Tag Archives: revisionism

In Ruse with Elias Canetti

In the first volume of his autobiography Die gerettete Zunge (The Tongue Set Free), Elias Canetti writes about his early childhood in the Bulgarian city of Ruse – Canetti uses throughout the book the old name Rustchuk -:

“Everything that I experienced later, had already happened once in Rustchuk…On any one day you could hear seven or eight languages.”

Despite having spent only his first six years in the city of his birth – the family emigrated to Manchester in 1911 and Canetti came back only once for a visit in 1915 – Ruse and its unique multilingual and multicultural atmosphere at that time left a lifelong mark on the future writer.

A small book in Bulgarian language with the title In Ruse with Elias Canetti (В Русе с Елиас Канети) sheds additional light on this early period of Canetti’s life, family background and social surrounding.

In the middle of the 19th century Ruse had developed into a thriving city. Located at the Danube it had by then attracted a lot of trading activities and the port of Ruse was the main artery through which goods were imported and exported from and to the whole region. An additional boost to the economic development was the fact that Ruse had a fast-growing Jewish (Sephardic) community which was one of the driving forces for Ruse’s modernization; this together with a general economic boom in the then revived Bulgarian state (until the Russian-Turkish War 1877-78 it had been part of the Ottoman Empire for almost five hundred years) made Ruse the then most modern and truly European city in Bulgaria.  

The authors give us interesting information about the origin and growth of the Jewish community in Ruse and trace back also the family background of Canetti’s parents. Grandfather Elias Canetti (the namesake of little Elias) came from Adrianopel (Edirne) to Ruse and became a successful trader, first with his partner in Constantinople, later on his own. He reigned his firm and his family like a benevolent despot, a true family man that cared a lot for his grandchildren and particularly his oldest grandson Elias; but at the same time he expected that his sons gave up on their own plans and would be part of the future family business with branches in all other important Bulgarian cities.

For Jacques, young Elias’ father, this was a source of permanent inner conflicts – he was a talented violinist and dreamed of a career as a musician in a chamber quartet. Also Mathilde, his wife and Elias’ mother, was a talented amateur musician (she played the piano); there are photos that show the parents as musicians in a public concert in Ruse. Another photo shows Jacques, then a dashing young man, in a carnival costume – both parents who had spent years in their youth in Vienna loved the theatre and literature, things for which Grandfather Canetti had not much interest and which he might have considered at best as harmless hobbies, but as nothing serious.

Beside this latent conflict between Jacques and Elias Senior, another quite open conflict clouded the childhood of the future Nobel Prize winner. Mathilde’s family, the Arditis, were against the marriage of their youngest daughter with Jacques Canetti. The Arditis, one of the oldest and high-ranking Sephardic families could trace back their origin until the 13th century when some of their ancestors were astronomers and doctors at the courts of the Kings Alfonso IV and Pedro IV. After 1492, the family settled in Livorno and later in the Ottoman Empire, where several of their members became famous rabbis, kabbalists and scientists; the Arditis were among the first Jewish families in Ruse and looked down on Elias Senior and his family as upstarts, who had just arrived from the Orient and were no match for the famous and cultured Arditi family. One of the remaining (and traumatic) memories of his early childhood in Ruse was for Canetti a visit in Grandfather Arditi’s house. This grandfather, who never paid much attention to Elias and never gave him a present, asked his grandson on one occasion, which of his grandfathers he loved more – Grandpa Canetti or Grandpa Arditi. When the poor boy said “Both!”, he was immediately called a liar and hypocrite by his maternal grandfather. 

One of the most interesting chapters for me was the one on the artistic talent of Canetti’s parents, especially that if his father. Ruse had quite an active social and cultural life, and much of it was initiated and kept alive mainly by its Jewish citizens. Ruse has a beautiful theatre that regarding its size and architecture could be as well in Vienna or Budapest. During Ruse’s best times, many famous international troupes visited the Danubian city, the same goes for many musicians and orchestras. There were amateur theatre groups and concerts that raised funds for the education of poor but talented Jewish children, the Bnai Brith Loge played an important role in the social fabric of the Jewish community, and there were also some of the first Zionist organisations in Bulgaria which had their headquarters in Ruse. Other chapters cover the donations made by Canetti’s grandfather and father, the efforts of Jews from Ruse to support the war effort in the Balkan Wars and WWI, either as soldiers or by financial support. Another short chapter describes how Canetti learned some folk rhymes and stories from young Bulgarian peasant girls, stories he later found again in a German book about Bulgarian fairy tales and folk stories and that left obviously a deep impression on him. Philately, the role of the different newspapers in the Canetti household (in Ladino and in German), and the comet Halley are also covered by short but instructive chapters.

