ROMANIA

“The Romanian Jewish population under Antonescu governance”

By Olivia Simion, The Association Young Partners for Civil Society Development
Translated by Alexandra Vasile, Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University

Because of space restrictions, the study only makes reference to the situation of the Jewish population inside the Romanian borders that were formed after the territorial cessions in the summer of 1940 (the Old Kingdom and southern Transylvania, as they are referenced in specialized literature). It does not reference the Jewish people from the territories included after the start of the war under Romanian administration (Basarabia, northern Bucovina, Transnistria).                    

1. Romanian anti-semitism. The Dorohoi Pogrom (July 1st 1940)

Anti-Semitism has strong roots in the European consciousness and Christianity carries a great responsibility for its spreading both in terms of intensity and in geographical positioning. In the Middle Ages, the Christian Church proclaimed itself universal and offered conversion which turned out to be a great failure for Jewish people, mostly because of the attitude the Church had towards the newly converted Jews. They were often considered unworthy, inferior, suspicious or heretical. That is why the image of the Jew as an evil-doer who desecrates the Eucharist, poisons the wells and is a tool of the Devil was formed. Anti-semitism was an active policy that always decreed locative or professional interdictions, so Jewish individuals had to practice only certain jobs, like finances and live only in certain neighborhoods. This is how the Jews ended up being assimilated with money lenders, the ones who took money from the Christians.

The next step that brought anti-semitism closer to its extreme manifestation, mass extermination, was the birth of nationalism, the doctrine which intensified the identity of nations, individualized them and finally degenerated in theories about the purity of the blood. Along with the scientific development of the 18th  and 19th  century, this led to texts containing a mixture of notions that contain nothing scientific, but try to prove terms the inferiority of an ethnicity such as Jews, in pedantic terms. Suggestive for this type of work is Gobineanu’s Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1855). Anti-semitism, which had been of a religious nature until then, becomes pseudo-science, turning the Jews in a race and becoming racism in itself.

Things are not that different in Romania. The regime established by Carol von Hohenzollern Sigmaringen’s coming to the Romanian throne has a strong anti-Jewish character. This is visible in the 7th article of the 1866 Constitution which stipulates that only Christian foreigners have the right to obtain Romanian citizenship. It is known that Moldova in particular, along with Iasi hosted important Jewish communities with a great economic power, communities that often had contacts with the Romanian bourgeoisie that was forming at the time. It is true that, even if the economic contacts with the Jews had been indispensable, most of the times the competition was not exactly favorable for the Romanian bourgeoisie.

There are important figures of the era among Romanian anti-semites. For Mihai Eminescu, the nation was a human, historical and mythical community, a guarantee of the fidelity to the origins. That is why the solution for the Jews was either leaving for good or assimilation. According to Bogdan Petriceicu-Haşdeu, the Jews are a nation of “usurers” and “merchants”; they do not work, do not produce anything, they just earn money. The moment they make their way into a country, money trade and shop commerce rise alarmingly, in a way that is inconsistent with the development of the other branches of economy. Philosopher Vasile Conta, is also a strong anti-semite, and he sets the bases of the Romanian ideological, doctrinarian anti-semitism. For him, Jewish people are a well-shaped and united nation, enemy to all the others, which hatches a world-wide plot world that would lead to the “disappearance” of Romanian people, if it is not stopped. According to Iorga, the political emancipation of Jews translated into Romania’s “suicide”. Not far from Iorga’s ideas was A. C. Cuza, one of the most passionate anti-semites in Romania, whose nationalist principles reach the point of arguing in favor of racism. These principles were also assimilated by one of his most fervent disciples, Corneliu Zelea-Codreanu. For the two of them, the Jewish danger consists of “the Jewish parasitism” that absorbed all the economic functions, aims to absorb the political ones and destroys the culture. At the end of the 19th century in Europe, anti-Semitism becomes the ideology of the right-wing extremist policy that would eventually penetrate Romania in the inter-war period, through the French, Germans and Austrians.

Through the 1923 Constitution, the Jews obtained an acknowledgement of their citizen rights for the first time since they had settled in the Carpathian-Danubian region. This included: the right to territorial property both in villages and in cities, the right to be represented in the Parliament, the right to freely express themselves, to have their own press and their own community organization. But it took only fifteen years to go from emancipation to even more harsh discrimination, because the anti-semite legislation became a constant presence in the dictatorial regime of Carol II and General Ion Antonescu. Measures that were adopted included: laws with racist content, restrictive measures that cancelled the rights obtained through the 1923 Constitution, the introduction of the inequality principle in front of the law according to the religious or ethnic affiliation.

However, the first anti-Jewish manifestation in the whole process of discrimination and afterwards, terror and deportation of Jews from Romania takes place in a very difficult period in the Romanian history, more precisely in the context of the national catastrophe represented by the territorial concessions of 1940, which is constituted in the Dorohoi pogrom of July 1st 1940. The concession of Basarabia and Bucovina was blamed on the Jewish population, which supposedly had called the Soviets in those territories, and the anti-Jewish sentiment in the country intensifies. The scapegoat principle was working now as well as in Medieval Europe when the Jews, along with witches and lepers, were considered guilty for the plague epidemic, natural catastrophes and for all bad things in general.

In the period of the Basarabia, North Bucovina and Herta land concessions, Romanian military subunits from Group Three Frontier Guards and Group Eight Artillery that were retreating from Herta started a pogrom against the Jews from Dorohoi on July 1st 1940. The dead bodies of Romanian captain Boros and the Jew solider Iancu Solomon had been brought there. The Romanian officer was about to be buried at the Orthodox cemetery, and the Jewish solider at the Jewish cemetery. Local authorities should have sent representatives at these heroes’ funeral processions, but only seven unarmed Jewish soldiers had been sent at the Jewish soldier’s funeral. During the development of the funeral service, Romanian Army subunits that were retreating from Herta entered the Jewish cemetery and started shooting at the participants without warning. With the exception of a civilian, all participants were killed. Soon, the Army started shooting across the whole city, which resulted in the death of fifty Jewish people (eleven women, thirty-four men and five children), robberies and tortures.

2. Antonescu and the policy towards Jewish people. The Legionnaire Rebellion

After the Vienna Award of August 30 1940, in the face of general hostility and the beginning of a legionnaire uprising, King Carol II trusted General Ion Antonescu with forming a new government by awarding him dictatorial powers. In under 24 hours, Antonescu gave the King an ultimatum, asking him to abdicate and leave the country (on September 6th). Nineteen-year old Mihai would become King again, and Antonescu  – ”the head of the Romanian state and president of the Council of Ministers”. Since the Taranists and liberals refused to associate with a dictatorial regime, because they were conviced of the final victory of democracy and the United Kingdom in war, Antonescu brought the Legion to power, declaring Romania ”a national-legionnaire state” on September 13 1940.

Antonescu was an ardent Taranists, a patriot and – as it was customary to the period – a scathing antisemite. During the Council of Ministers’ session of April 8 1941, he stated: ”That’s how I grew up, with a hate for Turks, Jews and Hungarians. This feeling of hate towards the enemies of the country must be pushed to the last extreme. I will take this responsibility.” Ion Antonescu set out to accomplish the antisemite ideology of A.C. Cuza: to keep the state free of Jewish invasion, harmful Jewish influences which could only deforme the ”healthy” emotional state of the village and the peasant, take over the economy and produce a moral decline.

Anti-semitism practiced by Antonescu had its origins in the nationalist doctrine formulated by the major publishers, writers, politicians, ideologues; Crainic, Nae Ionescu, Mihail Manoilescu, Emil Cioran, Mircea Eliade, Noica- all based on the idea of ​​creating ethnically pure state.. Era itself has favored a policy of discriminating against ethnic minorities.

There are four main stages which can be traced in the policy set out by Antonescu’s regime.  The first stage (September 1940 – January 1941) is that of the national-legionnaire state, when over twenty anti-Jewish laws are passed and anti-Jewish terrorist actions launched by the legionnaires take place. This first stage culminates with the Bucharest Pogrom of January 1941. The second stage (January 1941 – June 22  1941) lasts until Romania enters war and is defined by a continuation of the forced Romanization policy, through the passing of numerous anti-Jewish laws. The third stage takes place between June 22nd 1941 to October 1942, when the deportations are stopped. This period is mostly marked by such events as the Iasi Pogrom, ”the trains of death”, evacuation of all Jewish individuals from rural areas to county capitals and deportations to Tranistria. The last stage (October 1942 – August 23  1944) marks a change in the policy connected to power relations in the war, which tilts in favor of the United Nations: the government refuses the deportation of Jewish people from the Old Kindgom and southern Transylvania to Polish extermination camps. At the same time, partial repatriations from Transnistria take place.

By instituting the anti-Jewish laws, the Jewish population was separate from the other citizens from a judicial, political, social and economic point of view. Jewish people were taken out of the area protected by law, which guaranteed the safety of daily life for any citizen in a modern state. They were subjected to the abuse of a repressive governmnet and terrorist activity from legionnaire groups, without the possibilty of defending themselves in court.

The process of Romanization was the economic expression of state anti-Semitism. In order to put this process into practice, the National Center for Romanization was founded. The Romanization of urban commercial and industrial enterprises took place in several stages: identfying industrial and economic enterprises that had a Jewish capital, instituting control over Jewish actions, assets and enterprises, shutting down various Jewish businesses. A series of measures against Jewish people were taken as part of the Romanization policy during October, November and December of 1940, through decrees that served as laws: leasing pharmacies to Jewish individuals was forbiddedn, their rural propertial became state patrimony, the people were elliminated from all types of educational institutions, employees were fired from businesses, movie houses, cinemas and travel offices were Romanized. Jewish people were also excluded from the army through the „Military Statute of Jews”.

