Romania

1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

The National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust (Ziua Naţională de Comemorare a Holocaustului in Romanian, is a national event held on 9 October in Romania. It is dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust and particularly to reflecting on Romania's role in the Holocaust. Various commemoration events and ceremonies take place throughout Romania in order to remember the Jews and Romani who died in the Holocaust. The first National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust was held in 2004. 9 October was chosen as a date for this event because it marks the beginning of Romanian deportations of Jewsto Transnistria, in 1942.

On 23rd October 2007, Romanian President Traian Băsescu publicly apologized for his nation's role in the Porajmos, the first time a Romanian leader has done so. He called for the Porajmos to be taught in schools, stating that, "We must tell our children that six decades ago children like them were sent by the Romanian state to die of hunger and cold". Part of his apology was expressed in the Romani language. Băsescu awarded three Porajmos survivors with an Order for Faithful Services.

In addition, the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is observed on 27th January.

1.2 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

36 000 Roma were killed in Romania under Ion Antonescu.

The deportation of the Roma to Transnistria was an element of the internal policy of Marshal Ion Antonescu’s regime in Romania during World War II. Purportedly motivated by the authorities’ concern for public order, the deportation of 25 000 to 26 000 Roma into the Soviet territory between the Dniester and the Bug, while the area was occupied by the Romanian army, was in effect a racist measure. At the same time, the deportation was related to the policy of ethnic cleansing being considered by the Antonescu government. Even if the anti-Roma measures targeted only some of this population, the deportation to Transnistria was in some respects similar to the anti-Roma policy applied in Germany and her satellite states at the same time.

The Romanian government of Ion Antonescu did not systematically exterminate Roma on its territory. Instead, resident Roma were deported to Romanian-run concentration camps in occupied Transnistria. Of the estimated 25 000 Romani inmates of these camps, 11 000 (44%, or almost half) died.

1.3 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

1.4 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

The first monument commemorating the Roma Holocaust was unveiled at the Roma Culture Museum in Bucharest, on the last day of the Pakivalo Solidarity Festival on 8 August 2015. The monument is a tribute to the memory of Roma victims deported and exterminated in Transnistria and the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during 1940-1944. The project’s initiators want the monument to be set up in a park or public square. According to organizers, the monument was built around the solar symbol of the twelve-spoke wheel that signifies a well-known Roma spiritual archetype of Liberty as dynamic space and time.

The former deportees, Roma included, can be the recipients of the RIGHTS provided by Law 189/2000, that stipulates the persons persecuted by the Romanian regimes from the 6th of September 1940 to the 6th of March on ethnic grounds will be granted the following rights:

free and priority medical assistance and medication, both in ambulatory and during the treatment in hospital; free public urban transport - on means of transport belonging to the state-owned companies (bus, trolleybus, tramway, subway); six free round trips by train, per year, using the Romanian state railways, 1st class; six free round trips, per year, using the public means of auto transportation or, if it is the case, river transportation, from their place of residence to the county seat, for the persons who are not able to use the railway transport; one free ticket per year for treatment in a balneological resort; exemption from TV and radio licence costs; priority for the installation of a phone line, as well as the exemption from the subscription; allotment, on request, of a free cemetery plot. Few survivors are acquainted with these legal provisions and therefore they would hardly be able to take all the necessary steps (which are often too complex for them as senior citizens who are not assisted by any specialised institution or organisation).

The steps to follow to get the compensations for Roma victims of the Holocaust can be found on the dedicated website implemented by the Community Resources Centre.

2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

Under communism, the official history in Romania taught that Germans were the sole perpetrators of the Holocaust, thereby ignoring the role of the Romanian government in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews and tens of thousands of Roma (Gypsies), from the historical regions of Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, and Transnistria, during the World War II.

Following 15 years of setbacks, in November 2004, after the presentation of the Wiesel International Commission’s report to the Romanian President, Romania finally acknowledged in an official position the full dimensions of the Romanian Holocaust. Romanian authorities have begun efforts to educate the public about the Holocaust, it also banned pro-Nazi propaganda and the cult of war criminals. In March 2005, the newly elected government under President Traian Basescu and PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu made a firm commitment to implement the Wiesel Holocaust Commission’s recommendations on educating Romanians about the Holocaust and fighting racism in society.

Thus, the Romanian authorities have taken decisive steps towards the implementation of a unitary national curriculum concerning Holocaust education. Holocaust education is now mandatory in Romanian schools, covering 2–4 hours of material in the context of World War II. In 2004, Holocaust history also became an optional course.

