The Banality of History and Memory:
Romanian Society and the Holocaust
By: Laurence Weinbaum
In his book Kaputt, one of the earliest eyewitness
accounts of the sufferings of Romanian Jews published in the West, the
Italian war correspondent who wrote under the pen name Curzio Malaparte1
described what he had seen of the pogrom in Iasi
in June 1941, in which up to fifteen thousand Jews perished:
The road was crowded with people - squads of soldiers
and policemen, groups of men and women, bands of gypsies with their
hair in long ringlets were gaily and noisily chattering with one another,
as they despoiled the corpses, lifting them, rolling them over, turning
them on their sides to draw off their coats, their trousers and their
underclothes; feet were rammed against dead bellies to help pull off
the shoes; people came running to share in the loot; others made off
with arms piled high with clothing. It was a gay bustle, a merry occasion,
a feast and a marketplace all in one. I flew at a group of policemen
busily stripping dead bodies and hurled myself screaming against them,
"Dirty cowards," I shouted, "get away, you lousy bastards!"
One of them looked at me in amazement, picked up some suits and two
or three pairs of shoes from a pile of clothing on the ground and
pushed them toward me saying, "Don't get angry, Domnule Capitan
[Mister Captain] there's enough for everybody."2
Malaparte's book was translated into most European
languages, immediately after it was published in Italy.
However, it took more than fifty years for a translation to appear in
Romanian, and the reasons for that omission are not far to seek. How
Romanian society has faced the darkest episode in its history - the
torment and murder of Jews during World
War II - is symbolized by the fact that the country's former president
supported the contention that the Holocaust never came to Romania, as
will be seen below.
For over fifteen years since the fall of communism
in Romania over fifteen years ago, Romanian society, with few noteworthy
exceptions, has failed to acknowledge any responsibility for the fate
of Romanian Jews, or of the Jews murdered by Romanians during their
occupation of parts of the Ukraine.
Antipathy and Complicity
The American historian Robert L. Wolff, who in World
War II was chief of the Balkan Section of the Research and Analysis
Branch of the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the CIA),
noted regarding the period between the wars: "Romanians of all
social classes and of any or no degree of education, of all Christian
sects and all professions, hated Jews, and were prone to blame them
for the troubles of the country. In the Hitler
period, when antisemitism became
fashionable in Europe, the Romanians often claimed to have invented
Interwar Romania, with its Jewish population of some
eight hundred thousand (nearly 5 percent of the total), was especially
fertile ground for anti-Semitism, which accelerated from anti-Jewish
legislation to mob violence to full-scale, state-sponsored genocide.
As Romanian-born historian Radu Ioanid explained:
World War II transformed what might otherwise have
remained a period of severe antisemitic outbreaks into a true Romanian
Holocaust, that, while part of the broader German-European Holocaust,
remained at the same time a specifically Romanian story. As in Germany,
the immediate background to Romania's Holocaust tapped archaic antisemitic
traditions and was crafted by militant agitation of antisemitic parties,
itself followed by State legislation and then compounded by wartime
circumstances. Bloody mob violence was the result, but now drawing
in government elements, the riots took on the character of a social
enterprise and thus invited takeover by the State. This transition
phase, when mass robbery and mass murder evolved from a societal to
a governmental enterprise, took place in the months immediately preceding
and immediately following Romania's entrance into the war. The tempering
of the Romanian-German diplomatic alliance into one of wartime fraternity
augured more deliberate and more systematic ill for Romania's Jews.
