Notes on the holocaust in Romania

Here are some pieces of information that caught my attention as I looked through some books on the holocaust in Romania.

books consulted:
Ancel, The History of the Holocaust in Romania
Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, 3rd edition
Ioanid, The Holocaust in Romania
Longerich, Holocaust
Solonari, Purifying the Nation

1. German policy according to Ion Antonescu:

On 16 December 1941 the government held a special session in Bucharest to discuss the fate of the Jews in Odessa and southern Transnitria. […] Antonescu was not prepared to delay action against the Jews until negotiations with the Germans or the Final Solution got off the ground: “The question of the Yids is being discussed in Berlin. The Germans want to transfer the Yids from Europe to Russia and settle them in certain regions. However, it will take time until this plan is implemented. What shall we do with them meanwhile?” [Ancel p. 343]

So according to Antonescu, the Germans were planning resettlement (literally, not as a code phrase) quite seriously in December 1941, right around the time the Wannsee conference was initially scheduled to take place.

Remarkably, according to Ancel, Hitler had not only decided to kill all the Jews before he launched Operation Barbarossa, but he also “shared his big secret” with Antonescu, i.e. informed him of the planned extermination of the Jews, in their meetings of May and June 1941 – and this despite the fact that Antonescu was educated in a French military academy and spoke no German (Ancel pp. 213-214). How Ancel reconciles this with Antonescu’s statements above is unclear, but presumably be believes Antonescu is using coded language or otherwise dissembling in his statement of 16 December.

Conspicuous in their absence are signs that Antonescu or indeed any Romanian realized at any point that the Germans were engaged in extermination rather than deportations. Given that the Romanians switched sides in 1944, if they knew about extermination one would think they would have been quick to provide the allies with all the details about the German extermination program so as to improve their own postwar position.

2. In discussing the plan (which went unrealized) to deport Jews to General Government through Belzec (or to kill them at Belzec, depending on your point of view), Ancel notes that the Jews were told they were going to labor camps. He adds that

Mihai Antonescu was fed the same story when Richter insisted that the Romanian Jews be deported to occupied Poland, not Transnitria: “Mr. Richter informed me that the Jews from Romania and other countries were being taken to Poland where they were organized into work camps, and while the regime in these camps could hardly be called comfortable, it was nevertheless reasonable in terms of physical preservation.” Although Richter was aware that he was dealing with criminals and murderers like himself, he did not realize that they had already learned about the Final Solution from Hitler himself and that the liquidation of the Jews in the “labor camps” of Poland was no secret for them (although the actual method of extermination may have been). Nor did he realize that even the Romanian diplomatic legations in the Reich and in German-occupied countries were aware of what was going on, as their reports indicated.” [Ancel pp. 477-478]

(Ancel’s proof that the Romanians knew about the extermination appears to be nothing more than the use of terminology that is supposed to stand for extermination.)

Richter plan for deportations to Belzec was finalized 15 September 1942. Ancel notes that

Some of the clauses in Richter’s plan were designed to mislead the Jews right to the very end, when the gas was released into the gas chambers. For example, he told them that they could bring with them certain items, such as “a pair of working boots… two woolen blankets… a food bowl” and the like.” [Ancel p. 484]

For revisionists, of course, these are sensible and practical measures rather than an elaborate scheme of concealment.

Another feature of the plan for deportations to Belzec which supports the revisionist position is the precise nature of the conditions put on the evacuation. According to the plan of Radu Lecca, Romanian commissar for Jewish affairs, “during the evacuation special efforts should be made to keep children under sixteen with their parents.” The plan of the German diplomat Gustav Richter, on the other hand, allowed for children up to the age of 14 to remain with their parents [Ioanid p. 244]. If all the Jews were to be killed quibbling over such matters makes absolutely no sense. In that case, the Germans could have truthfully promised that all the Jews could stay together, as they would all end up in the same graves or on the same pyres.

