Institutul Național pentru Studierea Holocaustului din România “Elie Wiesel”

Scientific report (final stage)

Scientific report (final stage) regarding the implementation of the project
„The Reconstruction of Holocaust Public Memory in Post-communism”-2016
 

 

During the 206 implementation stage, all the objectives and activities proposed in the project’s plan were carried out. We present a synthesis of the objectives, the description of the means by which these were implemented and the results obtained following the research and dissemination activities. 
 
 
Objective 2 – Political socialization and the reception of Holocaust
 
The implementation of this objective had as a starting point the results of the social survey carried out in 2015, according to which 69% of the Romanian population blames Germany for the Holocaust of Jews under Romanian authority. In the study “Ethnocentric Mindscapes and Mnemonic Myopia” (pending publication in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana Unviersity Press, 2016), Ana Bărbulescu proposes a social process analysis which identifies and explain the means by which social oblivion operates. Hence, the author aimed to examine the type of relationship that exists between the mnemonic narrative associated by a community to the Holocaust and the process of identity socialization which pertaining to that community. Furthermore, an explanation was offered for the difficulties that the Romanian society has in taking responsibility for the Holocaust. The theoretical model that Ana Bărbulescu developed was based on the theses of Eviatar Zerubabel and Leon Festinger regarding social frameworks and cognitive dissonance. 
 
Using the explanatory model which Eviatar Zerubavel attaches to the concept of “social framework” (collective construction through which human communities understand and construct the world), Ana Bărbulescu proved that within the symbolic model of the Romanian society, the Jews never had the chance to become a true Romanian. The Romanian identity model is constructed in ethnic terms and the Jew remains a radical “Other”, perceived either as being incapable of integration, either as uninterested to do so. The exclusion of Jews from the national community has, according to the author’s hypothesis, consequences on the way the war drama is recollected by the Romanian historiography and Jews are absent from most of the historical narratives which describe the losses suffered by Romanians during the Second World War. As Jews are not perceived as true Romanians, their tragedy during the war does not belong to the national history and is conveniently forgotten. 
 
The second explanatory direction focuses on Festinger’s theoretical model on cognitive dissonance. Traditionally, the Romanian historiography depicts the Romanian nation in superlative terms, a position which can be found at a social level too. As social memory operates in a structural manner, the great achievements o Romanians in the past and the fate of Jews during the Holocaust become mutually relevant cognitions forming a complex of mnemonic narratives which legitimates the identity model associated to the Romanian people. As the need of internal consistency arises only between mutually relevant cognitions, Ana Bărbulescu highlighted that the Holocaust belongs to a category of “dangerous memories” and is either eliminated on grounds of irrelevance, either reconstructed in a manned which does not disturb the special image assigned to the Romanian people. 
 
The relation of dependency which exist between identity socialization in ethnocentric terms and Holocaust memory was demonstrated through the use of two categories of sources, namely Romanian historical syntheses and history textbooks published after 1989. 
 
In the study „The Holocaust as Reflected in Communist and Post-Communist Romanian Textbooks” (in Doyle Stevick, Deborah Michaels (eds.), Holocaust Education. Promise, Practice and Potential, New York: Routledge, 2016), Ana Bărbulescu, Laura Degeratu and Cosmina Gușu propose a comparative analysis of history textbooks published before and after the fall of communism. The author’s aim was to identify the continuity/discontinuity elements which appear in discursive models pertaining to the mentioned periods and the points which indicated a transformation of discourses leading to the emergence of a new mnemonic narrative associated to the Holocaust. The analysis was also focused on the influence that communist ideology had over the educational curricula and historiography which conditioned the mnemonic narrative about the Holocaust.
 
The analysis of textbooks proved that Holocaust is absent from the history lessons taught to Romanians during the communist period. The exceptions are very rare and the very few occasions in which such a topic is discussed constituted an opportunity to minimize or distorts the historical facts. Given the nationalization of history during the ‘70s, textbooks start to emphasize the resistance posed by the Romanian interwar society to the fascist current and to highlight the alien nature of right-wing extremist movements which were active in Romania. Following this ideological line, the authors of textbooks openly pretend Nazi atrocities while keeping silence on the peculiarities of the Romanian case. 
 
The third section of the study discusses the post-communist period. The analysis informs us that the regime change in 1989 does not gave a major influence of the way history textbooks relate to the Romanian Holcoaust. The true change comes ten years later, in 1999, with the adoption of Decision no. 3001 by the Ministry of Education which introduces in the school curricula lessons about the Holcoaust. The decision in 1999 represents a turning point after which textbooks start to present in a precise manner not only the responsibility of Nazi Germany for the Holocaust, but also the peculiarities of the Romanian case. From an analytical perspective, the authors of this study identify in published textbooks six mnemonic narratives about the Holcoaust: 1) The holocaust is absent; 2) Romania saved its Jews; 3) Discrimination without deportation; 4) Deportations without a proper identification of victims; 5) Deportations without the implementation of the Final Solution; 6) The Holocaust of Romanian Jews: discrimination, pogroms, deportations.
 