Finally, during this time, the Antonescu regime became more directly
involved in encouraging the violence, though still more in the sense
of indirect inspiration. Soon, however, it would openly take things
A report from the German Einsatzgruppe
(mobile killing squad) D of 21 July, 1941 expressed shock, not at the
Romanian killers' ferocity, but at their negligence regarding the postmortem
The Romanians take action against Jews without any
preconceived plan. There would be nothing to criticize about the many
executions of Jews had their technical preparation and their manner
of execution not been inadequate. But the Romanians leave the bodies
of those who are executed where they fall, without burying them. The
Einsatzgruppe has enjoined the Romanian police to be orderly from
The American historian Raul Hilberg described characteristic
aspects of the Holocaust in Romania:
Opportunism was practiced in Romania not only on
a national basis but also in personal relations….However, what
was true of personal opportunism in Romania was true also of personal
involvement in killings. Repeatedly the Romanians threw themselves
into Aktionen. Witnesses
and survivors testifying to the manner in which the Romanians conducted
their killing operations speak of scenes unduplicated in Axis
Europe…. In examining the Romanian bureaucratic apparatus,
one is therefore left with the impression of an unreliable machine
that did not properly respond to command and that acted in unpredictable
ways, sometimes balking, sometimes running away with itself. That
spurting action, unplanned and uneven, sporadic and erratic, was the
outcome of an opportunism that was mixed with destructiveness, a lethargy
periodically interrupted by outbursts of violence. The product of
this mixture was a record of anti-Jewish actions that is decidedly
The Romanian policy toward the Jews - including mass
deportations to Transnistria - only changed with Germany's declining
fortunes at the end of 1942.7
Antonescu decided to postpone the deportation of the Jewish population
of the Regat (old Romania) to German
death camps in occupied Poland,
thus sparing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Still, estimates
of the total number killed by Romanians range from 280,000 to 420,000.8
Returning survivors were often met with hostility and it is believed
that hundreds of Romanian Jews were murdered after 1944.9
After the war, with the imposition of communism in
Romania, almost no official acknowledgment of Romania's role in the
Final Solution was forthcoming.10
A Delayed Confrontation
In the mid-1990s, throughout the continent, Europeans
began to confront their wartime history. A process of historical introspection
produced a new, often troubling self-image, and above all the sudden
discovery that the "historical" narrative on which two generations
were raised was actually an amalgam of myths and facts. Most realized
that the level of local collaboration with German occupying authorities,
or the popular support accorded native fascist regimes, was far greater
than had been generally believed.
Conversely, in most instances and despite its disproportionate
emphasis in history books, resistance was a marginal phenomenon. With
these revelations came accounts of the despoliation of Jewish communities
by local people and institutions in German-occupied countries. In this
regard, particularly scrutinized were the cases of France,
Norway, and the Netherlands.
This process was especially pronounced in certain postcommunist
countries, in which some historians, finally free of the constraints
of successive party interpretations of history, debunked the prevailing
interpretations. For the most part, during the communist period, these
societies had not been compelled to face the less savory aspects of
their wartime past, especially regarding their relations with their
Jewish minorities. In all of them, the story of the "popular antifascist
resistance" became deeply embedded in the national history. Researchers
were hostage to the prevailing ideology, which was itself often mercurial,
so much so that it was once observed that the hardest thing to predict
in communism was the past. However, where Jews were concerned there
was usually silence. But suddenly communism was dead, though this did
not mean it was fully buried or that its worldview could not be reincarnated
in other forms.11
Nevertheless, in many instances the findings of researchers,
unfettered by censorship, revealed that local populations were active
in the destruction and plundering of the Jewish population, either by
aiding the Germans or by orchestrating the killings themselves. Although
such findings did not endear these authors to much of society, the most
brave and honest of them persevered.
Romania's Continuing Denial
This process of historical review had another side
to it. Present to varying degrees in all the postcommunist states, especially
those (or secessionist parts of them) that had allied themselves with
Nazi Germany, was the tendency to glorify local fascist or authoritarian
regimes that were complicit in attacking the local Jews.12
This was especially pronounced in Romania. Even after
the Ceausescu regime13 was overthrown at the end of 1989, Romanians
were loath to confront the country's recent past. Until very recently,
the post- Ceausescu Romanian "party line" underwent no significant
revision that was broadly reflected in the country's historical narrative.
