01 March 2017

Poporul acuză! • The People Accuse!


Michael Shafir: "Based on the Nuremberg model, People's Tribunals were set up in Romania by a decree issued by King Michael I on April 21, 1945. [...] There were two tribunals, one in Bucharest and the other in Cluj. The Bucharest tribunal sentenced only 187 people, the rest were dealt with by the Cluj one, set up on June 22, 1945, which in general pronounced harsher sentences (thirty people condemned to death and fifty-two to hard labor for life). [...] The first trial held by the Bucharest People's Tribunal ended on May 22, 1945. General Nicolae Macici and Constantin Trestorianu as well as Corneliu Calotescu and others, were found guilty of the massacres perpetrated in occupied Odessa and in nearby Dalnic on October 21-22, 1941 and sentenced to death; other members of the Romanian forces received varying prison sentences. On July 1, 1945, King Michael commuted Macici's sentence to life imprisonment; Macici would eventually die in Aiud prison in 1950. [General Corneliu Calotescu, formerly plenipotentiary Governor of Bukovina, was among this group of 29 officers sentenced to death for war crimes on 22 May 1945. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment but he was released in an amnesty in 1955.] Altogether, fourty-eight death sentences were pronounced by 'Old Kingdom' and southern Transylvania-based People's Tribunal, but only four were actually carried out, the others being either commuted to hard labor for life or decreed in absentia. None of the sentences handed down in northern Transylvania were implemented, and the leading people charged there had anyway left the region together with the Hungarian authorities. Although the People's Tribunals were liquidated in 1946, trials associated with 'crimes against peace' and other war-related charges would continue in the following years on the basis of law No. 291 of 1947, which stipulated sentences of between fifteen years and life imprisonment for such offences."

[Michael  Shafir “Romania’s Tortuous Road to Facing Collaboration”, in Roni Stauber (ed.), Collaboration with the Nazis: Public Discourse After the Holocaust, London and New York, Routledge, 2011, pp. 245 -278.6]

05 February 2017

Documents Concerning the Fate of Romanian Jewry During the Holocaust


Volume V: This volume is entirely consecrated to the fate of the Jews of Besarabia and Bukovina - the extermination by Einsatzgruppe D on one hand and on the other, by the army, police, and other Romanian government elements. For the first time, the secret Romanian orders concerning the exterminations, arrests and creation of ghettos and transit camps and deportation of the survivors to Transnistria - Southern Ukraine, between the Bug and Dniester rivers, chosen by the Romanians as the land of exile - are brought to light. The life of the Jews in Transnistria; the death of tens of thousands of them from hunger, cold, and diseases; the thousands of orphaned children resulting from this situation, as well as the 'miracle' in the land of exile: the self-help organization of the deportees who, with the help of their brethren still in Romania proper succeeded in overcoming, are discussed in these documents. Out of almost 160,000 Jews deported there, almost 50,000 remained alive. In this volume, numerous documents attest to the efforts to effect the return of the deportees - a partially successful struggle, unique in Nazi Europe [Jean Ancel].

Volume XI: This volume is to serve mainly those researchers who do not know Romanian, German and French. Summaries of all the documents are given here in English, some of them extensive and detailed, as well as archival designations. The volume includes a preface by Serge Klarsfeld and a detailed introduction by the editor.

Courtesy: Beate Klarsfeld Foundation

05 January 2017

Alef-Beys • Aleph-Beis • Alphabet


YIVO Encyclopedia: "Eliezer Shteynbarg (1880–1932), Yiddish writer and educator. Born in Lipkany, Bessarabia, Eliezer Shteynbarg (originally Shteynberg) received a traditional Jewish education but independently mastered German and Russian classics. Like his cousin Yehudah Steinberg (Shteynberg; a pioneer of modern Hebrew education), Eliezer directed a private, secular school, with Hebrew as the language of instruction. From 1919 on, he lived in Czernowitz (Chernivtsi) where he ran, among other things, a Yiddish children’s theater. As the most distinguished figure in the Tshernovitser Yidisher Shulfareyn (Czernowitz Association of Jewish Schools) and in the Jewish Cultural Association of Romania (founded in 1921), Shteynbarg played a leading role in the cultural life of Romanian Jews. He lived in Brazil from 1928 to 1930, and then returned to Czernowitz. At a very young age, Shteynbarg had written children’s stories and plays in Yiddish for the students in the school he directed, as well as fables for adults. The children’s plays were inspired by purim-shpils and folk legends. In these stories, the author’s rich imagination, combined with his attention to folkloric motifs, yielded a free and poetic style. Shteynbarg also developed original teaching methods in which old heder traditions were blended with modern instructional principles. These techniques are reflected, for example, in his two textbooks, Alef-beys (Yiddish) and Alfon (Hebrew), both published in Czernowitz in 1921."

When my own heart was strained in distress and worry,
I did not withhold my last tear,
But warmed and strengthened and reinforced!

Eliezer Steinbarg

Translation by Yocheved Klausner

Courtesy: Center for Jewish History (Book), Miriam & Yosef Yagur (Artwork)

01 December 2016

Transnistria War Criminal Trials by Dr. Andrei Muraru


Andrei Muraru: "The abominable crimes and massacres occurred under Antonescu’s regime (1940-1944) in Romania led to the disappearance of a significant part of the Jewish community. These crimes took place in the territories incorporated in the Romanian state or under its administration: Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transnistria. The deportation and extermination were enforced by the Romanian authorities, who were responsible for the disappearance of 350,000 Romanian Jews during the Holocaust. For these crimes, the war criminal trials found very few guilty individuals. One of the causes for this, besides the political and legal ones, was the lack of evidence, subsequently acknowledged by the public accusers. Moreover, the failure of the judicial process was confirmed by the Soviet authorities, but also by the former Romanian public accusers. The reasons for that were diverse (interventions, at the highest level, for the release of the arrested Army heads and magistrates, including through the Soviet Generals’ intervention; the unjustified acquittals; the organizational deficiencies; the defective strategy of arresting only the major perpetrators and instigators; the Soviets’ indifference towards the requirements related to the witnesses and documents from the Soviet territories); the assessments are that over 70% of the war criminals managed to get away unpunished." (P. 143/144)

Dr. Andrei Muraru

Additional Links:

Courtesy: New Europe College 

03 November 2016

Die Peschl • La Peschl

Otto Seidmann, born in Czernowitz in 1910, deceased in Bucharest in 1981. Seidmann’s texts stand in the tradition of Porubski and his Bukovinian Sketches, where he revives the Bukovinian common speach. This applies to Seidmann’s novel also, which addresses Jewish life in Czernowitz until 1940.
Menschen, Masken und Marotten [Men, Masks and Whims], Bucharest 1957
Miniaturen [Miniatures], Bucharest 1962
Die Peschl [La Peschl], Bucharest 1969

07 October 2016

Czernowitz - Cernăuți - Černivci • What is to be remembered?


2011-2014 Research Project on Memory of Vanished Population Groups in today´s East-Central European Urban Environments, implemented by the Center for European Studies at Lund University and specialists in partner cities.

Project’s Outline: The Research Project Memory of Vanished Population Groups in today’s East-Central European Urban Environments. Memory Treatment and Urban Planning in L’viv, Chernivtsi, Chisinau and Wroclaw has been implemented in 2011-2014 by the Center for European Studies at Lund University together with local experts in the cities of interest.

This project explores the complex role, which the built environment plays in collective memory of 4 East-Central European cities: L’viv and Chernivtsi in Ukraine Chisinau in Moldova and Wroclaw in Poland, and how this memory functions . All 4 cities have been hit by genocide and expulsions during and after WWII, they all underwent changes of national boundaries and communist dictatorships, dissociated from the earlier national affiliation. Those political and ideological forces aimed to change the identity of the cities, to erase or reinterpret historical traces and urban cultural heritage. A reconciliation between expelled and settled population groups is a matter of recognition of the vanished population groups’ contribution to the history, cultural heritage and identity of the cities.

The project’s concern is how the old urban environments are being treated at the urban planning level and by the current city dwellers of L’viv, Chernivtsi, Chisinau and Wroclaw . The work included inventories of the built environment and its use before 1939, its treatment in urban planning and in memories of city dwellers (by current city population and local intellectuals). At the same time, it has been the project’s interest to collect and reflect on the knowledge and attitudes among the postwar city population on the vanished population groups and their built environment. The study covers the communist and post-communist era, ending with conclusions for future development.

In 2011-2014 research group from the Center for European Studies, Lund University, together with partners (specialists and experts from L’viv, Chernivtsi, Chisinau and Wroclaw) have carried out an extensive research, which included on-site inventories, study of written sources, museum and archival materials, surveys, interviews with city dwellers, local intellectuals and decision-makers. Data collection and its interpretation allowed to register built environment of vanished population groups once lived in all 4 cities; to understand how this environment (buildings, streets, squares, etc.) is being managed today and treated within city planning; to collect resident’s knowledge and memories on vanished population groups and environment they once lived in and to reflect on attitude of local elites to once multinational urban landscape and its current changes.

Courtesy: Memory of Vanished Populations