 
Objective 3 – The role of mass-media in the construction of Holocaust public memory
 
Through the implementation of this objective, the team identified the main representations regarding the Holocaust which are disseminated through survivors’ diaries, internet pages and cinematic productions and the way these sources participate to the construction of Holocaust public memory.
 
In the study “Reconstructing the Memory of the Holocaust in Romania through Film”, pending publication in Holocaust. Studies and research, Vol. VIII, No. 1 (9)/2016, Laura Degeratu aimed to assess the degree in which movies made after 1989 can be considered a functional vector of Holocaust public memory. The author quantified the presence of different Holcoaust episodes in cinematic productions which either relate explicitly to the Holocaust, either discuss just the participation of Romania to the Second World War.
 
Laura Degeratu identified two types of sources: documentaries (Romania and its dictatorships – Carol II, Romania and its dictatorships – The Legionary Movement, 1996, directed by Mihai Vișinescu; The fate of Marshall Antonescu, 2009, directed by Felicia Cernăianu; The Persecutions in Bessarabia, 2012, directed by Natalia Ghilașcu; Odessa, 2013, directed by Florin Iepan) and artistic movies (The beginning of the truth. The Mirror, 1993, directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu; Train de vie, 1998, directed by Radu Mihăileanu; The beheaded rooster, 2007, directed by Radu Gabrea; Gruber’s journey, 2009, directed by Radu Gabrea). The main research directions focused on the way perpetrators, witnesses and victims were represented, the identity of perpetrators responsible for the genocide of Jews under Romanian authority and the interpretation of relationships between Romanian authorities and the German allies. 
 
After a detailed analysis of chosen sources, the author concluded that cinematic productions screened in Romania which relate to the Holocaust or the Second World War offer a wide range of perspectives which varies between the minimization of the Romanian state’s position and the full acceptance of the Romanian authorities’ responsibility for the actions taken against the Jewish minority. 
 
In the study “Wanting-not-to-know” about the Holcoaust in Romania: A Wind of Change? (Alexandru Florian (ed.),”Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania”, Indiana University Press, 2016, pending publication), Simon Geissbühler proposes the use of the concept “wanting not to know” introduced by Paul Ricoeur as a reference frame for understanding the way in which Holocaust memory was constructed in Romania. Due to the main research directions, the study is not relevant only for the role of mass-media, but also of the state in the construction of Holocaust public memory, thus contributing two the implementation of two project objectives. 
 
The first analytical direction proposed by the author aims at examining the way in which atrocities occurred in several towns during the Second World War are reflected on the sites managed by local authorities. Hence, Simon Geissbühler tries to analyze the way Second World War history related to those towns is presented and to evaluate to what degree references regarding the history of local Jewish communities is reflected in the official websites. 
 
The second analytical direction focuses on what the author calls “the spatial memory of the Holocaust” and investigates the wat this type of memory is present in the public space. Guided by the lieux de memoire – lieux sans memoire dichotomy inspired from Pierre Nora’s works, Simon Geissbühler examines the following memory sites: Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, mass graves, Holocaust monuments, Jewish museums and Holocaust museums.
 
After a detailed analysis of all these possible sources of public memory, Simon Geissbühler concludes that the Holocaust memory in Romania is fragmented and, most frequently, guided by what Paul theorized as “wanting not to know”. Only a minority of the towns and villages present on their own websites, in a pluralistic manner, the fate of local Jews during the Second World War, while the majority promote a distorted perspective on their own history. Furthermore, these towns appeared to have lost not only their multiethnic nature, but the memory of Hewish presence itself is ignored and even eliminated. 
 
The third mean taken into consideration for the dissemination of Holocaust representations, namely survivor’s diaries, was analyzed by Adina Babeș in the study ”Holocaust experiences through survivors’ eyes” pending publication in Holocaust. Study and Research, vol. VIII, no. 1(9)/2016. This investigates the narratives of survivors within the theoretical framework of “collective memory”, aiming to offer an explanation for the manner in which this personal narratives contribute to the construction of Holocaust memory in Romania. The analyzed testimonies cover the main events and stages which compose the Holocaust: the pogroms in 1941, the deportations to Transnistria and the deportations from Northern Transylvania. Given the fact that most survivors were children or teenagers during the Holocaust, the experiences reproduced in the diaries insist on the difficulties occurred during the process of social integration which deportees underwent. Adina Babeș also highlighted the fact that most of the diaries belonging to survivors of the Holocaust in Romania were published by a publishing house affiliated to the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania, while other publishing houses focused mainly on the diaries of survivors who were persecuted by other states. This observation confirms the results of other research carried out within the project which emphasized the asymmetry of public discourses and commemorative practices dedicated to the Holocaust in Northern Transylvania and that in the territories controlled by the Romanian state during the Second World War. 
 
 
Objective 4 – The construction of Holocaust narrative by the intellectual elite
 
During 2016, the implementation of this objective consisted in the analysis of the works published by historians well-known to the Romanian public in regard to Ion Antonescu’s personality.
 
