Bulgaria as Rescuer? Film Footage of the March 1943 Deportation and Its Reception across the Iron Curtain
East European Jewish Affairs
36 - 69 p.
Holocaust, Cold War, Bulgaria, visual archive, war crimes
The March 1943 deportation of Jews from Bulgarian-held territories in Greece left few visual traces. Among them is a silent film, with oddly edited footage. This article reconstructs the afterlife of this footage during the Cold War, tracking its multiple uses and transformations. In so doing, it sheds light on the production of knowledge about the Holocaust and the transnational history of the East-West divide. As the visual document migrated across countries and beyond the Iron Curtain, it was transformed from a “trophy archive” into legal evidence, successively acquiring documentary, judicial, and commemorative value. In the 1960s, the footage became a cornerstone of German-Bulgarian efforts to prosecute the former Reich Minister Plenipotentiary to Sofia, Adolf-Heinz Beckerle. Along with contributing to the visual history of the Holocaust, an examination of the uses of the 1943 footage illustrates patterns of East-West cooperation that gave the Cold War its unique shape.