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”Elie Wiesel” Institute`s Journal:
Holocaust. Studii şi cercetări, vol. XV, issue 1(16), 2023

Title:  Holocaust. Studii şi cercetări, vol. XV, no. 1(16)/ 2023
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List of Authors

Marius Cazan – Ph.D. in History, is a researcher at the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania. He was a member of the research team of the project “Economic Planning, Higher Education, and the Accumulation of Human Capital in Romania during Communism (1948-1989)”, held at the Centre for Administrative, Cultural, and Economic Studies, Department of Administration and Business, and financed by the National Research Council. He was a member of the team which implemented the project “The Reconstruction of Holocaust Public Memory in Post-Communism” at the “Elie Wiesel” Institute. He is currently a member of the EHRI (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure) project. His research areas of interest are the Holocaust in Romania, antisemitism, Romanian communism, urban history, Romanian higher education history, and the history of everyday life during communism.

Petre Matei is a researcher at the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Bucharest, with a thesis on the history of the Roma in Romania. He held a DAAD scholarship in 2006 and a Tziporah Wiesel fellowship at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012. He is the author of around thirty articles on Roma history, a member of several research projects, a project coordinator of The Roma Survivors of Deportations to Transnistria project, and, together with Vintilă Mihăilescu, he co-edited Condiția romă. Schimbarea discursului (The Roma Condition. Changing Discourse – Iași: Polirom, 2014) and Roma. Der Diskurswandel (Vienna: new academic press, 2020). He also published Mişcarea romă din România în presa interbelică, 1933-1941 (The Roma Movement in Romania in the Interwar Press, 1933-1941 – Cluj-Napoca:Holocaust — Studii şi cercetări, ISPMN & INSHR-EW, 2022). His research interests focus on Roma history, the Holocaust, compensation, and memory. Between January and July 2021, he was a research fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, with the project Roma Deportations to Transnistria during the Second World War. Between Central Decision-Making and Local Initiatives.

Irina Siminiceanu holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and is a doctoral student at the “Ștefan cel Mare” University of Suceava, with her research focused on concepts such as “civic conscience” and “democracy”. She has been passionate about the history and culture of the Jewish people since a young age. She teaches in pre-university education in Botoșani, at the “A.T. Laurian” National College, the “Ștefan Luchian” High School in Botoșani, and the “Ștefan cel Mare” Primary School in Botoșani. She is also an associate professor at the University of Suceava. A former journalist, Irina Siminiceanu also finds time to engage in local communication for the main political party in Romania, which aims at upholding democratic principles and pro-European values.

Daniel-Valeriu Boboc has been a researcher at the EW-INSHR since 2019. BA in History (1998) and in Political Sciences (2002), MA (1999), and PhD (2012) in Contemporary History at the “Al.I. Cuza” University of Iași. His PhD topic was: Universal Vote and Political Culture in Interwar Romania. He has published articles in several scientific magazines. His research area refers to: politics between the two World Wars, Romania in international relations, the Holocaust in Romania, and the history of communism.

Nicolae Drăgușin is a researcher at the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania. He is a Fellow of the Centre for Advanced Study in Sofia, with the following research project: “Romania and the Concordat with the Holy See: Churches, Nation-Building, and Legal Controversies (1921-1948)”. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy (2013, Romanian Academy), and he is a Ph.D. student in Political Science (2020-present, University of Bucharest). He holds a master’s degree in Human Rights and Democratisation (2008, European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights from Venice) and Religious Studies – Texts and Traditions (2014, University of Bucharest). He is a BA in Political Science (2008, University of Bucharest), Orthodox Theology (2012, University of Bucharest), and Law (2017, “Nicolae Titulescu” University, Bucharest). He has published scientific studies and review articles in Holocaust. Studii și cercetări, Studii teologice, Sfera politicii, Revista Polis, Revista de Filosofie, Mediterranean Journal of Human Rights, Review of Ecumenical Studies. He was an “Andrei Scrima” Fellow of the Institut für Ökumenische Forschung Hermanstadt (2020, “Lucian Blaga” University from Sibiu).

Ana Bărbulescu is a senior researcher and head of the research department at the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Bucharest, Romania. Associate professor at the University of Bucharest, Department of Jewish Studies. Research interests: the social history of Transnistrian ghettos; forced labor of the Romanian Jews; antisemitism in interwar Romania; Holocaust public memory in post-communist Romania.

Adina Marincea is a researcher at the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania and holds a Ph.D. in Communication Studies (2014). She has been a postdoc fellow at the New Europe College (2021-2022), where she studied the discursive strategies used by AUR via social media to revive interwar legionary thinking. She has published several articles in scientific journals, as well as in mainstream media for the general public. Her areas of interest include far-right discourse; conspiracy theories and disinformation on social media; mass-media systems; feminism; (anti-)racism; political communication.