In the study ”Ion Antonescu’s Image in post-Communist Historiography” (forthcoming Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, 2016), Marius Cazan aims to identify to what extent the image ascribed to Romania’s leader during the Holocaust in the works of historians with notoriety is similar to the one exhibited by the national surveys on topic related to the Holocaust in Romania.  The selection of the analyzed historians was made taking into account the impact their works had upon the Romanian society and not the recognition they have among the specialists although, in most cases, they also have a consistent reputation within the academic community of the historians. 
 
The article pointed out what are the roots of the image ascribed to Antonescu in post-communist historiography by relating the latter to the dynamic of the historiographic discourse during the Communist period. The analysis revealed that there is no evident rupture between the two periods but rather an emphasis, specific to the nineties, of the positive reevaluation of Antonescu that began in the seventies. 
 
The historians taken into consideration present Antonescu as a great patriot and a disciplined soldier that tried to reunify Romania. Although, the implication of the state leader is not explicitly denied (an exception is represented by Gheorghe Buzatu whose position is unequivocally admiring; Alex. Mihai Stoenescu, also, systematically tries to demonstrate Antonescu’s lack of involvement into the Holocaust), the place held by the Holocaust into the historians’ discourse related to Antonescu is minor. The manner in which the selected historians choose to construct the narrative regarding Antonescu does not consider the Holocaust as a main topic to be discussed when this specific historic character is evaluated.
Although the process of constructing public opinion is much more complex, being influenced by multiple factors, one shall observe several constants regarding the crossing points between the image ascribed to Antonescu within the Romanian society and that constructed by the historians with notoriety. For example, if we are looking for similarities between the labels ascribed to Antonescu in the national survey and the historians’ discourse we shall observe that patriotism and even strategic competence, which is not mention in this form by the historians, but as pointing toward militarism, occur with greater frequency that the crimes perpetrated against the Jews and Roma. More so, Antonescu’s position, whose anti-Semitic policy subsides in the second part of the War when he refuses to send the Jews to the Nazi camps, is frequently linked by the historians to his intention to save the Jews. 
 
 
Objective 6 – Holocaust representation within the Romanian society
 
The implementation of this objective in the final stage of the project considered the analysis of the perceptions of different categories of Holocaust actors: perpetrators, bystanders, victims, and rescuers.  Following this goal, several focus-groups were realized having as target group students enrolled in university programs from social and/or humanities domain and were exposed to Holocaust related discourses during classes, exhibitions or commemorative events. 
 
The results of the research reunited by Adina Babeş in the study ”Rethinking Victims, Perpetrators, Bystanders and Rescuers: A Case Study on Students’ Perception” (forthcoming Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, 2016), shows that the students, mostly, locate the Holocaust in the territories controlled by Germany and, when the Romanian case is considered, they made Adolf Hitler the main responsible for the extermination of the Jews, neglecting in this way the active role played by Ion Antonescu. This observation confirms the results showed by the national survey in the previous stage of the project.
 
On the other hand, the focus-groups allow the author to highlight the rationalities that substantiates the distorted perceptions on Holocaust previously pointed by the opinion survey.  Thus, a significant of the participants labeled as victims also those responsible for persecutions or crimes against the Jews. More so, the vast majority of the students, when discussing the motivations of the perpetrators, described the authors of the Holocaust as persons who were suffering from mental illnesses, were subjected to dehumanization, respected the legal norms in force at the time or followed personal benefits. In regard to the motivations that lead those who have perpetrated acts of helping, the participants indicate the altruistic nature of the Romanian people as the main cause. 
 
 
Objective 7 – The role of the state and civil society in the construction of Holocaust public memory
 
In order to achieve this objective, the team members analyzed bot official and unofficial narratives regarding the Holocaust in Romania. The research activities focused mainly on political, intellectual and legal discourses regarding Holocaust perpetrators and interwar Romanian fascists.
 
Hence, in the study ”Mircea Vulcănescu, Member of the Ion Antonescu Government, a Controversial Case?” (pending publication in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, 2016), Alexandru Florian approaches the public memory of Holocaust in Romania through a case study regarding Mircea Vulcănescu and his status in the Romanian collective memory.
 
In order to examine the mechanisms involved in the memorialization of a person whose status oscillates between that of an elite intellectual and that of a war criminal, Alexandru Florian placed the discussion in a comparative framework and identified a gap between the construction of Holocaust memory in Western Europe and the same process in Romania. If in Western Europe, Holocaust memory was constructed based on a dynamics resulted from the competition between two categories of victims (members of the Resistance, involved in armed opposition activities and Jews, the main target of extermination), in Romania the memory of victims was forgotten and its gradual reconstruction began after 1989, once the transition to democracy, pluralism and free speech started. 
 
From this perspective, the case of Mircea Vulcănescu, philospoher belongig to the group of intellectual close to the Legionary Movement and member of the Antonescu government is highly relevant. 
 
By offering a detailed analysis of Mircea Vulcănescu’s involvement in the decisions and actions of the Antonescu government which targeted Jews and of the ways his image is salvaged presently in the public space, the author demonstrated that in Romania, the memory of Holocaust victims is divided between the public and the private-public memory. Not less importantly, as Alexandru Florian argues, the public memory of victims is obstructed by the fact that, frequently, the cultural legacy which the communist regime censored and bias seem to take precedence over historical tragedies. A third obstacle identified by Alexandru Florian in the process of pluralist memorialization dedicated to the Holocaust is the lack of a democratic civic culture. This manifests itself through an erroneous relationship with recent history, which leads to the reversal of roles, the symbolic expression of evil in the public space and, indirectly, to the obfuscation of Holocaust victims’ memory.
 
Based on the case of Vulcănescu and using the argumentative line presented above, the author proves that the Romanian law winch incriminates the public worship of war criminals and Holocaust denial was improperly enforced. Today, ten years after the promulgation of this law, statues of persons convicted of war crimes are being erected. Their past is forgotten in order to promote patriotism or a version of intellectual exceptionalism, strategies which are frequently endorsed by state institutions. 
 
In the study ”Lau, Justice and Holocaust Memory in Romania” (pending publication in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory n Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, 2016), Alexandru Climescu examined the relation between justice, law and the Holocaust memory in Romania. The analysis was focused on the post-communist trials of persons convicted for war crimes and on the crimes of Holocaust denial or fascist propaganda regulated after 2002. 
 
The first research direction was aimed at analyzing the degree in which the acquittal of Holocaust perpetrators by the post-communist judiciary was determined by structural parameter typical for a criminal trial. Hence, the study examined the magistrate’s main representations regarding the Holocaust in Romania, the notion of responsibility which magistrates used during the trials and the relationship between the legal means of evidence and the historical evidence. Furthermore, by analyzing the trials which were focused on acts incriminated by Ordinance 31/2002 regarding the prevention of fascist, racism and xenophobic manifestation, the author highlighted the judges and prosecutors’ representations on the definition of fascism and Holocaust. Secondly, the study aimed at clarifying if the acquittals of persons initially convicted for war crimes and the failure to enforce Ordinance 31/2002 were caused by intrajudicial factors alone.
 
The study concludes that the rigid separation between law and justice on one hand and memory and history on the other hand represent, in the Romanian case, a fiction. The analysis of criminal trials found that courts of law represented a framework for the manifestation of the dominant version of Holocaust memory and that the structural parameters of justice occupy a secondary place in explaining the magistrates’ decisions. Furthermore, Alexandru Climescu proved that the acquittal of persons convicted for war crimes and the way Ordinance 31/1002 was enforced promotes a nationalist version about the Holocaust in Romania and were possible due to kindred argumentative strategies.
 
”In Romania: neither `fleishig` nor `milhig`” (pending publication in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, 2016), Michael Shafir offers an overall perspective regarding the main stages in the reconstruction of Holocaust memory in Romania. The author showed that the turning point in the Romanian state’s attitude towards its historical past is strictly related to the NATO and EU accession efforts. Furthermore, he showed that utilitarian antisemitism also played a major role in the evolution of the official version of Holocaust memory.
 
The study also examined the evolution of education resources dedicated to the Holocaust, the degree of public awareness regarding this historical phenomenon, commemorative rituals, criminal legislation regarding Holcoaust denial and the public worship of war criminals, intellectual discourses on the Holocaust and Romanian fascism. Michael Shafir undertook also a comparative approach aimed at highlighting the differences between Romania, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia and the Baltic states with regard to the worship of Holocaust perpetrators and war criminals, the rise of right-wing extremism and historical revisionism.
 
The results of the research suggest that the way in which the official narrative about the Holocaust in Romania evolved is different from the unofficial practices and attitudes regarding this historical episode. The denial and trivialization of Holocaust were replaced by a reactive anti-Semitism, based on the Holocaust-Gulag competitive martyrdom which is on an ascending trend in Central and Eastern Europe. 
 
Deliverables and the visibility of the scientific results
 
In order to ensure a certain visibility of the research, the scientific articles written by the team members were published in English in academic journals either classified as B by CNCS, either indexed in international databases such as EBSCO, CEEOL, ERIH. Furthermore, the conferences within which the studies and presentations were disseminated were also internationally visible. The volume entitled “Holocaust Public Memory in post-Communist Romania was accepted for publication by Indiana University Press. Other three studies were published by prestigious foreign publishing houses. 
 
Objectives Deliverables announced for 2016 Deliverables resulted
Political socialization and the reception of Holocaust (O2) Article
Study published in a volume:
 
Ana Bărbulescu, ”Ethnocentric Mindscapes and Mnemonic Myopia” in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, pending publication.
The role of mass-media in the construction of Holocaust public memory (O3)

Article

 

Article

Articles indexed in IDB: 
 
Laura Degeratu, ”Reconstructing the Memory of the Holocaust in Romania through film” in Holocaust. Studies and Research, no. 1 (9) / 2016, pending publication.
 
