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The Roma: a Minority in Europe

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Roni Stauber
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Raphael Vago

Romanian Public Reaction to the Deportation of Gypsies to Transnistria

Viorel Achim

Texte intégral

INTRODUCTION

  • 1 On the deportation of the Gypsies to Transnistria, see Viorel Achim, “Ţiganii din România în timpu (...)

1During World War II thousands of Gypsies living in Romania were deported by the Antonescu government to the Soviet territories between the Dniester and the Bug rivers where many of them were killed or died of hunger, cold or disease.1 Marshal Antonescu himself took the decision of ‘evacuating’ Gypsies to that region. Initially, the government’s measures were intended to affect all those Gypsies registered as ‘problem’ elements, based on a survey conducted by police and gendarmes on 25 May 1942. The survey encompassed nonsettled Gypsies and, among settled ones, those with a criminal record, recidivists, those who made a living out of theft, and those with no visible means of support. In all, 40,909, including the above categories and their families, were blacklisted. This represented 20 percent of the 208,700 Gypsies living within Romania’s 1942 boundaries—as estimated by the Central Institute of Statistics. However, not all those listed as ‘problem’ cases were deported, because soldiers and potential recruits together with their families, although originally singled out for deportation, were eventually exempted. Apart from a small number, all of the more than 25,000 Gypsies ‘evacuated’ to Transnistria appeared on the list made at the end of May.

2The 25,000 deported during the summer and fall of 1942 fell into two main categories: (1) 11,441 were nomads (any Gypsy that had no fixed abode was lumped into this category). They were deported during an operation that took place from 1 June to 15 August 1942. (2) Approximately 14,000 were settled Gypsies, but deemed by the authorities too “dangerous and undesirable” because they belonged to the categories registered in May 1942. The majority, 13,176, were deported in September 1942 and several hundred others later on. Families were deported in toto.

3On 13 October 1942, the Council of Ministers decided to suspend the deportations of Jews and Gypsies to Transnistria, probably out of foreign policy considerations. Nevertheless, a few were deported even after that date. By the time the Romanian occupation authorities pulled out of Transnistria in March 1944 and the deportees were allowed to return, some 11,000 of the 25,000 had died. This was the total Gypsy loss in Romania during the war as an outcome of the authorities’ persecutions.

  • 2 On the objectives of the government’s deportation of the Gypsies, see V. Achim, “The Antonescu Gov (...)

4Without elaborating on what the authorities expected to achieve by deporting Gypsies, it would seem that the decision derived from the government’s ethnic policy, or more specifically, from its project of homogenizing the population in ethnic terms.2 The May 1942 ‘selection’ and the deportation that followed would appear to refer only to the Gypsies who lived in the ‘gypsy way.’ The rest were not targeted, probably because they were perceived as being integrated into Romanian society.

5The aim of this essay is to examine the Romanian response to the deportation of Gypsies to Transnistria. More specifically, the intention is to clarify whether the Romanian majority supported the authorities’ policy with respect to the Gypsies.

ROMANIAN REACTIONS TO THE DEPORTATIONS

  • 3 See Achim, Ţiganii în istoria României, pp. 141–2.

6The following assessment of the attitude of Romanian public opinion is based on documented findings that the ordinary Romanian believed the government was deporting only ‘problem’ Gypsies, that is, nomads, former convicts, thieves, beggars, those who had no legal trade or occupation and those who were extremely poor. The local authorities—gendarmes, police and the mayor’s office—which carried out the deportation orders also had no idea about the government’s real goal, which was ethnically motivated. At the local level, all they knew was that Gypsies whose way of life or actions disturbed the ‘public order,’ or what was considered public order at the time, were deported. This does not mean that there were no cases of people deported who did not fit the criteria of the May 1942 survey. Among the deportees were families of soldiers, potential recruits and their families, and people with a profession, as well as some Romanians, Turks and Hungarians. These were the so-called abuses committed by the gendarmes and policemen charged with carrying out the deportations. Following an investigation in Transnistria in December 1942, 1,261 persons were repatriated.3 Like the local authorities, the public considered the deportation of the Gypsies to be a measure of social rather than ethnic cleansing. Thus, when the public took a stand on this issue, they judged it in terms of what they thought was the authorities’ objective.

