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Journal Articles Revue d'histoire de la Shoah Year : 2022

The testimony of Auschwitz survivor Menahem Isaac Cohen before the Bulgarian Court in March 1945

Le témoignage de Menahem Isaac Cohen, rescapé d’Auschwitz, devant la justice bulgare en mars 1945

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Abstract

During a trial held in Bulgaria in March-April 1945 to prosecute anti-Semitic crimes, a Greek Jew, Menahem Isaac Cohen, a native of Thessaloniki and a survivor of Auschwitz, was invited to testify in court. This testimony is exceptional in several respects. First of all, it is one of the very first testimonies before a court of law to describe how the Auschwitz camp operated, including the selection process, the use of gas chambers and crematoria for extermination purposes, and the conduct of medical experiments on prisoners. This testimony also stands out because of the court before which it was presented, namely Chamber 7 of the Bulgarian People’s Court, the first jurisdiction in Europe exclusively dedicated to the examination of anti-Semitic crimes. This record reveals the state of knowledge of Bulgarian judges about the Holocaust, as well as their difficulty in creating a space for speech that was commensurate with the crimes related by the witness. Translated from Bulgarian and annotated and presented by Nadège Ragaru, Menahem Isaac Cohen’s deposition contributes to our knowledge of the destruction of the Jews of Thessaloniki, the great Jewish metropolis of the Balkans.
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Dates and versions

hal-03632497 , version 1 (07-12-2022)

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Nadège Ragaru. Le témoignage de Menahem Isaac Cohen, rescapé d’Auschwitz, devant la justice bulgare en mars 1945. Revue d'histoire de la Shoah, 2022, n° 215, pp.379-408. ⟨10.3917/rhsho.215.0379⟩. ⟨hal-03632497⟩
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