If anything, the nationalist interpretation of Romanian history, which
had been gaining strength under Ceausescu, intensified. Until 2003,
the official Romanian line was outright denial of any Romanian complicity
in the destruction of Jews, or even that the Holocaust had affected
During Ceausescu's reign, "history" was carefully
crafted to absolve Romanians of any guilt and place blame for the murder
of Romanian Jews - to the extent that it was even acknowledged - exclusively
on Germans, Hungarians, or simply "fascists."14 Every schoolchild
was taught about the heroic "antifascist resistance" and,
in particular, about the "national antifascist, anti-imperialist
insurrection of August 1944." The campaigns in which the Romanian
military fought after the country's volte face were portrayed as a glorious
page in the nation's history, but nothing was taught about its operations
before that time, or about its role in the destruction of Romanian Jewry,
or of Jews in Soviet territory under Romanian military occupation.
Since the 1989 revolution the country's wartime leader,
Ion Antonescu, whom the communist regime hanged for war crimes in 1946,
was often depicted as the savior of Romanian Jewry. Because of the fascist
dictator's policies after 1942, Romania, it is often claimed, was a
sort of oasis for European Jews. The very presence of a relatively large
Jewish community in Romania in the postwar years was seen as evidence
Although pogroms (notably in Iasi) and the dispatch
of death trains were occasionally, grudgingly acknowledged, Jews were
now blamed for their own deaths. Romanian Jews, it was often said, had
suffered because of their supposed procommunist sympathies. Indeed,
the accusers were often former communist functionaries who had been
reincarnated as Romanian nationalists. Romanian communism under Ceausescu
was, to be sure, strongly infused with nationalism, and subsequently
Romania was mostly ruled by former intimates of Ceausescu. No Walsa
or Havel appeared either before or after the collapse.
None of this was a fringe phenomenon. In 1997, when
then-President Emil Constantinescu wrote a bold letter to the president
of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania, the late Prof. Nicolae
Cajal, acknowledging Romania's role in the destruction of Romanian Jews
and calling for expiation, he was subjected to a barrage of criticism.
The attacks came not merely from the extreme-Right Romania Mare party
but also, and unexpectedly, from leading intellectuals and stalwarts
of Romanian liberalism.15
Thus, if until the fall of communism Romania's policy
was one of amnesia and amnesty, afterward it became one of total exoneration.
At the end of 1989, the Romanian Right - avowedly anticommunist but
with many former Communist Party hacks, Securitate men, and Ceausescu
hagiographers in its ranks began to openly glorify Antonescu and his
regime. Suddenly the nationalist dictator who had waged a "holy
war against Bolshevism" became an emblematic hero, subject of a
"Historians" with a nationalist bent were
especially drawn by his ideas of Romania as a great country that had
resisted communist demoralization, invading the Soviet
Union to regain lost territory and occupy additional areas, and
they idealized his resistance to "decadent" and "Western"
(i.e., "Jewish") influences. Streets were named for him and
monuments, including in Romanian Orthodox churches, erected in his honor.
Despite international protests and contrary to Romania's own legislation
against glorifying war criminals, this personality cult continues, though
abating somewhat in recent years.16
Some foreign philo-Romanian historians have also been
involved in this process. One of the most steadfast whitewashers was
an American, Kurt Treptow, who in the early 1990s settled in Iasi and
eventually became director of the Romanian Culture Institute there.
Treptow kept company with "scholars" whose revisionist tendencies
and enmity toward Jews were no secret. Among them was the Iasi "historian"
Gheorghe Buzatu, a Ceausescu hagiographer and persistent apologist for
the Antonescu regime, and a Romania Mare legislator since 2000.17 Another
supporter of the official Romanian history was the American Larry Watts,
author of a book called Romanian Cassandra: Ion Antonescu.18
As for Treptow, his public activities were finally
discredited when he was revealed to be a longtime pedophile and child
pornographer, preying on impoverished children in Iasi.19
Political scientist Michael Shafir of Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty in Prague, a veteran
observer of Romanian affairs, aptly labeled the failure to acknowledge
guilt in Romania and elsewhere in East Central Europe as "deflective
negationism."20 In Romania, he identified another phenomenon at
work as well: "Selective negationism…does not deny the Holocaust
as having taken place elsewhere, but excludes any participation of members
of one's own nation in the perpetration. Nowhere in post-Communist East
Central Europe - to the best knowledge of this author - is selective
negationism so blatant as in Romania."21
Romania's then-president Ion Iliescu expressed this
starkly in 2003. Asked to clarify a Romanian government declaration
that "within the borders of Romania between 1940
and 1945 there
was no Holocaust," he asserted: "The Holocaust was not unique
to the Jewish population in Europe. Many others, including Poles, died
in the same way…. Jews and Communists were treated equally….