Andrea Tompa is a writer and academic, teaching at the Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj Napoca, Romania, Faculty of Theatre and Film, Hungarian Theater Department. She lives in Budapest, Hungary. Her recent research interest is the representation of the Holocaust in the Hungarian literature and drama in Romania. She wrote five novels, her most recent, Often We Don’t Die (2023), dealing with Holocaust past elaboration in Romania.

Ofelia Thirer is a physician living in Israel, the daughter of two Vapniarka survivors, the late J. and I. Benditer, both former Jewish Romanian professors and scholars.

Elinor Kroitoru is a lawyer and archival consultant living in Israel. She leads the Romanian Jewish Heritage Archives initiative in Israel.

Laurențiu Vîju studied at the University of Bucharest, completing his bachelor’s degree in history in 2018, followed by a Master’s degree, also in history, both at the Department of History of the University of Bucharest. He obtained his Master’s degree in 2020. As of 2023, he has been working at the EW-INSHR as a research assistant, with plans to continue with a PhD in history.




From November 1941 until the withdrawal of the Romanian administration from Transnistria, the legal framework that determined how Jews lived there was laid down in Ordinance 23 of the Transnistrian Governorate. In this article, we aim to examine how those responsible for implementing the regulations of the ordinance were held accountable after the war for their actions, decisions, and abuses committed against the Jews. The different understanding and implementation of Ordinance 23 by the gendarmes, prefects, and praetors shows that, in Transnistria, improvisation, personal projects and stakes, as well as the sensitivities and moral and ideological views of the individuals who were part of the administration were essential explanatory factors in understanding the relationship between authority and victim.
Representatives of the authorities who came into direct contact with the Jews (whether they were deported to Transnistria or ghettoized local Jews) received signals and clues from their superiors that the survival of the Jews in Transnistria was not a political or administrative objective of the Romanian State.

Keywords: Transnistria; Romanian administration; Transnistrian Gendarmerie Inspectorate; Holocaust; ghetto



Hoping to obtain large amounts of hard currency from West Germany, with which they had just resumed diplomatic relations, the Romanian authorities launched a large-scale campaign in 1970 to collect 155,000 applications for compensation from victims of the persecution endured in the course of World War II. Although the West-Germans agreed to receive the documents, they refused to enter into negotiations. They invoked various arguments, including the fact that much of the persecution could actually be attributed to the Romanian State itself. The collection remained in Germany and is currently held by ITS Bad Arolsen, without yet receiving the attention it deserves.

Keywords: Holocaust, genocide, Jews, Roma, compensation, Romania, West Germany, Cold War, Dâmbovița County, Bad Arolsen Archives.



A comparative analysis of how the authorities and citizens in Romania and Bulgaria reacted in the face of the “final solution” clearly demonstrates that the antisemitic measures and horrors that occurred in the 1940s, predominantly targeting Jews, could have been avoided if democratic mechanisms had been allowed to function and if the civic conscience of their fellow citizens had been genuinely active. The two nations shared certain similarities in their historical development, as both faced common challenges and conflicts over the years. They both had to deal with waves of immigrants, ethnic diversity, and the consequences of shifting borders and alliances. In this context, we can compare both nations’ collective and individual responses during moments of crisis that historical circumstances placed them in.

Keywords: Holocaust, Romania, Bulgaria, civic conscience, democracy



A.C. Cuza was a prominent antisemite politician. In the latter half of the interwar period, he realized that his movement could become more influent in the new context, after Adolf Hitler’s advent to power, when other countries also resorted to dictatorial or totalitarian regimes. He tried to use his presence in the Romanian Parliament as a springboard to gain votes and to convince the constitutional factor, King Carol II, that he was leading a popular movement and could be entrusted with government. However, he remained the same mono-thematic antisemite, incapable to come up with something new, including in antisemitism. He was not capable to propose a more complex understanding of the Romanian society’s problems and, as a consequence, was surpassed in influence by the Iron Guard.

Keywords: A.C. Cuza, antisemitism, far-right movements, interwar Romania, racial hate discourses.