The collaboration between General Antonescu and the Legion did not function, firstly because of the different visions and methods that the two had concerning governing. On January 14  1941, Antonescu visited Hitled in Berchtesgaden. There, he was given the details of the Barbarossa plan, complete freedom to stop collaborating with the Legion and elliminate his adversaries. Between January 21st and 23rd, as a consequence of Antonescu’s dismissal of several legionnaire Ministers and comissioners who had been in charge of Romanization, an armed conflict broke out between the  two sides. During these days, gangs of legionnaires devastated and set properties or public places such as houses, stores and sinagogues on fire. The rebels also started engaging in banditry against the Romanian inhabitants of Bucharest, but these were more intense in  the Jewish neighbourhoods of Dudeşti and Văcăreşti, where true Pogroms took place. Hundreds of Jews were  rounded up in torture centers such as the police prefecture, legionnaire bases, police stations, the Străuleşti windmill and the Jilava forest. Dozens of Jews were massacred at the abbatoir and then hung naked in hooks, like cattle – a gesture which determined writer Virgil Gheorghiu to write that he was ashamed to be Romanian, just like „those criminals from the Iron Guard”, after seeing the terrifying scenes. The body count of the legionnaire rebellion in Bucharest included one hundred thirty assasined Jews, twenty-five temples and sinagogues defaced and burned, six hundred sixteen stores and five hundred fortyseven Jewish living spaces robbed, torn apart or set of fire.

The Romanization process continued even after the defeat of the rebellion and the ellimination of legionnaires from power positions. As a result, Jewish stores, places and urban living spaces are transferred into the property of the state in the spring of 1941. Also, Jewish people was forbidden the use of radios, telephones and cameras.

3. Romania’s entrance into War against the Soviet Union. The Iasi Pogrom and the “Trains of Death” (June 29th – July 1st 1941)

On June 22nd 1941, Antonescu commanded the Romanian army to cross the Prut River, in order to liberate Basarabia and North Bucovina, which had been lost to the USSR a year before. This was exclusively Antonescu’s decision, as he had not consulted the country’s political figures and also had not signed a treaty or a convention with Germany, which would have stipulated the terms and boundaries of their co-operation. A few days later, on June 27th, the two provinces were completely liberated.

This was the context in which the tragic events in Iasi unfolded. Only a week after the war had begun, between June 29th and July 1st, an organized and premeditated pogrom took place against the Jews living in Moldova’s capital. A diversion was planned by spreading the rumour that the Jews would have fired at the Romanian and German soldiers and that they would have transmitted some light signals to the Soviet aircraft. The reports written by the very Police service of the city (most probably by those not well-informed regarding the events) prove that the rumours were not true, as no soldier (Romanian or German) was killed or even hurt.

In July 1941, Antonescu told the Great Praetor of the Army – General Ioan Topor – that he wanted to cleanse the country of Jews. Jean Ancel stated in his work that there was a Romanian plan of banishing the Jews from Romania, a plan that was finalised in May 1941, under the influence of Germany, but without any pressure from it. The plan was named “The Great Plan”, mentioned in detail by Ion Antonescu in his orders to Mihai Antonescu, on September 3rd 1941. “Cleansing the territory” – meaning the deportation and killing of the Jews from Basarabia and Bucovina – was just a part of the plan, while the other part included the transportation of the Jews from Moldova, initially, and of those from the rest of the country, afterwards, to Transnistria (a geographic region that was added under Romanian administration on August 19th 1941 – under the Tighina Agreement). It also included the Jews’ emigration to Palestine or anywhere else, under one condition – to leave all their valuables behind.

Ion Antonescu’s formal order to evict the Jews from Iasi was given by phone to Constantin Lupu (the commandant of the town’s garrison), on June 27th 1941, an order that would justify through its wording revenge against the revolted ones who had not yet revolted: “Upon observing gunfire from inside a house, the army will surround the property, all but the children shall be arrested and after a brief instruction, those found guilty shall be executed. […] The eviction of the Jewish population from Iasi is necessary and will be done in its entirety (including women and children).”

Danger had been present in the air since June 26th, about three days before the event. According to witness accounts, three clues announced the pogrom: the fleeing of (mostly intellectual) Romanians and confusing warnings regarding an imminent danger, the local administration gathering young Jews to dig large graves in the local Jewish cemetery and finally, marking the Christians’ houses with painted crosses in an increasing number of neighbourhoods.

On the evening of June 28th, some army and constabulary officers who commanded the mission – among which Colonels Barozzi and Bădescu, Lieutenant-colonel Niculescu-Coca and others – arrived at the Police Inspectorate in Iasi. At 9.00 pm, a false alarm was sounded. A few German airplanes flew over the town and one of them launched a blue-coloured missile, which was the signal. Immediately, gun shots could be heard all over town, mostly on the central streets where military units were marching on their way to the battlefield. Those who knew the secret plan of the pogrom (General Stavrescu, for example) reported that the Judeo-Communists and Soviet pilots fired at the Romanian and German soldiers; Captaru – the prefect – who knew nothing about the pogrom, reported that the gun shots were the act of organized individuals who wanted to create panic and to blame the Jews with the intent of provoking the army and civilians to kill them.

Wrongfully suspected of guiding the Soviet airplanes using light signals and of firing at the Romanian army (when in fact, no bullet holes were ever found on the walls, nor any weapon in their possession) the Jewish population was massively repressed by the authorities, but at the same time by the civil population incited to violence, robbery and murder – all of which degenerated into a pogrom.

On June 29th, the following day, all Jewish people in town were called or forcibly brought to the Police Commisariat courtyard, in order to be investigated and then evicted from the town (in accordance with Antonescu’s order). At the entrance to the courtyard, the Jews were robbed, beaten or even killed. On the day of the pogrom, Antonescu’s plan to evict the entire Jewish population from the town was changed by Mihai Antonescu into that of evicting only the Jewish male population. This decision was taken after Colonel Captaru’s warning that the number of the Jews in Iasi was close to 45 000.

In the Commissariat courtyard, the ordeal did not stop at the Jews being beaten to death or robbed. The great massacre started around 3.00 pm, when they started firing with machine guns at the Jewish population in the courtyard. Gunfire came from inside the surrounding buildings, including the Police building, while convoys of Jews were continuously brought there, though it had become almost impossible to even enter the courtyard anymore. The gunfire lasted for a few hours, and the result was nearly 5000 dead, puddles of blood and the impossibility of taking a step without treading on dead bodies. This prompted the orders for those that were still alive to arrange the bodies somehow in order to make a way out. During the night and the next morning, those that survived the massacre were lined up, taken to the station and forced into two trains: one headed for Podu-Iloaiei, and the other one for Calarasi. According to Antonescu’s orders, the trains were supposed to go to the concentration camp in Targu-Jiu, but the marshal did not take into consideration the fact that it was impossible to crowd thousands of Jewish people in there. That is why the trains changed their route, practically having no destination and no determined purpose, apart from that of killing a large number of Jews due to the inhuman conditions of transportation.

The first train (with 2530 Jews), heading for Calarasi, left Iasi on June 30th 1941. It ran for a few kilometres and at 2 am it turned back, stopped, and then advanced again. It finally left the town at 4 am. The train headed for Podu-Iloaiei (with nearly 2000 Jews) was ready for departure at 6.00 am on June 30th 1941, but left at 11.10 am, and arrived at the destination at 1 pm. Although the journey lasted less than two hours, the Jewish people were left in the wagons for twelve hours (from 4 am to 4 pm), which resulted in two-thirds of them dying. The wagons in which they were transported (which had been previously used for the transportation of carbide and cattle) had the capacity of forty people, but they were thronged with 150-200 Jews, sealed shut, without even being cleaned beforehand. The Jews died by suffocation, be it from the unbearable smell or from the lack of air, they went mad because of the terrible heat or from the lack of water, they were killed by the gendarmes when they tried to put their heads out the nailed-shut windows, and they resorted to drinking their own urine out of thirst. At the stops in Roman, Mircesti, Targu Frumos and Podu-Iloaiei, hundreds of dead bodies were thrown on the fields, where the peasants robbed them, took off their clothes and loaded them into trucks that had just been used for carrying the garbage. The events were the same for two days, while the gendarmes were guarding the field, and the German soldiers were taking pictures (which were published after the war).

Why was Iasi the place in which such a campaign could be started against Jewish people? Matatias Carp wrote: “In the Iasi of Xenopol and Vasile Conta, of Nicolae Ionescu and Ciaur Aslan, of A. C. Cuza and Corneliu Codreanu, in the Christian-National Defence League’s fortress and in the Legionnaire’s cradle, it was expected that the microbes [of hate] would find the best breeding environment that would transform the most moderate and calm citizens across the country into an unconscious and seething with hatred mass of people”.

4. The Situation of Jewish People in the Kingdom after Entering War.  The cancellation of  deportation to the Nazi Camps

On June 18th 1941, Ion Antonescu ordered the evacuation to towns or to the Targu-Jiu camp of all the Jews from the villages situated between Siret and Prut and the imprisonment of men between the ages of 18 and 60 who lived in this area, in the Targu-Jiu camp. All Jewish people from other Romanian villages were to be evacuated to various small towns. The order clearly specified the interdiction of those families to come back to the villages where they lived. The possessions of the evacuees was handed over to the local authorities and considered state property. This order ended the presence of Jewish people and Jewish communities in hundreds of villages, as tens of thousands of Jews were displaced. The significance of the evacuation consisted primarily in the looting of wealth: furniture, clothes, household items, animals, tools and so on. In most towns, household inventories had completely disappeared even before the Jewish people were forced to march in a line to reach the railway station. The transportation of convoys to Targu-Jiu was made in very difficult conditions, in wagons similar to those that traveled from Iasi to the Calarasi camp in the same period. One hundred people were crowded into a wagon, while the trip lasted six days. The Jews that had been evacuated to cities and towns were crammed into warehouses, barracks, abandoned buildings or Jewish schools. Local communities were not able to provide any help or food to such a large number of individuals.

