Sofia (Jun. 4)
The Jews of Bulgaria are still in a precarious economic position despite the friendly attempts of the Government to restore their stolen property or make some compensation for irreplaceable property.
Storekeepers and businessmen are finding it difficult to re-establish their businesses. Many stores and buildings were severely damaged or destroyed during the Russian campaign. It is almost impossible to find premises to rent, and the rental is far too high for most Jews. In cases where premises and even capital remained in the hands of Jews, the real value of the capital has shrunk to such an extent that it is impossible to buy scarce materials, machinery or hire skilled and supervisory workers.
Much of the real estate and most industrial establishments were seized and sold by the fascist Commissariat for Jewish Affairs. The Jews had placed a low evaluation on their property in order to avoid paying high taxes levied upon them by the Commissariat. But this stratagem proved to be a boomerang. The Commissariat sold the property for war-inflated prices and paid the Jews what they had declared the property to be worth. The present Government has decreed that the Jews may buy back property seized from them in this fashion at the price paid by present owners, but this is far above the reach of the vast majority of the Jews.
In the case of real estate and immovable property which was not sold to individuals, the Government has made full restitution to the Jews. Houses that are partly habitable may be rented and the rents kept by the owner. If the property is torn down by rehabilitation authorities, a total of six years’ rent, without interest, is paid the owner.
Movable property which was in the custody of the state has been returned, and property listed as being in state possession but which has disappeared was paid for by the Government. All individuals having Jewish property in their possession were ordered to report it to the Government. But since this regulation was unenforceable, very little property was returned from this source. Stocks, bonds, insurance, bank accounts and other fiscal properties were blocked in the state bank, and these have been returned. The depreciation of the currency and the inflation, however, has decreased their value to a great extent.