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”Elie Wiesel” Institute`s Journal:
Holocaust. Studii şi cercetări, vol. XII, issue 1(13), 2020

Title:  Holocaust. Studii şi cercetări, vol. XII, no. 1(13)/ 2020
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List of Authors

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

Daniel-Valeriu Boboc has been a researcher at the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania since 2019. BA in History (1998) and Political Sciences (2002) at the “Al.I. Cuza” University in Iași. MA (1999) and Ph.D. (2012) in Contemporary History at the “Al.I. Cuza” University in Iași. His Ph.D. topic was “Universal Vote and Political Culture in Interwar Romania”. He has published articles in scientific reviews. His research areas of interest are the politics between the two World Wars, Romania in international relationships, the Holocaust in Romania, and the history of communism.

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: Holocaust in Romania, anti-Semitism, Romanian communism, urban history, Romanian higher education history, history of everyday life during communism.

Nicolae Emilian Drancă is a Ph.D. student at the Babeș-Bolyai University, under the coordination of Professor Dr. Michael Shafir. He has studied history (bachelor´s degree at the University of Bucharest Department of Law,), political science (Master at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris). He has had a few scholarships and research internships at the universities of Strasbourg, Paris, Freiburg am Breisgau, Munich, Graz, Vienna, Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow, and Łódź. He has also been the main organizer, since 2015, of the Historical Film Festival in Bukovina, at Vatra Dornei and Czernowitz.

Nicolae Drăgușin is a researcher at the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania and a lecturer at the “Dimitrie Cantemir” Christian University in Bucharest. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy (2013, Romanian Academy) and is a Ph.D. student in Political Science (2020-present, University of Bucharest). He holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights and Democratization (2008, European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights from Venice) and one in 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 from 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. He is an “Andrei Scrima” Fellow of the Institut für Ökumenische Forschung in Hermanstadt (“Lucian Blaga” University from Sibiu).

Alexandru Florian is the general director of the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania. He was a professor of Political Science at the “Dimitrie Cantemir” University in Bucharest. He holds a PhD in Philosophy and Political Science from the Romanian Academy Institute of Social Theory (1998) with a thesis on modernity and transition in Romania.

Emanuel-Marius Grec is a Ph.D. researcher in History at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. His interests include transitional justice and Jewish memory in post-war Romania, trials of Holocaust perpetrators, collaboration during the war in Romanian-occupied lands, as well as the history of the Jews in Western Romania. His Ph.D. thesis deals with the trials of war criminals and perpetrators in post-war Romania. He is funded in his research by „Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich“ Studienwerk, the foundation for Jewish students and studies in the Republic of Germany. A graduate of the “Vasile Goldiș” Western University in Arad, he also has an MA in Comparative History from the Central European University and one in Jewish Civilizations from the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien in Heidelberg. He has also graduated the one-year program in Jewish Studies from Paideia – The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden. His publications include articles and pieces on the People’s Tribunals in Romania, the Jewish life of Arad in the 1930s, the role of Mihail Sebastian in Romanian literature and history, and the rise of anti-Semitism in modern-day Romania. He has been a member of the Center for Jewish Studies in Arad, Romania, since 2010.

Prof. Dr. Drs. h.c. Armin Heinen from the RWTH Aachen University. He studied history, political science, and maths in Frankfurt. Doctorate on the “Archangel Michael” Legion in Romania. Habilitation at the University of Saarbrücken with a study on the history of the Saarland as the third German state, 1945 to 1955. Following a guest professorship in Würzburg, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History in Aachen since 1998. Together with Victor Neumann, he established the „Reinhart Koselleck“ Graduate School in Timișoara. 2018 emeritus.
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Sylvia Hershcovitz is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Jewish History at Bar Ilan University, and a Spiegel Fellow in the “Arnold & Leona Finkler” Institute for Holocaust Research. She also coordinates the Romanian Forum within the institute. Her research is about the missing link: the Jewish women and their organizations in Romania during the first part of the 20th century. She concentrates on the everyday life of these women and their organizations, their identities, activities, and unique contribution to the women and children’s lives during this period in Romania.

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 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 articles on the history of the Roma, a member of several research projects, and a project coordinator of the Roma survivors of Deportations to Transnistria project. With Vintilă Mihăilescu, he co-edited Condiția romă. Schimbarea discursului (The Roma Condition. Changing Discourse – Iași 2014) and Roma. Der Diskurswandel (Vienna, 2020). His research interests focus on Roma history, the Holocaust, compensation, and memory. Between January and July 2021, he will be 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”.

