Official commemoration of the contribution of Dimitar Peshev and other deputies 
to the saving of the Bulgarian Jews, held in the Bulgarian National Assembly
     

    ADDRESS DELIVERED BY MR. NANDO DELLA CHIESA,
    DEPUTY TO THE ITALIAN CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES

    Messrs. Presidents, dear colleagues, dear deputies, ladies and gentlemen, 
    I came to know the figure of Dimitar Peshev from Gabriele Nissim's book .  Although I have studied history and historical events, I have really missed to get acquainted with Peshev before reading the book devoted to him. This is a book coming from the depths of history, bringing out a memory which had more or less been lost, and letting us get a better knowledge of ourselves. Forthcoming is the 65th anniversary of the introduction of the racial laws in Italy. These laws were accepted by the Italian people who were then convinced they would never degenerate, holding the firm belief that evil, in the form of genocide, would never become reality. These laws were perceived as only a small compromise with one's own conscience, an insignificant compromise made in order to keep peace, in order not to cry out loud the moral disapproval of genocide. 

    The Italian history is full of explanations justifying this collective act aimed at the reconciliation of the many millions of Italians who consented to the racial laws - at the universities, in the schools, in public administration. 

    I think that Peshev's deed is a slap in the face of all these excuses. I think that Peshev's act has proved that people are able to stand up against what they saw as major tendencies, major historical trends, that there does not exist any fate able to bend the individuals, the peoples, the nations, like a violent wind. Peshev proved that moral dignity, intellectual integrity, valour, courage, love for one's neighbour are capable of turning this wind non-violent, of challenging the major tendencies in history. What happened in Bulgaria, did not, alas, happen in Italy. 

    Italy had moral values high enough to allow it to resist and prevent genocide. But silence was persistently justified in the historical studies, by arguing that it would have been worse in case there had been protests. But what might be worse than a genocide? What might be more horrible than a genocide? This is the real value of Peshev's exploit for he helps us better understand in what particular way history is working, what its essence is, he enables us to comprehend what the real worth, the real nature of man are. This is Peshev's greatness. And here I would like to speak not only of a grandeur which makes history, because to make history alone is not a grand deed, it is great to accept history too. 

I was greatly fascinated by the dignity Peshev displayed when, after having made history by doing good, he had to suffer humiliation, isolation, false charges; his dignity was offended under the eyes of the people he was in charge of. Nevertheless, the more his dignity was humiliated, the higher his personality was elevated.

There is no excuse for the wrongdoing of those in power. There is dignity which is great in the eyes of those who weigh up the fall of regimes. For only after a regime is over, people become aware of human dignity.

Precisely this double greatness - in making history, on the one hand, and in accepting history, on the other, is a real example for all Italians and Europeans. I would like to say that whenever in the history of a particular people there are heroes, although heroes display greater courage than the ordinary people constituting the respective nation, they ultimately and to the highest degree express the feelings of the nation. A hero takes from his own people, and, in turn, his people, in its subsequent history, draws from the hero.

Therefore, if Peshev has personified all Bulgarians, I think now in every Bulgarian's memory Peshev has remained. This is the relationship between heroes and peoples, between a hero and the history of his people. Thank you!


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