Norbert Yasharoff

Norbert Yasharoff

Born: February 18, 1930

Sofia, Bulgaria

Norbert was born to a Jewish family in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. His father, a prominent lawyer, was also active in the Jewish community, heading relief efforts for the city's Jewish orphans. Sofia was home to approximately half of Bulgaria's estimated 50,000 Jews during the mid-1930s.

1933-39: On September 1, 1939, while on a family vacation the Yasharoffs heard over the radio that war [World War II] had begun. Norbert's parents exchanged worried glances; what would happen to them now? Bulgaria had close ties with the Germans and they were frightened. At the newsstand Norbert saw antisemitic headlines appear for the first time in the papers speaking of the Jews' "international conspiracy." He asked his father to help him understand what was happening.

1940-44: In May 1943 Norbert's family was deported to Pleven in northern Bulgaria. It wasn't like the deportations they'd heard about; they lived with relatives and Norbert even attended a public school. The Soviet army arrived on September 9, 1944. The Bulgarian partisans descended from the mountains and started rounding up town officials. Nortbert happened to be in the street so he helped. While the chief of police was held at gunpoint, Norbert searched his pockets. He was shaking worse than the police chief.

Norbert finished high school in Sofia after the war. In 1948 he immigrated to Israel and later moved to the United States.

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