The consequences of the evacuation were catastrophic for the Jews (they lost fortunes, became unemployed or beggars, they were concentrated in forced labor camps), but also for the Romanian population. It was proved that the Jews were the engine of the economy and trade. They also performed various services for peasants. These services were subsequently so needed that some areas (in Targu-Ocna and Moinesti, for example) had even demanded the return of Jewish communities. Antonescu was aware of the economic damage that the policy of expelling the Jews had done to Romania, but stated that economic issues do not prevail in such moments, but “the life of the nation itself.” Antonescu’s anti-Semite policy also included arresting hostages under the pretext of ensuring that the Jews would not cooperate with the Soviets and would not revolt. On June 21st, Jewish men between the ages of 18 and 60 were arrested and detained in prison-like conditions across whole territory of Romania. The initiator of the order regarding the external marking of the Jews (which involved wearing the Star of David) was the Deputy Chief of Staff, General Tatareanu. He asked to be introduced, and Mihai Antonescu agreed to the request, believing it came from the Leader. In fact, Ion Antonescu was not aware of the measure and – after the request of Filderman (the president of the Romanian Jews) he dissolved it. The Romanian state also instituted a so-called “organized plundering” of the Jewish people, through decree-laws which enabled the collection of large sums of money from special taxes for the army, imposed exclusively for Jews and large taxes that had to be paid for exemption from the compulsory labor law introduced in 1842. The state also established a special tax for the Jews exempted from cleaning snow; there were taxes were imposed for bread, for rental accommodation, special income tax and so on. The Statute of July 14th 1941 stated that Jews individuals between the ages of 18 and 50 were forced to perform mandatory work. Special offices from the usual recruiting circles ensured that the Jews carried out this work. During wartime, however, the period of such work did not have a length limitation. The Jews forced to such work did not wear uniforms or special clothing, but were officially entitled to maintenance or subsistence.

Antonescu’s regime created a “specialized” structure to deal with the issue of Jews. In October 1941, Radu Lecca was appointed director for regulating the Jewish issue, in the Council of Ministers. On September 6th 1943, the General Commissariat for Jewish issues was established, led again by Lecca, who also served as Commissioner General.

The Federation of the Jewish Communities Unions was dissolved under the decree-law of December 16th 1941 and replaced by the Jewish Central, a structure that was overseen by the Romanian government.

Despite the treatment of Jews, the Iasi pogrom and the deportations to Transnistria, the Jewish population from the Kingdom had not been physically eliminated in the proportions desired by German Nazis, headed by Eichmann and his assistant, Gustav Richter, an advisor on the Jewish issue who had been sent to Romania. Solving this problem was therefore connected to the inclusion of the Romanian space in the “final solution”, as would happen in Transylvania under the horthyst occupation.

The panic of the Jewish population in Banat and southern Transylvania was therefore justified  when all decisions coming from Bucharest indicated an agreement between the Germans and Romanians concerning the Jewish deportation to extermination camps in Poland. In three towns, Arad, Timisoara, and Turda, events were undergoing preparation. Representatives of local offices of the Central Jewish bureau had become aware of the regime’s intentions: they had received the instructions on to draw up tables of the Jewish population by sex, age and occupation. Ion and Mihai Antonescu had signed the agreement on the deportation of Jews after a series of talks and agreements with the German authorities in 1941 and 1942. But several factors changed the course of events in favor of the Jewish population.

First, it was Antonescu’s doubt and uncertainty. It became clear, both for Ion and Mihai Antonescu, that Hitler’s plans of conquering  the world were about to fail: the battle of Stalingrad turned the fate of the war in favor of the Western Allies, which produced a change in regime for the Jews. In this context, Marshal Antonescu recognized that Hitler was misleading him and did not intend to give Transylvania back to Romania. This marked a turning point in the attitude towards Germany. On background, there were also the contributions and efforts made by various important figures to save the Jews in the Kingdom.

The first such figure of was naturally Wilhelm Filderman, president of the Jewish Union and the spiritual leader of the Romanian Jews even after its abolition. Filderman acted in three different contexts in parallel. He submitted memoirs to Minister Vasiliu so that he could in turn pass them on give to either Mihai Antonescu or to the Marshall. He also worked to gather the support of Iuliu Maniu and Dinu Bratianu in an effort to stall the deportation plans. At the same time, Filderman provided information, prepared statements and eventually gathered the public support of businessmen, industrialists and Romanian intellectuals in the fight against deportation – all of which in secret, of course. Among the arguments that he brought in the memoir sent to the Leader were: after the German press, Romania was the country with the worst anti-Semitic laws – why use deportations before other countries reached the same level as the Romanians?; Transylvanian Jews were well entrenched and in their case there was no longer a solid justification of the deportation that Antonescu brought to Bessarabia and Bucovina, on the grounds that it had injured the Romanian population in the year of the Soviet occupation or Romanian army during the time of release; the Romanians have flourished economically with the help of the Jewish population; there were few  Jews left in the country; the percent of Jewish reduction in population was the highest in Europe and so on.

Iuliu Maniu’s position, presented to Antonescu on September 11th 1942, was one of disarming insight: if Germany won the war, the Antonescu government could do whatever it wanted with the Jews and through any means. However, if Germany was to be defeated, the measures taken against the Jews would have serious repercussions on the country, while those guilty  – and not only –  would pay their actions severely. Another leading figure in saving the Jews from deportation to Poland was Baron Franz von Neumann, owner of a textile factory in Arad. He was Catholic, but with Jewish ancestry, with considerable economic power and a very popular figure in Romanian intellectual circles. Neumann had spent large sums of money during meetings and had learnt how the mechanism of power and the corruption of employees worked. He offered a high official of the Cabinet Antonescu the amount of four hundred million lei so that the Romanian army would stop the deportation plan.

Radu Lecca was another decisive factor in the cancellation of deportation. Arrogantly treated by the German foreign ministry, he thwarted the original plans by delaying the implementation under various pretexts.

Last but not least, Queen Mother Elena must also be mentioned. She is known for her activities in supporting the Jewish population during the Antonescu regime – an activity for which she was honored posthumously by the State of Israel and Yad-Vshem Institute under the title “fair between nations” in 1992. Among the actions that Queen Mother took on behalf of the Jews in Romania were many interventions to the Romanian, German and Vatican officials concerning the relief of Jewish suffering, saving persecuted Jews from deportation and death, allying with Romanian figures to create an effective opposition to crimes committed by officials against Jews, as well as maintaining permanent contacts with the leadership of clandestine Jewish movement. Regarding the deportations to Transnistria, only Jews from southern Bucovina and a couple of  other few thousands from the rest territory were brought from the Old Kingdom – mostly those with left-wing political views or convicted of certain crimes. The decision regarding the deportation of Jews from the former counties of Suceava, Radau, Campulung – namely from southern Bucovina – was taken on October 9th 1941. Deportation was made in overpacked unclean cattle wagons, until October 13th. In these areas, even the seriously ill Jewish people who were still in the hospital, were taken out and loaded onto trains.

5. Final considerations

 Overall, the bibliography connected to Jewish issues in Romania in the Antonescu period is biased (of course, there are also exceptions, such as objective and valuable texts). It contains either authors from the field of military history, officers whose sole purpose is rehabilitating Antonescu’s image and – therefore – denying the existence of a Romanian Holocaust, or Jewish writers who insist on the exclusive guilt of the Antonescu regime when it comes to the Jewish tragedies.

Without a doubt, Jewish people lived a tragedy. Without a doubt, they were robbed, beaten, dscriminated against and massacred. There are many confessions, many photographs with piles of mutilated corpses, and many official reports that attest this fact. But can we talk about the existence of a Romanian Holocaust? We have tried to avoid the term because of its interpretation in various ways, according to which side who uses it. But it is difficult to avoide it when Transnistria was transformed into a giant extermination camp, through various means: hunger, sickeness such as exanthematic typhus due to the unsanitary contions and assasinations (Jewish individuals in Bogdanovka were burned alive in common pits or locked in barracks). It is also difficult to avoid the term when thousands of people died in unimaginalble conditions in the the trains to Podu-Iloaiei and Călăraşi. Raul Hilberg pointed out that the distruction of Jewish people in Europe took place in five stages: expropriation, concentration, ”mobile killing operations” (special units behind the front), deportation, and finally, extermination centers. All of them existed in Romania as well. However, it must be mentioned that the Romanian extermination centers were not as elaborate factories of death as the Nazi ones in Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Maidanek, Sobibor or Treblinka. We cannot possibly imagine Romanians creating such camps, in which death had become a mechanized process. In Romania, the tragic events leave the impression of a ”manual Balkan Holocaust”, as Jean-Ancel stated in a memorable affirmation.