However it is impossible to accuse the Romanian people and the Romanian
society of this [massacre of Jews]."22
Two years earlier, at a ceremony in the Bucharest
Choral Synagogue for the sixtieth anniversary of the January 1941
pogrom in that city, Iliescu declared that Romania had not contributed
to the history of the persecution of Jews, and that it was "unjustified
to attribute to Romania an artificially inflated number of [Jewish]
victims for the sake of media impact."23 That same year, in another
speech, he said Romanian society had "developed an immune system
against inter-ethnic hatred, intolerance, xenophobia, extremism, antisemitism
Iliescu was parroting the official version of events
that had been propagated in Ceausescu's time and outlasted him. In private
conversations with the Romanian ambassadors to Israel and Ukraine, respectively,
in 1998, this author was assured that there had been no Holocaust in
Romania and that the "few" Jews killed were communist agents
Ongoing Distortions of the Record
In 1996, Washington was the setting for an International
Scholars' Conference on the Fate of Romanian and Ukrainian Jews under
the Antonescu Regime. The American historian Randolph Braham, who has
written extensively on the Holocaust in Hungary
and Romania, presented a paper that described Romania's Holocaust historiography:
- Generally minimizes or distorts the antisemitic policies and anti-Jewish
laws that were adopted by successive Romanian governments, beginning
with those initiated by the Goga-Cuza regime in late 1937
and culminating in those enforced during the Antonescu era (1940-44);
- Virtually ignores or rationalizes Romania's role as an Axis ally
that provided the second-largest army in the war against the Soviet
Union - an army that was largely destroyed at Stalingrad
- and emphasizes the country's contribution to the Allied war
effort after August 23, 1944, when Romania switched sides;
- Fails to acknowledge the murder of close to 270,000 Romanian and
Ukrainian Jews by units of the Romanian army and gendarmes in parts
of Moldavia, Bukovina, Bessarabia and Transnistria;
- Focuses on the opportunistic "moderate" anti-Jewish policies
the Antonescu government pursued since the end of 1942, and especially
after the crushing defeat of the Romanian army at Stalingrad emphasizing
its refusal to go along with Germany's program in Old Romania and
- Fails to acknowledge or adequately deal with the fact that in Old
Romania and Southern Transylvania close to 10 percent of the Jewish
inhabitants were killed primarily by Romanians loyal to the Iron Guard
and Marshal Antonescu, and takes no note of the fact that the survivors,
grateful as they were for having escaped with their lives, were deprived
of their livelihood as well as their civil rights and liberties;
- Contrasts the country's "humanitarian" wartime record
with Hungary's "barbarism," identifying Romania's record
with that of Bulgaria and
- Lays ultimate responsibility for some of the admitted anti-Jewish
excesses in Romania proper on the Germans and "a few misguided
and over-zealous" Iron Guardists;
- Rationalizes the mass murder of the Romanian Jews of Bukovina and
Bessarabia as actions of self-defense against Judeo-Bolsheviks and
Soviet collaborators; and
- Emphasizes and exploits the tragedy of the Jews in Hungarian-ruled
Northern Transylvania as an integral part of a calculated political
campaign against Hungary and Hungarians.25
These themes have persisted since 1996, and President
Iliescu added two new ones. The first is that there was no singularity
to the Holocaust. In his view, the sufferings of Jews in Europe were
no worse than those of Poles and Romanian communists, implying that
too much fuss is made about the Shoah.26 Second, Iliescu suggests that
in requesting the return of their property seized during the Antonescu
regime, Jews aim to rob honest and impoverished Romanians: "I don't
think that we should make a connection between [the Holocaust and Jewish
property plundered by Romanians]. After all, that is liable to generate
sentiments not of a positive nature toward the Jewish population….Is
it worth continuing to skin those who are living in distress today….And
just in order to compensate others? I don't find that appropriate."27
Signs of a Change?
