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Bulgarian Government Sincere in Its Promises to Jews, Leader of Jewish Agency Reports

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David Ben-Gurion, chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, who spent six days in Bulgarian studying the Jewish situation there, today gave a detailed report of his findings, emphasizing that “there is another remedy for the surviving Bulgarian Jews except Palestine.”

Disclosing that the Bulgarian premier and other members of the cabinet promised him that the wrongs done to the Jews in Bulgaria under the previous pro-Nazi regime would be rectified, Ben-Gurion said that he received the impression that they were sincere.

“It is true,” Ben-Gurion added, “that legally there is no discrimination between Jews and non-Jews, But in practice the situation is different. When I was in Bulgaria, the authorities dealt with the problem of returning property to Jews, and a special decree to this effect was in preparation. Objectively, the situation was as follows: Jewish property which was hidden in safety vaults in banks, such as gold, jewelry and other valuables which were confiscated by the pro-Nazi government, was returned to the owners even without promulgation of any law. But houses, shops, workshops, furniture and personal belongings which were robbed under the pro-Nazi regime were never returned, with the exception of several big buildings.

JEWISH COMMUNISTS OCCUPY ZIONIST HEADQUARTERS; DOMINATE JEWISH LIFE

“Among the buildings returned to Jewish ownership was the Theodore Herzl House which was the headquarters of the Zionist Federation of Bulgaria,” Ben-Gurion Continued. “But the Jewish Communists snatched it. The majority of the Jewish houses have not been returned, because they were taken over by Bulgars and the Bulgarian Government does not desire to take this property away from Bulgars and return it to Jews, Even the Jewish Communists in Bulgaria are stressing the danger that can arise from such a forced return of Jewish property, arguing that this may lead to increased anti-Semitism, It is possible that owners of large buildings may get some of their property back, but small shopkeepers and artisans have no chance whatsoever.

“In the midst of the general poverty prevailing in Bulgaria, it is hard to believe that the government could do much to alleviate the inhuman conditions under which the Sofia Jews live,” the leader of the Jewish Agency pointed out, “The members of the Bulgarian cabinet informed me that the new constitution provides full rights for every Bulgar and allows Jews to emigrate from the country, but in practice the obstacles to leaving are enormous since seventeen affidavits must be submitted, including a statement by the applicant that he owes no debts to the government nor to private people.”

Ben-Gurion concluded by revealing that the Jewish Communists, although a minority in the Jewish community in Bulgaria, are now in control of Jewish communal life. He charged them with “suppressing democracy among Jews” and with prohibiting Jewish education. “While leaders of the Bulgarian Communists expressed sympathy with the Zionist upbuilding of Palestine, the Jewish Communists place the greatest difficulties in the way of Jews wishing to emigrate to Palestine,” he reported.

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