  • 4 Jean Ancel (ed.), Documents Concerning the Fate of Romanian Jewry During the Holocaust, Vol. IV, ( (...)
  • 5 Refers to the alleged hostile behavior of the Jewish population during the withdrawal of the Roman (...)

7It should be made clear from the outset that we are discussing the common people, ordinary Romanians living in the towns and villages, not politicians or cultural figures who voiced their opinions on Antonescu’s measures. When politicians protested against deportation, indeed, they did so for moral reasons—repelled by the cruelty of the treatment—but also mainly out of concern about the consequences this policy might have on interethnic relations at home and on Romania’s international status. A letter dated 16 September 1942, written by Constantin I. C. Brătianu, leader of the National Liberal Party, to Antonescu on the issue of the Gypsies’ deportation illustrates this point.4 In addition to his objection on humanitarian grounds—the deportation of the Gypsies, he said, was a barbaric act that “will throw us several centuries back in human history”—his protest was primarily of a political nature. Seeking to dissociate himself from Antonescu’s decision, Brătianu emphasized that the marshal alone would be responsible for that policy, for which there had been no precedent under previous governments. “These Romanian citizens in our state had not been subjected to any special treatment until now,” he said. In this context he also referred to “the persecutions and expulsion of the Jews in retaliation for the [alleged] acts of their Bukovina and Bessarabia coreligionists5 and influenced by the treatment inflicted on them in Germany.” Here again his desire to defend the image of the Romanian state and nation is evident.

8As will be seen below, members of the public never bothered with political arguments. However, Brătianu’s letter also contended that the deportation of the Gypsies would have a negative impact on the domestic economy, a consideration ordinary citizens cared about and often mentioned in their own appeals against the government decision.

  • 6 For instance, in March 1943, Ştefan Irimescu from Bucharest wrote to the governor of Transnistria (...)
  • 7 For example, in October 1942, the management of the Romanian Railroad Company (CFR) interceded wit (...)

9The intercessions in favor of the Gypsies by major landowners6 and company managers7 are also beyond the scope of this paper. There were such interventions in support of workers of Gypsy descent who had either been deported—in which case their employers would request their repatriation—or were about to be deported, or feared they might be—in which case someone would ask for an exemption. Such petitions, however, must be taken together with those of the common people, since Gypsies played a central economic role in the lives of both. The deportation of the Gypsies led to farmhand shortages in several areas, even beyond the large southern Romania estates where they usually did most of the seasonal work. The war was increasing the economic importance of the Gypsies both in agriculture and in craftwork, and the petitions some Romanian landowners and common people filed for their repatriation cited their practical utility as a main reason.

10A relatively large number of documents reflecting Romanians’ views on the deportation of Gypsies have been preserved in various archives, particularly those of institutions such as the Council of Ministers, Ministry of the Interior, the General Inspectorate of the Gendarmerie, and the General Directorate of Police, all of which directly enforced the policy regarding Gypsies and organized the deportations to Transnistria.

  • 8 ANIC, DGP, dosar 188/1942, p. 203.

11Some of these documents expressed animosity against the deportees or the remaining Gypsies. On 22 June 1942, Captain N. Dogaru,8 a retired officer from Târgu Jiu demanded “on behalf of the population” that steps be taken against Gypsies living in two local neighborhoods. The captain asked the General Directorate of Police to send in an inquiry commission, “to see for yourselves the filth they [the Gypsies] live in, the way they deface Târgu Jiu, the trouble and robberies to which some neighborhoods are exposed, and decide to rid our beautiful Gorj county town of them.” He continued:

We think the government’s colonization measures are a good opportunity and that the Gypsies in Târgu Jiu should be among the first to go. Alternatively, the municipality of Târgu Jiu and the Prefecture of Gorj County could find a commune in our county, round them up from the entire territory of the county, and colonize them there, turn them into a village where they can be put to work under stern supervision and control.

  • 9 A list of them can be found in ANIC, fond Inspectoratul General al Jandarmeriei (IGJ), dosar 126/1 (...)