The plan also called for the separation of those capable of work from the others. As Eichmann wrote on 26 July 1942, “Political and technical preparations for a solution to the Jewish question in Romania have been completed… It is planned to remove the Jews of Romania in a series of transports beginning approximately September 10, 1942, to the district of Lublin, where the employable segment will be allocated for labor utilization while the remainder will be subjected to special treatment” [Hilberg pp. 840-841, citing NG-3985]. Longerich cites (p. 366) a message from Ambassador Manfred von Killinger of 12 August 1942 on the transports from Romania to the Lublin district: ‘the part that was fit for work will be deployed in a work programme, and the rest subjected to special treatment.’ Orthodox historians will of course interpret special treatment to mean killing, but even with this interpretation the material is problematic for them, as at Belzec all Jews are supposed to have been killed, without distinction between those capable of work and the rest.

Hilberg also notes (p. 842) that in preparation for the deportation lists of Jews by occupation were drawn up – yet more camouflage, allegedly.

Longerich (p. 370) states the following: “Towards the end of the year, the RSHA decided to postpone the deportations from Romania to the following spring. On 14 December, Luther described this postponement to the German embassy in Sofia as not very serious, as the ‘deportation’ (Abtransport) was ‘not in any case desirable during the main winter months’. Things should be kept ‘in flux’ so that at the beginning of spring ‘one could expect the measures to continue’.” This makes little sense from the perspective of extermination, as the gas chambers would not have been hampered by the cold, and according to the holocaust story burial (at Treblinka) and burning (at Belzec) proceeded very well in the winter months. From the perspective of labor utilization, however, Luther’s remark makes perfect sense, as many construction projects would have been slowed or halted entirely during the winter.

3. Terminology and coded language.
A number of terms are said to have served as coded language for killing. The Romanian context gives us a number of examples where these same terms are clearly used literally, in particular with reference to the evacuations to Transnitria carried out by the Romanians. The terminology used in what were incontestably deportations is identical with that used for the transports to the alleged killing centers. Here are some examples.

uses conceded by orthodox historians to refer to deportations:
Ancel p. 370 Jan 17 deportation from Odessa referred to as evacuation [Ancel believes that many of the Odessa evacuees were later massacred, but concedes that the evacuation itself was really an evacuation]
Ancel p. 371 “as of 22 January 12,234 Jews have been evacuated” from Odessa.
Ancel p. 363 a reference to “subsequent executions during the evacuation of the Jews from Odessa and their transfer to the Germans”
Ancel p. 627 note 22. certain Jews “will be evacuated to the concentration zones immediately after their release from quarantine”
Solonari p. 205 Hitler Antonescu agreement of August 30, 1941: “Deportation (German) / evacuation (Romanian) of Jews across the Bug is not possible at present. Consequently, they have to be concentrated in labor camps and used for works until after the termination of hostilities, when their evacuation to the East will be possible.”
Solonari p. 205 Instructions from General Toper for an evacuation beginning September 10.
Solonari p. 210 a report critical of the government mentions the evacuations (which were undisputedly just deportations).
Ioanid p. 250 Lecca stated on 29 December 1942 that “I consider that the Jews should be interned in labor camps in Romania rather than in Transnitria, because the Jews are going to be evacuated from that province.”

Note that the last of these refers to the time after the Belzec deportation plan was halted, and Romanian policy became somewhat more generous towards the Jews, aiming to aid the Jewish deportees “who have suffered severe circumstances… along the Bug” [Ioanid p. 247]. The others refer to the period before the plan for deportations to Belzec.

uses which orthodox historians contend refer to extermination:
On 22 July 1942 Mihai Antonescu informed Killinger in writing of his agreement “to the evacuation of all Romanian Jews and the immediate transfer of the Jews from the Arad, Timisoara and Turda districts” [Ancel p. 478.]
On 11 September 1942 Radu Lecca presented Mihai Antonescu, his immediate superior, with the Romanian plan “for the evacuation of the Jewish population from Banat and from the border areas in the west.” [Ancel p. 481]
It is clear from Lecca’s laconic answer that he assumed Dragos was in the know: “Our plan calls for the evacuation to Poland of all Jews who are not useful to the national economy.” [Ancel p. 482]
Antonescu again speaks of evacuation of Jews [Ancel p. 482]
Radu Lecca states that “During the evacuation special efforts should be made to keep children under sixteen with their parents” [Ioanid p. 244].

