The Nizkor Project

50 Years of Silence

History and Voices
of the Tragedy in Romania and Transnistria

Anti-Jewish Decrees

A myriad of prohibitions and restrictions were instituted to exclude the Jews from the country's economic life. Jews were purged from the army and the civil service. They were dismissed from positions such as editors and company board members. They were restricted in their rights to practice law and other professions. They were prohibited from acquiring real estate and from owning industrial enterprises, and their liquor licenses were revoked. Some Jews escaped such restrictions by intermarrying and/or changing their identity documents to Romanian sounding names. Such attempts soon became illegal, as legislation prohibiting intermarriage and name changes was instituted.

On October 5, 1940, legislation was enacted to enforce the state's expropriation of Jewish agricultural property, and on November 16, 1940, another law provided for the gradual dismissal of Jewish employees in private commerce and industry. On March 27, 1941, yet another decree legalized the expropriation of Jewish real estate.

The Jews reacted to these prohibitions with great apprehension. Many expected the situation to further deteriorate, to the point of endangering their lives. Thus, in the fall of 1940, in an attempt to reach safety, thousands left their homes for Romanian ports, from where they hoped to reach Palestine, which was considered the Jewish homeland since biblical times. They boarded ships unfit for sea voyage, some of which sank, and hundreds of refugees drowned. The refugees who managed to get to Palestine were threatened with deportation by the British, who at the time were in control of Palestine.

The Romanian machinery of destruction was more actively set into motion at the start of the war with the Soviet Union, in June 1941. Under the pretext that the Jews were dangerous, disloyal, Communist collaborators, and spies, thousands who lived along the border were moved from their homes into the interior of the country.

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