Tag: Bucharest Kristalnacht

Baruch Cohen: ROMANIA’S HOLOCAUST 1940

“I was born in Bucharest to a non-practicing Jewish family. My knowledge of and interest in Judaism came from observing the traditions while visiting my maternal grandparents in Cernovitz. However, I was only able to truly understand the full implications of being Jewish, when I was preparing to enter my second year of high school. At that time, my parents were advised that under the new racial laws of Romania, my attendance at school was not only undesirable, but also prohibited by Antonescu’s laws against the Jews.

“Due to these restrictions, my father (Follender) was dismissed from his job. Other family members also lost their employment and their businesses, as a result of the intensifying anti-Semitic legislation. Soon everyone began to feel the economic repercussions. My family was forced to start selling their jewelry, furs and other valuables, in order to purchase the basic necessities of life.

“In a very short time, the formerly middle-class family found itself in a terrible state of uncertainty, economically stranded and in fear for its future. The news about Jews being plundered, beaten and murdered throughout Romania and in certain areas of Bucharest became a reality during the Rebellion of the Legionnaires in 1941.”

–Sonia Palty, “Jews, Cross the Dniester!” in Felicia (Steigman) Carmelly, Shattered! 50 Years of Silence: History and Voices of the Tragedy in Romania and Transnistria (Scarborough: Abbeyfield), 328.

A year after denying that the mass murder of Jews took place on Romanian territory, Romania’s president Ion Iliescu fjnally acknowledged his nation’s role in the Holocaust (Montreal Gazette, June 14, 2003, November 12, 2004). “The Holocaust tragedy was possible due to the complicity of leaders of state institutions,” he admitted. President Iliescu then announced the establishment of a national memorial day for the Holocaust victims: October 9.

Elie Wiesel, himself a Holocaust survivor, headed a commission to investigate the Holocaust in Romania. In presenting the commission’s results, he said: “I didn’t know there was so much brutality, that the anti-Semitism was such a pure anti-Semitism, with nothing to do with racism or economics. Why did it take so long for me to learn that.”

There was no mass deportation to Auschwitz from Romania proper, but that does not mean that there was not a Holocaust in Romania. The anti-Semitic legislation in Romania started in December 1937, and even before this began, Jews were subjected to severe policies of discrimination and exclusion from Romanian society. Many Romanian men of letters or representatives of the Romanian orthodox clergy contributed to the negative image of the Jew in the conscience of that epoch. By the beginning of his rule in November 1940, Ion Antonescu had already elaborated his policies toward Jews in schools, and in the army, from literature and from the Christian religion: “The Yids…are guilty of most of the misfortunes of this country” (Pe Marginea Prapastiei, Volume 1, Bucharest, 1941–in Romanian.)

On August 3, 1995, the  Gazette began to publish the first horrific accounts of Romanian Holocaust survivors (see “Survivors of Romanian killing fields form Holocaust group.”) I am a Holocaust survivor of the January 21-23, 1941 pogrom, which I call the “Bucharest Kristallnacht.” For three days (January 24, 25, and 26, 1941) I searched for my missing father. I searched the Bucharest slaughter house, and saw bodies with “Kosher Meat” tags hanging from their bellies. I visited the morgue and the Jilava forest outside Bucharest, where the corpses were lying. Luckily, my father had gone  into hiding, in the home of a righteous gentile, and survived.

I do not care what President Iliescu, or the commission, thinks. The uncovering of the terrible atrocities Romanian Jews endured has been long overdue. In the Iasi pogrom of June 28-July 6, 1941, 13,000 Jews were killed; in autumn 1941, over 250,000 Jews were deported and murdered in the Transnistria killing fields. Thousands of Jews deported from cities like Viznitza, Licpani, Nova Sulitza, Soroca, Vertujeni, Dorohoi, Hertza, Podul Iloaye, Ploesti, Craiova, Concesht, Hunedoara, Brashov, Timishoara, Arad, Mogilev, Shargorod, Dubossary and Peciora. My wife’s grandmother perished during a “death march” toward Transnistria; she was shot dead by a Romanian soldier. The rest of the family had to continue marching. Many others were beaten and tortured by the Romanian Army. It is a little late to begin talking about responsibility now.

