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The Fragility of Goodness: Why Bulgaria's Jews Survived the Holocaust

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The Fragility of Goodness: Why Bulgaria's Jews Survived the Holocaust Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Tzvetan Todorov is one of the most original thinkers working today in Europe, whose writings range from the conquest of America to the civil war in occupied France. He has now turned his attention to his Bulgarian roots, Bulgaria, along with Italy and Denmark, being one of the countries with an honorable record in saving Jews during the Holocaust. The result is a book of extraordinary depth which everyone interested in these fields should undoubtedly read."--Michael Burleigh, author of The Third Reich

"The Fragility of Goodness fits well into the Todorov project-one of the most important projects in European literature-which is to describe the marvelous possibilities of the moral life, even in extreme adversity. This latest installment, on the 'rescue' or, more accurately, the sparing of Bulgarian Jews during the Second World War, is a remarkable tale, and also a necessary one, as Todorov himself says, 'for if we better understand its circumstances and the motivations of those responsible, perhaps we will be better able ourselves to act tomorrow.'"--Alex Danchev

"The success of Todorov's works is their originality, intellectual honesty, and innovative spirit. This book is not only a most thoughtful work but it contains many hitherto unpublished and unknown documents on the complex maneuvering of those involved in this extraordinary series of events. It is high time that the American public learn not only about the Danish rescue of the Jews but also about the encouraging Bulgarian story."--Istvn Dek, Columbia University

"After a long and illustrious presence as a French literary critic and moral philosopher, Tzvetan Todorov is publicly discovering his Bulgarian roots. His book offers a powerful narrative in the style of the traditional European essay, which will be greeted with interest."--Maria Todorova, University of Florida

"The story of the Bulgarian Jews in the Second World War is well known to experts in Bulgarian and Balkan history but by few others. This book fills that gap. I read it with increasing admiration and excitement. Not only does it tell the story clearly and in very lively fashion but it also includes archival sources that have not previously appeared in any Western language."--Richard Crampton, University of Oxford

Synopsis:

"Tzvetan Todorov is one of the most original thinkers working today in Europe, whose writings range from the conquest of America to the civil war in occupied France. He has now turned his attention to his Bulgarian roots, Bulgaria, along with Italy and Denmark, being one of the countries with an honorable record in saving Jews during the Holocaust. The result is a book of extraordinary depth which everyone interested in these fields should undoubtedly read."--Michael Burleigh, author of The Third Reich

"The Fragility of Goodness fits well into the Todorov project-one of the most important projects in European literature-which is to describe the marvelous possibilities of the moral life, even in extreme adversity. This latest installment, on the 'rescue' or, more accurately, the sparing of Bulgarian Jews during the Second World War, is a remarkable tale, and also a necessary one, as Todorov himself says, 'for if we better understand its circumstances and the motivations of those responsible, perhaps we will be better able ourselves to act tomorrow.'"--Alex Danchev

"The success of Todorov's works is their originality, intellectual honesty, and innovative spirit. This book is not only a most thoughtful work but it contains many hitherto unpublished and unknown documents on the complex maneuvering of those involved in this extraordinary series of events. It is high time that the American public learn not only about the Danish rescue of the Jews but also about the encouraging Bulgarian story."--István Deák, Columbia University

"After a long and illustrious presence as a French literary critic and moral philosopher, Tzvetan Todorov is publicly discovering his Bulgarian roots. His book offers a powerful narrative in the style of the traditional European essay, which will be greeted with interest."--Maria Todorova, University of Florida

"The story of the Bulgarian Jews in the Second World War is well known to experts in Bulgarian and Balkan history but by few others. This book fills that gap. I read it with increasing admiration and excitement. Not only does it tell the story clearly and in very lively fashion but it also includes archival sources that have not previously appeared in any Western language."--Richard Crampton, University of Oxford

Synopsis:

With the exception of Denmark, Bulgaria was the only country allied with Nazi Germany that did not annihilate or turn over its Jewish population. Here a prominent French intellectual with Bulgarian roots accounts for this singularity.

Tzvetan Todorov assembles and interprets for the first time key evidence from this episode of Bulgarian history, including letters, diaries, government reports, and memoirs--most never before translated into any language. Through these documents, he reconstructs what happened in Bulgaria during World War II and interrogates collective memories of that time. He recounts the actions of individuals and groups that, ultimately and collectively, spared Bulgaria's Jews the fate of most European Jews.

The Bulgaria that emerges is not a heroic country dramatically different from those countries where Jews did perish. Todorov does find heroes, especially parliament deputy Dimitar Peshev, certain writers and clergy, and--most inspiring--public opinion. Yet he is forced to conclude that the "good" triumphed to the extent that it did because of a tenuous chain of events. Any break in that chain--one intellectual who didn't speak up as forcefully, a different composition in Orthodox Church leadership, a misstep by a particular politician, a less wily king--would have undone all of the other efforts with disastrous results for almost 50,000 people.

The meaning Todorov settles on is this: Once evil is introduced into public view, it spreads easily, whereas goodness is temporary, difficult, rare, and fragile. And yet possible.

About the Author

Tzvetan Todorov, who was born in Bulgaria, is Director of Research at the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. He is the author of many books, most recently Hope and Memory: Lessons from the Twentieth Century and Imperfect Garden: The Legacy of Humanism (both Princeton).