But is Ion Antonescu the only guily party? Neumann writes that, although Antonescu dictated the anti-Jewish laws, subscribed to the Nazi ideology, organized the camps in Transnistria and explicitly ordered the Jewish massacre in Odessa, 57% of Romanian Jews survived the war, which is the highest percentage of survivors out of all the Central and Eastern European countries. Does this aspect absolve Antonescu of his actions? Certainly not. It is difficult to imagine that he wanted this percentaje, given his affirmations that he wished to clean the country of Jewish people and get rid of this ”plague to Romanian-ness” . But we cannot say that he was the only guilty person. We need to take into consideration an entire era and an entire context. He was not the first, the last of the sole anti-Semite of that time. If someone else had been in his position, they would have probably done the same. Let’s take the example of Mihai Antonescu, who – during the Council of Ministers session of July 8  1941 – declared that he did not know in how many decades Romanian people will again have total freedom of action towards Jewish individuals, or the possibility of ethnic purification. As a consequence, one must take advantage of the historic moment and shoot with a machinegun if necessary. Therefore, events must not be analysed from a 21st century lens and  through the current way of thinking.

Another discussion found throught the bibliography centers around numbers. Since authors use their own estimations, these vary significantly. We do not consider this aspect to be important, or at least not crucial. Were there 100,000 , 150,000 , 250,000 or 300, 000 dead Jewish people in Transnistria? There were ceraintly tens of thousands and we consider this aspect sufficient enough to state that the Antonescu regime carries the blame for their massacre. Indeed there was a Jewish tragedy in Romania as well (But just as it has been stated, these should not be judged separately from the international context).

In conclusion, the situation of the Jewish population in Romania during World War II was a very difficult one, especially in regions such as Bessarabia, Bucovina and Transnistria. But Jewish people were also discriminated against, robbed, displaced, putted into concentration and even exterminated through various methods in the Old Kingdom as well – something that can be blamed on the Antonescu regime and its power figures. Whether or not we can speak of a Holocaust, this situation is a fact and it must be studied as such in the future, separate from debates concerning whether Ion Antonescu was a hero or not and whether the events had the size of the Nazi Holocaust. In this way, the truth will have less of a chance to be forged and the study of history will be fair.

” Where are all the Jews that died then?”

By Andrei Craciun, Vlad Stoicescu

http://www.evz.ro/detalii/stiri/unde-sunt-toti-evreii-care-au-murit-atunci-862400.html 

Translated by Act- Plus Association, Romania

Leonard Zăicescu, survivor of the Iaşi pogrom from June 1941, talks about the dark and unknown part of the Romanian Holocaust. The anti-Semite craziness of the past century made Zăicescu orphan at the age of 14.

His father and paternal grandfather were assassinated because they were Jews. “Run! And don’t forget, my son! Do not forget! May God be with you!” are the last words the young Leonard could distinguish through the noise caused by the burst of gunfire, in the Police station’s yard, from his parent. Almost 7 decades after, Zăicescu is still looking for a grave and refuses to forget this drama that marked his childhood.

Downside of Păcurari Street, at no. 133, in a long yard, the longest in whole Iaşi, were stuffed one close to the other pretty modest and colourful houses, where poor, but liable people used to live. Born in a Romanian railway-worker’s family with many children, lost among the other workers’ families with many kids, Leonard Zăicescu was deluded by life with a pretty nice beginning.

In the long yard, in an ethnical mosaic, were living, together, Romanians, Jews, Hungarians, Mehmet, the Turk who would sell borscht on streets and a tall Russian, with an imperial moustache, former colonel in the Tsar’s army. His name was Grigorie Ivanovici Smirnov and he arrived to Iaşi running from the Bolshevik revolution. Rich and generous, wandering dreamer, prisoner of an endless harem of wanton women, he was wearing silk handkerchiefs, coquet top hat and he wouldn’t miss any banquet of the high society.

Persevering unlucky fellow, Smirnov had lost all his fortune playing roulette and other gambling games, ending up in that world of those poor people, in which the atmosphere was filled by Zavaidoc and Moscopol’s music, played at the gramophones.

There is no place for hyenas

Leonard Zăicescu’s childhood had all of a sudden brutally been shaken, just short before the Second World War started. Lately 1930s, the cuzists and the legionnaires were no longer an isolated presence for some time, Jews were not  Jews anymore, but “kikes”, and “kikes” had to be humiliated, robbed, beaten, as a prologue to what was to follow.

That day, a bunch of hooligans with swastika was coming down on Păcurari Street towards the long yard, “truly miraculous yard”, as it is called, nostalgically and precisely, by Leonard Zăicescu. The miracle was like this: Smirnov put on his coronal coat, he bended a little bit his shoulders under the burden of his decorations from the old wars and took on the command of defence. The poor, but liable people wouldn’t let their neighbours be beaten that easily.

A student from the Pedagogic Seminary took a sheet and wrote a warring on it: “Only humans live here! There is no place for hyenas”. The sheet was hanged on the iron gate, it remained there in the gust of the wind and nobody entered the long yard. Leonard Zăicescu remembers that short postponing of a painful destiny: “I felt then, more than ever, that we were not alone in this world”.

The first sacrifice

Romanian historic events stained by Jewish blood

On a continent which seemed to lose its mind, Romania could not avoid being touched by the insanity. The anti-Jewish legislation left, initially, Leonard Zăicescu’s father jobless. An avalanche of tragedies followed. Isac, his grandfather, was a furrier in Bivolari village, on Prut’s valley. It was happening in the middle of that cursed month: June 1941. “Zeida the Great”, as grandsons called him, was driven away from the village by an unjust law. In chariot, on his way to Iaşi, he was assassinated by a legionnaire group, which tore his white beard and scratched on his chest the Iron Guard’s sign.

Near the old man’s mocked body that shortly was to reach his 80 years, a book was found: “My childhood memories” by Ion Creangă. Leonard specifically asked him for it; a kid in love with literature, which in years would end up being a Romanian language professor. He taught this language to children with disabilities. The book, blood stained, was kept with the time passing. From Leonard Zăicescu’s library, the book passed in his daughter’s, Isabelle, and further on, in the granddaughters’, Jacqueline and Leonie, library.

“In the teeth of the historical truth regardless the obvious evidences, registered in the official documents, the xenophobes, the anti-Semites, the extremists try with all their strength to mislead the population concerning the horrible tragedy that the Romanian Holocaust was, dishonouring our memory, the survivors’ memory.”     Leonard Zăicescu, Holocaust survivor

The Order No. 3

“This star is our friendship’s symbol”

On 22nd of June 1941, the first day of war, a piece of paper flew all around Iaşi and it found place on the fences, on the walls, on the shop windows: the Order No. 3. All the inhabitants of “Jewish ethnic origins” were forced to wear, on chest, in the left, a distinctive sign. Two yellow coloured triangles with a 7 cm base, superposed in order to form the Jewish star on a black background. If this wasn’t obeyed, the punishment was prison (up to 6 years) or a very expensive fee.

My mother, Sofia, started immediately to make the “little stars”. Leonard proudly hooked his sign. His friend, Picu Răileanu, looked at him with jealousy and didn’t give up until Mrs. Sofia had done one for him as well. He was very convincing: “And so what if I don’t have to wear it, as I am not a Jew? Leo is like my brother!”

Two children, a Jew and a Christian, walked around the city that day. Unconsciously, or maybe defiant, they walked up to the “Green House”, the legionnaires’ nest, where both of them were beaten cruelly: “They had us beaten in black and blue…”. The boy once more felt like the whole world is against him, but he is not alone. Picu, with his eyes swollen and with the untouched David’s star, told him: “These bastards should be aware they haven’t scared us a bit. This star is our friendship’s symbol!”

THE UNTHINKABLE HELL

“We are poor. Why would anybody want something from us?”

June was ending. It was war time and through the city of Iaşi “manifests” were spread, papers that were bringing the death: “Romanian people! Each killed kike means one Bolshevik less. The revenge time has come!” The notice, according to which a monstrous future was expecting the Jews, soon arrived in the long yard also. It was known that in Ciurchi district, near the butchery, two Jewish families were robbed and murdered. The father gathered his children and tried to calm them down, fooling himself: “We are poor; they have nothing to take from us. Why would anybody want something from us? They have to take into consideration that I am an old campaigner! I shall put the decorations on my chest”.

The family sheltered in the basement, waiting. On 28th, in the evening, an aerial alarm unleashed the deadly burst of slugs. Throughout the city of Iaşi, a liar rumour filled with hatred was circulating: “The kikes have risen in rebellion!” The next day was Sunday. In the dawn a German voice shouted: “Heraus, verfluhte Jude!” SS agents, Romanian gendarmes and policemen with bayonets rushed in and the nightmare started. A German officer ordered: “The woman and the girls stay”. Leonard Zăicescu and his father were thrown in the “prisoners’” group. They were heading, with their hands on the head, dragging along their feet, towards a future more likely to a death.

Left behind, Sofia was shouting, without any echo, her despair, as it is done during funerals: “Why are you taking them away from us? Where do you take them? Why?” Leonard Zăicescu was 14. His younger brothers, gathered around his mother, were looking without understanding. The three Jew group was going, as into exodus, to the police station. As if he was in trance, Leonard Zăicescu recorded the images from that horror movie that for centuries is not letting him rest: “They mutilated my soul”.

The word tree, the word grass and the word death

On Alecsandri Street he saw an old paralyzed Jew that was very much alike to God, like He was painted in the fourth grade reading books. Then, out of nowhere, the world turned black and he saw rifle butts and iron crowbars hitting the man’s skull, bone splinters and brain fragments springing out. In the police station’s yard, he heard the bullets shot into his friend Carolică; a Jewish child that died holding in his hand a flying insect which is popular known as the “Virgin Mother’s eyes”.

The boy asked Leonard which was this insect’s food and answered for himself, uttering for the last time the words “tree”, then “grass”, and died running towards a bunch of trees, where he wanted to lay down the insect. Leonard Zăicescu still dreams with him: a miserable kid, always wearing pieces of wadding in his ill years, who gave his life for the “Virgin Mother’s eyes”.