I am now 85 years old. How many survivors are left to hear President Iliescu’s acknowledgement of Romania’s complicity in the Holocaust? There were close to 800,000 Romanian Jews before World War II started. In 1950, their number was around 300,000. Today, there are only 6000-8000 Jews in Romania, most of them elderly and frail, but antisemitism is alive and well. The Romanian media and television glorify the Iron Guard, spreading their fascist venom. In Romanian schools and universities, there is no curriculum to teach the new generation about the role played by Romanian authorities and the Romanian army in persecuting, humiliating, deporting, and killing their Jewish citizens.

Finally, it is long overdue for President Iliescu to acknowledge the crimes committed against Romanian Jewish citizens in the period of 1940-1944 by the Romanian army and Romanian authorities. It is crucial that the commission’s 400-page document be made available to the Romanian people, and it must be taught in all Romanian schools and universities. This document must be a permanent chapter in the Romanian history of the years 1940-1944. The Romanian Holocaust, its crimes against the Romanian Jews, was possible only with the complicity of leaders of the Romanian state institutions. To raise a new generation educated about that horrible past–in order to eliminate the “teaching of contempt” forever–is now imperative.

Romania’s annual October 9 commemoration, even if it is observed, will not mean much without a sincere and detailed enumeration of the crimes committed during those tragic years, a period which taints the history of contemporary, modern Romania. The full disclosure of the commission report must be the basis of all future curricula, in all the state and private educational institutions in Romania. The Romanian authorities must also ensure the payment of restitution for all Jewish properties, stolen or confiscated by the Romanian state during the Holocaust years 1940-1944. Now that Romania is to become a NATO partner by 2007, Romania must provide a clear balance of payments, moral and material, for the crimes and theft committed in the years 1940-1944. A still-tainted Romanian state has no place in the West’s NATO alliance.

*Baruch Cohen z”l, the Canadian Institute or Jewish Research’s ’s long-time Research Chairman, passed away at 98 on October,3, 2018.   An  active member of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, he was a major figure in the successful campaign to throw light on the long-neglected reality of the Holocaust in Romania. This article, originally published by CIJR in 2004, commemorates the anniversary of the ‘Bucharest Ktistallnacht” antisemitic pogrom of  January 21-23, 1940.  {See the “Link” section below for a video of Baruch Cohen speaking on this issue.)



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Mordechai kedarMordechai Kedar

Post-Election Israel in a
Dangerous & Turbulent Middle East

Dr. Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli scholar of Arabic literature & lecturer at Bar Ilan University.  Dr. Kedar served for 25 years in the IDF Military Intelligence, where he specializes in Islamic groups, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic press & mass media &  the Syrian domestic arena. 
Jan 27, 2013 @ 7:30 PM
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(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)


Bucharest Kristallnacht – January 21 – 23, 1941: Baruch Cohen—Seventy-two years later the echo of the Bucharest pogrom is still with me today. The “night of broken glass”, the burned-down synagogues, the number of dead, still uncounted…January 21 – 23, 1941. I lived it then, and I live it today!


Italian Jewish MP Quitting Politics, Making Aliya: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 18, 2013—Fiamma Nirenstein has had a distinguished career as a legislator and a deputy. She has gone to great lengths to combat terrorism in Europe, as well as anti- Semitism and racism. Nirenstein, who has been a frequent visitor to Israel, summed up her commitment to Zionism: ”Love for life in Israel is everywhere.”

Israel Welcomes 2,000th India Bnei Menashe Oleh: Laura Kelly, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 17, 2013—"This has been my peoples' dream for thousands of years," says 18-year-old Mirna Singsit upon her arrival.

Jihad in America: The Grand Deception, Steve Emerson on Fox News: Steve Emerson, Investigative Project on Terrorism, January 4, 2013—The documentary is called The Grand Deception and it describes what the film makers call the dual nature of the Muslim Brotherhood. To the outside world it tries to present a moderate image, claim the film makers, all the while hiding more radical goals including goals for America.