Adina Babeș,  ”Holocaust experiences through survivors’ eyes”,  in  Holocaust. Studies and Research, no. 1 (9) / 2016, pending publication.
The intellectual elite’s discourse and the Holocaust memory (O4) Study disseminated within a conference 
Studies published in volumes:
 
George Voicu,  ”Post-Communist Romania’s Leading Public Intellectuals and the Holocaust” in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, pending publication.
 
Marius Cazan, ”Ion Antonescu’s Image in Post-Communist Historiography” in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, pending publication.
Social memory and identity construction (O5)
Chapter in a volume
Chapter in a volume:
 
Ana Bǎrbulescu, Laura Degeratu, Cosmina Guşu, ”The Holocaust as Reflected in Communist and Post-Communist Romanian Textbooks” in Doyle Stevick, Deborah Michaels (eds.), Holocaust Education. Promise, Practice and Potential, New York: Routledge, 2015 (ISBN 978-1-13-811986-4).
The representation of Holocaust in the Romanian society (O6)

Chapter in a volume

 

 

Chapter in a volume

Chapter in a volume:
 
Adina Babeș,  ”Rethinking Victims, Perpetrators, Bystanders and Rescuers: A Case Study on Students’ Perception”  in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, pending publication.
 
Study disseminated within an international conference:  Adina Babeș, ”Rethinking Victims, Perpetrators, Bystanders and Rescuers: A Case Study on Students’ Perception”, at American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, ‘Great Transformations: Political Science and the Big Questions of Our Time’, 1-4 September, Philadelphia, USA.
Rolul statului și al societății civile in construcția memoriei publice a Holocaustului (O7)
 

 

Chapter in avolume

 

Chapter in avolume

 

 

Chapter in avolume

 

Chapter in avolume

 

Chapter in avolume

 

 

Chapter in avolume

 

 

Chapter in avolume

 

Article indexed in IDB:
 
Alexandru Florian, ”Memoria publică a Holocaustului in postcomunism” in Polis, vol IV, nr. 1 (11) / 2016
 
Chapters in books:
 
Alexandru Climescu,  ”Law, Justice and Holocaust Memory in Romania”  in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, pending publication.
 
 
Simon Geissbühler, ”`Wanting-not-to-Know` about the Holocaust in Romania: A Wind of Change?” in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, pending publication.
 
Michael Shafir, ”Romania: Neither `Fleishig` nor `Milchig`” in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, pending publication.
 
 
Alexandru Florian, ”Mircea Vulcănescu, Member of Ion Antonescu Government – A Controversial Case?” in Alexandru Florian (ed.), Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communist Romania, Indiana University Press, pending publication.
 
Studies disseminated within conferences:
 
Alexandru Florian,  ”La compétition des mémoires de la Shoah dans l’espace publique roumain”, La mémoire de la Shoah dans l'espace public roumain et français, organized by the Romanian Cultural Institute, Paris, 25 May, 2016.
 
Alexandru Climescu,  Crimes of war in times of peace: the acqquittal of Holocaust perpetrators by the post-communist judiciary, Bucharest, 26 Januray, 2016.
 
 

Scientific report (third stage)

Scientific report (third stage) regarding the implementation of the project
 
„The Reconstruction of Holocaust Public Memory in Post-communism”-2015
 
Objective 4 – The intellectual elite’s discourse on the Holocaust
 
Implementing these objectives involved the identification of the most influential public intellectuals in Romania and the analysis of their positions and attitudes regarding the Holocaust which were publicly expressed through books, articles, interviews and public statements. The results of this research were disseminated by George Voicu in the study Post-communist Romania’s leading public intellectuals and the Holocaust (“Holocaust. Studii și cercetări”, no. 1 (8) / 2015).
 
The research highlighted the fact that within the post-communist intellectual debates, the Holocaust did not represent a distinct subject of research or reflection, but one which was derived from the debate about communism and the abuses of communist political regimes. As the George Voicu’s analysis show, this status is responsible for the simplification, distortion and ignorance of identity features pertaining to the Holocaust. 
 
The analysis of the intellectual elite’s discourse revealed two types of representations about the tragedy of Jews during the Second World War. The first and most frequent one weighs the crimes of communism and Holocaust according to an equalizing logic, leading to the conclusion that Holocaust and Gulag are identical. A second type of representations result from the attempts to establish a hierarchy between the two destructive phenomena in terms of gravity, these endeavors suggesting that the absolute evil is found in communism. 
 
According to the conclusions of this research, the Holocaust-Gulag comparative approach is responsible for a distorted representation about the two phenomena, because it is limited to revealing far-fetched correlations, symmetries or resemblances, ignoring the fundamental differences between the two totalitarian political regimes. The implications of the Holocaust localization in the heart of Europe, in contrast to the Gulag, the peripheral condition, in geographical terms, of the Holocaust in Romania, as well as the role of anti-Semitism in preparing and implementing the genocide against Jews are ignored by the intellectual elite.
 
