Wednesday, April 20, 2016

First Paragraph

The past century will go down in history as one in which mass violence reached levels the world had never before known. The persecution and annihilation of Europe's Jews surely constitute one of the most tragic episodes in human history. Yet these events also offer us an opportunity - a rare one, unfortunately - to see, in the efforts made by some to help the persecuted and save those living under threat of death, how goodness can flourish too. Acts of goodness occur sporadically almost everywhere; but there are two countries that can recall their history with pride, thanks to the collective protection they provided the Jews while themselves living under German control. These two countries are Denmark and Bulgaria. At the time that the Red Army was nearing the Bulgarian frontier, writes Hannah Arendt in Eichmann in Jerusalem, 'not a single Bulgarian Jew had been deported or had died an unnatural death...I know of no attempt,' she adds, 'to explain the conduct of the Bulgarian people, which is unique in the belt of mixed populations.' 

- From The Fragility of Goodness: Why Bulgaria's Jews Survived the Holocaust by Tzvetan Todorov

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