30 May 2019

Obsesia incertitudinii • The Obsession of Uncertainty


New York Insititute for the Humanities (NYIH): Norman Manea is a Romanian writer, living in New York City. His writing comprises novels, essays, short prose and his topic is, mainly, the individual destiny in extreme situations (holocaust, communist dictatorship, exile). Norman Manea received important Romanian, American and European cultural distinctions. He is the Laureate of the Romanian National Prize for Literature and is the first Romanian writer to be granted the American McArthur Fellowship, as well as the Italian international Nonino Prize, the French Medicis Etranger Prize, the German Nelly Sachs Prize, the Spanish Palau Fabre Prize. Member of the Berlin Academy of Art and of the Royal Society of Literature in Great Britain, he was decorated by the French government with the title of Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He seems to be the Romanian writer mostly honored ever, outside his homeland. At the celebration of his 75th birthday at Bard College and at the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York writers, scholars and publishers from several countries debated and praised the literary originality and the moral core of his creativity. At this occasion, was published in Romanian and English the festive book In Honorem Norman Manea: Obsesia Incertitudinii - The Obsession Of Uncertainty, Polirom, Romania, 2011, with important literary contributors (Philip Roth, Claudio Magris, Antonio Tabucchi, Antonio Munoz Molina etc.). Numerous reviews, studies, essays on his work can be found in the main newspapers and cultural magazines in the USA, Romania, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and other countries were his writing was published. The Polirom Publishing House in Romania started a series of 25 volumes of his work, from which 17 have already appeared. The Swedish press in 2012 and the French press in 2013 reiterated Norman Manea's status as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in literature. In 2013, the Romanian Writers Union proposed his name as a Nobel candidate, as did – in previous years – the Romanian and Swedish PEN and several scholars in Romanian literature. In 2014, the Romanian PEN reiterated this proposal.

Courtesy: Polirom

26 April 2019

Bucureștii pe care nu i-am cunoscut • Bucharest Uncovered


esa Earth Watching: Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania and a primate city, located in the southeast of the country, lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River, less than 70 km north of the Danube River. Bucharest was first mentioned in documents in 1459. It became the capital of Romania in 1862 and is the centre of Romanian media, culture and art. Its architecture is a mix of historical (neo-classical), interbellum (Bauhaus and art deco), communist-era and modern. In the period between the two World Wars, the city's elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of "Little Paris". Although buildings and districts in the historic city centre were heavily damaged or destroyed by war, earthquakes, and above all Nicolae Ceauşescu's program of systematisation, many survived. In recent years, the city has been experiencing an economic and cultural boom.

04 March 2019

Czernowitz: Jüdische Stadt deutscher Sprache • Jewish City of German Language


Friedrich J. Ortwein: "Up until now, I was profoundly convinced, that the love and the devotion of the citizens of Cologne to their home town, the antique CCAA (Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium), one of the Daughters of Rome and free imperial city, cannot be exceeded by anybody in the world. But during the travel preparations for our journey to Galicia and Bukovina, when I came across the website of the Jews expelled from CZERNOWITZ, I had to reverse: The children and grandchildren of Czernowitzers, together with a few Holocaust survivors, have created a website containing a huge data volume and so they emphasize in an unique and inimitable way their love for the home country of their ancestors.

Forum members from all over the world, from the Americas, from Australia and South Africa, from Israel and Europe analyze, comment and swap ideas on events, research their genealogical roots, discuss and value rediscovered archival materials, enjoy old and new photos, exchange holiday and birthday wishes and all this happens in English with embedded German, Yiddish and Hebrew particles."

Courtesy: Friedrich J. Ortwein

28 February 2019

Forced and Slave Labor in Nazi-Dominated Europe


Paul A. Shapiro, USHMM: "Civilians, including concentration camp prisoners, deportees, foreign nationals, and Jews, as well as prisoners of war were forced into the sprawling forced and slave labor system that encompassed Europe and supported the war efforts of the Nazi regime and Germany’s Axis allies. Forced and slave labor was used in road-building and defense works; the chemical, construction, metal, mining, and munitions industries; in agriculture; at installations working at the highest levels of technology; and to perform menial tasks. Such labor was integral to concentration camps and their sub-camps, farms, ghettos, labor battalions, church institutions, prisoner-of-war camps, and private industries in Germany, other Axis countries, and Axis-occupied territories east and west. […] The uniquely compelling nature of survivor memory was underscored in William Rosenzweig’s account of his deportation east from his native Czernowitz, Romania, and his slave labor experiences in Romanian-occupied Transnistria. The final session 'Forced and Slave Labor Across Europe', began with Andrej Angrick’s (institution, place) discussion of the use of SS-assigned slave labor in the construction of DG-IV, a main transit road built by the Germans and essential to their assault on Stalingrad and the Caucasus."

