JEWS IN ROMANIA
Before the Holocaust and the Communist regime, there were over 800,000 Jews in Romania. Today, there are around 7,000.
During World War II, no one other than Nazi Germany was responsible for systematically murdering more of its own population than the Romanian government. The pogrom in Iasi in June, 1941 is one of the worst in our history. During the Communist reign, Romanian Jews actually enjoyed a more tolerant lifestyle than most of their counterparts behind the Iron Curtain. However, the population continued to diminish as many emigrated to Israel. Nicolae Ceausescu was guilty of accepting money from the Israel government for each person he allowed to leave Romania.
The Romanian government is just beginning to acknowledge their role in the Holocaust. I learned that until 2004, it was not even in the history schoolbooks.
They are starting to make progress. The memorial to the 125 killed in the Bucharest pogrom was unveiled literally 2 days before I arrived.
Perhaps the most telling experience of the trip was a walk through the Filantropia Cemetary. Here, more than 29,000 Jews are buried. The groundskeeper tells me that 98% of the graves have no family members alive. Plants and trees grow wildly across the ground.
There is simply no one to care for the deceased.
Formal information and research on Jews in Romania, particularly the history of Filantropia Cemetary, was extremely difficult to verify. All information here was gathered by speaking to several people on site, as well as a handful of articles online. If you are able to provide more information, please reach out!
My time spent visiting the Jewish areas of Bucharest was part of my larger trip to Bulgaria and Romania. See the rest of the trip here: