The majority of Romanians still believe that Nazi Germany was responsible for the Holocaust in Romania, according to a poll presented by Alexandru Florian, the director of the Elie Wiesel Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania. reports Romanian news agency Agerpres.
In the summer of 1941, officially more than 13,000 people were massacred in Iaşi (Jászvásár in Hungarian and Jassenmarkt in German), a town in eastern Romania close to the Moldavian border, in a pogrom launched by governmental forces.
According to Alexandru Florian, the results of the poll, conducted by the Avangarde Socio-Behavioral Studies Group show that nothing has changed since 2004 – when the report of the Wiesel Commission was released – and “the same myth, the same prejudice, the same lack of knowledge of history” exists Romanian society.
72 percent of respondents said that Hitler and the German government at the time were responsible for the Holocaust in Romania, which is “completely unhistorical and inconsistent with the documents available to anyone today.”
– said Florian.
On June 27, 1941, Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu telephoned Major Constantin Lupu, commander of the Iași garrison, telling him formally to “cleanse Iași of its Jewish population.”
Following this, at least 8,000 people were killed on the spot, and a further 5,000 were arrested by the authorities and forced onto trains. Many Jews died of thirst, starvation and suffocation aboard two trains that spent eight days traveling back and forth across the countryside. The pogrom was the most intense between June 28 and 29, but it also continued in the following days.
Despite all this, according to Alexandru Florian, only 57 percent of the respondents hold Ion Antonescu, who was the head of the Romanian state during those years, responsible for the Romanian Holocaust. Meanwhile, 15 percent blame the Soviet Union; 5 percent blame King Mihai, the Romanian king at the time; and 13 percent consider the Jews themselves responsible for the pogrom against them.
“From this point of view, I consider that education in Romania in 2021 is a failure.”
– said the director. He also added that mistakes caused by the imperfect knowledge of history can be observed even among academic historians, as one of the three textbooks on the market for 8th graders includes the information from a now deceased historian that Nazi Germany was responsible for the Iaşi pogrom.
The survey points out that 75 percent of respondents are familiar with the meaning of the term Holocaust, but 35 percent of Romanians “know nothing” about who was responsible for the Holocaust in Romania.
The survey was conducted via phone, between April 28 and May 7, at the national level; a sample of 900 random people was chosen from the adult population of Romania.
Title image: Director of the Elie Wiesel Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania Alexandru Florian (in the middle) during the “Hitler or Antonescu is responsible for the Holocaust in Romania?!” press conference on May 12, 2021, organized at the institute’s headquarters. (Photo: Mihai Poziumschi/Agerpres)