“There is no such thing as good nation and bad nation. There is only good people and bad people” Leonard Zăicescu, Holocaust survivor

THE DEATH SYMPHONY

“Run! And don’t forget, my son! Do not forget!”

Some German orders were heard firstly, translated to Romanian. Then, the fire was opened. The death symphony melted, together, the deaf sound of the bullets with the impetuous red of the bloody bodies. In the police station’s yard, rising like some kind of salvation, the “Sidoli” cinema could be seen. On the other side, over the 2 metre stoned wall encrusted, at top, with glass shards, was the life. The Jews ran to the wall.

Hit by a bullet, Leonard’s father rushed him and shouted four sentences as a last wish: “Run! And don’t forget, my son! Do not forget! May God be with you!” Once he got at the top of the wall, on the parapet, with his palms and feet full of cuts, Leonard heard his name. He offered his arm to his colleague, Aurel Schwartz, but then the rifle spoke. Aurel died with his eyes out of their socket, his fingers slipping out of Leonard’s palm that was standing stone-still.

He was all a frozen tear when he was suddenly grabbed in a saving embrace. “Follow me, child. The death is everywhere!” The one addressing these words to him was an idol of the Jewish kids in Iaşi, whom it was impossible to not recognize even there, in hell, full of dust and blood. It was Tolea, a young blonde man, striker in Maccabi football team.

They hit them, cursed them and shot

Tolea and Zăicescu hid in the cinema, on a girder extended over the screens horizontal, at a two metre distance from the scene’s board. The other Jews that tried to save their lives at “Sidoli” weren’t so lucky. Leonard saw the carnage and, above all, he felt a cold shiver throughout his body in the moment in which Tolea, with his father’s voice, whispered to his year: “Don’t forget!” Late that night, after the sound of rifles had stopped, the two boys slid silently, walking carefully between the corps, on roundabout streets, passing by abandoned restaurants and empty squares.

“Here we will split. Each one has to start on his own way, with his luck”, Tolea said. The guarding angel was about to leave. Then they saw two shadows and heard an order: “Hold on or I’ll shoot”. The gendarmes pushed them to a wall; they search them, but couldn’t find anything, they hit them, cursed them and shot. They simulated the execution laughing out loud, like some barbarians. Finally, they took them to the police station. The next morning, the child and the angel-football player were on the express train with direction death.

“The Iaşi pogrom is placed between some kinds of parenthesis, like an historical amnesia. Perhaps is it more difficult to be accepted as it was less Nazi, but more Romanian?” Leonard Zăicescu, Holocaust survivor
QUESTIONS FOR THOSE DENYING IT

“Where is my grandfather? Where is my father?”

At that end of June and world, two miserable trains left Iaşi. One of them headed towards Călăraşi, the other towards Podu Iloaiei: a rudimentary mass-killing technique. Stuffed in cattle wagons, left laying under the sun, many Jews got crazy, and committed suicide, hanging them selves with the shirts’ sleeves by the rings where the animals were bound, or died because of the lack of air and water. Leonard Zăicescu’s father, shot in the police station’s yard, died on his way to Călăraşi. He was thrown away in a common hole, next to other hundred of people.

“I’m still searching for a grave!” Leonard Zăicescu says before losing his voice and hiding his tears behind his palm. His “purgatory” was on the railway, towards Podul Iloaiei, where a camp was organized rapidly. “On my wagon in an untrained stretched handwriting two words were scrawled: Express-Train”, professor Zăicescu noted in his memories volume published in 2007. Book that received the title: “On the express train towards death”.

“Kikes, kikes, but they are also humans, people”

The almost 20 km from Iaşi to Podu Iloaiei were done in a 10 hour eternity. At arrival, piles of bodies were falling out of the wagons. Leonard Zăicescu couldn’t forget. On the way to Iaşi railway station, a peasant raised her voice to the policemen and gendarmes that were keeping an eye on the Jews: “Kikes, kikes, but they are also humans, people! Why on God’s name won’t you let those poor souls live their lives?” Nobody answered to her question.

Later on, out of nowhere, madam Tiţa showed up, a Christian from Leţcanii Iaşiului, that Leonard Zăicescu knew well. A soldier closed his eyes. Tiţa, an old lady capable of miracles just like some fairy, came closer and filled all his pockets with a piece of sweet cheese and cherries. During the travel, he saw in train people dying and losing their minds. He doesn’t understand how and why he was chosen to survive. He remained for several months at Podu Iloaiei. When he came back home, he was an orphan with an amputated future.

“Truly die just those that are forgotten”

It’s been a life since those events. Leonard Zăicescu is now a pensioner that hears clearly only in the afternoon, travels with the tram no. 5 and sometimes reads scratched in other untrained handwritings on some chair: “Get lost, kikes!” Other times, he listens to a university professor saying: “Perhaps we will manage to have a true Holocaust, with true victims!” or sees a mayor marching in a Nazi officer uniform, walking like a goose. Then he feels again hopeless and without defence like that 14 year child.

When he finally gets asleep and dreams, he sees those that were killed up then rising in front of the bullets. In Leonard’s dreams, the rifles can no longer hurt. “Truly die just those that are forgotten”, an old Jewish proverb says. Leonard Zăicescu has not forgotten.

To those that deny the truth, he would say, quoting Isaac Bashevis-Singer: “If there was no Holocaust, then tell me where and how died my grandfather, my father, tell me where is my grandfather, my father, my uncle, where is the old paralyzed man resembling God, where is    Aurică Schwartz, Carolică, Avreimală, who died mad, in the train, hugging his plush little dog that he never let go, where is the architect Raoul Şnürer, that was killed when he was trying to tear out the shutter that was stopping the air to enter the wagons? Where are all the Jews that died in June 1941?”

“I am one of the last five survivors of the «Death trains». The history, however painful may be, must be known, so that what happened shall never repeat itself”   Leonard Zăicescu, Holocaust survivor  

“Survivor of the Auschwitz camp: ‘Women in tatters, left hairless and barefoot were begging for a piece of bread’ ”

By Cristina Iana

http://www.adevarul.ro/exclusiv_adevarul/O_supravietuitoare_a_lagarului_Auschwitz-_-Femei_in_zdrente-rase_pe_cap_si_desculte_implorau_o_bucata_de_paine_0_196780763.html

Translated by Act- Plus Association, Romania

“Arbeit macht frei!” (Work sets you free), the perfect trap for the miserable Nazis’ victims

After the long glance at the statue, the major headed towards the table to drink his wine. But instead of drinking it, he raised it and, hitting his heels, he cheered: “Heil Hitler!” on a tone that could have been, in the same time both sincere and sarcastic, and with all his strength, crashed the glass in Jesus’ statue.

The year was 1944, Cluj, Transylvania’s capital, on those times enclosed to Hungary. The Gestapo was managing everything. Almost five years have passed since Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Two thirds of Europe were under the Third Reich’s command.

Olga Lengyel, the wife of a Jew surgeon in Cluj, begins her story about the atrociousness through which she had to pass along with her family, after she was taken by force and thrown in an extermination camp by the Nazi system.

We considered Germany as a nation that gave the world great culture. If all those narrated facts were true, then, certainly, only a bunch of mad people would be capable to do it; it was impossible they would be based on a national policy and be part of a world domination and supremacy plan! How wrong we were!   

During those days the papers would tell only about the victories of the “German glorious army”, about the summons given to the civilians by the Nazi authorities and about what was allowed and what was forbidden. The Radio stations that were receiving also information from abroad were confiscated; those at whom such radios were founded were arrested and deported. Therefore, information was limited to the news that the visitors were bringing. Generally, this news would start with: X told me that Y had said …

In 1941, the Hungarian war minister, Bartha, and the commander of the military Corp, Verth, in collaboration with other members of the pro-Nazi government, founded the “Work companies”. In these companies were brought, besides the 150.000 Jews, also the Romanian Christians that remained in Transylvania, after Hitler’s decision was taken in Vienna.

I heard loads of terrible things regarding these “Work Companies”, but for the first time I really understood the cruel reality.

About the so-called uniform: the only clothing was a blanket that was rolled on the body and tied up with a rope; in stead of military boots the victims were wearing wooden shoes tied to the feet.

With this clothing during the harsh winter weather, -40° Celsius, they were forced to search for explosive mines, without any kind of measures of protection. They were beaten and tortured by their supervisors, and they were dying like flies because of the hunger, the frozen parts of their bodies or due to the diseases that were never taken into consideration.

On 20th of April 1944, the Hungarian pro-Nazi government members demanded an official meeting with Adolf Eichmann. During this meeting, Eichmann had to solemnly promise them that no Jew from Hungary would get away with life, in this action counting on all the support necessary. This was the first state in which the government was handing the Jews on voluntary wish. 800.000 lives were then condemned to death.  When Budapest was partially surrounded by the soviet troops, late November – beginning of December, approximately 400.000 Jews, mostly old women and children, supervised by Hungarian soldiers, were evacuated from the city and sent out in a forced march.

They forced them to march many days on sleet, without food or water, towards the closest Nazi concentration camp. The roads were literally flanked and blocked by thousands and thousands of bodies of those who didn’t manage to arrive at the destination.

The same Nazi technique applied to all

The protests were in vain. The scene was more likely to be a nightmare. On the rails interminable trains were awaiting. The people were pushed into cattle wagons full of deportees. The soldiers were violently pushing from behind forcing them to get in an empty wagon. The children were almost squashed between the baggages.

