II. The Jews from
Romania in the Period from the Takeover of Power by
General Antonescu Until the Outbreak of the War
Against the Soviet Union
(4 September 1940 - 22 June 1941)
On the 4th of September 1940,
General Antonescu takes over the political power in
Romania and ten days later Romania is proclaimed by Royal
Decree as National Legionary State. General Ion Antonescu
is named "Conducatorul Statului" (Leader of the State),
with discretionary powers, the king's prerogatives being
Horia Sima is proclaimed leader
of the Legionary Movement.
On the 7th of September 1940
General Ion Antonescu gives up to Bulgaria
South-Dobrodgea, (the districts Caliacra and Durostor),
territory known under the name Cadrilater in which about
850 Jews lived.
From the total number of 800.000
Jews living in Romania, at the beginning of 1940 after
the losing of territories in the summer and autumn of
1940 and until the outburst of the war against the
Soviet-Union only about 350.000 Jews had remained in
On September 14th 1940, General
Antonescu nominates the members of his
Except the leaders of the
economical departments (Finances, National Economy and
Agriculture), who were confidants of the General, all
other ministers were legionaries.
Among the first measures taken
by General Antonescu's national-legionary government
were: strengthening the political, military and economic
ties with Hitler's Germany and adhesion of Romania to the
Three Party Pact Berlin-Roma-Tokyo.
The Antonescu government
amplified and extended the anti-Jewish legislation and
racial terror to its extreme forms.
Thus, during this period the
Jews were eliminated completely from military service,
tens of thousands Jews were sent in forced labor
detachments, the young Jews were thrown out from all
elementary Romanian schools, high schools and
universities, the Jewish artists were removed from the
Romanian theaters, the whole medical staff was fired, the
Jews were forbidden to practice for Christians the
profession of lawyer as well as the profession of
chemist. It was forbidden to sell in bookstores books
written by Jewish authors and it was ordered to take them
out from all public libraries, etc.
The anti-Jewish measures
continued with the seizing of stores, restaurants and
enterprises. All urban buildings as well as all rural
properties belonging to Jews were expropriated. The
interdiction of radios, phones and photo cameras, the
evacuation of Jews from villages and small towns, the
charges and pecuniary contributions imposed, much higher
than their possibilities, and other measures brought the
Jewish population to despair and a life of torment.
During the existence of the
national-legionary state, the legionaries committed
numerous plunders, robberies and crimes against the Jews
and against some remarkable personalities like Nicolae
Iorga, Virgil Madgearu, Victor Iamandi and
The legionary rebellion,
which took place from January 21st, to January 23rd,
1941, made numerous victims.
In Bucharest the rebels
committed banditry (plunders, devastation, arsons,
killings), against Romanian inhabitants but especially in
the Jewish quarters Dudesti and Vacaresti where true
pogroms took place.
The legionary gangs gathered up
hundreds of Jews in numerous torture centers, such as the
Police Prefecture, Legionary Sections, Police Stations,
the mill in Straulesti, Jilava forest, etc.
Tens of Jews were tortured and
killed in the slaughter house, Jilava forest, and even in
Virgil Gheorghiu, the
well known Romanian writer noticed in his memories:
"In the big hall of
the slaughterhouse, where cattle are hanged up in
order to be cut, were now human naked corpses
On some of the corpses was the inscription "kosher".
There were Jewish corpses.
My soul was stained.
I was ashamed of myself. Ashamed being Romanian, like
criminals of the Iron Guard" (Memorii, Ed. Gramar
1999, pp. 523 - 524)
The tragic result of the
legionary rebellion represents in Bucharest: 130 Jews
killed, 25 temples and synagogues set on fire, 616 stores
and 547 Jewish homes plundered, devastated or set on
It has to be underlined that
after suppressing the legionary rebellion, the Antonescu
government (without legionaries) continued and even
hardened the anti-Jewish measures and terror.
The extremist anti-Semitic
politics promoted by the authorities is very well pointed
out in the memorable sentence which general Antonescu
pronounced at the government meeting on April 8th, 1941
"I was brought up to hate the Turks, Jews and
Hungarians. This sentiment of hate against the enemies of
our fatherland has to be pushed until the last extremity.
I assume the responsibility". 4)
The situation of the Jews
worsens more and more.
In some localities the
compulsory wearing of the yellow star is introduced. The
Jews are permitted to circulate and to make provisions
only between certain hours, hostages are taken, whose
life is in danger, as well as many other discriminatory
and humiliating measures.
The Jews called up in forced
labor camps underwent a very harsh and inhuman regime
(insufficient and inadequate food, extenuating work,
precarious quartering conditions, beatings and
No. 1, p. 23
See, Lya Benjamin, "Jews from Romania between
1040-1940, vol. I -- Anti-Jewish Legislation,"
Hasefer Publishing House, Bucharest, 1993.
See, Martyrdom Of Jews from Romania," p.
Hasefer Publishing House, Bucharest, 1991.
See, Lya Benjamin: "The Jewish Problem in the
Council of Ministers transcripts,"
Bucharest, Hasefer Publishing House, 1996, ASB Fond
Cabinet file 474/1941, pp. 60, 64, 65, 66, 74 (hereafter