Vice President of the National Assembly
at the solemn
celebration of Dimitar Peshev
November 6th 1998
Invited to attend this commemorative ceremony was also Mr. Colombo, a member
of the Italian Parliament, who, unfortunately, has been unable to arrive.
Unable to attend, for reasons of health, is also the son of attorney Yossif
Yasharov who defended Dimitar Peshev before the people's court. However, both
of them have sent letters to the President of the National Assembly, Mr. Sokolov,
and I will allow myself to read them out to you.
'The Honourable Yordan Sokolov, the President of the National Assembly
of the Republic of Bulgaria
My dear Mr. President,
I would like to thank you for the honour you have bestowed upon me by extending
me an invitation to attend the ceremonious session in commemoration of
Dimitar Peshev to be held on November 6, 1998 in the Parliament of the
Republic of Bulgaria.
I am extremely sorry that I will be unable to meet with You, with the other
invitees and with everyone attending the ceremony. Alas, some unforeseen
and pressing obligations of political nature compel me to remain in Italy
on this date. Anyway, my willingness to attend will be actualised at least
I have asked my friend and parliamentarian in the Italian Chamber of Deputies,
Mr. Dario Rivolta, to present the text of the speech which I have written
and would deliver had I been able to attend the solemn session.
Please, accept my sincerest and cordial regards.
I will also read out to you selected excerpts from Mr. Yasharov's letter.
Unfortunately, I am unable to read out the entire letter since it is a rather
lengthy one, but I can assure you it is an exquisite letter, indeed. Mr. Yasharov
wrote, inter alia:
'I have been waiting all my life for the day to dawn when it would be possible
to publicise the true story of the rescuing of Bulgaria's Jewry, as well
as to express deep gratitude and pay a fitting tribute to the chivalrous
Bulgarian parliamentarian Dimitar Peshev.
I am one of those Bulgarian Jews who owe their lives to Dimitar Peshev,
being the son of the late attorney Yossif Yasharov who defended Dimitar
Peshev before the people's court and saved him from a death sentence. I
happen also to be the only Bulgarian Jew in the United States who has for
years now, by way of publications in the American press and by historic
co-operation with the Holocaust Museum in Washington, been trying to acquaint
the American public with the fact that it was Dimitar Peshev's courageous
intervention that actually saved all Jews within the erstwhile boundaries
of Bulgaria from being put to heinous death in the Nazi extermination camps.
Although I am not physically among you, my thoughts and emotions will be
with you while paying this official tribute to the noble deed and the heroic
feat of this prominent Bulgarian.
I consider this solemn commemorative session of the National Assembly to
be a sweeping victory of justice, a posthumous victory of Dimitar Peshev
himself, a moral victory of his family and kin and a triumph of those of
us, the beholden Bulgarian Jews, who have been trying for years now to
convince the world community that it was Dimitar Peshev and not Todor Zhivkov
who was particularly deserving of judicious praise for the rescue of Bulgaria's
Dimitar Peshev had to live in dire poverty and isolation, doomed by the
communists to a kind of domestic displacement, without a house of his own,
disbarred from exercising his profession, deprived of the right to communicate.
We, the rescued Bulgarian Jews, will never forget our revered Dimitar Peshev.
We spent years on end in trying to extend some financial assistance to
him from lsrael. Alas, thanks to the communists again, those efforts of
ours attained very little success. Currently, however, even though much
too late and even if posthumously, we, Bulgarian Jews, in concert with
Jews and non-Jews in a number of countries inclusive of Bulgaria, the United
States, Italy and so forth, have been implementing an enterprising iniziative
designed to set up an international foundation in memory of Dimitar Peshev,
whose purpose will be to immortalise the truly heroic, genuinely humanitarian
and definitely unprecedented for the period of World War II feat performed
by this great Bulgarian.'
Other speeches at the celebration:
Yordan Sokolov (introduction)
Alexander Bozhkov (reading a message
from Ivan Kostov)
Nando Dalla Chiesa
Yordan Sokolov (conclusion)
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