Emanuela Muntean est doctorante en littérature française à l’Université Babeș-Bolyai de Cluj-Napoca. Son intérêt porte sur la littérature de jeunesse, notamment sur la transmission de la mémoire de la Shoah à travers le récit en images.
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Andrei Muraru is a researcher at the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania and a lecturer at the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (Bucharest). He holds a PhD in History (2011) from the University “Al.I. Cuza” in Iași, with a thesis about the war crimes trials in Romania. He was a Doctoral Fellow at New Europe College and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and he recently won a post-doctoral fellowship from Yad Vashem – The International Institute for Holocaust Research. He is the author of the book (in Romanian) Vișinescu, the Forgotten Torturer: The Prison, the Crimes, the Trial (2018); he coordinated or co-edited four volumes about Romanian recent history.

Irina Nastasă-Matei, is a junior lecturer at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Political Science. Ph.D. in history from the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca. Author of the monograph Educaţie, politică şi propagandă: Studenţi români în Germania nazistă (Education, Politics, and Propaganda: Romanian Students in Nazi Germany) and co-author of Cultură și propagandă. Institutul Român din Berlin, 1940-1945 (Culture and Propaganda. The Romanian Institute in Berlin, 1940-1945), with Lucian Nastasă-Kovács. Currently running a postdoc grant on “Forms of Soft Power in Cold War Europe. Humboldt Fellowships for Romanian Scholars (1967-1989)”. Research focus: cultural politics, cultural diplomacy, intellectual history, academic exchanges, academic migration, soft power/ propaganda, ideology, German studies.



This article continues to follow the 6th ‘Vânători’ Regiment’s itinerary from the summer of 1941, after the slaughtering of the Jews in Sculeni. Its advancing in Bessarabia meant the crossing of a territory where large Jewish communities lived. The entire edifice of ideology and propaganda that equated the Jewish identity with the affiliation to communism, one that the military supported earnestly, was used to bring the Romanian troops to and keep them in the right state of mind. The article aims at describing in detail the operating mode, the criminal actions, and the subordination and coordination relationships from within one of the units of the 14th Infantry Division, that committed mass murders during the first few months after the launching of Operation ‘Barbarossa’.

Keywords: mass graves, Holocaust, mass execution, Jews, Bălți, Mărculești.



In 1940, after the withdrawal from Bessarabia, the Romanian Gendarmerie carried out investigations in order to establish how it had been achieved, whether there had been human casualties or material losses, and what attitude the local population and the Soviet Army had displayed towards the gendarmes. The general survey brought about an image of the Jew depicted through ideological stereotypes: a communist, a traitor, a saboteur of the withdrawal efforts of the Romanian institutions’ representatives. The goal of this study is to analyze how this imaginary Jew was drawn up and whether such an image is in keeping with that of the real Jew, resulting from text analyses and from the study of the political life of the Northern Bessarabian Jews from the interwar period.

Keywords: Gendarmerie, Bessarabia, 1940, the image of the Jew, anti-Semitism.


Although the war and the Holocaust struck men and women equally, there are reasons to discuss the fate of the women and their specific problems, in order to fill a missing link in describing Jewish life and to offer a fresh perspective that would give us better tools to write the history of Jewish life at that time. This paper will discuss the Romanian Jewish Women’s activity during the Holocaust and will particularly look into the activity of “The Jewish Center for the Protection of Mother and Child”, founded in Bucharest by Mela Iancu. What was the center’s contribution to the Jewish children and mothers during the war in Romania and to the orphans rescued from Transnistria? What can be learned about the women’s role during periods of crisis and war? “Mama Mela”, as the children of the center used to call her, was a symbol of determination, inspiration, wisdom, and hope. Finally, by including her story in the historical discourse, this paper aspires to shape and contribute to the large framework designing a reviewed historical approach and a gender-sensitive agenda.

Keywords: Romania, holocaust, gender, orphans, Transnistria, Mela Iancu.


This research has several objectives in mind. The first is to identify the exact location of the ghetto in Vatra Dornei, which existed in October 1941. So far, no one has found and described exactly the streets where this ghetto was located or the capacity it had. The second objective is to identify people who were confined in that ghetto before being deported to Transnistria. The third objective is to identify the participants in the confinement of the Jewish population in the ghetto, respectively the perpetrators and co-perpetrators of crimes and abuses committed against the Jewish population of Vatra Dornei, in 1941. The Jews of Vatra Dornei were especially active in hotels and services, forestry, as well as in the liberal professions. From the Vatra Dornei area, according to some sources, approximately 2,500 Jews were deported together with other Jews from Câmpulung – a total of 6,118 people. At the request of the local and German authorities, 21 Jews were sent back from Transnistria to VatraDornei, because they were effectively indispensable. This research on the Holocaust conducted at the scale of small community can be compared to the development of the cell in an organism. The Holocaust would not have existed without these small cells multiplied hundreds of times, maybe even thousands of times. In addition, this micro-history, researched and analyzed, reveals details that are also arguments for contesting the theses according to which the Holocaust began only after 22 June 1941, or it was possible only where state institutions were dissolved. The main sources for this research are made up of the National Archives in Suceava.

