Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Bucharest is an interesting city with a really sad Holocaust story. Today we are speaking to both the Presidents of the Jewish Community in Romania and also the Association of Romanian Holocaust Survivors.

A short history of Romania during the Holocaust is as follows:

After King Carol abdicated in 1940, the National Legionary State (Romanian government) was established and was controlled by the Iron Guard, a Fascist party. Pretty immediately they started a campaign of terror against the Jewish people living in Romania (imagine waking up tomorrow morning and seeing that the leading party in your country is leading a campaign to beat you and torture you because of something that you can't control). The Iron guard organised many pogroms (organised attacks) on Jewish people; looting their shops, burning their property and beating many to death. 

In September of 1940, Ion Antonescu formed a dictatorship. He told Italian reporters that solving the 'Jewish problem' (the problem that there are Jewish people) was his number one priority. What makes a grown man turn on innocent people who he is meant to be protecting is a question we can never answer. 

One of the most shocking things about the Romanian experience during the Holocaust is that many policies were 100% instigated by Romania itself. There may have been encouragement from The Nazis but the bigotry was homegrown.

A particularly terrible act that 
Antonescu passed was the creation of death trains. People were loaded on to cattle cars and were driven around the Romanian countryside (never arriving at a destination) in the mid-summer heat with no water. Occasionally the doors were opened to let the dead out. We think it's interesting to ask you, how do these stories make you feel? What has your reaction been to learning of these terrible, terrible acts committed by people, against people? Laterly, Antonescu deported thousands of innocent men, women and children to the east to Ukraine to be massacred. 

The death trains

It is estimated that Antonescu organised the murder of 380,000 people during the Holocaust.

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