The Orator is the title of the longest chapter of the book, and it deals with Canetti’s relationship with one of the most colorful members of the Canetti-Arditi family, Elias’ cousin Benjamin ‘Bubi’ Arditi (Canetti calls him ‘Bernhard’ in a letter addressed to him that is reproduced in the book). Bubi, just a few years older than his cousin, was for some time a strong influence for Canetti and he is explicitly mentioned in the second volume of Canetti’s autobiography Die Fackel im Ohr (The Torch in My Ear).

After Canetti’s parents moved to Manchester with their three sons (Elias, Nissim and Georges), Elias saw his cousin during both visits in Bulgaria; in Summer 1915 in Ruse and in 1924 in Sofia. During this period Bubi had became a fervent Zionist and public speaker. Elias was so impressed by his cousin who engaged himself with all his energy in something much bigger than himself, a cause for the Jewish community, that we find traces of The Orator also in Masse und Macht and in his Aufzeichnungen. For a short time, young Elias seemed also to have considered to become a Zionist. Bulgarian Jews were in those days frequently targeted by the terrorist IMRO (today this extremist right-wing political party that is still proud of its criminal and antisemitic origin and which propagates quite openly violence against ethnic minorities and refugees is part of the Bulgarian Government!), that openly threatened to kill those who didn’t pay hefty sums to them; blackmail, collection of “protection” money and contract killings were the main financial sources of this “patriotic” group – today, being part of the Bulgarian government, they use means that are only slightly more subtle – that was in its high time considered the most ruthless group of assassins in Europe.  – When Canetti fell in Vienna under the spell of an even greater orator, Karl Kraus, this interest in Zionist politics faded away completely. 

The book reproduces several letters of Canetti to his cousin Bubi and to people in Bulgaria who got in touch with him in his later life. He found touching words for his attachment to Ruse and the importance of the city for himself and his development as a writer.

This small book is not only very informative, it is also an important document of the renewed connection of the writers’ birthplace with this extraordinary son of Ruse. Canetti’s daughter visited Ruse for the first time in 1998 and initiated together with Penka Angelova from the University Veliko Tarnovo and other supporters the International Elias Canetti Society, which is now very active to promote the literary work of Elias Canetti, and the values for which he stood. The three engravings that show Old Ruse and that were among Canetti’s most treasured belongings, are now back in Ruse – a donation by his daughter. And there is a chance that not only the former building of the trading house Elias Canetti (Senior) in Slavyanski Street 14 in Ruse will be revived, but maybe also that the author’s birthplace at Gurko Street 13 will be turned into a museum one day. (Interestingly, the English Wikipedia page about Canetti, claims that the building at Slavyanska is his birthplace – a building that the author has rarely ever entered, since it was an office and a warehouse, not a residential building.)   

While the book provided me with interesting, new to me information and is written with real love and devotion to the subject, I have to mention two points with which I had a problem.

The book contains many reproductions of photos and other documents; that’s a good thing since it adds considerably to the quality of the given information and makes the book even more interesting and readable. However – and this really unforgivable – the book mentions absolutely no sources of any of the photos and documents, and therefore also not of the owners of the copyright of these illustrations. That is highly disappointing and doesn’t correspond with the standard of a book publication; it is even infringing the copyright – something that is considered in Bulgaria unfortunately as no offence at all by many people. For me it is a question of honesty and intellectual integrity not to disregard in such a shameful way the intellectual property of others, and it is a real pity that such an otherwise recommendable book has such a very serious flaw. 

I had also a problem with a question regarding a detail in the chapter devoted to The Orator. Bubi Arditi, a lifelong supporter of the revisionist Zionist Vladimir Zeev Jabotinsky, the Irgun, and other right-wing groups, was also politically involved with the last Czar Simeon II (and later Prime Minister Simeon Sakskoburggotski).

