Yamaji Akira on the situation of Jews in Bulgaria in 1943
From Minister Yamaji Akira (Sofia, Bulgaria)
To: Foreign Minister Shigemitsu Mamoru (Tokyo)
Concerning the Jewish Question
Currently there are about 50,000 Jews in this country, of which about 26,000 live in Sofia. Although they do not appear to have any influence in the cultural sphere, in business (especially commerce) they are extremely influential. As a result, there is increasingly the view that something must be done about this. In response to this, In the “Law for the Protection of the nation,” promulgated in January 1941, the Government established several articles concerning the Jewish population. However, the actual effect was rather limited. As a result, last fall the government received full authority to deal with the Jews.
Consequently, they established a new bureau and required Jews to wear yellow tags, placed limitation on their residence as well as on their activities besides business, and their control of property 2.6 billion leva etc. The government pursued a policy similar to that of Germany. However, such policies were not very popular. In January this year the vice speaker of the Parliament and about forty members of the Parliament criticized the government measures, leading to the resignation of the vice speaker. (There is rumor that the Jews spent a lot of money for this).
Recently many Jews are accused of being involved in terror, sabotage, spying and other forms of political agitation, and engaging in black market that should be called the cancer of Bulgarian economy. The government came to force Jews living in Sofia to relocate to local areas because it was not very successful to leave the matter to their own will (only 2,600 had moved out so far)
That is to say, the government will notify Jews about the destination for their relocation within two to three weeks. After receiving the notice the Jews must leave the city within three days. Concerning this new measure the head of the Orthodox Church Stefan and others lodged protest against and it was not very popular in general. The Government, however, considers that the city’s political and economic condition will improve after the expulsion of all of its Jews. 12,000 Jews who live in the new territories of Macedonia and Thrace have been deported to Poland. (Now the Jews who live in these new territories are mainly those with foreign citizenship and number no more than 6,700.) Although there was a plan to deport the 10,000 Jews who live in the old territories, as a result of the new measure this plan was put on hold.
Through the intermediary of Switzerland, the Bulgarian Government has reached an agreement with Britain to send 5,000 Jews to Palestine. However, they became entangled in the detailed articles and the agreement had not been implemented.
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