12Thus, the captain suggested as a solution that local Gypsies be either ‘colonized,’ i.e., deported to Transnistria—an operation that had been unfolding on a national scale since 1 June—or gathered from around the county and confined in an all-Gypsy village in some commune. To this officer, Gypsies were a public disorder, which had to be treated accordingly. The authorities did not take up his suggestions immediately, but 60 Gypsies were indeed deported from Târgu Jiu during the second operation in September 1942.9

  • 10 Arhivele Naţionale Direcţia Judeţeană Galaţi, fond Prefectura Judeţului Tecuci, dosar 12/1943, p. (...)

13A similar request for the evacuation of Gypsies can be found in a petition that residents of Buciumeni commune, Tecuci County, filed in May 1943.10 Their reasons, as summarized by the Prefecture of the Tecuci County, were that the villagers “hate to see the Gypsies not doing any work, drinking, smoking, playing cards, and only making a living out of theft.” Moreover, “the Gypsies’ filthy, unsanitary houses clash with the clean, well-tended houses of the other residents, and make a grim impression on whoever visits the commune.” Finally, the Gypsies “were a constant hotbed of infectious diseases which can be easily transmitted to other residents.” In response to the villagers’ petition, the prefecture suggested that the Interior Ministry either relocate all the Gypsies to Covrag and Tofea villages, in Brăhăşeşti commune, or spread them over several communes: Brăhăşeşti (the same two villages), Cerbasca (Baciu village), Slobozia (Panu village), and Răchitoasa (Baroana village). The proposal meant in fact their dispersal in localities with a small number of Gypsies. The ministry did not take up the suggestion.

14As can be seen, both petitions referred to particular groups of Gypsies who were allegedly a source of trouble. One can assume they were recently settled, originally nomadic Gypsies and, unlike the great majority of Gypsies not yet integrated into the local communities. However, since such negative petitions seem to have been extremely rare, it may be concluded that they were unrepresentative of the Romanians’ view on Gypsy deportation. Criticism against deportation was much more widespread.

  • 11 For example, in the commune of Bogdăniţa, Tutova County, a Gypsy back from combat found his house (...)

15A few cases were reported of people, including gendarmes and policemen, who profited from the deportation of Gypsies. Some residents grabbed the possessions of their Gypsy neighbors who had been deported.11 When settled Gypsies were deported in September 1942, a number of policemen and gendarmes took advantage of their being given too little time to liquidate their goods and bought them at a bargain price. Such cases, while despicable, can hardly be construed as evidence of anti-Gypsy feeling. They tend more to illustrate the morals of some people than their attitude toward ethnic minorities.

16Disapproval of anti-Gypsy measures voiced by people of various social ranks was much more widespread. Letters and petitions to the Council of Ministers and to Marshal Antonescu himself, to the Ministry of the Interior and to the General Staff of the Army bear witness to this attitude. Many of these protests came from rural residents, but also from citizens of towns in which agriculture was a major source of income, and where social relations differed little from rural ones. Some letters and petitions bearing tens of signatures were written on behalf of entire communities asking that ‘their’ Gypsies not be deported, or that they be brought back if already taken.

17There are quite a few examples of such letters, from all areas of the country. Most interventions were made after the deportation of ‘dangerous’ sedentary Gypsies in fall 1942. By order of the central authorities, a census of the remaining Gypsies was conducted in late September. The goal was not just to keep an accurate record of this population, but also to identify new targets in the event that another deportation operation was decided upon. Although, as noted above, deportations were suspended in the following month, the ‘statistic census,’ as it was called, nevertheless sparked panic among the Gypsies, who perceived it as a prelude to yet another wave of deportations. They flooded both the central and local authorities with requests that they be crossed off the lists and exempted from future deportations. In many places villagers and local authorities tried to intervene in order to prevent the deportation of ‘their’ Gypsies.

18In October 1942, a group of villagers from Popoveni, Balta Verde commune, Dolj County, together with residents from other communes and the town of Craiova, filed a petition to Marshal Antonescu, requesting that the blacksmith Ilie Dincă living in Craiova not be sent away. The peasants underscored the man’s importance to the community:

  • 12 ANIC, DGP, dosar 190/1942, p. 65.