Simeon launched a long time ago a campaign to depict his father Boris III as the “saviour” of the Bulgarian Jews during WWII, a claim that has been a long time ago discarded by serious historians. In the contrary, Boris III was the main Bulgarian responsible for the extermination of the Jews in the annexed territories in Macedonia and Thracia. I don’t want to go into the details here regarding this topic, but it is important to know that Bubi Arditi wrote a book that supports Simeon’s revisionist theory.

After referring Arditi’s position that Boris III was the “saviour” of the Bulgarian Jews and his blaming the “Jewish communists in Bulgaria” that they are liars, the book claims surprisingly that Canetti shared his cousin’s opinion on this question. But while there can be no doubt about the fact that Canetti rejected the communist system in Bulgaria with harsh words, he was never a supporter of the thesis that Boris III was the “saviour” of the Bulgarian Jews and the reproduced letter proves – if anything – the opposite. The rather ambiguous wording of the authors in this particular context leaves room for the interpretation that they think that Canetti shared his cousin’s opinion. But Canetti was never ever a supporter of revisionist ideologues and I was rather annoyed by this passage in an otherwise very recommendable text.   

P.S. In case you wonder, the French actor Pierre Arditi is also a member of the Canetti-Arditi family. His father Georges and Elias were cousins.

.В Русе с Елиас Канети

Veselina Antonova / Ivo Zheynov: In Ruse with Elias Canetti, MD Elias Canetti, Ruse 2016

Elias Canetti: The Tongue Set Free, Granta Books, London 1999, translated by Joachim Neugroschel 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

News from Retardistan (8)

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” That’s the credo of the overwhelming part of the Bulgarian anti-Communists – or possibly the part that makes the most noise. They seem to repeat this sentence to themselves like a mantra again and again.

You are a racist, an anti-Semite, a xenophobe, a revisionist, a fascist, a Nazi, a paid mouthpiece of a media tycoon, a scumbag that sends people with other opinions, or that oppose your lies and propaganda, death threats (either personally or via some of your more “robust” friends, who will let your enemy know that they will shoot him in the neck, or alternatively “break every single bone of his body”) – all is forgiven and forgotten as long as you are a good anti-Communist that condones the murder of a Russian diplomat and who is waiting rather hopefully for the assassination of the Russian Ambassador in Bulgaria, in order to organize a big feast and celebrate the future killer with poems. Dozens of “likes” in social media for your gleeful murder apology will be the consequence in Bulgaria, whereas in pluralistic and more democratic countries with a functioning law enforcement the penal code and the application of its instruments would be the result of such an outburst of depravity.

As long as the democratic anti-Communists don’t draw a clear line between themselves and SA-type “intellectuals” of the extremist right that would gladly practice any kind of violence against their enemies, if they just wouldn’t be such pathetic and impotent cowards, as long as the democratic right doesn’t draw this line, there will be no hope for the development of a democratic and pluralistic society in Bulgaria, and the never-ending story of “transition” and execution of the power by mafia groups will go on and on…

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Kommentar zu einem Nachruf auf Ernst Nolte

Ernst Nolte ist gestorben.

Von den Toten soll man gut reden oder dort, wo dies nicht möglich ist wenigstens respektvoll schweigen. Was allerdings vollkommen unakzeptabel, ja geradezu skandalös ist, sind Artikel wie der Nachruf auf Nolte von Lorenz Jäger in der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung.

Während mit viel Empathie Noltes Lebensweg nachgezeichnet wird, wird seine höchst zweifelhafte Rolle im Historikerstreit nur in einem Nebensatz erwähnt, und seine jahrzehntelangen publizistischen Aktivitäten im neu-braunen Umfeld (Holocaustrelativierung, Verteidigung von Volksverhetzung und vieles mehr) als “Ungeschick” verharmlost – nicht ohne pauschal und anonym denjenigen, die wie Jürgen Habermas Nolte damals ein paar unbequeme Wahrheiten gesagt haben, “harte Angriffe” auf den Geschichtsrevisionisten zu bescheinigen, die Mitschuld an dessen Isolation (“Der Arme!” soll der uninformierte Leser wohl denken) hätten.

