cover image Beyond Hitler's Grasp

Beyond Hitler's Grasp

Michael Bar-Zohar. Adams Media Corporation, $24.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-58062-060-4

Having lived through the events in this book, Bar Zohar (Suez Top Secret) is motivated by his desire to commemorate the Bulgarians who saved his family and Bulgaria's nearly 50,000 Jews from deportation during WWII. Much of the documentation of this rescue mission was sealed during the country's Communist rule--in part to grab all credit for Communist partisans--but Bar Zohar was able to search the archives and interview survivors after 1991. What emerges is a complex story of heroism mixed with fear. Although the historically weak-willed King Boris III hoped to regain lost territories by collaborating with the Germans, he feared the alliance and played a dangerous game of equivocation until his death under mysterious circumstances in 1943. Boris's part in the rescue of the Jews has been a matter of some contention; Bar Zohar makes a reasoned attempt to restore credit to the king, without denying the heroism of others. Bulgarian politicians, business leaders and clergymen protected the country's Jewish citizens long enough for the tide of the war to turn against the Germans, ensuring the Jews' safety. Although dismayed that Bulgaria did nothing to stop the extermination of Thracian Jews, Bar Zohar recognizes that the ultimate costs of open resistance might have been total annihilation. Ultimately, this is a moving history of many individuals whose heroism was discredited during the Communist regime. (Nov.)