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

The Sequence of Events 3

Memories in Competition 14

Why and How 27

Documents

Exclusion 43

1. Statement by the Bulgarian Writers' Union to the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the National Assembly 45

2. Statement by the Governing Board of the Bulgarian Lawyers' Union to the Chairman of the National Assembly 47

3. Open Letter from Christo Punev to the National Assembly Deputies 50

4. Statement by the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to the Prime Minister 54

5. Open Letter from Dimo Kazasov to the Prime Minister 58

6. Petko Stainov's Speech in the National Assembly 62

7. Todor Polyakov's Speech in the National Assembly 65

Deportation 7I

1. Article from the Fatherland Front 73

2. A Leaflet of the Sofia District Committee of the Workers' Party 75

3. Protest Letter by the Vice-Chairman of the 25th Session of the National Assembly, Dimitar Peshev, and Forty-two Other Deputies 78

4. Petko Stainov's Interrogatory, Sent to the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bogdan Filov 81

5. Bogdan Filov's Diary 84

6. Charles Redard's Report to the Federal Political Department in Berne 92

Internment 95

1. Minutes of a Special Session of the Holy Synod 97

2. Protocol No. q, 6 June I943, on King Boris's Speech to the Small Cabinet of the Holy Synod 102

3. Letter from Nikola Mushanov and Petko Stainov to King Boris 104

4. Letter from Public Figures to King Boris 106

5. `Mad Assault against the Jews': An Article from the Workers' Cause 108

Memoirs 113

1. Dimo Kazasov 117

2. Metropolitan Stefan 125

3. Asen Suichmezov 132

4 Dimitar Peshev I37

Bibliographical Note 185

Translator's Note 187

Index 189

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691115641
Translator:
Denner, Arthur
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Translator:
Denner, Arthur
Author:
Todorov, Tzvetan
Author:
Denner, Arthur
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
General
Subject:
Holocaust
Subject:
Military - Canada
Subject:
Jewish - General
Subject:
Jews
Subject:
Jewish studies
Subject:
European History
Subject:
Bulgaria Ethnic relations.
Subject:
Jews -- Bulgaria -- History -- 20th century.
Subject:
World History-Holocaust
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
September 2003
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
8 x 5 in 8 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
History and Social Science » Military » General History
History and Social Science » World History » Canada
History and Social Science » World History » Eastern Europe
History and Social Science » World History » Holocaust
Religion » Judaism » History
Religion » Judaism » Jewish History

The Fragility of Goodness: Why Bulgaria's Jews Survived the Holocaust New Trade Paper
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Product details 208 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691115641 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Tzvetan Todorov is one of the most original thinkers working today in Europe, whose writings range from the conquest of America to the civil war in occupied France. He has now turned his attention to his Bulgarian roots, Bulgaria, along with Italy and Denmark, being one of the countries with an honorable record in saving Jews during the Holocaust. The result is a book of extraordinary depth which everyone interested in these fields should undoubtedly read."--Michael Burleigh, author of The Third Reich

"The Fragility of Goodness fits well into the Todorov project-one of the most important projects in European literature-which is to describe the marvelous possibilities of the moral life, even in extreme adversity. This latest installment, on the 'rescue' or, more accurately, the sparing of Bulgarian Jews during the Second World War, is a remarkable tale, and also a necessary one, as Todorov himself says, 'for if we better understand its circumstances and the motivations of those responsible, perhaps we will be better able ourselves to act tomorrow.'"--Alex Danchev

"The success of Todorov's works is their originality, intellectual honesty, and innovative spirit. This book is not only a most thoughtful work but it contains many hitherto unpublished and unknown documents on the complex maneuvering of those involved in this extraordinary series of events. It is high time that the American public learn not only about the Danish rescue of the Jews but also about the encouraging Bulgarian story."--István Deák, Columbia University

"After a long and illustrious presence as a French literary critic and moral philosopher, Tzvetan Todorov is publicly discovering his Bulgarian roots. His book offers a powerful narrative in the style of the traditional European essay, which will be greeted with interest."--Maria Todorova, University of Florida

"The story of the Bulgarian Jews in the Second World War is well known to experts in Bulgarian and Balkan history but by few others. This book fills that gap. I read it with increasing admiration and excitement. Not only does it tell the story clearly and in very lively fashion but it also includes archival sources that have not previously appeared in any Western language."--Richard Crampton, University of Oxford

"Synopsis" by , With the exception of Denmark, Bulgaria was the only country allied with Nazi Germany that did not annihilate or turn over its Jewish population. Here a prominent French intellectual with Bulgarian roots accounts for this singularity.

Tzvetan Todorov assembles and interprets for the first time key evidence from this episode of Bulgarian history, including letters, diaries, government reports, and memoirs--most never before translated into any language. Through these documents, he reconstructs what happened in Bulgaria during World War II and interrogates collective memories of that time. He recounts the actions of individuals and groups that, ultimately and collectively, spared Bulgaria's Jews the fate of most European Jews.

The Bulgaria that emerges is not a heroic country dramatically different from those countries where Jews did perish. Todorov does find heroes, especially parliament deputy Dimitar Peshev, certain writers and clergy, and--most inspiring--public opinion. Yet he is forced to conclude that the "good" triumphed to the extent that it did because of a tenuous chain of events. Any break in that chain--one intellectual who didn't speak up as forcefully, a different composition in Orthodox Church leadership, a misstep by a particular politician, a less wily king--would have undone all of the other efforts with disastrous results for almost 50,000 people.

The meaning Todorov settles on is this: Once evil is introduced into public view, it spreads easily, whereas goodness is temporary, difficult, rare, and fragile. And yet possible.

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