Meanwhile, in the summer of 2003, as a result of an
international outcry, Romania eventually agreed to convene an international
commission to examine the country's wartime history.28 The Commission
on the Holocaust in Romania, which was chaired by Elie
Wiesel, released a report in November 2004 that unequivocally points
to Romanian culpability. It declares: "Of all the allies of Nazi
Germany, Romania bears responsibility for the deaths of more Jews than
any country other than Germany itself."29 The report recognizes
the isolated examples of Romanian individuals and institutions who have
struggled to correct the record, and whose influence on the general
population has been marginal thus far.
Iliescu praised the commission's findings and was himself
praised in Jewish circles for convening it and accepting the results.
However, in one of his last acts as president, he conferred the state's
prize for Faithful Service on Holocaust-denier Buzatu. He also awarded
the state's highest decoration, the Order of the Star of Romania, to
Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the Romania Mare leader long known for his virulent
anti-Semitism.30 It was a fitting end to the Iliescu regime, one that
epitomized its clumsy attempts to comply with international pressure
while pandering to Romanian nationalist sentiment seemingly oblivious
to the evident contradictions in such a policy.
Subsequently, a new government has come to power and
there is some room for optimism. The new president, Traian Basescu,
has pledged to right former wrongs and thus far his public pronouncements
have been positive.
Still, it is not clear whether the findings of the
Commission on the Holocaust in Romania will give rise to a new national
narrative. A real change in Romanian attitudes would take generations.
In keeping with the commission's recommendation, the subject of the
Holocaust has been introduced into the school curriculum. An examination
of the curriculum, however, reveals not only inconsistencies but also
a tendency to omit the fact that Romanians were responsible for the
murder of their Jewish neighbors.
It is the Foreign Ministry under Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu31
that has been most active in heightening awareness of Romania's role
in the Holocaust. The question, however, is whether this new stance
is mainly for foreign consumption. As Ioanid said in an interview:
For some time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
Romania was in the forefront of trying to help to do something beyond
the short-term commemorative events…. Probably because they
understand better the impact outside Romania on the country's image,
and the consequences of not dealing with such an issue. But I have
to say that we are quite disappointed by the fact that the Ministry
of Education, which should be in the forefront of such an issue, is
lagging way, way behind. I'm wondering if this is not a relic of the
past because my understanding is that the leadership of this ministry
is committed to doing something about Holocaust education, but once
you go to the second and third level in the bureaucracy of the ministry,
you find quite powerful forces that are doing their best to slow down
There are, on the other hand, encouraging signs. In
several universities, notably Bucharest, Cluj, and Iasi, courses have
been instituted that focus on teaching the Holocaust and Jewish history.
Yad Vashem has also played
host to Romanian educators and young political activists who have participated
in special courses on the Holocaust and the Romanian role in it. On
the recommendation of the international commission, a state-sponsored
Romanian institute for Holocaust studies has also been established.
Most significantly, a number of important books on the subject have
been published in Romania, including a translation of the major work
by Jean Ancel.33 Denial is still, of course, widespread, but at least
there is finally a serious effort underway to set the record straight.34
Much depends on the attitude of those in power and
their will to bring about a change. As Orwell wrote: "Those who
control the past control the future. Those who control the present control
* * *
* An abridged version of this article was presented
at the JCPA session at the Fourteenth World Congress of Jewish Studies
in Jerusalem in August 2005. Portions of this text previously appeared
as "Where Memory Is a Curse and Amnesia a Blessing: A Journey through
Romania's Holocaust Narrative," WJC Institute Policy Study, No.
27, Jerusalem, 2004. The author expresses his gratitude to Dr. Yosef
Govrin, former Israeli ambassador to Romania, and Dr. Rafi Vago of Tel
Aviv University for their many helpful suggestions.
1. Kurt Suckert.
2. Curzio Malaparte, Kaputt (New York: E.P. Dutton,
1946), 412-13. Strictly speaking, Malaparte's book cannot be seen as
a memoir, because of its author's literary aspirations and the artistic
license he took with some of his accounts.
