Saturday, November 20, 2004

Half a Million Jews were Killed in Romania's Holocaust 

From: Jewish_World@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [Jewish World] Digest Number 614
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 13:11:15

Message: 1
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 21:57:18 +0200
From: "Eretz Israel" Year5765@zahav.net.il


BUCHAREST - Half a million Jews were killed in Romania's Holocaust, many
more than previously thought, a special commission set up to shed light on
the country's Nazi past says, according to media reports.

It also recommended Romania, an ally of Adolf Hitler in World War II, face up to its history by building a memorial to those who died and teaching children about the Holocaust in school.

The international commission was appointed last year after the government denied the Holocaust happened in the Balkan country, prompting a diplomatic row with Israel.

"For us, this was our sacred mission: to honour truth by remembering the dead," said the commission's chairman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel. "For them it is too late but not for their children, and ours."

The report said between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were killed by Romanian civilian and military authorities in Romania and territories under its control.

Another 135,000 Romanian Jews living in the then Hungarian-controlled Transylvania and 5,000 Romanian Jews living outside Romania also died, it said, and over 25,000 Roma people were deported of whom 11,000 died.

According to previous figures in the Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust some 420,000 people from Romania's pre-war Jewish community of 750,000 died.

Only around 13,000 Jews now live in Romania.

Directives to degrade and destroy Jews and Jewish institutions came from wartime leader Ion Antonescu, the report said.

Until two years ago, Antonescu, who was executed in 1946 for allying Romania with Hitler and sending hundreds of thousands of Jews and gypsies to death camps, was deemed an anti-communist hero and immortalised in statues across the country.

But these were demolished when Romania, which is hoping to join the European Union, passed legislation banning the use of fascist, racist and xenophobic symbols.

The commission recommended Romania annul war criminal rehabilitations, of which it said there had been a number of cases in the 15 years since the overthrow of Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

It also said a national Holocaust memorial and museum should be built in Bucharest and that the school curriculum and textbooks be changed to include the Holocaust.

Romanian-born Wiesel, 76, a prolific writer on the Holocaust who has drawn from his own experiences in Nazi death camps, said he hoped the commission's report would "take its place in Romania's history".

The commission also included Tuvia Friling, the head of the Israeli Archives, Holocaust survivors and experts and historians from Israel, the United States and Europe.


And From Haaretz:

Study: Up to 380,000 Jews killed in Romanian Holocaust

By Grig Davidovitz, Haaretz Correspondent
Sun., November 21, 2004 Kislev 8, 5765

"The number of Jews murdered during the Holocaust in territories controlled by Romania has not been finally determined. Nevertheless, the commission concludes that between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were murdered or died during the Holocaust in territories under Romanian control," according to a wide-reaching 400-page report submitted Thursday to Romanian President Ion Iliescu by an international commission set up to investigate the Romanian Holocaust.

The commission is just one step, which some are calling the most important, in a process of improvement of relations between Romania, Israel and the Jewish world. This comes in the wake of a decline over the past year after the Romanian government declared that "there was no Holocaust inside Romania's borders" and when Iliescu said in an interview with Haaretz "the Holocaust was not unique to the Jews."

His remarks instigated furious responses from Israel and from around the world. Under immense pressure, Romania agreed to create an international committee to investigate the fate of its Jews and Gypsies.

Iliescu now sounds different.

"The creation of the commission was a necessary step. The report presents objective and scientific information," Iliescu said Thursday, promising to adopt all recommendations made by the commission.

The commission, established in October 2003 by Iliescu, is made up of 32 historians and public figures from the United States, Romania, Israel, Germany and France. The commission is headed by Professor Elie Wiesel.

It is not a coincidence that the report does not pinpoint the exact number of Jews killed by Romania during the Holocaust.

"There was serious disagreement over the numbers," said a source close to the commission. The differences in the numbers were also the result of differences in interests.

Romanian historians came with findings supporting lower numbers while Israeli historians provided data indicated that close to 400,000 were murdered.

Commission members decided in the end not to make a decision regarding the exact number of murdered Romanian Jews.

"We are aware of the tremendous responsibility," the report said. "The commission decided not to release a figure on the number of Jews killed in Romania and in the territories under its control. The commission decided to quote the range of figures as they appear in the research, with the hope that future research will determine the exact number of victims. Nevertheless, it is possible that there will never be a clear statistical picture of the number of Romanian Holocaust victims."

The report said that "between 45,000 and 60,000 Jews were killed in Bessarabia and in Bukovina by Romanian and German forces. Between 105,000 and 120,000 Jews died during forced deportation to Transnistria. Between 115,000 and 180,000 Jews were killed in Transnistria and at least 15,000 Jews were murdered in a pogrom in Iasi and as a result of other events."

Gypsy deaths were also discussed by the report. "Between 11,000 and 25,000 Gypsies deported to Transnistria died. Entire communities vanished never to return."

The report places unmistakable blame on the Romania's Holocaust-era Antonescu regime for the crimes.

"The orders issued by Antonescu facilitated death sentences for the Jews of Bessarabia and Bukovina," the report read. "Romania is responsible for the murder of more Jews than any other nation during the Holocaust, aside from Germany. Romania carried out genocide against the Jewish nation. The fact that some of Romania's Jews survived does not change this reality."

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