Vom Kapp-Putsch, der dem kommunistischen Umsturzversuch vorherging, von den zahlreichen politischen Morden der extremen Rechten nach Ende des 1. Weltkriegs, von der politischen Einäuigkeit der Justiz und politischen Institutionen zu jener Zeit hat Herr Jäger offenbar noch nie gehört, und zu schreiben dass Nolte derjenige gewesen wäre, der als Erster(!) ”den zeitlichen Vorrang der bolschewistischen Klassen-Vernichtungspolitik vor dem Holocaust” behauptet hätte, ist natürlich blanker Unsinn. Es genügte auch vorher schon ein simpler Blick in die Geschichtsbücher, um das zu wissen. Die Angriffe auf Nolte hatten einen anderen Grund, den Herr Jäger verschweigt. Oder schreibt er gar, was er schreibt wider besseres Wissen?

Offenbar hat Herr Jäger bis heute nicht verstanden, um was es bei dem Historikerstreit ging, und warum die Reaktionen auf Noltes geschichtsrevisionistische Thesen, die die Vernichtungsmaschinerie als simple Reaktion auf bolschewistische Verbrechen (und damit zumindest teilweise entschuldbar) darstellte, so heftig waren wie es dann der Fall war. 

Ein Nachruf auf einen der übelsten Geschichtsrevisionisten der Nachkriegszeit, der seinerseits Legendenbildung betreibt und versucht, die Leser in plumper Form zu manipulieren oder bewusst falsch zu informieren – das ist nicht der Qualitätsjournalismus, den ich von der FAZ erwarte!

 © Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bulgarian Literature Month 2016 – a few suggestions (2)

In my latest blog post, I gave an overview regarding some of the translated Bulgarian authors and their works. If you want to have a bit more background information about contemporary authors from Bulgaria, I would recommend you to have a look at the website Contemporary Bulgarian Writers.

The Elizabeth Kostova Foundation is since years successfully supporting particularly the translation and publication of books by contemporary Bulgarian authors, and the website is also a result of their work. Apart from short authors’ bios, there are plenty of translation samples that will for sure be a useful starting point not only for publishers, but also for readers. The English-language Bulgarian journal Vagabond (a well-written and edited periodical for anyone with an interest in Bulgaria) publishes in every new edition a story or a chapter of a novel by a contemporary Bulgarian author. So there are now quite a lot of accessible media that can tease the curiosity of readers for Bulgarian literature.

Although the main focus of this first Bulgarian Literature Month 2016 is on the works of contemporary Bulgarian language authors, I want to be not too strict. Also non-fiction works by Bulgarian authors can be included. The same goes for works by Bulgarian-born authors that write in another language than Bulgarian. I am even open for reviews of books (fiction or non-fiction) by foreign language authors that are related to Bulgaria.

Here are a few recommendations for all above mentioned categories:

Bulgarian-born authors that write in other languages:

The only Bulgarian-born author that was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature was Elias Canetti. Canetti’s only link with Bulgaria is his birth in Ruse and the first years of his early childhood he spent there, and which had nevertheless a strong lifelong impact on him. More on his childhood in the first volume of his brilliant autobiography:

The Tongue Set Free (Granta Books 2011)

Some time ago, I reviewed the debut of Miroslav Penkov, his story collection East of the West, enthusiastically. The English-language author Penkov has now published his first novel, again focused on Bulgaria and similarly enticing:

Stork Mountain (Farrar, Straus , and Giroux 2016)

Kapka Kassabova, another English-language author with Bulgarian roots, left the country of her birth in 1991. Many years later, she came back for a longer visit and her impressions there brought back a lot of mostly not very pleasant memories. A somewhat controversial book, not liked by everyone in Bulgaria, but definitely an interesting read about the difficult process of transition which is still going on 25 years after the fall of communism:

Street Without a Name: Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria (Skyhorse Publishing 2009)

One of the most prolific contemporary German-language authors is Ilija Trojanow (sometimes transcribed as Iliya Troyanov in English). Of his so far translated works I recommend particularly the following books:

Along the Ganges (Haus Publishing 2005)
Mumbai to Mecca (Haus Publishing 2007)
The Collector of Worlds (Haus Publishing 2008)
The Lamentations of Zeno (Verso 2016)

Together with the photographer Christian Muhrbeck, Trojanow published an impressive book with photos from Bulgaria:

Wo Orpheus begraben liegt (Carl Hanser 2013) – this book, as all other works of Trojanow related to Bulgaria, are still not translated in English

Unfortunately Dimitre Dinev’s books, written in German, are so far also not translated in English. His touching and brilliantly written novel about two families is one of my favourite books:

Engelszungen (“Angel’s Tongues”) (Deuticke 2003)

Several other Bulgarian-born authors write also in German. I can recommend (this so far untranslated book) particularly:

Rumjana Zacharieva: Transitvisum fürs Leben (Horlemann 2012)

Bulgaria is also a topic in the work of a few fictional works by authors that have no connection by birth with this country:

Many of Eric Ambler’s books have a story that is located in some frequently not precisely named Balkan country. The following two books of this fantastic author have a Bulgarian setting (the first one partly, the second one is clearly based on the show trial in Bulgaria in the aftermath of the Communist takeover):

The Mask of Dimitrios (in the United States published as A Coffin for Dimitrios) (various editions)
Judgment on Deltchev (Vintage 2002)

Another author who is using the twilight of the Balkans as a setting for his spy novels is Alan Furst. Bulgaria features for example in the following book:

Night Soldiers (Random House 2002)

Two remarkable novels by younger international authors who spent a longer time in Bulgaria and who received excellent reviews (especially the second one, which was published recently has caused really raving write-ups in all major literary journals and even the mainstream media):

Rana Dasgupta: Solo (Marriner Books 2012)
Garth Greenwell: What Belongs to You (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2016)

Julian Barnes visited Bulgaria after the transition and witnessed the trial of Todor Zhivkov. His novel based on this experience is worth reading:

The Porcupine (Vintage 2009)

Two historical novels by men who lived or live in Bulgaria. I haven’t read them yet, but the synopsis sounds interesting in both cases:

Christopher Buxton: Far from the Danube (Kronos 2006)
Ellis Shuman: Valley of the Thracians (Create Space 2013)

A few more books by German authors that have a Bulgarian setting and that I enjoyed (with the exception of Apostoloff, but maybe you think otherwise). Only the book by Lewitscharoff is translated so far.

Michael Buselmeier: Hundezeiten (Wunderhorn 1999)
Nicki Pawlow: Der bulgarische Arzt (Langen-Müller 2014)
Roumen M. Evert: Die Immigrantin (Dittrich 2009)
Uwe Kolbe: Thrakische Spiele (Nymphenburger 2005)
Sibylle Lewitscharoff: Apostoloff (Suhrkamp 2010)

Angelika Schrobsdorff (also known as an actress and wife of Claude Lanzmann) came 1938 to Bulgaria as a Jewish child from Germany and stayed there until 1947. Several of her works are based on her experience in Bulgaria or on her attempts to re-connect with friends and relatives at a later stage:

Die Reise nach Sofia (dtv 1983, introduction by Simone de Beauvoir)
Grandhotel Bulgaria (dtv 1997)

And finally some non-fiction recommendations:

The Bulgarian journalist and author Georgi Markov was one of the most prominent dissidents and victim of a so-called “umbrella murder”. The following book is the result of years of investigation and gives an extremely interesting insight into the real power central of communist Bulgaria, the State Security:

Hristo Hristov: Kill the Wanderer (Gutenberg 2013)

Works of Georgi Markov is available in a three-volume edition in German:

Das Portrait meines Doppelgängers (Wieser 2010)
Die Frauen von Warschau (Wieser 2010)
Reportagen aus der Ferne (Wieser 2014)

In the context of the attempts of certain right-wing circles in Bulgaria to whitewash the fascist regime of Boris III from its share of responsibility in the holocaust, it is particularly useful to read the following book by Tzvetan Todorov, who is together with Julia Kristeva one of the most prominent French intellectuals of Bulgarian origin:

The Fragility of Goodness (Princeton University Press 2003)

Another very heated discussion about a particular period of Bulgarian history  was the so-called Batak controversy a few years ago. Whereas in most other countries a conference about certain aspects of 19th century history would go unnoticed outside a small circle, it resulted in this case in big and very unpleasant smear campaign with involvement of Bulgarian politicians and almost all major media in the country who, either without knowing the publication or in full disregard of the content, organized a real witch hunt against a few scholars that had in the end to cancel the conference because they had to fear for their lives. The re-evaluation of certain historical myths that were in the past used to incite ethnic or religious hatred targeted at certain groups of Bulgarian citizens is still a difficult issue. A book that is documenting the Batak controversy and the historical facts behind it is available in a Bulgarian/German edition:

Martina Baleva, Ulf Brunnbauer (Hgg.): Batak kato mjasto na pametta / Batak als bulgarischer Erinnerungsort (Iztok-Zapad 2007)

A book on the history of Bulgaria may be useful for all those who dive into Bulgarian literature. Bulgarians love their history and love to discuss it with foreigners; or more precisely: the version of history they were taught in school…

R.J. Crampton: A Concise History of Bulgaria (Cambridge University Press 2006)

A fascinating book on how tobacco, its cultivation and production, shaped Bulgaria – until today, when there is still a political party that at least on the the surface mainly represents the interest of the – predominantly ethnic Turkish – tobacco farmers:

Mary C. Neuburger: Balkan Smoke (Cornell University Press 2012)

A German in Bulgaria is the subtitle of the following book, and of course I read the very interesting, insightful and sometimes funny work by Thomas Frahm (not translated in English, but at least in Bulgarian) with great interest and pleasure. Frahm is also one of the few excellent translators of Bulgarian literature (Lea Cohen, Vladimir Zarev):

Die beiden Hälften der Walnuss (Chira 2015)

And if you are planning a walk through the Balkans or a boat trip on the Danube, the following classical works should not be missing in your luggage:

Claudio Magris: Danube (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2008)

Patrick Leigh Fermor: A Time of Gifts/Between the Woods and the Water/The Broken Road (NYRB)

In my next blog post I will give more information on how to participate in Bulgarian Literature Month 2016. And yes, there will be also a few giveaways! 

PS: The information in the two blog posts is of course not complete, and can never be. Still, I think I should include the following as well (which I have simply forgotten):

John Updike: The Bulgarian Poetess – one of Updike’s best stories, available in several of his short story collections, for example in The Early Stories, 1953-1975 (Random House 2004)

Will Buckingham: The Descent of the Lyre (Roman Books 2013) – a beautiful novel that catches the magical atmosphere of the Rhodopi mountains, the region of Orpheus, written by an author who knows Bulgaria, its history and culture very well.

Dumitru Tsepeneag: The Bulgarian Truck – a brilliant postmodernist novel by an author from neighbouring Romania (Dalkey Archive Press 2016)

The online journal Drunken Boat recently published an issue devoted to Bulgarian literature and art. A good selection and the perfect starting point for the Bulgarian Literature Month.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




News from Retardistan (5): The silence of the lambs

Honestly, I cannot understand why most Bulgarian intellectuals don’t say a word about the fact that many of the places where they are usually buying their books are being more and more turned into locations where Nazi publishers are selling pamphlets that are advertising an inhumane ideology, racial hatred and mass murder. No wonder that in this climate, anti-Semitism shows its ugly face also outside the bookstores as this excerpt from the excellent book A Guide to Jewish Bulgaria shows.

It seems to be normal for most Bulgarian intellectuals to see Hitler’s My Struggle, Henry Ford’s The International Jew, and other extremely revolting books that either advertise mass murder, deny the Holocaust, or are apologies of war criminals being prominently advertised and promoted literally almost everywhere, or what is the reason for the silence of most of the Bulgarian intellectual elite in this case?

Do they think that the widespread promotion of such books in their country doesn’t concern them? Do they think someone might be offended when they raise their voice to confront those people who help to distribute extermination manuals? Are they afraid to be physically threatened if they speak out against right-wing extremism and Nazism? (I have to admit that this is unfortunately a very real threat as I learned during my public argument with a revisionist and anti-Semitic so-called “historian” – the “fan mail” by his friends gave me a very interesting insight in the moral scruffiness and deprivation of this part of the extreme right wing of the intellectual lumpenproletariat in Bulgaria; it contrasted rather typically and unfavourably with the almost complete lack of public support for my position by most of my intellectual friends – but do not worry, I have an extremely high frustration tolerance.)

Do they think it is a sign of democracy and freedom of expression when those who either deny the holocaust or who would like to commit mass murder, erect concentration camps, and sterilize by force certain groups of the Bulgarian population if they could are not only allowed to propagate their inhumane ideology without limits, but are even supported by a coalition of silent intellectuals and a public that seems to be completely uninformed about history and uninterested in what is going on in their country, in which revisionists, fascists and openly Nazi groups are taking more and more over the public discourse on certain topics? What kind of “democrats” would have the idea to promote a law that bans the use of certain communist symbols under threat of a prison sentence, but who seem to be fine with the promotion of mass murder under the banner of revisionism, fascism, and Nazism?