Furthermore, the study highlights that the Holocaust-Gulag symmetrical approach acquired canonical value for preeminent public intellectuals. In this context, adopting an equalizing logic regarding the two historical phenomena represents a validation criteria for those wo want to be accepted by the most influential segment of the intellectual elite. 
 
Objective 7 – The role of the state and civil society in the construction of Holocaust public memory  
 
Through the implementation of this objective, the project aimed to analyze the efforts made by Romanian state institutions in the construction of an official Holocaust memory, as well as the responses of the civil society to the official practices of remembrance dedicated to this historical phenomenon.
 
The research activities carried out during this stage were focused on the state’s or civil society’s efforts to recollect the roles of persons who belonged to the generic category of perpetrators during different phases of the Romanian Holocaust. Hence, the team examined the attempts to acquit several war criminals, as well as the public promotion of symbols which propose a deliberate “forgetting” of the fascist past of historical figures and the reconsideration of these as models of civic and ethical conduct. 
 
The study prepared by Alexandru Climescu The Holocaust on Trial. Memory and Amnesia in the Case of Romanian War Criminals (Holocaust. Studii și Cecetări, no. 1 (8) / 2015, pp.) aimed to analyze the relation between law, history and memory starting from the post-communist trials of several war criminals. The research focused on five key moments the acquittal, in 1995, of most of the members of the “Journalists’ Group”, convicted in 1945 for war crimes; the attempt to acquit, in 1997, of eight members of the Antonescu Cabinet; the acquittal between 1998 and 1999 of officers Radu Dinulescu and Ghorghe Petrescu, initially convicted for organizing the deportations of Jews from Northern Bukovina; the acquitta in 2004 of Ion Pănescu, former commander of the Czernowitz airport, who coordinated a group of Jews subjected to the forced labor regime.  
 
The research proves that the acquittal of these war criminals was caused by several factors: the magistrates’ erroneous representations about political and legal responsibility for war crimes, distorted common knowledge avout the Holocaust, the selective and unilateral interpretation of evidence, as well as the strategic behavior of the General Prosecutor of Romania. The analysis of these cases also highlighted the fact that the interpretation of evidence found in the criminal files had a secondary role in the acquittal decisions, the magistrates resorting heavily to their own interpretation of history. Negationist discourses about the Pogrom in Iasi, inadequate knowledge about the legislation in force during the Holocaust, the failure to understand forced labor or deportations to Transnistria as anti-Semitic policies of the Antonescu regime, as well as the lack of any reference to anti-Semitism when the evaluation of the criminals’ actions was made bolstered the ethnocentric version of Holocaust memory and gave it the status of official memory.  
 
Furthermore, the research invalidated the hypothesis according to which, because of structural factors inherent to criminal trials, justice cannot reconstruct in a precise manner traumatic historical episodes. The study’s conclusions  indicate that the structural parameters of the trials had a secondary role in elaborating the acquittal decisions and that the failure of justice to adequately recollect the role of perpetrators during the Holocaust was caused bu the excessive recourse to a distorted Holocaust memory. The minimization or denial of the Holocaust during the communist regime, as well as the rehabilitation process of Ion Antonescu, accelerated during the first years of post-communist transitions, represented the framework in which the roles of war criminals were reconsidered by the judiciary. The results of this research were also presented under the title Representations of Romanian Holocaust Perpetrators: Historical vs. Judicial Truths, within the conference  “The Holocaust in Southeastern Europe”, organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and INSHR-EW (May 25-26, 2015, Bucharest). 
 
In the article From Ion Antonescu to the Saints of the Prisons. Extremist symbols in the public space (Sfera Politicii, no. 2 (184) / 2015, pp. 66-82), Alexandru Florian highlights the process through which discourses regarding the historical past of Romania replace ideological of legal values with cultural ones, resulting in the glorification of historical figures whose achievements in the field of science or culture are invoked in order to conceal or their complicity with the Antonescu regime. Furthermore, the article documents the case of Valeriu Gafencu, important member of the iron Guard, who is claimed to have had exemplary contributions from a nationalist, Christian, moral or political perspective, but which remain essentially anti-democratic.   Inedited archive documents regarding the activities of Valeriu Gafencu were invoked by Alexandru Florian to highlight the discrepancy between the historical reality and the memorial acts carried out by public authorities and INGOs, who made serious efforts to promote a heroic image about the one who is called “The Saint of the Prisons”. 
 
Implementing the current objective also involved the presentation of scientific papers with international conferences. Alexandru Florian’s presentation Roma's Tragedy in Transnistria and the Public Memory of the Holocaust in Post-communism (disseminated within the conference “Porajmos” / “Samudaripen” and Collective Memory in Twentieth-Century Southeastern Europe, „Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu, Februariy 26-27, 2015) discussed the manner in which the memory of Roma victims of the Holocaust is represented in the Romanian public space. His work also focused on those “lieux de memoir” which recollect the tragedy of Romas during the Second World War, as well as the remembering practices of the state and civil society which were dedicated to the genocide of Roma.  
 
