'Righteous' Bulgarian Dimitar Peshev Gets Washington D.C. Street Named After Him

Jewish Officials Quixotic Campaign Bears Fruit

Righteous Fight: Dimitar Peshev, then a senior Bulgarian official, pleads with local officials to block deportation of Jews in 1942.
yad vashem
Righteous Fight: Dimitar Peshev, then a senior Bulgarian official, pleads with local officials to block deportation of Jews in 1942.

By JTA

Published November 14, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The street in front of the Bulgarian Embassy was renamed Dimitar Peshev Plaza, in honor of the man credited with halting the deportation of about 50,000 Jews. A 45-minute ceremony witnessed by close to 75 people was held Nov. 12, after the D.C. Council unanimously voted to give the intersection of 22nd and R St. NW the new honorific name. Speakers included Bulgarian Ambassador Elena Poptodorova, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Neil Glick, who championed Peshev’s cause.

“Needless to say, this is a big thing,” said the ambassador, who called the street naming the first recognition of a Bulgarian as a hero in the western hemisphere.

In March 1943, Peshev, who was the deputy speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament at the time, heard of a deportation order and decided he had to stop it at all costs.

He rushed to the capital city of Sophia on March 9, 1943, equipped with a petition signed by 43 members of the government, and went to the Ministry of the Interior to beg officials to stop the deportation orders. He refused to leave that office until every deportation center in the country was contacted and everyone released. By the end of that day, the order was cancelled. Historians have since credited him with saving 50,000 people.

Peshev also tried to stop deportations of Jews in northern Greece and Macedonia, but without success.

Because of Peshev’s actions, he was stripped of his position as deputy speaker and then kicked out of Parliament. A year-and-a-half later, when the Soviet-back Communists took over the government, Peshev was tried as a war criminal and sent to jail. One of his crimes was listed as anti-Semitism.

He is credited with saving the second largest number of Jews during World War II and was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

“His is a story of making choices and tolerance,” Poptodorova said. “His story is particularly relevant today. He absolutely made the right choice. He risked everything, his career, his life.”

Glick, a former commissioner on the D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Board Commission, learned of Peshev’s actions 19 years ago. He brought it to the attention of the D.C. Council less than two years ago.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.