In the summer 1941 Marshall Ion Antonescu, an ally of Hitler, aimed to recover Bassarabia and Northern Bucovina from the Soviet occupation. After Bassarabia and Transnistria became part of Romania again, these areas were used for the deportation of Roma. Antonescu promoted a tough policy of ethnic purification against the Roma people. Almost 25.000 Roma were deported and only half of them survived.
Marshal Ion Antonescu had a military career and officer. Since 4 September 1940 to 23 August 1944 was the Prime Minister of Romania and the leader of the Romanian state. Ion Antonescu decided Romania’s entrance into World War II on the side of Germany, having Adolf Hitler’s promises that Romanian lost territories in 1940 as a result of the Vienna and Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact will be returned to Romania under German pressure. Antonescu was dismissed by the king (Charles II of Romania) as head of state by the coup of August 23, 1944 and he was arrested. On 17 May 1946 he was sentenced to death for war crimes. On 1 June 1946 he was executed by firing squad in Jilava prison (Bucharest).
The idea of the Roma’s deportation to Transnistria did not exist at the beginning of Antonescu’s rule (because Romania lost this territory as well in 1940). The discussions on taking measures against Roma began in February 1941. At the Council of Ministers meeting on February 7, 1941, Ion Antonescu requested the removal of the Roma from Bucharest and spoke of settling them in compact villages in Bărăgan. He planed three to four villages to be built for this purpose, each able to accommodate 5,000 to 6,000 families. So, he deported all Roma to unpopulated areas on the Danube side where they were supposed to live by fishing. Marshal Antonescu had political interest behind of his action because he wanted to regain Bassarabia back to Romania. The ordeal or Roma’s started when Romania choosed to fight on Germany’s side. So, Romania obtained Transnistria back for the possibility to deport the Roma’s outside of Romania’s boundaries in Transnistria.
During World War II, Roma people were deported and exterminated in masses in various states. For example, around 40.000 Roma were killed in the camp from Jasenovac, Croatia. Only 1% survived from those deported. 20.000 were shot in Serbia, 5.000 were executed in the Chelmno camp from Poland and 19.000 died in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Around 1000 Roma were killed in Simferolop, Ukraine. Over 500.000 Roma died through the persecution and genocide during World War II.
Today, Roma Holocaust is like an untold story for most of us! It seems nobody talks about it, we pretend that we do not know anything about it or even worse, we pretend that non of this ever happened. In some of the European countries the Roma Genocide is not even recognized. In Romanian schools this issue is not treated as it should. It is mentioned on history classes but nobody insists on the topic. So, if there are no many things known about it than there will be nobody to recognize and to promote it!
If you find this article interesting please check the video from the link below. This material is in Romanian but subtitled in English.
Title: The exile from Bassarabia, a documentary about Roma holocaust
Duration: 55′ 54”
Article by Melinda Szabo, Phiren Amenca voluteer