We badly need him in this town, for he is a hardworking, efficient blacksmith, and he’s the one we go and see when we need to fix anything in our vehicles, build new structures, shoe our oxen and horses, repair our plows and harrows— in short, anything that has to do with iron working. Not to mention that he is also skilled at wheeling, carpentry, etc.12

19In an appeal to Marshal Antonescu sent in early October 1942, residents of Dobriţa, Gorj County, requested that five Gypsy families in their commune not be displaced. The Gypsies were the local craftsmen, and, said the peasants, “we will be left without a single blacksmith in our commune if they are moved away.” The letter cited, in addition, the fact that those Gypsies had land and houses like everybody else and had never been convicted.

Besides their trades, they also own some land which they work on like we farmers do, and they have built their own farmhouses, which are every bit as well tended as those of other residents. None of these Gypsies has ever been convicted, and they attend to their trades honestly.

  • 13 ANIC, fond Preşedinţia Consiliului de Miniştri (PCM), dosar 202/1942, pp. 216–17.

20The Gypsies for whom the people of Dobriţa interceded included four blacksmiths and a well digger. Signatory to the petition were 163 male residents, that is to say, the entire community.13

  • 14 One of the numerous categories of Gypsies living in Romania. They generally supplied wooden object (...)
  • 15 Ibid., p. 219.

21In the same period—early October 1942—the residents of Roşia Amaradia, Gorj County, wrote to Marshal Antonescu requesting that six rudari14 be allowed to remain in their commune. Those Gypsies, it was said, owned land and houses and served with their trade not only their own commune, but also neighboring communities. The schoolmaster and 30 villagers signed the petition.15

22Many town dwellers took similar action. At the end of September 1942, several residents of Craiova wrote to the Council of Ministers in support of fellow resident Ştefan Gâdea, a tinsmith by trade, asking that he not be deported to Transnistria. Besides the important service he supplied, the letter cited his moral conduct:

  • 16 ANIC, DGP, dosar 189/1942, p. 257.

[T]he said Ştefan I. Gâdea has behaved in the neighborhood in such a way that no one in the community in which he lives has ever complained about his conduct or behavior. His family, consisting of his wife and two sons to whom the said Ştefan Gâdea has taught his trade, have not behaved in our midst like Gypsies, but in fact better than many native Romanians. Members of this family have never been taken to court or other seats of judgment, or even to the police stations for any criminal or other offense.16

23The residents of Zimnicea, people “of all social conditions, but mostly plowmen,” interceded with Marshal Antonescu for ‘their’ Gypsies in October 1942. In a petition bearing 127 signatures, they asked that deportation not apply to their local craftsmen (carpenters and blacksmiths) who “can no longer be considered Gypsies except in their distant ancestry.” The full text reads:

  • 17 ANIC, PCM, dosar 202/1942, pp. 234–5.

Dear Marshal,
We, residents of Zimnicea, of all social conditions, but mostly plowmen, respectfully inform you of the following:
A rumor has spread in town, stirring up worries and confusion among those concerned, that, in addition to the rudari Gypsies who have already been sent to Transnistria, the measure has been extended to other categories of residents who can no longer be considered Gypsies except in their distant ancestry.
Unlike the rudari who, though quiet people, had no houses of their own and lived mostly in the woods, these men for whom we are now sincerely pleading with you, sir, are artisans—carpenters and blacksmiths—of whom we are constantly in need in our plowing trade. These men mend both the wooden and iron parts of our wagons, harrows, plows, and all our farming tools. The plowmen’s and the blacksmiths’ trades are inextricably bound to one another. And their numbers do not exceed our demand. Far from it, during the farming season when within a population of 12,000, nearly all plowmen, there are tens of wagons to fix and hundreds of plow blades to whet daily, these diligent craftsmen, these indispensable auxiliaries to farming, have to work nights, so that field work should not be inconvenienced, and may run smoothly and on time.
But these people are not even Gypsies any longer, save as a distant memory, since they have been assimilated into the mainstream, share our religion and our customs, do military service, and have two or three sons each on the battlefield, doing their duty to the nation. They also have their own houses and spacious iron and wood working shops, and as good craftsmen, have a variety of advanced tools that might be needed in their trade.
Please rest assured, sir, that these blacksmiths are peaceful citizens with fixed abodes who are absolutely necessary to us, plowmen. Therefore, we sincerely and respectfully ask you to kindly see that they be allowed to stay on and exercise their iron working trade.
With highest regard.17