3. Robert L. Wolff, The Balkans in Our Time, rev. ed.
(New York: W. W. Norton, 1978), 117.
4. Radu Ioanid, The Holocaust in Romania (Chicago:
Ivan R. Dee, 2000), 108-09.
5. Henry Monneray, La Persecution des Juifs dans les
Pays de l'Est (Paris: Editions du Centre, 1949), 291 [French], quoted
in Ioanid, Holocaust in Romania, 108.
6. Raul Hillberg, The Destruction of the European Jews
(New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985), 759-60.
7. In northern Transylvania, however, which came under
Hungarian rule in 1940, the deportation of the Jewish population took
place in 1944, when it was all but certain that Germany would lose the
8. Jean Ancel put the figure as high as 420,000 in
his Toldot Ha-Shoah: Romania (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2002), 1402 [Hebrew].
According to the Final Report of the International Commission on the
Holocaust in Romania (see n. 31), "between 280,000 and 380,000
Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were murdered or died during the Holocaust
in Romania and the territories under its control," 2.
9. Jean Ancel, "The Return of the Survivors from
Transnistria," in David Bankier, ed., The Jews Are Coming Back
(Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2005), 241.
10. A notable exception was the work of the country's
communist minister of justice, Lucretiu Patrascanu, Problemele de baza
ale Romaniei [Basic Problems of Romania], published in Bucharest in
1944 and revised in 1946. The book included a strong indictment of the
role of the Romanian state in the destruction of Romanian Jewry. Patrascanu,
a non-Jew, later ran afoul of the communist regime and was executed
in 1954. After his posthumous rehabilitation in 1969, his works were
republished but without the chapter in the above book titled "The
Systematic Annihilation of the Jews under the Antonescu Regime."
11. Nowhere was this introspection more pronounced
than in Polish society, much of which was shocked to learn - conditioned
as they were to perceive themselves as victims rather than perpetrators
- of the massacre at Jedwabne and similar killings nearby. However,
Romanian society received no such "shock therapy" and whatever
progress has been made has been sporadic and mainly prompted by external
intervention. There has been no debate like the one that has occurred
in Poland. See Laurence Weinbaum, "The Struggle for Memory in Poland:
Auschwitz, Jedwabne and Beyond," WJC Policy Study, No. 22, Jerusalem,
12. This was especially so in Croatia, Hungary, and
Slovakia, which were all responsible to a great degree for the destruction
of their Jewish populations. A similar phenomenon occurred in Ukraine
and the Baltic states, with the local population either orchestrating
or complicit in the destruction of Jews.
13. The Ceaucescu regime was widely acknowledged to
be the most repressive in Eastern Europe.
14. An example is Mihai Fatu and Mircea Musat, eds.,
Horthyist-Fascist Terror in Northwestern Romania September 1940-October
1944 (Bucharest [no publisher stated], 1986), which stresses the crimes
committed by Hungarians. The book opens with a characteristic quote
by Ceaucescu: "After the First World War, fascism seized political
power in Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Bulgaria and eventually, in the thirties,
also in Germany and Spain, while the Japanese militarist regime was
established in Asia. By its aggressive, warlike policies, fascism was
an increasing threat to the peoples' liberty and independence, to world
peace and security." The blatant omission of all mention of the
Antonescu regime at home is typical of the attempt to whitewash history.
15. Yosef Govrin, "Transnistria and the Holocaust
in Romanian Historiography," Jews in Eastern Europe, Vol. 3, No.
43 (2000): 45; Michael Shafir, "Between Denial and 'Comparative
Trivialization': Holocaust Negationism in Post Communist East-Central
Europe," Acta: Analysis of Current Trends in Antisemitism, No.
19 (2002), 70.
16. Nearly all the streets named for Antonescu have
since been renamed.
17. According to Buzatu, documents from Antonescu's
archives would "very clearly" show that the pogrom at the
end of June 1941 "did not start from antisemitic or racial prejudice
. . . that no one asked for the execution of the Jewish people except
all the guilty people." But the guilty ones, the historian says
explicitly, are to be found within "the Jewish population of Jassy,"
among which there were "some persons who either fired at the Romanian
troops or signaled to Soviet planes [from] some areas in Jassy."