Courtesy: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

25 January 2019

Transfer of Jews from Transnistria to Turkey


USHMM: "Through Executive Order 9417 on January 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the War Refugee Board (WRB), tasked with the 'immediate rescue and relief of the Jews of Europe and other victims of enemy persecution.' An independent government agency under the Executive branch, the WRB operated until President Harry S. Truman closed it with Executive Order 9614 on September 15, 1945. After World War II, the WRB's first director, John Pehle, described the board as 'little and late' in comparison to the enormity of the Holocaust. In the War Refugee Board’s final report, the staff estimated that they saved tens of thousands of lives, and aided hundreds of thousands more."

This archival treasure brings into the light of day the correspondence between the

• International Commitee of the Red Cross, Geneva/Switzerland
• War Refugee Board, Washington/USA
• American Embassy, Ankara/Turkey
• Secretary of State, Washington/USA
• Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz, Executive Council of the Joint Distribution Committee, Lisbon/Portugal
• World Jewish Congress, New York/USA

including these two most comprehensive reports:

Travel Report by Charles Kolb, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representative stationed in Romania, on his journey to Transnistria between December 11-21, 1943.

Report of the Situation of the Jews in Transnistria, January - April 1943, by the World Jewish Congress.

Courtesy: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum

27 December 2018

Athene Palace Bucharest • Hitler's 'New Order' Comes to Rumania


The University of Chicago Press: "On the day that Paris fell to the Nazis, R. G. Waldeck was checking into the swankiest hotel in Bucharest, the Athene Palace. A cosmopolitan center during the war, the hotel was populated by Italian and German oilmen hoping to secure new business opportunities in Romania, international spies cloaked in fake identities, and Nazi officers whom Waldeck discovered to be intelligent but utterly bloodless. A German Jew and a reporter for Newsweek, Waldeck became a close observer of the Nazi invasion. As King Carol first tried to placate the Nazis, then abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Waldeck was dressing for dinners with diplomats and cozying up to Nazi officers to get insight and information. From her unique vantage, she watched as Romania, a country with a pro-totalitarian elite and a deep strain of anti-Semitism, suffered civil unrest, a German invasion, and an earthquake, before turning against the Nazis. A striking combination of social intimacy and disinterest political analysis, Athene Palace evokes the elegance and excitement of the dynamic international community in Bucharest before the world had comes to grips with the horrors of war and genocide. Waldeck’s account strikingly presents the finely wrought surface of dinner parties, polite discourse, and charisma, while recognizing the undercurrents of violence and greed that ran through the denizens of Athene Palace."

Read in addition the new foreword by Robert D. Kaplan to ATHENE PALACE: Hitler’s “New Order” Comes to Rumania by R. G. Waldeck, published by The University of Chicago Press!

09 November 2018



World Digital Library: "In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Bukovina is Number 5 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Bukovina, a region in southeastern Europe that is today partly in Ukraine and partly in Romania, was, at the time this study was written, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was annexed by Austria in 1776, following the Russo-Turkish War (1768−74) and the first partition of Poland (1772). The study notes that the Bukovina "lies on the great highway of migration from east to west, and is consequently inhabited by a strange mixture of races, even to the present day." The main groups living in the territory (formally an autonomous duchy administered as an Austrian crown land) included Romanians, Ukrainians (Ruthenians), Germans, Jews, Poles, and Magyars. The major industries were agriculture and forestry. Austria ceded the province to Romania after World War I. In 1940 the Soviet government pressured Romania to cede the northern portion of Bukovina (along with Bessarabia) to the Soviet Union, which controlled the territory until the breakup of the Soviet state in 1991."

Courtesy: Library of Congress