The Nizkor Project

50 Years of Silence

History and Voices
of the Tragedy in Romania and Transnistria

Four Segments of Romanian Jewry

Similar to many other European countries, the Jews of Romania refused to believe that their national compatriots were capable of the cruel and barbaric murders that occurred in other European countries. They lived in a fools' paradise.

In Romania, the fate of the Jewish population was largely determined by the political dynamics of the geographic areas where they lived. It may be useful to identify four different areas where the treatment of the Jews was quite different.

1. BESSARABIA AND NORTHERN BUCOVINA, with about 300,000 Jews, were ceded to the Soviet Union, in June 1940. When Romania allied itself with Nazi Germany, which had declared war against the Soviet Union in 1941, these territories were returned to Romania. In the fall of that year, the mass deportation to Transnistria of the Jewish population from these areas was ordered. The pretext for that action was that, since they had been under Soviet influence, they harboured Communist ideals.

2. The Jews from SOUTHERN BUCOVINA AND THE DOROHOI AREAS were also deported to Transnistria, even though these territories had not been occupied by the Soviet Union.

3. NORTHERN TRANSYLVANIA was ceded to Hungary in 1940. The 150,000 Jews from that area, although subjected to increased persecution since 1940, were deported only in 1944, when Hungary was occupied by Nazi Germany. They were deported together with the rest of Hungarian Jewry to Auschwitz and other death camps, where many were gassed and their bodies were burned. The able-bodied were transported to camps in Germany to become free labour in the Nazi war industry. Many perished at these forced labour camps.

4. MUNTENIA, THE OLD ROMANIAN KINGDOM (VECHIUL REGAT), was home to 350,000 Jews. For the most part they were left in their homes. However, many men were dispatched to slave labour projects in different areas of Romania, and Transnistria. Many perished at these labour projects from beatings, and heavy work at quarries, road construction, digging canals and anti-tank ditches. While this area had not been designated for mass deportations, several hundred Jews were sent to Transnistria. They were accused of being Communist or Zionist sympathizers, of allegedly attempting to escape from forced-labour units, and a myriad of other allegations.

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