On Topic Links


What Judea & Samaria Mean to the Jewish People: Brandon Marlon, Jewish Press, Jan.17, 2013


Is Israel’s Electoral System Just Fine the Way it is?: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, January 18, 2013

Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman Dies at 70: Elad Benari, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 18, 2013

‘Dear Abby’ Advice Columnist Dies at Age 94: Steve Karnowski, Times of Israel, January 18, 2013






January 21 – 23, 1941

Baruch Cohen

In memory of beloved “Malca” – z”l


Seventy-two years later the echo of the Bucharest pogrom is still with me today. The “night of broken glass”, the burned-down synagogues, the number of dead, still uncounted…January 21 – 23, 1941. I lived it then, and I live it today!


Emil Dorian in his book The Quality of Witness – a Romanian Diary of 1937 -1944 (p. 138-139)


What happened in Vacaresti, Dudesti and surrounding neighbourhoods is indescribable [my emphasis].  A madness of destruction and crime descended on the ghetto. Everything that could be carried out of the house was stolen, the owners beaten, some murdered. A synagogue has been destroyed to the ground. They set it on fire with cans of gasoline placed in four corners and the looters danced by the flames! On the road to Jilava dozens of corpses have been found, their identification papers scattered about….


Mihail Sebastian in his book, Journal 1935-1944, writes:


In its hooliganistic, antisemitic excess, the pogrom could be said to be Romania’s equivalent to Germany’s Kristallnacht. (p. 15, “Introduction”)


            January 24…I heard from Alice that Vacaresti and Dudesti districts (the Jewish neighbourhoods) had been set on fire and looted during the night. The same seems to have happened in Calea Rahovei and many other parts of the city. (p. 308)


Zachor! Remember!: January 21 – 23, 1941, Bucharest



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Benjamin Weinthal

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 18, 2013


The vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Fiamma Nirenstein, on Thursday announced her decision to make aliya. Nirenstein said she doesn’t plan to run again in the Italian elections and in addition to making aliya, will return to her career as a professional journalist.


“I am going back to journalism and to Israel,” said Nirenstein, adding that these were “the two best things” in her life Asked by the Italian newspaper Il Giornale about her plans, Nirenstein said: “I want to come back to Israel and also to apply for citizenship.”


She said she plans to make her application for citizenship on January 27 because it marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. She noted that “everybody can see that unfortunately anti-Semitism is still growing worldwide, and Israel is the only warm homeland for the Jewish people.”


Nirenstein has had a distinguished career as a legislator and a deputy. She has gone to great lengths to combat terrorism in Europe, as well as anti- Semitism and racism. She has pursued legislation and queries with a view toward pushing the European Union and the Italian government to ban Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps within the EU’s territories. And she has advocated that the IRGC and Hezbollah be listed as terror groups on the EU list of outlawed terrorist entities.


During Operation Pillar of Defense in November, Nirenstein, who served as parliamentarian for Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party and was elected to office in 2008, spoke at a large pro-Israel demonstration in the heart of Rome.


She was born in 1945 in Florence, and is a prolific author of books and articles on the Jewish people, democracy, Israel and anti-Semitism.


Nirenstein told the Italian paper that she believes “that Israel is today the best country able to offer culture, sociality, democracy, morality; a country where people adopted a lifestyle simple and natural,” and where its people are united as a family in “their fight for survival, and in their great love for their country.”


Nirenstein serves as chairwoman of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians. Pro-Israel advocates say her passionate activism has helped strengthen the alliance between the EU and Israel on core security and economic matters. Nirenstein, who has been a frequent visitor to Israel, summed up her commitment to Zionism: ”Love for life in Israel is everywhere.”



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Laura Kelly

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 17, 2013


Israel welcomed its 2,000th member of the Bnei Menashe community on Thursday, when a flight carrying 53 of the tribe’s members from Manipur, India, touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport. The Bnei Menashe claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, sent into exile for more than 27 centuries. The community has always observed Shabbat and kept kosher.


Today the Bnei Menashe numbers around 7,000 and resides in India’s northeastern border states of Manipur and Mizoram. Prior to the current aliya, there were 1,725 Bnei Menashe in Israel. Most of the community resides in Acre and Migdal Ha’emek.