Hate speech against minorities is not the exception, but the rule in Bulgaria, and very few people seem to care. A real democracy and pluralist society requires that people raise their voice and set limits to this domination of the public sphere by revisionist, fascist and Nazi propaganda; intellectuals have a particular responsibility to speak out when it comes to these issues. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Bulgarian intellectuals seems to be sound asleep – this intellectual indolence, laziness and cowardice when it comes to confront this pest in Bulgaria is something very sad, disappointing, and depressing. 

Fortunately a few bookstores are consciously not following this trend and a few intellectuals voice their concern. A few bookstores and a few intellectuals, yes. But a real public discussion on a large scale about this problem doesn’t take place, nor seem many people who should know it better even to be aware at all of the issue. As long as it is like this, the enemies of democracy and a pluralist society have a field day in Bulgaria.


The above mentioned book is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in Jewish and/or Bulgarian history:

Dimana Trankova, Anthony Georgieff: A Guide to Jewish Bulgaria, Vagabond Media, Sofia 2011

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

News from Retardistan (4)

A bookstore in Sofia – the same about which I reported recently, the one which advertised Hitler’s My Struggle as “Hit” and put it in such a tasteful manner on a table beside á book of holocaust survivor Primo Levi:

To my surprise, Hitler’s book has finally disappeared from the prominently placed table (Primo Levi too). Has someone read my posting and realized that a book that is advertising the extermination of the Jews, published by a Nazi publishing house and with a portrait of Hitler on the cover that was an official portrait supposed to glorify him and that is obviously targeting an audience of raging anti-Semites and Nazis should not be sold in an establishment that is selling books? Unfortunately not!

My Struggle has not disappeared, but has moved to an even more prominent place: now you see this vile rag of a book in several copies almost jumping in your face when you enter this bookstore, placed on a display rack which every person that enters must notice.

And it goes without saying that the place previously occupied by My Struggle has found a “worthy” placeholder: Henry Ford’s The International Jew in Bulgarian edition, one of the main “inspirations” of Hitler and not much less radical regarding the “solution” of the “Jewish problem” as My Struggle.

Let me guess: when I visit this “establishment” (I avoid the word bookshop) next time, I will probably see Ford replaced by the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion“? Or Celine’s “Bagatelles pour un massacre“? Or the “Leuchter Report“? And in the children’s section maybe an edition of pornographic/anti-Semitic pictures from Julius Streicher’s “Der Stürmer”, labeled as usually with “Hit” and maybe in this case with the additional tasteful sticker “great educational value!”, preferably placed beside the The Diary of Anne Frank?.

Retardistan is a place where nice books that spread certain “values” even in the last household are held in great esteem, a place where people of a certain “culture” have it very easy to find what is arousing their interest and honestly, isn’t it great to find books that promote mass murder, systematic extermination of people and extreme racial hatred without any effort? Hail Retardistan! 

(Irony button “off”)

A case of revisionism – second update

An adapted version of my recent blog post on the role of Boris III in the context of the Bulgarian participation in the Holocaust in Vardar Macedonia and Thrace was published in Bulgarian on the website Marginalia.

The team of Marginalia is nominated this year for the renowned Human Rights Tulip award of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs for curageous individuals or organisations that promote human rights worldwide in innovative ways.

Thanks to Svetla Encheva and Marta Metodieva from the Marginalia team.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The feces of revisionism

They promise to stage “Götterdämmerung“ – but their abilities are even not sufficient for “Hänschen klein“.


(with a friendly nod in the direction of Gottfried Benn)


© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

An apology

Just read the second article of Manol Glishev on Boris III.

Now I have to send out an apology to a lot of people. I called Glishev initially a “poet and intellectual“. To all poets and intellectuals – I am really sorry for that.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Manol Glishev is “rather amused“ – by what? By the death of 11,363 Jews who were sent to Treblinka by his idol and the blog post I wrote about it.

Manol Glishev is also inspired – he promised to write a poem/poems about this amusing topic. – “My funny Holocaust Haikus“ is the working title as I have heard.

And judging from his fine sense of humor, I am sure not to expect in vain a sitcom featuring Macedonian Jews cracking jokes in the gas chamber…soooo amusing – at least for a person with the character of a Manol Glishev.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.