Berlin, March 21st 2000
Gabriele Nissim has written a fascinating book about the man who in 1943 saved 48,000 Bulgarian Jews from being deported to Auschwitz. This man, Dimitar Peshev, never regarded himself as a hero: anyone else in his position would have done what he did.
Once you've read Nissim's book however, you can't agree. Many other people could have helped but, because of fear or opportunism, failed to do so. Peshev's example shows that the crucial factor was the step from "could have" to actually taking action. This is still true today in relation to the threat to parliamentary democracy and, above all, human rights. The greatest danger is not saying, not seeing, propagating the myth that nothing was known about it and in any case nothing could have been done.
Peshev's story is also about the vital importance of not forgetting.
It is a book that takes a stand against the communists' false representations
of history after '45. As in an Orwellian world they invented their own
myth of the saviour. But above all this book is a tirade endorsing the
responsibility of each and every individual and, first and foremost,
every democratically elected member of a deliberative assembly. In his
clearly written and comprehensible account, Nissim knows how to differentiate
historically. He does not raise Peshev to the status of saint but very
convincingly demonstrates how, at the beginning, Peshev had illusions
and made mistakes. Only with the expropriation of the Jews did he start
to think. When his Jewish friends told him what was happening, he acted
decisively. He thus managed to save the Jews already standing in front
of trains ready to transport them to Auschwitz. A particular merit attributable
to Peshev is that he realized his success at that point was only partial.
And so he brought the case before parliament and did everything to publicize
For each one of us, and not only deputies and politicians, Peshev sets
an important example: no-one should ever turn a blind eye if, in present-day
society, racial discrimination, hatred and violence are supported and
practised. Peshev explained the reasons that led to his initiative with
these words: "Silence would have been against my conscience and
my sense of responsibility as a deputy and a man".
back to events
| << go back
<< home page
layout by KIWI,
copyright © 1998-2003 Gabriele Nissim
| privacy & cookie