The deportees were mostly intellectuals or the ones that had a better social position. Initially, they were all trying to maintain their manners, endeavouring to behave politely and friendly, regardless the common torture they were all submitted to, but, by the time passing by, their nerves were starting to yield.  Consequently, soon after the first incidents took place, so that shortly after the situation would become unbearable.

The gravest naivety was of those deported, that were thinking they were heading towards a place where they had to work, and with the food they had with themselves could complete the daily rations. But the situation was totally different.

At the wagon’s window appeared the face of a SS guardian threatening with a Luger pistol:                                            

– 30 hand clocks, immediately! If not, you cam all consider yourself dead!

This is how the Nazi “tax” collection was going on.

– Your fountain pens and wallets!

– Let me see the jewels and you will receive that fresh water bucket!

One water bucket for 96 human beings was like one water drop for each one of them (…) the first in those 24 hour travel.

The first “selection”

At arrival, the deportees’ goods would be evaluated and confiscated by the SS agents and Gestapo’s agents, as well. That was followed by the separation process or the first “selection”.

While they were grouping us on the train station platform, the baggages were taken away from us by the creatures dressed up as prisoners. 

The women were separated from men, and the children and old people were automatically headed towards “left”, which meant Birkenau, the extermination camp. “Right” was the Nazis’ denomination for Auschwitz, the work camp, although there were also in Birkenau some detachments supposed to execute physic labour.

Olga Lengyel says that some of the physic labours were absolutely absurd; they were the result of a person’s mental disordered cerebral activity that aimed to bring the person who developed that work to the state of craziness. For example, each woman had to fill up two buckets with stones that were then carried for some meters, so that would be emptied there. And the process had to be repeated over and over again, in the Sisyphus way.

The two camps were separated by a railway. In Auschwitz were many armament factories, like D.A.W. (Deutsches-Aufrüstrungswerk), Siemens or Krupp, that were using prisoners for the weapons production. The inscriptions: “Arbeit macht frei!” (Work sets you free) were nothing more than a trap for the miserable Nazis’ victims.

The “selections” were done, normally, during the calls, at which the SS chiefs were selecting a number of prisoners, under the pretext of a so-called “transfer”. The selected ones were heading towards the gas chambers or seldom towards the armament factories. They were immediately surrounded by guardians and put in a truck that was taking them to those horrible places.

Auschwitz – Birkenau

The camp was widening a vast territory of approximately 13 km. It was surrounded by stoned pillars, whose height was almost of 3-4 meters and bulkiness close to 40 cm, tied up by a double net of barbed wire. Each pillar had a light bulb that was always turned on. Each camp was marked by a letter and they were separated by 1 meter deep trenches and over them there were three lines of barbed wire loaded with electricity.

In the spaces surrounded by barbed wire were imprisoned human beings, women wearing tatters, left hairless and barefoot; begging in all Europe’s languages for a piece of bread, or a shawl to cover their nakedness. Everything was more likely to be a nightmare. I would have never imagined that they could ever pass through such humiliation and degradation. (…) But, moreover, I was far from thinking that in short time I would be in that same pitiful position, as well.

This is the beginning of Olga Lengyel (1908-2001) tragic experience in the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the only member of the Lengyel family who manage to survive the Nazi regime’s treatments. The story can be found in the book “Hitler’s ovens”, a story based on the cruel reality of those times.

Many times, the pages of real life are much more horrible than those written in books. (Olga Lengyel)

“Auschwitz concentration camp survivor/ she tricked death twice”

By Roxana Lupu

http://www.adevarul.ro/actualitate/eveniment/Supravietuitoare_a_lagarului_Auschwitz_0_287371690.html

Translated by Act- Plus Association, Romania

Hainalca Cristea is now, at 80 years, one of the last witnesses of the most dreadful concentration camp, where over 1.1 million people were exterminated. At the age of 13, Hainalca had to face the horrors of the Nazism, but the providence saved her two times from the gas chamber.

In the morning of May, 3rd 1944, the Jewish family of the lawyer Harmat Ignaţ sat down for breakfast earlier than usual in their house from Sfântu Gheorghe city. They were even more silent than other times. At 6 a.m. they all had to present themselves at the police station in city – mother, father and the two girls.

The atmosphere was graver than ever, inducing an intense state of feeling that something irreparable was on its way to happen. There were plenty of signs, since the early 1940, when Northern Transylvania was occupied by the Hungarian fascist army: the lawyer Harmat Ignaţ was excluded from the Bar and his law practice right was taken away from him, the girls were forced to wear the yellow star at school, and the men from the city were convoked to execute mandatory service for the fascist army.

But the summons received three days ago frightened each member of the family, especially because the same paper was sent to the whole Jewish population in the city. They didn’t clean up the table after having breakfast, as a final desperate attempt of the parents to push the destiny, like a sign left as a guarantee that they would come back. But once the door closed behind, nothing would ever be the same.

In a cattle wagon

Soon yet their tragic story would find its beginning: all the Jews from Sfântu Gheorghe city were left without their identity cards in an abandoned agrarian school, without food or water, then they were concentrated in a ghetto in Reghin, and afterwards they were boarded on the last train of their life for most of them, heading Auschwitz.

Hainalca was 13 when she arrived at the camp, after a week-travel in a cattle wagon, being stuffed between starved children and old people. It was 10th of June 1944, in the morning, and on the platform it was playing the Viennese waltz of Johann Strauss. Then, Josef Mengele, also known as the “death angel”, started to give directions: left was for work and right for death. But up then they were not aware of this. “They grabbed my parents towards the right side and I asked Megele to let me go with them. He gave me a glance and said: «You no longer need your mother»”.

That was the first providential sign for Hainalca, which Mengele, it is unknown why, refused to send to extermination, although she matched perfectly the description: she was skinny and she was under 14. Theoretically, the first step was to eliminate old people, sick people and children under 14 years – meaning, they were sent to the gas chambers and killed – because they were not capable to work. That was the last moment in which Hainalca saw her parents, and it was also the beginning of the harsh times. “They told us to get naked and they took from us everything we had, so that we won’t remember anything. They cut our hair, and we weren’t able to recognize each other; my sister was right next to me and I couldn’t tell it was her. They gave us a dress and took us in a hut that was close, as I can recall, to the crematory. We heard only the desperate crying and the smell of burned flesh”. Then, together with her sister, she was redistributed in the hut no. 20, from where each day, at every hour, they were doing the selection: they were brought outside, naked, and at the smallest sigh of weakness or disease they were taken away. And they never came back. Hainalca was selected twice for execution.

“The first time I arrived actually at the door of the gas chamber. I was crying and a SS German woman came to me and said only: «Run back and tell the officer that you are 20»”. She did precisely what she was told and the officer let her go back to the hut. The second time she sneaked out to the improvised bathroom behind the hut and, when she came back, the selected group was already on its way to the crematory.

The awful rule of 10

But the temporary gained life was not easy at all. She was sent to work in a stone pit, in the Krakow camp, where she had to work at the construction of a swimming pool. The commander in charge of that camp wanted to surprise his wife by offering her as a gift a place where she could dabble in the water accompanied by her friends, in the middle of the war.

“And for this, we had to carry stone on the mountain, because there was supposed to be that stone-pool. If we didn’t carry it properly they would beat us and even put the dog on us. They were shouting «Jude!», meaning «Jewish!» and the dogs rushed at us ready to kill us.”

The death rule was…  different

In Krakow, the death rule was another one: the decimal fraction. “They were bringing us outside, at a call, in the morning, one by one, and they were counting. One, two, three, four, five, six – and the tenth was shot. Can you imagine what this means? My sister was right next to me and we didn’t know what was going to happen. Which one of us was going to be the tenth?”

At -25° Celsius, in a little dress

Hainalca survived the petechial fever and dysentery, the most frequent mortal diseases in camp, and came back to Auschwitz. Here she passed once more through the nightmare of the morning selection call, at -25° Celsius, in a thin little dress of canvas and wooden shoes. The 13 year child was then distributed to an armament factory, at Rochlitz, Germany.

The Germans put her to work to some kind of a drill for making guns, to which Hainalca, little and bony, could hardly reach. After almost one half year of work, at the beginning of 1946, she was sent to an armament industrial plant, at Calw, also in Germany. Here she had to work only during night, for 12 hours, together with other war prisoners.

Destiny

After 5 years since the war ended, Hainalca married Tudor Cristea, with whom she has a daughter. They both work in commerce and moved to Bucharest. Her sister, with whom she was in Auschwitz, age 87, is married to her second husband and lives now in Israel. The two sisters haven’t seen each other for almost 12 years.

 Auschwitz, the death factory

Auschwitz (or Auschwitz-Birkenau) is the name given to a complex of concentration and extermination camps of the Nazi Germany, on the polish territory. The name comes from the German translation of the nearby city, Oświecim, placed at almost 60 km west from Krakow. The camps from Auschwitz were a major element in the Holocaust perpetuation; it is estimated that 1.1 million of persons were killed there, of which over 90% were Jews.

The three most important camps were Auschwitz I (the administrative centre), Auschwitz II (the extermination camp) and Auschwitz III (the work camp). On 27th of January 1945, Auschwitz was set free by the soviet troops. In 1947, the polish state founded a museum on the place where Auschwitz I and II were placed.

The prisoners were saved by a SS officer

In May 1945, after four months of work, Hainalca and other 200 prisoners were saved from the factory in Calw by the even SS officer that had to supervise them. “He was a Schwab from nearby Timişoara and he knew Romanian. When he received the order to evacuate us, he decided to help us cross the border in Switzerland, so that we can escape.”

The end of the war was close. Hitler was dead and those 200 people exhausted, desperate and trying to survive using the last strengths in their bodies, were still wondering about. Finally, they found a shelter on the land of a German and 9th of May 1945, the last day of the bloody world conflict, found them alive.