Keywords: Bukovina, Vatra Dornei, ghettoization, trains, deportation, Transnistria.


The present study aims at exploring how the question of Jewish emancipation was managed by the Romanian State. Our analytical quest aims at unveiling the double approach of the Romanian authorities. While the first phase revolved around the question: “What is a Jew for the Romanian State?”, the second phase revolved around a different question: “Who is a Jew for the Romanian State?” Consequently, the paper consists of two parts. First, we are interested to investigate the quest for citizenship up to 1919/1923; second, we are interested to see how the Romanian authorities approached the Jewish minority after naturalization was granted. This second part, corresponding to the years 1923 to 1938, has two complementary facets: revising the citizenship (1924-1938) and legally defining the Jew (1940-1942), in order to introduce a whole range of discriminations. These complementary facets are interlinked since the legal identification of the Jews was meant, in certain situations, to deprive them of the rights associated with citizenship and, in other situations, to exclude them from society and nationalize their properties. The paper focuses on the legal documents (treaties, constitutional laws, organic laws, and decree-laws) to explore the status ascribed to Jews by the Romanian State and the dynamics of the legal definitions associated with them in the early nineteen-forties.

Keywords: Naturalization, emancipation, Holocaust, stateless, Jew, laws on citizenship.


The paper discusses Ernest Bernea’s legionary past, focusing on its consequences and the post-war fate of the sociologist. I take into consideration his activity as a member of the Legionary Movement, his journalistic activity from the Rânduiala magazine, as well as the time he spent at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the light of the communist authorities’ subsequent attitude, highlighting the post-war fate of the Gusti school’s member, which was profoundly marked by this legionary drift. The main resources used in the paper are the documents from the CNSAS Archive.

Keywords: Intellectuals; the Legionary Movement; the Communist regime; the Securitate/CNSAS Archives.


There were moments in Romanian culture, after 1990, when the interwar cultural heritage was evaluated in a counter-motion as to the way it had been during the communist regime. Everything that had been rejected then became apt for recognition and furthering. Cioran, Eliade, Noica, Vulcănescu, or Vintilă Horia, who had been forbidden during this or that period of communism, now had their public memory glorified. Although some of those authors had been found guilty of war crimes or others had shared the values of Romanian fascism and had been their active supporters, there are public intellectuals nowadays who think that their cultural role was far more important and have therefore turned them into idols. Right-wing extremists have symbolically called “saints of the prisons” those who had died as detainees during the communist regime. The case of Vintilă Horia aims at proving that the support given to his memory by certain intellectuals lacks ethical and ontological arguments, since the essayist partook of the anti-democratic values to the very end of his life.

Keywords: Fascism, anti-Semitism, anti-democratic


This paper turns toward the image ascribed to the Jewish minority by one of the most prolific representatives of Romanian culture, Nicolae Iorga. The analysis starts with the identity pattern proposed by Iorga and moves to the cluster of attributes that he ascribed to the Jewish minority, as well as the social roles associated to the latter. On a final approach, our interest moves towards the political solutions envisaged by Iorga to solve the “Jewish problem”.

Keywords: Nicolae Iorga, identity, nationalism, anti-Semitism.


The history of the Romanian Shoah has long been an unwritten story, at least in the field of Romanian historiography. In this respect, the political upheaval of 1989 stands for a new historiographical beginning. Romanian historiography was split into negationists and trivializers, into uninterested and basic researchers. But even those who promoted research on the Holocaust remained entangled in narrow patterns of interpretation until 2003/5. The connection to the newly emerging global Holocaust research did not succeed. Numerous research reports have interpreted this fact as the result of political conditions. The first part of this article takes upon this observation. It presents the historical studies regarding the Romanian Holocaust until 2003/5, and discusses their political background. Part two asks whether international research up to 1989/2005 outside the communist area scored much better. The result is ambivalent. Part three shows why global Holocaust research, with its approaches, remained incapable of analysing the Romanian case adequately. Only the paradigmatic shift in international Holocaust research after 1989/2000, fourthly, has enabled historical scholarship to analyse the Romanian case as well. According to the concluding fifth thesis, the Romanian Holocaust historiography is characterized by a negative synchronicity with the West. This negative synchronicity has contributed to a structural heterogeneity of the Romanian Holocaust discourse and has been the cause of little international attention to the Romanian case. Today, the challenge is to apply the perspectives of current Genocide and Holocaust research to Romania, in order to turn synchronicity into a positive direction. At the same time, research on the Romanian Holocaust must become an integrated part of international Holocaust studies.