24As noted, the above examples are drawn from a period in fall 1942 when fears were rising that the deportations would extend to yet further categories of Gypsies. The reasons cited by the villagers referred both to the status of those Gypsies as members of their rural communities, who shared their lives and made no trouble, and to the economic role they played. Those Gypsies were artisans, often the only craftsmen of their kind in a locality, the welfare of which—as these petitions pointed out—was crucially dependent on their work. These appeals appear to have expressed an act of solidarity between the villagers and Gypsies, based on the traditional labor division within the Romanian rural community, in which Gypsies played the distinctive role of village craftsmen.

  • 18 ANIC, DGP, dosar 194/1942, p. 118.

25It should be noted that the Zimnicea residents’ petition mentioned the rudari Gypsies who had already been deported. The prospect of further deportations worried the local community, prompting them to make this request. The rudari were somehow set in contrast to the Gypsies for whom the locals intervened. While portraying them as ‘quiet people,’ the residents sought to excuse the authorities’ decision to deport them by the fact that the rudari “had no houses of their own and lived mostly in the woods.” The villagers meant that, by comparison, there was no solid reason for deporting the craftsmen. In fact, the Romanians got along just as well with the rudari as they did with the Gypsies. When a group of rudari wrote to the marshal one month later, in November 1942, requesting the repatriation of their relatives sent ‘for colonization’ to Transnistria,18 a group of Romanians sent a separate petition to Antonescu asking for the return from Transnistria of Zimnicea rudari:

  • 19 Ibid., p. 133.

During all the time they have lived together with us they have proved to be the most peaceful and hardworking people. Their job is much connected to many things necessary both to our families and to the agricultural work. All the above make us regret their departure and kindly ask you to allow them to return to Zimnicea.19

26Signed by 27 locals, the petition was sent along with the one composed by relatives of the deportees. The authorities, however, did not agree to the repatriation of these rudari.

  • 20 For example, on 6 October 1942, the mayor’s office of Secătura commune, Cluj-Turda County, issued (...)
  • 21 On 11 October 1942, Mayor C. Chiriţescu of Dăeşti, Argeş County, wrote to the chief of the Gendarm (...)
  • 22 See, for example, the postscript the mayor of Iclănzel, Cluj-Turda County, added to such a repatri (...)

27The above intercessions on behalf of the Gypsies rallied broad public support. The local administration itself intervened on behalf of the Gypsies. The mayor’s offices issued good conduct certificates20 to those who felt threatened by deportation and sought to protect themselves, and also interceded with the police21 to exempt local Gypsies from (any further) deportations. When relatives of the deportees or other villagers sought to obtain the repatriation of Gypsies, the mayor’s office usually agreed to issue documents indicating the material standing of those concerned, so that they might be brought back home.22

28Some documents reflect the villagers’ desire for the return of fellow Gypsy residents. In March 1943, several residents of Dobreni, Ilfov County, asked the mayor to intercede with the governor of Transnistria for the repatriation of 12 Gypsy families deported from the commune. Their initiative came in response to a telegram from a deported resident, or, as they put it, “one of those wretched souls.” In their petition, the villagers noted that they were “not migrants, nor known for doing any mischief,” but rather “innocent people” whom the local chief of gendarmes had driven away from their homes in an act of personal revenge.

  • 23 USHMMA, RG-31.004M, reel 6; OA, fund 2242, opis 1, delo 1912, p. 110 (March 1943).

We trust that the Honorable Government of Transnistria, with whom we are kindly asking you to intercede, will find our petition justified following due inquiries at their residences where they still have relatives and property and where their homes lie deserted…”23

29Yet, the Gypsy families concerned were not repatriated.

CONCLUSION

  • 24 ANIC, DGP, dossier 189/1942, p. 96.