Thanks to a miracle, the two sisters were alive, together. They took the train and arrived home. They got off the train in the Sfântu Gheorghe station, but nobody was waiting for them here. In their house some strangers were living. Finally, the girls were temporary took in by a family of Jews.

“When I entered their house, the first thing that I could see was a photo of my sister that was on the night table. She almost screamed and asked them what her photo was doing there. Apparently her fiancée, with whom lost any contact since the horrors had started, was also living temporary at the same family.”

Hainalca’s sister, seven years older, married. After five years, Hainalca also got married. Her husband would make up for all the pain that she wnet through thanks to his love.

” Survived Auschwitz thanks to a gas blackout”

By Monika Krajnik

http://www.adevarul.ro/actualitate/eveniment/Baia_Mare-_A_supravietuit_la_Auschwitz_salvata_de_o_pana_de_gaz_0_262774133.html

Translated by Act- Plus Association, Romania

The eldest survivor of the Holocaust in Romania, Klara Markus (age 97), got away with life from the extermination camp because the Germans ran out of gas. Mother Klari, as those close to her like to use, lost her family and friends in the camp. With her last strength, she came back to Romania to rebuild her life.

The horrors the Jews had to go throw in the concentration camps during the Second World War are no longer a secret for anybody. The few survivors of those uneasy times try to leave behind the harsh memories surrounding the years in which they fought desperately to escape with life from the extermination camps. This is also the case of Klara Markus from Sighetu Marmaţiei, Maramureş.

Klara Markus was born in the day between the years 1913 and 1914, at Carei, Satu Mare County. “I was brought to life on 31st of December, but my parents decided to register me in my birth certificate to be born in the first day of the new year. Therefore, I became younger with one year, just pure feminine coquetry”, the old lady jokes about.

Mother Klari, as everyone addresses to her, comes from a poor Jewish family. “My father died when I was little, and my mother worked hard from morning till night, so that we, three sisters, have everything we would wish”, the woman remembers. In order to have a proper education, her mother decided to enroll her at Sighet High school for girls. “I was counting on relatives up here, and the school was much better than the one from Satu Mare”, Klara Markus explains.

After graduating the High school, the young woman called then Klara Schongut came back to Carei. “The notice that we would be deported took us by surprise. Terrified, even now I can remember the nights in which we were all gathering  in the kitchen, thinking on what would it happen with us”, mother Klari explains.

Two years spent in an umbrella factory

It seems very difficult to the old lady to explain what followed. “In August 1942, I was taken to Budapest, where I worked in an umbrella factory. My mother and older sisters were taken directly to Auschwitz. I never saw them again. When I asked about them, SS members replied shortly: «Maybe, you should search for them in the smoke or ashes!» and they laughed”, Klara Markus begins her story.

Starting with 5th of April 1944, Jews in Hungary were forced to wear the distinctive mark, the yellow star. “There was nothing that could have amazed me anymore. My mother was telling me in my childhood that Jews were yet treated with lot of cruelness for a long period of time.”

She remembers even now, like if it was yesterday, the routine of the work from those times. “Up to 5 p.m. we were not allowed to leave the factory, and afterwards we were taken in a house with a yellow star on the Harsfa Street. I can tell you also the house’s number: 54”, the old lady remembers. After those two years in which she worked in that umbrella factory, she was transferred to a brick one. “For me that period seemed really tough, but not even in my worst nightmare I could imagine what was to follow”, Klari confesses.

March towards the land of pain

In September 1944, the deported Jews from Budapest began their walk towards the concentration camps in Germany: “We’ve marched for more than a month. There were many that couldn’t face the road, the hunger, or the diseases and fell down exhausted. Most of them were shot by the Germans”. Klara Markus says she always believed God would take care of her.

“Those with whom I walked terrified were often snapped, or even beat or shot. Sometimes neither I could understand due to what miracle, but I would always get away without being beaten”, she admits.

At 20th of October she arrived to the concentration camp from Dachau. “I was left without identity. In stead, I received a number: 130-334, a little towel and a piece of soap”, explains the old lady. One week later she was transferred to the women camp from Ravensbruck, where she was to be identified by the number 39032.

“I passed through all the camps on the German territory. The conditions were the same all over the places. I was falling asleep with tears in my eyes, missing my mother, my sisters. I got accustomed with the hunger, but not with the pain in my soul. Everyday we were humiliated, tortured, I was surrounded by death and lot of dirt, especially the one from our perpetrators’ souls”, the woman remembers.

At the beginning of 1945, Klara Markus got sick with petechial fever. “Each day I was eating the same borsht, red water mixed with tears. I cried then enough for the rest of my life. I cried for my misery, I cried for those that were suffering for then die next to me”, she adds. But not even this time God left her side and she soon after recovered.

“I am capable to forgive, but I cannot forget what I went through”

At the beginning of May 1945, the woman was just one step close of being exterminated. “I was at Auschhwitz then. They took us, around 15 Jews and me, to the shower. This is what they said, the SS agents. I really believed it. We were asked to get undressed and they led us to the bathroom”, Klara Markus remembers.

The woman realized what was actually happening when she heard the two SS agents talking in German: “I knew their language, because at Carei a German governess took care of us. I heard one of the two agents that entered with us in the chamber saying that we were to be killed. The other one replied there was no gas left in the installation. Only then I realized completely where I was.”

Five months, the way back home to Carei 

Klara Markus still believes that only a miracle saved her: “They could have shot us. What were we to count, 16 miserable souls, compared to the million of people killed with cruelty in the camps?”, still wonders nowadays the woman. However, those 16 were released. Leaving the camp on 9th of May 1945, Klara Markus arrived at Carei five months later. “I came walking, how I could. I was too skinny, weighting only 32 kilos. I didn’t have anyone left in Carei, so I came to Sighet, where I was hoping to find a part of my relatives”, remembers the survivor of the Holocaust about the moment when she was trying to rebuild her life. But coming back to Sighet was a complete shock.

“I found chaos, horrible poorness and helpless people. Actually, the same was everywhere”, continues mother Klari.

One week later she met the one that would be her husband, the doctor Andrei Markus. “My husband was older than me with 12 years. He was prisoner in Russia, and he came back from there to Sighet. We were very poor; we worked a lot in order to establish some basis. I was hired as a typist and cashier at The Kids’s Crib. Afterwards, our two children were born and when we were able to leave to Israel or America, we decided to remain. We were not capable to start it again from zero”, explains Klara Markus.

The woman says even now that there was hardly any day in which she wouldn’t remember a snapshot from the past. “I am capable to forgive, but I cannot forget. No matter how hard I have tried during my life to forget all the horrors I have been through, I haven’t succeeded. Us, the survivors of the Holocaust, we wear the burden of some memories of a cruelty that cannot be expressed in words”, explains the old lady.

Strength to continue her life was given to her by the two kids and the family that she managed to build up in Sighetu Marmaţiei. “My grandsons – Sorin and Alfred – are the 5th generation of doctors in the family”, the woman says proudly. Klara Markus also has a grand-granddaughter, Karin, age 12.

Three generations of Jews that hold the tradition vivid

Before the 2nd World War, Sighetu Marmaţiei was considered a rich and coquet little city. This was also due to the Jewish majority living here. “In the period of glory of the city, here were living around 12.000 of Jews”, Klara Markus says.

Before 1940, according to Ioan J. Popescu, the author of the volume O istorie a evreilor din Sighet (“A History of the Jews from Sighet”), the commerce was mostly done by the Jews: “their shops were covering the whole spectrum of products needed by the city’s inhabitants, from construction materials to ironware, from clothing to jewels, from alimentary products to drugs”.

50.000 Jews in Maramureş

“Before the Holocaust, Sighet was one of the most important centers of the Jewish life in Eastern Europe. 70% of the habitants were Jews. In Sighet existed eight Synagogues, and from the 50 Jewish cemeteries from Maramureş, the biggest is placed here, where it can be found the Soap Monument”, Hari Markus explains, the president of the Jewish Community from Sighet. According to him, out of the 50.000 Jews that lived in the old Maramureş, 38.000 were exterminated in the concentration camps. “And back, only around 3.000 of Jews came”, Markus adds.

In the moment in which they were deported, the fortune was taken away from the Jews. “I can remember that we weren’t allowed to take with us any kind of property document”, another survivor of the Holocaust, age 89, Simon Leightner, from Ocna Şugatag tells. “I was lucky, if one can name it luck the fact that he got alive, while one of his parents and another four brothers died at Auschwitz”, Sanyi bacsi, on the nickname by which he is known, confesses.

In present, the Jews Community from Sighet counts on around 120 members. “I can say that we keep alive the Jewish spirit with difficulty, but we manage to keep the Sabbath and all the other Holidays. We restarted the course on the Talmud Tora, we also have a choir, Hatikva, with a rich repertory, in Yiddish and Ivrit”, the Sighet Community’s president explains. The library is extremely valuable, inherited from those that didn’t manage to survive the 2nd World War.

“We have old books, written 300-400 years ago. Many of them belonged to the Jews exterminated in the Holocaust. We have Sorin Markus who came back from Israel, the one that is replacing if necessary from time to time the official Leightner. He organizes also Hebrew classes. We were surprised, but also delighted when we saw that these courses were attended by Romanians from Sighet, too. Every Thursday over 30 persons gather”, continues Hari Markus.

Not a single wedding in 10 years

The Synagogue was renovated thanks to the contribution of the 120 members of the community. “In more than 10 years not a single wedding has been officiated in Sighet. Now, our community counts on two girls that are to be married, recently were born also two children of the Jews’ families. We are few, but proud”, added Markus.