This paper aims at exploring the discursive strategies used by the central press during the third Liberal Party government led by Gh. Tătărescu (29 August 1936 – 14 November 1937), so as to make naturalizations after 1918 a matter under debate and their revision a necessary solution. The revision of citizenship was already on the agenda of the far-right parties (the National-Christian Defense League, turned into the National-Christian Party, and the “Archangel Michael” Legion) since their foundation, but it was only during the tenure of this government that the topic made its way into the central press. That happened under certain specific conditions. First of all, there was the topic of foreigners and the revival of the National-Christian slogan “Romania for the Romanians” (in the original: „România a românilor“). Secondly, press reports referred to presumed cases of fraudulent reception of citizenship by foreigners (especially Jews) and, more precisely, there was a press scandal caused by the so-called Marton Hertz case. These discursive strategies were successful, because they were followed by three normative revision initiatives. As the analysis of these initiatives, in terms of their legal content and the parliamentary and press debates that accompanied them, is complex and beyond the scope of this paper, we shall only sketch them. Starting from historical sources (the press articles of the time, the archives of the Legislative Council, the parliamentary debates), the study aims at exploring the previously unknown prehistory of Decree-Law No 169 of 21 January 1938 on the revision of citizenship in terms of the mechanisms that made it possible and prepared the public opinion, in 1938-1939, for the acceptance and effective implementation of the revision of citizenship.

Keywords: citizenship, citizenship revision, Jews, antisemitism, nationalism.



The study focuses on the anti-Jewish caricatures published in the newspaper Porunca vremii (Commandment of the Times), aiming to recuperate the religious portrait ascribed to the Jew. How are Jewishness and Judaism framed in these caricatures? What do the caricatures tell us about the anti-Jewish stereotypes shared by the public? What are the consequences of this stereotypical thinking?

Keywords: antisemitism; caricatures; Porunca vremii; interwar Romania



Common antisemitic visual representations are rooted in Ancient Christianity and the Middle Ages, but we have also witnessed new developments after the Holocaust and the condemnation of fascism. Stereotyping and dehumanization through zoomorphism, demonization, exaggeration of certain physical features anchored in the false presumptions of physiognomy and other visual devices have been weaponized across the centuries for racist and antisemitic agendas. This study undergoes a comparative analysis of two corpuses of antisemitic images from the Romanian press and social media at a distance of one century between them. I analyze the persistency, transformations, and new developments of antisemitic image codes popularized by the Romanian far-right from the start of the 20th century, through to the rise of fascism and the Second World War, up to the present-day social media. This visual qualitative analysis with critical historical insights is carried out on the following corpuses: a) a contemporary subset of 81 memes, digital stickers, and other visuals from 17 Romanian far-right Telegram channels and groups posted over the course of one year (August 2022 – August 2023); and b) 70 archival political cartoons published by 17 far-right ultranationalist newspapers (and one pro-Soviet communist newspaper) between 1911 and 1948. Findings show how persistent certain antisemitic stereotypes have proven across time and different cultural spaces – the hook-nose, zoomorphism, the blood-libel accusations, Judeo-Bolshevism, the satanic representations – and how the visual dimension serves to efficiently implant antisemitic narratives in the collective mind. These (visual) narratives are skillfully recontextualized to fit new (geo-)political realities – the post-Holocaust times, the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine.

Keywords: visual antisemitism, “Happy Merchant” meme, Judeo-Bolshevism, Romanian far-right, new antisemitism



The article deals with the – probably – earliest Hungarian-language theater play and performance representing the Holocaust, premiered in Cluj in 1945, during the leadership of Jenő Janovics. A play by a little-known writer, a survivor himself, it was performed a few times and then completely forgotten, as the whole oeuvre of the author. The five-act drama tells a story of persecution, deportation, and the liberation of a death camp by the Russian Army. The article aims at reconstructing and analyzing the context, the (unpublished) play, and the performance, as well as the little-known playwright’s biography and works and his complicated career, not devoid of pseudonyms and deceptive identity games. The article’s findings are that a Hungarian-language theater in Cluj, in 1945, under the progressive artistic leadership of Jenő Janovics, was a socially relevant institution; but the silence about the Holocaust following shortly after the end of the World War II, erased from the stage the topic, the play, and the author, too.

Keywords: Holocaust drama, performance, theater, Cluj/Kolozsvár, Ignác Weinréb,



Vapniarka was a concentration camp in Transnistria, Romania, during the Second World War. Despite the constant threat of death, the camp’s inmates engaged in extensive artistic activities, including drawing, metal processing, and wood carving. This paper aims at drawing attention to the artwork produced in the Vapniarka camp, with a focus on five recently discovered undated drawings signed by Leibel, a camp survivor. Viewed through the perspective of time, an analysis of these drawings as postwar artistic documentation vs. the artistic efforts in real time, provides a detailed outlook on how Jewish artists created art in Vapniarka, and demonstrates the value of art in passing on memories from past to future generations.

Keywords: Vapniarka, art, Moshe Leibel.

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