The Nizkor Project

50 Years of Silence

History and Voices
of the Tragedy in Romania and Transnistria

Anti-Semitism in Post-Communist Romania

This section is based on issues discussed at the International Scholars Conference: "The Fate of Romanian and Ukrainian Jewry under the Antonescu Regime", June 25-26, 1996, sponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C. and on the booklet Anti- Semitism in Post-Communist Eastern Europe: A Marginal or Central Issue? By Dr. Leon Volovici, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1994.

There is no historical event, which is ever so troubling to the myth of national innocence as the Holocaust. Yet, in post-Communist countries, this very topic is largely being avoided in political and cultural discourse.

"A frequent form of avoiding responsibility and the process of conscious assessment of the past involves the attribution of some noble mission to the alliances with Hitler. Horthy, Tiso, and Antonescu, are viewed as champions in the struggle against Communism and Bolshevik expansionism."<56>

In post-Communist countries, "The disappearance of Jews within the society has not lead to the disappearance of anti-Semitism, but rather to its abstraction through the emphasis on the mythical character of the Jew. In this new situation, the danger from Jews is perceived as an invisible, demonic conspiracy in which the concrete presence of Jews is no longer relevant or necessary."<57>

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Romania tried to move toward a free market economy. The transition period brought about the inherent instability and uncertainty.

Under these circumstances, the veiled anti- Semitism of the Communist era has surfaced in a much more aggressive form. Old and new, irrational anti-Semitic slogans are occasionally being published in the Romanian ultra-nationalistic press. In one of its March 1994 issues, the newspaper "Romania Mare" (Greater Romania) published nearly a full- page commentary rife with obnoxious anti-Semitic slogans. Some of them maintain that:

  • The Holocaust is a Zionist fabrication, since it was a physical and technical impossibility;
  • The army, police and intelligence service of the State of Israel were trained by former SS and Gestapo officers;
  • Eighty percent of the world press is controlled by Zionists;
  • The United States is an Israeli colony, enslaved by a diabolical master - The World Jewish Congress;
  • Romania's politicians, presently visiting Israel, are in fact hidden Jews, who would do better to remain there.

    Having lived through half a century of dictatorship, deceptions and moral entrapments, some groups in Romania have a vested interest in creating a fictitious perception of the past, in order to restore a false sense of national pride. As part of this process, some Romanian historians are attempting to whitewash the Holocaust and rehabilitate Antonescu. Unfortunately, this gross distortion of history is being supported by some political parties, many intellectuals and journalists, and, to a certain extent, by the public at large. Aside from its anti-Semitic implications, such activities are posing a serious threat to Romania's incipient democracy.

    *    *    *   

    V. Wm. (Bill) Belfontaine of Abbeyfield Publishers guided me through the publication of the printed edition of this book. Having read the manuscript, he expressed his feelings as follows:

    " This material has given me an insight into the least known part of the greater Holocaust.

    Having been a youngster in the safe haven of Canada in the 1940s, I remember with paralysing shock the exposure of the sadistic camps during the closing years of the war at local theatres and in the media. I have never forgotten how that shattered silence affected me. The revelations of tragedies in this book have again reinforced my will to continually encourage the world, with all its faces and religions, to unite in repeating, 'Never again. Never forget!'

    Let us maintain our hope that the world, by individual and collective deed, will some day learn to live in peace and harmony irrespective of race, creed or geography."

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