“I’m so very happy right now,” said 18-year-old Mirna Singsit, who was presented with a certificate acknowledging her as the 2,000th Bnei Menashe oleh. “Not only has this been my dream since I was born, but it has been my peoples’ dream for thousands of years.”


Singsit came to Israel with her parents and three brothers, but left behind a grandparent, four uncles and two aunts. She hopes to continue her education in Israel, studying for her bachelors degree in political science. Singsit wants to live in Jerusalem, “the Holiest place on earth,” she said.


After a five year hiatus, the Bnei Menashe aliya program was restarted following a unanimous decision by the Israeli cabinet last October, a move which was championed by Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, who pushed for its approval.


The aliya program was frozen in 2007 by the Olmert government after members of the cabinet, in particular interior minister Meir Sheetrit, opposed it. Over the past month, immigrants arrived on five flights facilitated by Shavei Israel, a nonprofit organization aimed at strengthening ties with Jewish descendants around the world. “This is an emotional day for all of us,” said Shavei Israel chairman Michael Freund. “But we will not rest until all the remaining Bnei Menashe still in India are able to make aliya as well.”


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Steve Emerson

Investigative Project on Terrorism, January 4, 2013

Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly: Well there's a new film coming out that takes a look at a group called the Muslim Brotherhood and its influence around the world and here at home. The documentary is called The Grand Deception and it describes what the film makers call the dual nature of the Muslim Brotherhood. To the outside world it tries to present a moderate image, claim the film makers, all the while hiding more radical goals including goals for America. Here's a clip from the trailer. (Watch trailer here)


Nathan Garrett: The Muslim Brotherhood is an international movement the goal of which is to create an Islamic state universally all over the world.


Mamoun Fandy: In my mind the Muslim Brotherhood is the mother of all
Islamic organization of the 20th century including Al Qaeda.


Abdel Malik Ali: Democracy does not equal freedom. No, we don't want to democratize Islam, we want to Islamize democracy.


Abdur-Rahman Muhammad: They believe that Western civilization is corrupt, is evil, is decadent and they want to dismantle it.


Kelly: Joining me now is the film's producer, Steve Emerson. He's also the founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Steve, welcome back to the program. So what is this about? Is it about the Muslim Brotherhood in America or around the world?


Emerson: Well it's primarily about the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic offshoots in the United States that hide under the moniker of being 'civil rights groups' or innocent religious groups, but in fact have an ulterior agenda and are members of the larger Muslim Brotherhood infrastructure. In fact all we did was to video secretly behind closed doors radical rallies of Muslim Brotherhood organizations in the United States and capture their statements in which they talk about supporting jihad, supporting taking over the United States, supporting terrorism, calling the United States an anti-Muslim power, and claiming that all arrests since 9/11 were fabricated. And then publicly before the news cameras, before the New York Times or on television they claim that they're against terrorism, they claim they're for peace and for love and that they're for moderation. But in fact it's a grand deception. And the reason I call the movie The Grand Deception is that it actually comes from an FBI wire tap of radical Islamic members of Hamas secretly meeting in Philadelphia in 1993 in which they openly talk about the use of deception to fool the American public into making the public believe that they're actually moderate when they really are supporters of Hamas, a notorious terrorist group.


Kelly: There is a sound bite in the film from the director of the Islamic Society of North America that speaks to the points you just raised. I want to play that for the viewers now. This is sound bite number three. Clip:


Sayyid Syeed: Our job is to change the Constitution of America.


Doug Farah: There is a systematic plan to establish an Islamist beach head in the United States with the eventual goal of watching the United States crumble from within and establishing the Islamic rule in this country.


Kelly: Is this present day, Steve?


