The exile from Bassarabia

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