All of these concern the plans for deportations to Belzec.

evacuation in other contexts:
Solonari p. 184 the hardliner Manuila states that “a definitive solution cannot be achieved in any other way than the evacuation of Ukrainians from Bukovina and Bessarabia.” I would have assumed that holocaust historians do not believe he was intending to kill all the Ukrainians of these territories, but Solonari makes a remark in his endnote for this quotation in which he puts evacuation in quotation marks, so maybe he does think this is a proposal to kill all of these Ukrainians. Or maybe he is simply observing that evacuation is a euphemism for deportation.

Ioanid p. 242 on 8/8/42 the Belgrade publication Donauzeitung published an article “Jewish Resettlement in Romania” (this during the period of the Belzec deportation plan)
Solonari p. 182 cites a German event report dated August 1, 1941 which states that “Either Bukovina will be divided according to the national point of view or the resettlement of the Ukrainians residing here sill ensue. Otherwise it will come to the long lasting conflict between Ukraine and Romania.”
Ancel p. 363 Gustav Richter demands in May 1941 that the Jewish Center set up a resettlement fund [Ancel says that the German is Aussiedlungsfond, and translates it as emigration fund].

There are many references in the Romanian context to deportations “over the Bug” or “across the Bug,” all of which are clearly literal. For instance:
Solonari p. 205 Hitler Antonescu agreement of August 30, 1941: “Deportation (German) / evacuation (Romanian) of Jews across the Bug is not possible at present. Consequently, they have to be concentrated in labor camps and used for works until after the termination of hostilities, when their evacuation to the East will be possible.”

Of course, the river Bug in question in the Romanian context is the south Bug, not the Bug which is near the Reinhardt camps.

The interpretation of the term “liquidation” is sometimes also disputed. The newspaper Porunca Vremii carried an article that stated “The liquidation of the Jews in Romania has entered the final, decisive phase” with reference to what were undisputedly deportations [Ioanid p. 122]. Mihai Antonescu referred to “the liquidation of the Jewish problem” in February 1942, well before the Belzec plan was established (Solonari p. 293). There is a note of October 17, 1941, probably by Gustav Richter, that states that “110,000 Jews are being evacuated from the Bukovina and Bessarabia into two forests in the Bug River area… Purpose of the action is the liquidation of these Jews” (Hilberg p. 826). The note contains “evacuation,” “action,” and “liquidation,” but the events it refers to are known not to have been exterminations, even according to orthodox holocaust historians.

According to Ancel (p. 364) the Romanians had a coded language of their own, using phrases like “turned into little angels,” “completing inquiries,” and “final interrogation.” However, “the euphemisms were mainly used in connection with non-Jewish suspects and partisans. The extermination of the Jews was always reported verbally, never in writing.”

4. Antonescu was prone to use violent rhetoric, but he used that even at times when he was engaged in actions that were not extermination even according to the official version. Nor was he the only one: Ambassador Manfred von Killinger stated that “the ruling strata and the bourgeoisie of Romania are against us. If it were up to me, I would douse the entire Romanian bourgeoisie with gasoline” [Ioanid p. 241]. Did von Killinger plan to exterminate the Romanian bourgeoisie? Of course not. This is simply oppositional rhetoric, and it implies nothing about his plans. Neither do the statements of German authorities that are said to be “announcements of extermination.”

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1 Response to Notes on the holocaust in Romania

  1. Unom Nacajit says:

    Search for “History of Romania part 15 – Holocaust” on youtube to see the lies of the anti-Romanian propaganda exposed.

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