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The Final Solution in Bulgaria and Romania: A Comparative Perspective

Written by  Ethan J. Hollander, this article appeared on the second issue of Vol. 22 of East European Politics & Societies in the spring of 2008.
 
Accounts of the Final Solution in Bulgaria and Romania often stress the differences between the two countries, attributing Bulgaria’s relatively low victimization
rate (18 percent) and Romania’s relatively high one (approximately 50 percent) to differing levels of anti-Semitism or local attitudes toward Jews.
This article argues that, broken down by region, Bulgaria and Romania were actually quite similar, in that both countries participated in the victimization of
Jews i
n newly acquired territories while protecting those in the “home country.”
 
By investigating the complex negotiations between Nazi Germany and local officials in each of these countries, the author shows that because of their close alliance with Nazi Germany (and not despite this), the governments of Bulgaria and Romania were both able to protect their own Jewish citizens. Both countries essentially traded loyalty in military and economic affairs for concessions, delays, and limitations in the Final Solution. This observation has fascinating moral implications, since it suggests that countries could only protect their own citizens by cooperating with Nazi Germany. It also illustrates that far from being passive subjects of coercion, weak states in imperial relationships can actually bargain to change the terms of their own subjugation. Imperial hegemony is partly a product of negotiation and international contracting, not unmitigated coercion.

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