Keywords: Holocaust (Shoah); Romanian historiography; Holocaust research.


L’article propose une incursion dans l’histoire de la Shoah à travers le personnage de l’enfant juif caché. Pour cela, nous explorons l’émergence de la figure de l’enfant caché sur la scène de la mémoire historique et sa transformation en personnage fictionnel. En nous étayant sur deux publications en bande dessinée, L’envolée sauvage, de Laurent Galandon, Arno Moninet Hamo, et La guerre de Catherine, de Julia Billet et Claire Fauvel, nous analysons le destinet l’univers de l’enfant durant la guerre, tout en dégageant le rôle de la littérature dans la transmission de la mémoire historique. L’individualisation de l’Histoire permet une approche fondée sur l’émotion et offre au lecteur une expérience initiatique génératrice de valeurs.

Keywords: Bande dessinée, Shoah, enfant caché, L’envolée sauvage, La guerre de Catherine


In this article, I examine the People’s Tribunals and the relevant debates surrounding them. I focus in particular on the symbolic role of these special trials in the Romanian public imagination after 1989, as well as the ways in which scholars can better fit them into existing historiographical patterns. Concepts such as “political justice” or “transition” will also be further explored. Also, I analyze the way in which the Soviet influence in these post-war trials has been perceived, while also looking at the multiple ways in which it can be interpreted. I then show that the study of the Holocaust in Romania is contingent upon understanding these crucial post-war attempts to deal with the horrors of Romania’s past. With all their issues, the People’s Tribunals were crucial in condemning war criminals who perpetrated the genocide of Jews and Roma in Romania. Their unique character must be drawn into relief as they were based on special laws, as ordinary courts did not have the capacity to deal with the unprecedented nature of the crimes that took place during World War II. In this sense, seeing these legal proceedings within the larger European context of dealing with Nazi crimes is of the utmost importance.

Keywords: the People’s Tribunals, post-war justice, Soviet influence, transition, Holocaust in Romania.


Starting from the most recent rehabilitation request in Romanian justice (General Nicolae Macici, one of the coordinators of the 1941 Odessa massacre), this study examines the case of the rehabilitation of war criminals during the communist regime and after the 1989 Revolution. In 1945, the post-war trials, in which many members of the Antonescu regime were tried, disappeared as subjects from the public sphere, though the trials went on. The series of rehabilitations began in the mid-1960s, when the communist regime put in practice a thaw and the release of political prisoners. Analyzing concrete cases of the Romanian military, intellectuals, and dignitaries who obtained legal and social rehabilitation during communism, the present study shows that those rehabilitations were made with the tacit consent of the Romanian authorities. However, the trials were not retried and the convicts were not considered not guilty. The collapse of communism paved the way for the legal rehabilitation of many war criminals by the justice system through retrying the trials and acquitting those guilty of war crimes and genocide. In general, the legal rehabilitations were aimed either at honoring the memory and restoring the honor of those considered to have been victims of the Soviet occupation, or at allowing their heirs to reclaim the confiscated property of the convicts. The study shows that these posthumous post-communist rehabilitations were made possible due to the general current within Romanian society in the 1990s. This trend, maintained by a political and historiographical agenda, was stopped in the 2000s, with Romania’s access to NATO and the European Union. Although public campaigns to rehabilitate war criminals have continued, the justice system has not allowed any rehabilitation of those convicted of war crimes and genocide after 2000.

Keywords: Posthumous rehabilitation, war criminals, trials, Holocaust, (post-)communism.


In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Romania tried to obtain West German compensation for its Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Unlike other states, Romania’s attempts failed. This can be explained not only by the dynamic of the Cold War (which imposed certain restrictions on how West Germany related to the communist states in Eastern Europe), but also by the superficial approach Romania adopted towards compensation. Generally speaking, the Romanian authorities viewed the Jewish victims in Romania merely as a number of people whose persecution could be capitalized on, following a rather rudimentary strategy. Aware of the existence of certain legal obstacles, Romania acted unofficially (through Jewish proxies) between 1967 and 1970, but formalized its actions in 1970, when it started to discuss the compensation issue directly with West Germany. During both phases, the institution in charge was the Securitate, the notorious Romanian secret police. Its representatives made serious mistakes, such as misinterpreting the German compensation legislation and wrongly assumed that they could negotiate with West Germany from a position of strength. Until the collapse of communism, West Germany refused to even begin negotiations with Romania on the compensation issue.

Keywords: War reparations, compensation, Holocaust, Germany, Romania, Jews.

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