30Based on the above petitions, it seems safe to say that most Romanians did not support the government’s policy toward the Gypsies during World War II. However, it should be stressed that this attitude did not apply to all deported Gypsies. All of the above-mentioned interventions were made by common people in the towns and villages on behalf of Gypsy neighbors they knew personally, with whom they had daily contact, and who served the community by their trade. Nomadic Gypsies did not enjoy such support. As some of the above examples show, people sometimes distinguished between nomadic Gypsies whose deportation was taken for granted, and sedentary ones for whom they intervened. It is worth noting that one of the arguments used by the sedentary Gypsies to defend themselves against actual or possible deportations was that they were not nomadic but had stable homes and performed useful work. For example, the president of the General Union of Roma in Romania, Gheorghe Niculescu, demanded in September 1942 that “the execution of deportation orders must concern only nomadic Roma and exempt sedentary Roma who have a stable abode and are skilled in the practice of various professions.”24

31The lack of public reaction to the deportation of the nomads was due partly to stereotypes of those Gypsies and partly to the limited contact the Romanians had with this category. By contrast, settled Gypsies benefited not only from the Romanians’ sympathy but also from their support. Interventions on behalf of the Gypsies referred to specific groups in particular communities, or even to a specific individual. Solidarity with the Gypsies occurred only at the community level; there was no solidarity of the common people with all the country’s Gypsies or with a certain category of Gypsies. Politicians took a different stand, illustrated, for instance, by the protest of Liberal leader Constantin I. C. Brătianu, who referred to all Gypsy residents.

32As the above examples indicate, when ordinary Romanians made their intercessions they generally cited, on the one hand, the Gypsies’ status as members of their rural or urban communities, noting that they led normal lives and made no trouble, and on the other, their economic role in the communities. The Gypsies for whom they intervened were artisans, sometimes the only ones available, and—as several petitions pointed out—their services were critical for local economic performance. The petitioners did not resort to political arguments, nor did they refer to civil or human rights—not that this would have been expected, given Romania’s poorly developed civil awareness at the time, particularly in the rural areas.

  • 25 See among other papers on the issue: Domnica I. PĂUN, “Ţiganii în viaţa satului Cornova” (The Gyps (...)
  • 26 On the Gypsies’ situation in interwar Romania, see Achim, Ţiganii în istoria României, pp. 120–32.

33The peasants’ image of the Gypsies and their part in rural Romanian communities corroborate the results of some sociological studies conducted by the Romanian Social Institute in the interwar period.25 These analyses focused on the Gypsies’ economic and social functions in the Romanian villages— where most Gypsies lived—and their relations with the majority population. The findings showed that Gypsies were part of the rural communities in which they played specific roles, some as craftsmen and others as farm laborers. Despite distinctions within these communities between Romanians and Gypsies, as well as social barriers and the Romanian peasants’ prejudice against Gypsies—deriving from the history of slavery the Gypsies had suffered in Romania for centuries—the two populations had good mutual relations. Overall, the Gypsies continued to be the poorest social category in the villages and constituted a cheap, readily available workforce. Yet, they had made some progress, especially since the 1920 land reform, when many Gypsies acquired a social and economic status close to that of Romanian peasants. This, in turn, favored their integration into the rural communities, a process that in fact had been going on since they turned to sedentary life. The Gypsies had a somewhat special relationship with the Romanians, who perceived them largely as a social category on its way to ethnic and linguistic integration and assimilation. During the interwar period, it was the prevailing view in Romanian society, that the Gypsies would be assimilated, and that completion of this process was just a matter of time.26

  • 27 On these opinions, see ibid., pp. 133–6.

34The authorities shared this positive, or at least neutral, attitude toward the Gypsies. Romania had no specific policy toward this minority until World War II. The Gypsies were seen neither as an ethnic nor a social problem, and the racist theories concerning them, as promoted by some supporters of eugenics, aroused little interest.27 It was the Antonescu regime with its ethnic policy that turned the Gypsies into a ‘problem.’