Within the study The Legal Treatment of the Holocaust in Romania (disseminated within the conference “Porajmos” / “Samudaripen” and Collective Memory in Twentieth-Century Southeastern Europe, „Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu, February 26-27, 2015), Alexandru Climescu examined the representations about the Holocaust which the Romanian state  endorsed through legislation. The research focused on bot civil compensatory measures accessible to the victims of the communist regimes which were members of the Legionary Movement, as well as on the criminal legislation which bans Holocaust denial and fascist propaganda. According to the main conclusions, both compensatory and punitive measures are not synchronized with the historical reality of the holocaust and interwar fascism. Hence, until 2015, Emergency ordinance 31/2002 sanctioned the public worship of persons convicted for crimes against peace and humanity, although he persons who committed crimes during the Holocaust were convicted after 1945 for war crimes. Furthermore, it has been observed, based on legal precedents, the the manner in which the Holocaust war legally defined had a limitative effect and enabled magistrate to establish that the denial of the Romanian Holocaust does not fall under this law. Regarding the interdiction to grant compensations to persons who advocated for fascist, racist or xenophobic ideologies which were convicted on these grounds by the communist regime, it was highlighted that courts of law do not hold a unitary image about the fascist, racist or xenophobic nature o the Legionary Movement.
 
Another study prepared within this objective (Michael Shafir, Romania: Neither fish, nor fowl) was disseminated within the international conference „Holocaust Memorial Days in the EU. The challenges of commemoration in the 21st century” (organized by Memorialle dela Shoah, Milan, April 13-14, 2015) and is pending publication in an edited volume. The research is dedicated to the evolution of Holocaust official memory and the state’s efforts to implement the recommendations of the International Committee for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania. The author analyzes the dynamics of political discourses regarding the Holocaust, relevant legal measures, the involvement of the Romanian Academy and influent historians in the denial and trivialization of the Holocaust, as well as the involvement of Romanian authorities in combating and sanctioning negationist, anti-Semitic or fascist discourses. The conclusions of this study suggest that similar prejudice regarding the Holocaust in Romania can be found at all the political actors. Furthermore, the research approaches in a regional context the efforts of the Romanian state to fight against anti-Semitism and to promote Holocaust memory. The manner in which the pluralist version of Holocaust memory evolved in Romania differs from the Czech case, which serves as a model of adequate practices, and also from the Hungarian case which witnessed an involution in terms of accepting the tragedy of Jews during the Second World War.  
 
A comparative perspective is adopted by Michael Shafir also in the study Conceptualizing Hungarian negationism in comparative perspective: deflection and obfuscation („Cahiers d'Études Hongroises et Finlandaises”, „L’Europe à contre-pied: idéologie populiste et extrémisme de droite en Europe centrale et orientale”, 20/2014, L’Harmattan), which highlights  the resemblances between the processes of memory construction in Romania and Hungary. Thus, the study proves that the arguments invoked for the legitimation of Admiral Horthy’s public worship are similar to the ones employed in Romania for the justification of Ion Antonescu’s adoration. Furthermore, the research highlights that the means employed by some Hungarian historians to blame Jews for the Stalinist crimes are identical to the ones preferred by some Romanian historian, both cases being relevant for the process of Holocaust obfuscation through the double genocide thesis 
 
 
Objective 6 – Social representations regarding the Holocaust in Romania
 
In 2015, implementing this objective involved carrying out an opinion survey on a national representative sample regarding the Holocaust in Romania and the perception of interethnic relations. The main goal of this research was to obtain a clear image about the manner in which the Romania society understand the extermination mechanisms employed during the Holocaust, the victims’ identity and the perpetrators’ responsibility. 
 
According to the data collected through the survey, the Holocaust is localized by most of respondents as having taken place in Germany (73%); almost half of those interviewed agree that the Holocaust took place in other European countries (49%). Approximately a quarter of those interviewed agree that the Holocaust also took place in Romania. If we were to relate to persons who heard about the Holocaust, the percentage of those who know that the Holocaust happened in Romania too is 34 %. It is worth mentioning that 40% of the respondents who belong to the Hungarian minority agree that the Holocaust happened also in Romania. For those persons who know that the Holocaust took place in Romania, this historical phenomena is associated with the deportations of Jews from camps controlled by Nazi Germany (80%), a measure which is seconded by the forced expropriation and eviction (49%) and mass executions of Jews (47%). 
 
Nazi Germany is considered to be the main responsible for the Holocaust in Romania (69%), followed at a grat distance by the Antonescu Government (19%). When all responsible actors are enumerate, 86% consider Nazi Germany to be responsible for the Holocaust and the Antonescu Government is indicated by almost half of the respondents. When relating solely to internal actors, the main actors responsible are the Iron Guard (54%) and Ion Antonescu (54%). It is also worth mentioning that there is a strong association between the Iron Guard and the Holocast, 29% of the respondents considering that this organization was totally responsible for the Romanian Holocaust. In Comparison with other violent episodes from the history of Romania, the Holocaust is perceived as being equally grave by 40% of the respondents. However, 15% consider that the events which occurred during the Holocaust were much more severe that the crimes committed by Hungarians against Romanian between 1940 and 1944, the crimes committed by communists against Romanians and the killings of Romanian soldiers by the Soviet army during World War Two. 
 
