An elderly woman looks at a photograph of Romanian Jews being rounded up by authorities in Iasi, Romania, in 1941, at a Holocaust memorial exhibition in Bucharest, Romania, January 25, 2004. Vadim Ghirda/AP
By Ofer Aderet
Survivors of the 1941 pogrom of the Romanian city of Iasi will for the first time be eligible to receive a pension from the German government, the Claims Conference said on Thursday. The decision follows negotiations between the Holocaust restitution group and the German government and will also apply to survivors of the so-called “death trains” and those who had lived in the open ghettos of the city following the massacre.
The pogrom against the Jews of Iasi began on June 28, 1941, and continued for two days. Thousands of the city’s Jewish inhabitants were murdered by Romanian soldiers and policemen acting on orders from the Romanian authorities, as well as by members of the town’s non-Jewish inhabitants. Their properties were also looted.
On the second day, “Black Sunday,” Romanian soldiers shot about 5,000 Jews that had been arrested by police. Furthermore, approximately 8,000 Jews from the city were loaded onto what later came to be known as “death trains,” where approximately 6,000 died of dehydration, hunger and suffocation. The total number of victims of both the pogrom and the death trains is estimated to be around 15,000 people.
Jews are rounded up during the Iasi pogrom in Romania, June 1941.Radu Ioanid/Indiana University/U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Jews being rounded up during the Iasi pogrom in Romania, June 1941.Radu Ioanid/Indiana University/U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
“The horrors experienced by the Jews of Iasi have finally been recognized, after more than 70 years,” said the head of the Claims Conference’s negotiating team, Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, in a press release. “These survivors endured unimaginable suffering. For those who are still with us, we have obtained a small measure of justice, even after all this time.”
Eizenstat, describing the events, explained how survivors of the pogrom were forced onto train cars that “traveled at an incredulously slow pace between towns, killing most of the occupants through suffocation, dehydration and madness.”
According to Eizenstat, the Jews left behind in Iasi “were forced to live in a designated section of the town set up as an open ghetto, under curfew, in constant fear of deportation to labor camps, enduring regular beatings and cruelty by both German and Romanian soldiers.”
Claims Conference Executive VP Greg Schneider (L) beside Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat during negotiations with the German government in July. Marco Limberg