35Ordered by the authorities, the deportation of the Gypsies in the summer and early fall of 1942 occurred at a time when the common people did not perceive the Gypsies as trouble. The public’s—especially the peasants’— negative reaction to their deportation was ultimately intended, beyond the local circumstantial reasons, to preserve the integrity of their communities. The rural communities were faced with a brutal external interference, which attempted to remove the Gypsies—a community segment with a definite economic and social role. People feared the authorities were planning to eventually deport all of the Gypsies, not just ‘problem’ cases, thus altering the composition and operation of the villages. To the communities, this was an unacceptable prospect, one that would account for the negative public reaction to their deportation.

36The deportation of the Gypsies to Transnistria caught the Romanian public by surprise. Public opinion had not been ‘prepared’ for this action. The propaganda machine of the regime had not included anti-Gypsy slurs in its agenda. The population was quick to react. Even under the Antonescu dictatorship, Romanian society retained its reflexes of self-defense. Within the limits of that period, people still knew how to voice their disagreement with government policies.

Notes

1 On the deportation of the Gypsies to Transnistria, see Viorel Achim, “Ţiganii din România în timpul celui de-al doilea război mondial” (The Gypsies in Romania during World War II), Revista Istorică 1–2 (1997), pp. 53–9; id., Ţiganii în istoria României (The Gypsies in Romanian History) (Bucharest, 1998, pp. 133–52); id., “Die Deportation der Roma nach Transnistrien,” in Mariana Hausleitner, Brigitte Mihok and Juliane Wetzel (eds.), Rumänien und der Holocaust: Zu den Massenverbrechen in Transnistrien 1941–1944 (Berlin, 2001), pp. 101–11; id., “Deportarea ţiganilor în Transnistria” (The Deportation of Gypsies to Transnistria), Anuarul Institutului Român de Istorie Recentă I (2002), pp. 127–41; Radu Ioanid, The Holocaust in Romania: The Destruction of Jews and Gypsies Under the Antonescu Regime, 1940–1944 (Chicago, 2000), pp. 225–37.

2 On the objectives of the government’s deportation of the Gypsies, see V. Achim, “The Antonescu Government’s Policy towards the Gypsies,” in Mihail E. Ionescu and Liviu Rotman (eds.), The Holocaust in Romania. History and Contemporary Significance (Bucharest, 2003), pp. 55–60.

3 See Achim, Ţiganii în istoria României, pp. 141–2.

4 Jean Ancel (ed.), Documents Concerning the Fate of Romanian Jewry During the Holocaust, Vol. IV, (Jerusalem, 1985), p. 225.

5 Refers to the alleged hostile behavior of the Jewish population during the withdrawal of the Romanian administration and troops from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina in June 1940, when the Soviet Union occupied these territories. While here Brătianu condemns the deportation of the Jews indirectly, he did this explicitly in other documents.

6 For instance, in March 1943, Ştefan Irimescu from Bucharest wrote to the governor of Transnistria asking that 19 families of Gypsies that had been deported from Ţăndărei, Ialomiţa County, be allowed to come and work on his estate at Buhăeşti, Vaslui County, and in his Odobeşti vineyard. The petitioner explained that those Gypsy families had been working his lands for many years. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archive (USHMMA), RG- 31.004M, reel 6; Odessa Oblast Archiv (OA), fund 2242, opis 1, delo 1912, p. 118 r.

7 For example, in October 1942, the management of the Romanian Railroad Company (CFR) interceded with the General Directorate of Police that ethnic Gypsy workers at CFR workshops in Bucharest not be deported to Transnistria, because “most of them are highly qualified especially as blacksmiths—a trade in which they are almost irreplaceable.” The memo went on to portray them as “orderly, disciplined elements who make an important contribution to the war production.” Arhivele Naţionale Istorice Centrale, Bucharest (ANIC), fond Direcţia Generală a Poliţiei (DGP), dosar 190/1942, p. 72.

8 ANIC, DGP, dosar 188/1942, p. 203.

9 A list of them can be found in ANIC, fond Inspectoratul General al Jandarmeriei (IGJ), dosar 126/1942, pp. 351–2.

10 Arhivele Naţionale Direcţia Judeţeană Galaţi, fond Prefectura Judeţului Tecuci, dosar 12/1943, p. 3 (Prefecture of Galaţi County to the Ministry of the Interior, 17 May 1943).

