existed until 1944.