The community president is serene, because he knows its management will be taken by someone worthy from the young generation: “There are three Jewish generations in Sighet. All the difficulties that we were forced to face did nothing more but to strengthen our faith”.

Two perspectives of Ceausescu regime

By Paul Boncutiu

Nowadays, twenty two years later, some of us still believe that during the Ceausescu era it was much better. Back in those days, everybody was having a job. Back then, everybody had a home. When you were getting married, the Romanian Socialist State was giving you a home to live. Back then not many people were attending college. Many high school graduates were chosen to continue their studies at industrial schools. In this case, during and after the school, they were working all the time. Another group of students were those who were going to a three year industrial school instead of following high school. Later on, when people started to choose studying at universities, because the wages were considerable higher, many of these people who had finished industrial schools were forced to continue at a high school. These days, in Romania, almost 90% of high school graduates are following universities. Nobody is doing the hard jobs. Nobody is following industrial schools. Everybody wants to be a manager. When the old regime’s industrial schools were gone, the people started to have another perspective. Socially, everybody started to find out about self esteem, and try each second of the life to reach another step of the Maslow pyramid. This is one of the effects which changed a whole regime.

Industry back in Ceausescu’s regime was flourishing. It was producing, it was overproducing. During this period were built roads, railroads, schools, cities. Basically, what he did in all that time was to pay the debts remained from the WWII. The borders were kept closed so that nobody could come or leave from the western countries. Ceausescu was doing this because he didn’t want the people to see the freedom of outside the borders. He allowed people to travel much easier in communist countries because they were all having the same mentalities. During the period in which he wanted to pay all the debts of Romania, he had to ask for sacrifices from the people. More than that, everything was rationalized. Electricity, water, heat, food, everything was like in a prison. I remember the problem with electricity. Each day, the electricity was shot down for many hours in the whole city because we had to be economic. Regarding the water, there was a strict program as well. In the morning for a couple of hours, then in the afternoon for another couple of hours and then in the evening we were having water a little bit more. All the time we needed to have reserves. It looked like an embargo.  Many years after his death, the system didn’t change. We needed almost ten years more to remove all these communist remains. We needed it because the following presidents of the country, like Ion Iliescu, Emil Constantinescu, they were all members of the communist parties back in those days and they shared the same visions and were having the same values as Ceausescu. The only difference was that they weren’t nationalists. They wanted to feel the power because they lived before in the shadow of Ceausescu. This is why they didn’t know how to rule a free and independent country. They stopped, sold out and bankrupted this country. Because of them people are now willing to return back to the old regime.

Ceausescu was having the same problem like Stalin. He wanted to feel as the “ruler or the cult of the personality”, he wanted to feel the leadership and to see that people loved him. Paintings with Ceausescu were all around.  In public places, in institutional facilities, even in restaurants and bars, everywhere could be found paintings or pictures of the ruler’s face. He loved to see that people were well organized and were showing obedience. From kindergarten we were dressed in these orange and blue uniforms and they were called “state hawks”. We were all being obliged to learn about the cult of personality. All the time we were hearing the same phrases like “Our leader, Nicolae Ceausescu is like a sun for us!” Or about his wife, Madam Elena Ceausescu, we were hearing all the time that she is our mother.  For those people who were in contact with Elena Ceausescu, they weren’t aloud to look at her, in her eyes. It was considered disrespectful.

Media and information methods were very restrictive as well. TV was broadcasting only a few hours per day, and in all this time was being given TV shows with or about the ruler, Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena. They were all the time together, like Yin and Yang. It was told that when the president of America, Carter came in Romania and proposed Ceausescu to list the Romanian Industry on the American Stock Exchange, an industry estimated at a value of 147 billions dollars by that time, Ceausescu was almost convinced, but Elena was the one who rejected this idea. Even though all the vision and the mentality were his, Ceausescu remained with Elena as confident and advisor after he lost his right hand man, mr Emil Bodnaras, back in 1976. Recently, a book was edited by the woman who was for more than 20 years the English translator and personal confident of Elena, a book called: “Elena Ceausescu – Confessions without Borders”. The name of the author is Violeta Nastasescu. She was trying through this book to talk about Elena Ceausescu as a human being, not the mean and awful person she was considered to be.

Here are 10 questions answered by two men who lived their youth during the old regime. Both of them are engineers. One has lived all his life in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, and the other one is a physics professor at high school in a small town placed in the county of Alba.  Those questions are supposed to investigate what view of the regime has had a person living in the centre of the country, where things were happening and, what perspective has had a person living far away from  the place where decisions were being made

  1. 1.       What did represent the 1989 revolution for you?

Mr Vesa, Country town : Revenge against the opressive system ruled by Ceausescu.

Anonymous, Bucharest: It meant an attack against the national interests coming from the hostile forces. From a strong nationalistic policy of Nicolae Ceausescu who wanted to make a powerful country, to a total vassalage policy for becoming a free market and an obedient colony of the International Occultists it is a huge difference. That is why my opinion is so very rad.

  1. 2.       Does there exist, from your point of view any difference between 1985 – 1989 (before revolution period) and 1990 – 1995 (after the revolution period)?

Mr Vesa, Country town : Free circulation of the information and oppening of the borders.

Anonymous, Bucharest: It wasn’t such a big difference: between 1985 and 1989 the whole national policy was invaded by void people, by slicks who didn’t care about their country and interceders traitors because of the “disastrous earthquake” in 1978 (not the real one in 1977!). But above all, back then, there were highly capable persons, dedicated and honest who were stood still trying to back down the disaster. Basically, during 1990-1995, the phenomenon was the same but without those dedicated people to hold down the disaster; those people were either physically eliminated, either arrested or they were public compromised. Looking in terms of organization, it was the same chaos in the first period as well as in the second one.

  1. 3.       What were the facilities offered by the regime? (marriage, job, school, etc.)

Mr Vesa, Country town:  The freedom of choosing the family future.

Anonymous, Bucharest :There were maximum facilities. It was a constant care for people, teaching them to don’t consider any “personalities manifestations”, immorality, glamour, all of this for making him a person of the regime and for giving him a paternal reflex. Those oriented towards work, professionalism and honesty found in this regime a powerful support, being pushed in high and important positions, where… they were becoming dangerous or their popularity or influence was becoming too big! We were having a very solid moral/ethic/social education, a quality learning process, the possibility of discovering talents, great professional evolution, facilities in obtaining apartments, credits with small to null interest and for long periods of time, the family was considered to be “the base cell of the society”, encouraging births, great health system and effective, paid holidays. Basically, the slogan was “Everything for the Man!”

  1. 4.       Which were the great disappointments of the Ceausescu’s regime?

Mr Vesa, Country town : Demagogic thinking, hard measures of intimidation and exclusion of those who were rising against the regime, forging a fake history, a wrong presentation of the „socialist” realities.

Anonymous, Bucharest: They were always holding you back if you were to ascent to the important decisional job, the cult of the personality (before 1979), nepotism (after 1979), ignoring the internal realities (after 1978), the alienation of Nicolae Ceausescu and the growth of the political role of Elena Ceausescu (after 1985) are the biggest ones. The rest of them are just consequences of these ones.

  1. 5.       How did you perceive Nicolae Ceausescu?

Mr Vesa, Country town : The sick man on the top of the oppresive piramidal system.

Anonymous, Bucharest :Like an authentic patriot, well intended, a fanatic for his country, whit a lot of common sense, paranoic tendencies, very skilled politician but a vain one, finally a tragic character who had made history. At the end, he was a positive character, with a lot of qualities.

  1. 6.        How did you perceive Elena Ceausescu?

Mr Vesa, Country town: Marionnete handler.

Anonymous, Bucharest: She was a “feminine” character by excellence – a peasant without that peasantry wisdom or the swanky lady from the city. She was a very good wife, dedicated to her husband, but mean and mercantile with the others. They were a very great couple, up to the end! If the assassination attempt against her had been successful at the time, Nicolae Ceausescu would have become much more cautious, he would have surrounded with quality and well intent people and he wouldn’t have developed those paranoiac  feeling that took him to death.

  1. 7.       Could you please name few reasons why the old regime was better than the actual one?

Mr Vesa, Country town: It wasn’t better in any aspect.

Anonymous, Bucharest : There is a single reason which is also the most important one: the former regime was oriented towards the country and its people. More than that, it was 90% independent development, the gift of the national thinking, without accepting too many external ideas. It was a national specific regime, and a functional one.

  1. 8.       What did mean for you the lack of food and utilities or their rationalization and how did that affect you?

Mr Vesa, Country town : Permanent stress and trying different  tricks for compensating the lacks.

Anonymous, Bucharest: It was very frustrating. It made you to develop a powerful hate against the ones who provoke it. It was an abnormal thinking because of its own purpose. It was the beginning of our people’s physical, moral and spiritual descent.

  1. 9.       Did you anyhow take part in the revolution?

 

Mr Vesa, Country town : Indirectly. Through the news which we were receiving.

Anonymous, Bucharest : Yes, I did. I participated for preserving of what was good and important for the country. I didn’t participate for defending Nicolae Ceausescu, which at that point was being left alone by everyone. I couldn’t have done something; I was just part of the movement like all the others. The act was already written and it was playing for some time now, we were just the puppets. It worked out exactly as their directors wanted to, without any change!

  1. 10.   Are you content with the falling of the old regime?

Mr Vesa, Country town:  Yes

Anonymous, Bucharest : I am pleased that Nicolae Ceausescu regime felt, yes. I am pleased that the Marxist socialism felt, yes. But I am not pleased about the falling of the National Socialism.

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