11 For example, in the commune of Bogdăniţa, Tutova County, a Gypsy back from combat found his house looted by neighbors after the deportation of his sister to Transnistria. ANIC, fond Inspectoratul Regional de Jandarmi, dosar 59/1942, p. 447 (document of Feb. 1943).

12 ANIC, DGP, dosar 190/1942, p. 65.

13 ANIC, fond Preşedinţia Consiliului de Miniştri (PCM), dosar 202/1942, pp. 216–17.

14 One of the numerous categories of Gypsies living in Romania. They generally supplied wooden objects to peasant households.

15 Ibid., p. 219.

16 ANIC, DGP, dosar 189/1942, p. 257.

17 ANIC, PCM, dosar 202/1942, pp. 234–5.

18 ANIC, DGP, dosar 194/1942, p. 118.

19 Ibid., p. 133.

20 For example, on 6 October 1942, the mayor’s office of Secătura commune, Cluj-Turda County, issued a ‘communal certificate’ to a local Gypsy. The document showed that Traian Mocoiu was a blacksmith and a farm laborer in his spare time, and added: “At the same time, the mayor’s office hereby certifies that since no other local blacksmith can replace him, the commune and especially its residents will suffer and will miss his services if he is taken to Transnistria.” ANIC, PCM, dosar 202/1942, p. 203.

21 On 11 October 1942, Mayor C. Chiriţescu of Dăeşti, Argeş County, wrote to the chief of the Gendarmes Section Goranu, asking him to intercede with his superiors so that the three Gypsy blacksmiths in the commune not be apprehended. The mayor himself initialed the men’s requests for being allowed to stay: “The commune urgently needs these three blacksmiths, since it does not have any other blacksmiths and if they too are arrested, the carting, agricultural works, etc. will stagnate completely, if these craftsmen are no longer in the commune.” USHMMA, RG-25.004M, reel 66; Arhiva Serviciului Român de Informaţii, Fond Documentar, dosar 18844, vol. 4, p. 357.

22 See, for example, the postscript the mayor of Iclănzel, Cluj-Turda County, added to such a repatriation petition: “We hereby acknowledge that our resident Preda Moldovan, evacuated from our commune, behaved very well, and we kindly ask you to approve his return to Iclănzel.” USHMMA, RG-31.004M, reel 6, OA, fund 2242, opis 1, delo 1912, p. 42 (4 Dec. 1942).

23 USHMMA, RG-31.004M, reel 6; OA, fund 2242, opis 1, delo 1912, p. 110 (March 1943).

24 ANIC, DGP, dossier 189/1942, p. 96.

25 See among other papers on the issue: Domnica I. PĂUN, “Ţiganii în viaţa satului Cornova” (The Gypsies in Cornova Village Life), in Sociologie Românească 1–4 (1932), pp. 521–7; and Aurel BOIA, “Integrarea ţiganilor din Şant (Năsăud) în comunitatea românească a satului” (Integration of Şanţ [Năsăud County] Gypsies in the Romanian Community of the Village), Arhiva pentru Ştiinta şi Reforma Socială 7–9 (1938), pp. 351–65.

26 On the Gypsies’ situation in interwar Romania, see Achim, Ţiganii în istoria României, pp. 120–32.

27 On these opinions, see ibid., pp. 133–6.

Auteur

VIOREL ACHIM is a Senior Researcher at the Nicolae Iorga Institute of History, Bucharest, Romania. His research interests include political and confessional history of southeast Europe in the 13th–15th centuries, ethnic minorities in Romania in the 1930s and 1940s, population policy in Romania during World War II, and history of the Gypsies (Roma) in southeast Europe. He edited (and provided an introductory study to) Documente privind deportarea ţiganilor în Transnistria (Documents Concerning the Deportation of Gypsies to Transnistria), 2 vols. (2004), and co-edited with Constantin Iordachi, România şi Transnistria: Problema Holocaustului. Perspective istorice şi comparative (Romania and Transnistria: The Holocaust Issue. Historical and Comparative Perspectives) (2004).

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