After 1948, the 370,000 Jews of Romania who survived the Holocaust became one of the main sources of immigration for the new state of Israel as almost all left their homeland to settle in Palestine and Israel. Romania’s decision to allow its Jews to leave was baldly practical: Israel paid for them, and Romania wanted influence in the Middle East. For its part, Israel was rescuing a community threatened by economic and cultural extinction and at the same time strengthening itself with a massive infusion of new immigrants.
In this thoroughly updated edition, Radu Ioanid traces the secret history of the longest and most expensive ransom arrangement in recent times, a hidden exchange that lasted until the fall of the facist regime. Drawing on a wealth of oral testimonies, recently declassified documents from the archives of the Romanian secret police, and newly available material from the government archives of Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, and Germany, Ioanid follows Israel’s long and expensive ransom arrangement with Communist Romania. He uncovers the elaborate mechanisms that made it successful for decades, the shadowy figures responsible, and the secret channels of communication and payment.
The book sheds new light on Romania’s pre-fascist and fascist antisemitic legislation and its implementation. Ioanid explores in greater detail the physical destruction of Romania’s Jewish and Roma communities, including the pogroms of Bucharest and Iasi as well as the deportations and the massacres from Bessarabia, Bukovina, and Transnistria. New chapters consider the forced labor of the Jews, persecution by the Protestant churches, and the decision-making process of the Antonescu government in its treatment of Jews and Roma. As suspenseful as a Cold-War thriller, his book tells the full, startling story of an unprecedented slave trade and its origins.
Radu Ioanid is Romania’s ambassador to Israel. He holds a doctorate in history from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He was vice-president of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania headed by Elie Wiesel in 2003/2004. He has been a Starkoff Fellow at the American Jewish Archives and director of the International Archival Program at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. His books include The Ransom of the Jews: The Story of the Extraordinary Secret Bargain between Romania and Israel.
Foreword by Dennis Deletant
1 The Legal Status of Jews in Romania
2 The Massacres before the War
3 The Massacres at the Beginning of the War
4 Transit Camps and Ghettos, Deportations, and Other Mass Murders
5 The Massacres in Transnistria
6 Life in Transnistria
7 The Deportation, Persecution, and Extermination of Roma
8 The Survival of the Romanian Jews
9 The Fate of Romanian Jews Living Abroad
10 The Antonescu Government through Its Own Statements
11 Summing Up
About the Author
Radu Ioanid has capitalized on his unique, decades-long experience collecting archives worldwide on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and building the museum’s collections of survivor testimony to produce the most authoritative study of the Holocaust in Romania available today. The responsibility of Romania’s violently antisemitic Antonescu regime and the complicity or indifference of most Romanian elites and the broader public emerge with a clarity that is often absent in studies of the Holocaust elsewhere. The agony of the victims is powerfully presented, in their own words as well as in reports generated by military and civilian authorities seeking to document their contributions to a national priority. Ioanid’s attention to the victimization of Roma, minority religious sects, and other groups completes the frightful picture Romania’s Holocaust-era crimes and serves as warning that if we fail to learn from history, what happened to Jews during the Holocaust can happen to anyone.
Comprehensive, terrifying, magnificent, Radu Ioanid’s book is the most complete history of the Holocaust in Romania ever published. This work truly reveals the extent of the Holocaust in Romania—the methods of persecution and murder, the decision-making processes of the Antonescu regime, the categories of victims—and completely identifies the perpetrators. It is also a mirror of the Romanian present and past from the perspective of responsibilities.
Radu Ioanid tells in detail the full story of the Holocaust in Romania, led by Nazi troops but largely carried out by willing Romanian executioners. Antisemitism was not new to Romania; it had existed for centuries with violent outbreaks, the most horrendous carried out by the fascist Iron Guard in January 1941. To this day, the horror remains a stain on Romania. No one is better able to tell the story of the slaughter of Romania’s Jews than the distinguished Holocaust historian Radu Ioanid, Romania’s ambassador to Israel.