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Alexander Belev (b. July 7, 1900, in Lom, northern Bulgaria) studied law and went to work for the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior in the late 1930s. He held various positions (Director of the Surveys and Publications Department, Legal Adviser). In his capacity as legal adviser, he was sent to Germany to acquire intimate knowledge of the antisemitic policies and to explore ways of implementing them in Bulgaria. Belev was actively involved in drafting the “Law for the Protection of the Nation” and all subsequent antisemitic legislation in his country.

Due to his pronouncedly antisemitic views, on September 3, 1942, Belev was named Chief Commissar at the KEV (the Bulgarian Commissariat for Jewish Affairs), a special institution that had been established to deal with the “Jewish problem” in Bulgaria. His duties included the preparation of orders, regulations and directives related to the persecution of Bulgarian Jews.

On February 22, 1943, Belev, along with the German envoy Theodor Dannecker, signed an agreement for the deportation of 20,000 Jews from Macedonia and Thrace—territories that had come under Bulgarian control during the war—as an initial stage in the deportation of all Jews in Bulgaria. Since there were no more than 12,000 Jews in these territories, the words “from the new territories” were deleted from the agreement. On this basis, some 8,000 Jews from Bulgaria proper were included in the accord.

Belev was personally involved in organizing and perpetrating the deportation of the Jews of Macedonia and Thrace in March 1943. In the course of this operation, more than 11,000 Jews from Greece and Yugoslavia were sent to Treblinka, from which none returned. In Bulgaria proper, the deportation scheme failed and the operation was called off at the eleventh hour.

Under German pressure, Belev drew up another plan for the deportation to Poland of all Jews in Bulgaria in April–May 1943. Ultimately, this scheme was succeeded by another one calling for the eviction of the Jews of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, to peripheral towns. In October of that year, Belev was dismissed as chief commissar and succeeded by Hristo Stomanyakov.

After the war, Belev was tried in absentia and sentenced to death. According to reports in Kyustendil in 1945, he was identified by police while attempting to leave Bulgaria and took his own life.

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