Massimo Magistrati on “Antisemitic measures in Bulgaria” in 1941



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Addressed to R. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rome.

Sofia, 14 July 1941, XIX

Re: Anti-Semitic measures in Bulgaria

The measures officially and publicly taken by the Bulgarian Government against the Semitic element with the law of last October have recently seen a further step-up.

Last June the Government here issued an order whereby Jews may not leave their homes after 9 pm and before 6 am.

A further decree of 26th June forbids people of the Jewish race to own and use radios and telephones. All such devices, several thousands, were handed in to the Postal Authority, ostensibly so that they could be checked to see if they worked as transmitters as well, but actually they were not returned.

Lastly, today the law of which I enclose a translated copy has been published, whereby the Bulgarian Government levies on all property, whether movable or real, owned by people of the Jewish race, exempting only property having a total net worth lower than 200,000 leva, a 20% duty on property worth up to 3,000,000 leva and a 25% duty on property worth over that amount.

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As stated in Art. 3 of this law, the duty has to be paid both by Jews having Bulgarian citizenship and by foreign Jews, whether settled or not in the Country, who own movable or real property in Bulgaria.

A delegation of Israelite fellow-citizens who live here came to the R. Legation to invoke protection, in order to be exempt from the said extraordinary contribution.

However, the Italo-Bulgarian Trade and Navigation Treaty of 1934, which is still in force and, as we know, contains settlement clauses in favour of the citizens of one Country in the other, stipulates (Art. 5) in the matter of internal taxation that they shall receive the same treatment as nationals.

It would seem, therefore, that there cannot be on our part any intervention grounded in law, aimed at obtaining for the Israelite fellow-citizens residing here an exemption from the extraordinary contribution required by the said law.

In any case, the issue has a scope that goes beyond the economic aspect.

I therefore beg the Ministry to let me know, in view of some action that may be undertaken, how we treat foreign Israelites in the matter of contributions like the one decreed today by the Bulgarian government, and to advise me, moreover, if Bulgarian Israelites have been affected or not by similar measures.



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