Emerson: Absolutely. Look, they know they have to clean up their act and they did since 9/11, since the language they were using before 9/11 was too incendiary and they didn't think anybody was watching. Now they know people are watching. But we still go behind closed doors. My organization, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, sends in dozens of informants every month to record secretly what goes on behind closed doors, and the proof is in the pudding. The man who just said we have to change the Constitution is speaking at a rally actually, where the head of the American Muslim Council, a man named Mr. Alamoudi, who for 13 years was invited to the White House, the CIA, the FBI, he testified at Congress, and yet in 2003 he was arrested for a conspiracy involving Al Qaeda to murder the head of Saudi Arabia. And in the indictment, it showed that for the previous eight years while he had access to the White House, while he had access to the FBI, while he was sent abroad by the State Department, he was secretly a member of and a courier for Hamas and Al Qaeda. This is the deception.


Kelly: I want to talk to you about one of the more shocking clips in the documentary of this man who was giving the invocation before the US Congress and then shortly thereafter talks about the US being a garbage can. Clip:


Siraj Wahhaj: In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful, guide the leaders of this nation who have been given a great responsibility in worldly affairs, guide them and grant them righteousness and wisdom.


Siraj Wahhaj: You want to defend this country. You know what this country is? It's a garbage can. Filthy, filthy and sick.


Kelly: Who was that guy?

Emerson: Siraj Wahhaj is a major imam from Brooklyn who was the first Muslim to open the invocation in Congress in 1991, but in fact is a very, very radical militant Muslim cleric who has called for jihad, he has supported terrorism. In fact he was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case. And believe it or not, despite all that has come out including his unindicted status, to this very day he is still being invited to and paid for by US government agencies to speak at counterterrorism conferences. This is just one example in the film. There are dozens of other examples where radical Islamic groups, and when I say radical Islamic groups or Muslim Brotherhood groups, it's not me defining them. We're using the words that they themselves use.


Kelly: Is there a difference because we are told that the Muslim Brotherhood, some factions of it, are much more moderate. This I give you from the New York Times – “it is at its core a middle class missionary institution led not by religious scholars but by doctors, lawyers and professionals.” We were told over in Egypt that that's what the Muslim Brotherhood looked like, not so much these radicals.


Emerson: In fact they are doctors and lawyers and engineers. They are the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is made up mostly of its leaders – Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri, the number two of al Qaeda after the deceased Osama bin Laden, was a pediatrician, a surgeon. So in fact the Muslim Brotherhood is a totalitarian regime. There's no doubt about it. It's what they say themselves, what they say on their web sites, what they say in speeches that we have on the film. But then before the New York Times which pretends that they are simply political and moderate, they present themselves with a façade of being peaceful. Nothing could be further from the truth and that's the basic essence of the film is to show the duplicity of how these groups pretend to be moderate but behind closed doors are as radical as the Ku Klux Klan.



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Is Israel’s Electoral System Just Fine the Way it is?: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, January 18, 2013—In a new 165-page book, “It’s Not the Electoral System, Stupid! Or: Why the Israeli Electoral System Is No Worse Than Others and Should Not Be Changed,” Einat Wilf, formerly Shimon Peres’s foreign policy adviser, engages in an eye-opening study of comparative politics that challenges the accepted notion that things would be so much better if only Israel would amend its voting process.


What Judea & Samaria Mean to the Jewish People: Brandon Marlon, Jewish Press, Jan.17, 2013—For Jews, the ancient tribal territories of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and west Menasheh – a.k.a. Judea and Samaria or the West Bank – form the very heartland of the homeland. Sadly, ceding these central areas to the Arabs remains a political possibility and far too many Jews who are disconnected from their history and heritage are wholly unaware of what these crucial regions of the Land of Israel mean to Jewry collectively.


‘Dear Abby’ advice columnist dies at age 94: Steve Karnowski, Times of Israel, January 18, 2013—Pauline Friedman Phillips, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, gave advice on love to readers of 1,000 newspapers worldwide. Phillips, who as “Dear Abby” dispensed snappy, sometimes saucy advice on love, marriage and meddling mothers-in-law to millions of newspaper readers around the world, has died. She was 94.


Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman Dies at 70: Elad Benari, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 18, 2013—Ariel mayor Ron Nachman died on Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Nachman, one of the most prominent Jewish leaders in Judea and Samaria, was elected to the 13th Knesset as part of the Likud party and was a member of the Finance Committee and the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.




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