Quoted in Victor Eskanasy, "Historiographers against the Antonescu
Myth," in Randolph Braham, ed., The Destruction of Romanian and
Ukrainian Jews during the Antonescu Era (Boulder: Social Sciences Monographs,
18. Larry L. Watts, O Casandra a Romaniei: Ion Antonescu
si lupta pentru reforma: 1918-1941 (Bucharest: Editura Fundatiei Culturale
Romane, 1994) [Romanian].
19. The Romanian press reported that Treptow's connections
in high places served to mitigate his sentence. In the spring of 2004,
another public controversy erupted when it was revealed that the then
U.S. ambassador to Romania Michael Guest had worked to secure Treptow
an appointment on the board of the Fulbright Commission in Romania.
20. Shafir, "Between Denial and 'Comparative Trivialization,'"
21. Ibid. , 52.
22. Haaretz, Grig Davidovitch, 25 July 2003. His information
minister Vasile Dincu made even more forceful statements in the same
23. Realitatea Evreiasca, 16 January/15 February 2001[Romanian].
For an analysis of these remarks, see I. [Yosef] Govrin, "Presedintele
Iliescu si pogromul evreilor din Bucahresti," Viatra Noasta, 15
24. Haaretz, 25 July 2003.
25. Randolph Braham, "The Exculpatory History
of Romanian Nationalists: The Exploitation of the Holocaust for Political
Ends," in Destruction of Romanian and Ukrainian Jews, 49-50.
26. In fact, only Jewish communists were killed in
Romania, while the non-Jews were imprisoned.
27. According to a statistical abstract published by
the Romanian Section of the World Jewish Congress in 1945, Jews were
dispossessed of 40,758 buildings, 42,320 hectares of farmlands, 68,644
hectares of woodlands, and 2,062 hectares of vineyards. The Jews also
lost 265 mills and 115 sawmills. Populatia Evreasca in Cifre: Memento
Statistic (Bucharest: World Jewish Congress, Romanian Section, 1945),
28. Half the members of the commission were Romanians,
half foreigners. The Romanian side was led by Gen. Mihai Ionescu, head
of the Military History and Research Institute in Bucharest. The foreign
group was led by Radu Ioanid of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in
29. Final Report of the Commission on the Holocaust
in Romania, presented to President Ion Iliescu, Bucharest, 11 November
30. In recent years Vadim Tudor has attempted, with
the aid of an Israeli media adviser, to distance himself from anti-Semitism
and even to repackage himself and his party as friendly to Jews. To
that end he has engaged in activities that drew considerable media attention,
including sponsorship of a bust of Yitzhak Rabin in Brasov and a personal
visit to the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp - though not
to the sites of the Romanian killing fields. However, given Tudor's
long record of anti-Jewish activity including Holocaust denial, Jewish
circles have viewed his efforts with skepticism and even disdain.
31. Ungureanu is a well-known scholar of Jewish history
in Romania. On a visit to Israel in July 2005, he spoke at the Hebrew
University and declared: Nowadays, we have a moral duty to strive even
more to make the future generations understand the dimension of systematic
crimes perpetrated against peoples and to turn the lessons learned from
the past into means to prevent discriminatory action from ever happening
again. "Facing History: Romania and the Holocaust," Romanian
Information Centre, Brussels, www.crib.maero/index.php?lang=en&id=5463
(viewed August 2005).
32. Interview with Paul Shapiro and Radu Ioanid, Holocaust
Studies, "Vivid: Romania through International Eyes," www.vivid.ro/vivid72
/pages72.holocaust72.htm (viewed December 2005).
33. Ancel, Toldot Ha-Shoah.
34. Ongoing developments are reported on the website
of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism
and Racism of Tel Aviv University at http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/CR.htm.
* * *
Dr. Laurence Weinbaum is director of research at the
Institute of the World Jewish Congress in Jerusalem and adjunct lecturer
in history at the College of Judea and Samaria. He is a frequent visitor
Source: Weinbaum, Laurence. Jerusalem
Center for Public Affairs. June 1, 2006.