More than two thirds of the respondents cannot evaluate Ion Antonescu, a fact which indicates poor knowledge about his activity and the events which occurred during that period. Ion Antonescu is praised as a great patriot by 54% of the respondents and as a great strategist by 52% of those interviewed.
 
Objectives Deliverables announced for 2015 stage Accomplished deliverables
Social memory and identity construction (O5)
 

Article

 

Article

Ana Bărbulescu, Discovering the Holocaust in our Past: Competing Memories in Post-Communist Romanian Textbooks in „Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History.”, 21:3 /2015, pp. 139-156. *The results of this research were described in the report for the 2014 stage of implementation. 
 
Ana Bărbulescu, The Holocaust as Reflected in Romanian Post-Communist Textbooks: Competitive Identities and Dangerous Memories within the International Congress organized by the Society for Romanian Studies (SRS), Bucharest, 17-19 June 2015.
The intellectual elite’s discourse on the Holocaust (O4)

Article 

Research report following the opinion survey
 
George Voicu, Post-communist Romania’s leading public intellectuals and the Holocaust in “Holocaust. Studii și cercetări”, no. 1 (8) / 2015.
 
The role of the state and civil society in the construction of Holocaust public memory (O7) Study disseminated withina scientific conference  
Alexandru Climescu, The Holocaust on Trial. Memory and Amnesia in the Case of Romanian War Criminals in „Holocaust. Studii și cercetări”, no. 1 (8) / 2015.
 
Alexandru Florian, From Ion Antonescu to the Saints of the Prisons. Extremist symbols in the public space  in „Sfera Politicii”, no. 2 (184) / 2015, pp. 66-82. 
 
Michael Shafir, Conceptualizing Hungarian negationism in comparative perspective: deflection and obfuscation in „Cahiers d'Études Hongroises et Finlandaises”, „L’Europe à contre-pied: idéologie populiste et extrémisme de droite en Europe centrale et orientale”, 20/2014, L’Harmattan. (published in 2015).
 
Alexandru Climescu, Representations of Romanian Holocaust Perpetrators: Historical vs. Judicial Truths, within the conference “The Holocaust in Southeastern Europe”, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and INSHR-EW, 25-26 May, 2015, Bucharest. 
 
Alexandru Florian, Roma's Tragedy in Transnistria and the Public Memory of the Holocaust in Post-communism within conference “Porajmos” / “Samudaripen” and Collective Memory in Twentieth-Century Southeastern Europe, „Lucian Blaga”  University of Sibiu, 26-27 February 2015.
 
Alexandru Climescu, The Legal Treatment of the Holocaust in Romania in cadrul  “Porajmos” / “Samudaripen” and Collective Memory in Twentieth-Century Southeastern Europe„Lucian Blaga”  University of Sibiu, 26-27 February 2015.
 
Michael Shafir, Romania: Neither fish, nor fowl within „Holocaust Memorial Days in the EU. The challenges of commemoration in the 21st century”, Memoriale della Shoah, Milano, 13-14 April, 2015.
 
Opinion survey regarding the Holocaust in Romania and the perception of inter-ethnic relations available at  
http://www.inshr-ew.ro/ro/files/proiecte/Sondaje/Sondaj_opinie-INSHR-iunie_2015.pdf

 

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Prezenta Politica de Confidentialitate nu include practicile si politicile acestor terte persoane relationate cu serviciile sau site-urile respective. INSHR-EW nu controleaza site-urile respective si/sau formularele tertelor persoane. Utilizatorul va trebui sa consulte si sa verifice politica de confidentialitate a acelor site-uri/servicii, inainte de a le accesa sau utiliza.

In general, datele solicitate prin intermediul formularelor disponibile pe site sunt obligatorii si necesare pentru ca utilizatorul sa poata accesa si/sau utiliza serviciile la care se refera formularul in cauza ca de exemplu,  pentru solutionarea  cererilor, petitiilor, sugestiilor si a reclamatiilor, inclusiv prin intermediul unor terte persoane juridice.  Formularul poate indica, dupa caz, doar unele date ca fiind optionale.

In cazul in care nu sunt furnizate toate datele considerate ca obligatorii si necesare, INSHR-EW va putea, in anumite cazuri, sa suspende accesul la utilizarea serviciului in cauza sau sa nu dea curs solicitarii neconforme realizate de catre Utilizator.

Contact

  • Adresa: Bucureşti, Bulevardul Dacia, nr. 89, sector 2, cod postal 020052
  • Telefon/Fax: +40-21-318 09 39
  • E-mail: office@inshr-ew.ro