Belev, Alexander°

views updated


BELEV, ALEXANDER° (1900–1944), first commissar for Jewish affairs in *Bulgaria (1942–43). He was one of the founders of the antisemitic organization Ratnik and became an official of the ministry of the interior. Belev was sent in 1941 to Germany to study methods of enforcing anti-Jewish legislation and, in September 1942, he became head of the Commissariat for Jewish Affairs. He collaborated closely with Dannecker, *Eichmann's representative in Bulgaria, with whom he signed an agreement on February 22, 1943, to deport 20,000 Jews. Belev implemented the antisemitic "Law for the Protection of the Nation" (which had been passed on December 24, 1940) with cruelty and sometimes exceeded his authority in order to gain his end – the deportation of all Bulgarian Jewry, but he succeeded only in deporting "to the East" the Jews from the Yugoslav and Greek territories under Bulgarian military occupation. His wide powers earned him the nickname "King of the Jews." When Bulgaria was conquered by the Soviet Army in September 1944, Belev attempted to flee with the Germans, but he was caught by the militia and disappeared without a trace. He was sentenced to death in absentia by a People's Court in Sofia in 1945.


B.J. Arditi, Yehudei Bulgaryah bi-Shenot ha-Mishtar ha-Naẓi 194044 (1962), index; eg, 10 (1967). add. bibliography: M. Bar-Zohar, Beyond Hitler's Grasp. The Heroic Rescue of Bulgaria's Jews (1998), 179–84.

[Ora Alcalay]