The Holocaust is taught in the seventh and eighth grades of middle school and in the tenth and 11th grades of high school. In the seventh grade, it is dealt with as part of studies focusing on World War II. In the eighth grade, the fate of the Jews and Roma between 1938 and 1944 is examined as part of studies of “Romania between democracy and totalitarianism”. In the tenth grade, the Holocaust is included in classes on “International Relations: The Great Conflicts of the 20th Century”, and in the twelfth grade forms part of the study of “People, Society and the World of Ideas”. These courses include discussions on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust in Romania. In 2004, following a ministerial order, an optional module covering the study of the Holocaust, together with an accompanying textbook, was approved for high schools. The contents of the module were modified in March 2005, following recommendations issued by the International Historians’Commission.

The Elie Wiesel Institute for the Study of The Holocaust organizes Holocaust education activities throughout the year. While Holocaust education has been mandatory in Romanian schools for over a decade, educators do not necessarily teach about it.

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

Although Holocaust education was introduced as a mandatory topic in pre-university curricula as of 1998, for a long time history textbooks have included little (if any), divergent, and often inaccurate information on the subject. It is not unknown to what extent the Genocide of the Roma is included in textbooks.

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

 

Since 2005, The Association for Dialogue and Civic Education (Asociatia pentru Dialog si Educatie Civica - ADEC) has partnered with the Goldstein Goren Centre for Hebrew Studies at the University of Bucharest to run seminars for Romanian teachers on the Holocaust. Roma are included in these seminars both through lectures from survivors, academics such as Michelle Kelso and Viorel Achim, and through audio-visual materials such as the documentary Hidden Sorrows: The Persecution of Romanian Gypsies during WWII. As of 2007, a teacher’s guide was also provided specifically on how to teach about the Genocide of the Roma. ADEC brings in scholars and methodologist from across the globe in partnership with Romanian academics and teacher trainers to assist Romanian teachers. ADEC works under the auspices of the Romanian Ministry of Youth, Education and Research to provide certification teachers attending seminars. Thus far ADEC co-organized with its partners 13 training seminars, reaching some 400 teachers. Some partners have included Yad Vashem’s prestigious International School for Holocaust Studies, the Association IDEE, the Association of the Romanian Jewish Victims of the Holocaust, the Northern Transylvania Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Romanian Institute for Recent History.

Casa Corpului Didactic / Inspectorat Scolar Bacau
(Centre for Teacher Development / School Inspectors’ Office)
Contact: Gabriel Stan
Bacau County Centre for Teacher Development / School Inspectors’ Office has been very active in Holocaust education, establishing itself as a premier teacher training centre. Since 2005, the Centre has included the the Genocide of the Roma in its trainings, holding at least two special training sessions on the Genocide of the Roma in addition to incorporating it into its other pedagogical seminars. The first one was in 2006, where historian Viorel Achim of the Nicolae Iorga Institute and Michelle Kelso addressed teachers in training. The second one, in June 2006, was organized in Valea Budului, where Michelle Kelso addressed both history and Romani language teachers about the Genocide of the Roma after a screening of the documentary Hidden Sorrows: The Persecution of Romanian Gypsies During WWII.
 
The "Elie Wiesel" National Institute for the Study of Holocaust in Romania
E-mail: info@inshr-ew.ro
The Elie Wiesel Institute for the Study of The Holocaust organises Holocaust education activities throughout the year for teachers and students. While Holocaust education has been mandatory in Romanian schools for over a decade, educators do not necessarily teach about it. Distortion and obfuscation of Romanian Holocaust crimes during the communist and transition periods means that teachers, like the majority of Romanians, know little about their country’s perpetration of genocides. Included in the program is also the Genocide of the Roma.
 
Intercultural education, “And Roma were victims too”, the Romani Genocide and Holocaust education in Romania, volume 24, issue 1-02, 2013, Michelle Kelso, p61-78.
Paper which focuses on cognitive barriers that many history and civics teachers have regarding teaching about the victimization of the Roma minority. These barriers are intrinsically tied to acceptance of new narratives of the Holocaust and reconfigurations of ethnic identities in post-socialist Romania where pressures from the European Union and the USA, among others, have pushed for critical examination of past atrocities in order to strengthen democratic processes.

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

2.5 Remembrance day

Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed in schools with lessons, national contests and other remembrance activities, in line with guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education. In 2013, a total of 23 different types of activities were conducted. These included, among others, readings of written work on the Holocaust; the organizing of conferences, seminars and documentary expositions; visits to commemorative monuments, synagogues, museums and Jewish cemeteries; and meetings with members of the Jewish community and with Holocaust survivors. All middle and high school students take part in the activities, in accordance with a Notification issued by the Ministry of Education. Students are very often invited to attend the commemoration ceremonies that take place in local synagogues on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

Doru Dumitrescu
Ministry of Youth, Education and Research
28-30 General Berthelot street
Bucharest 010174
Romania
Telephone: +40 21 315 04 86
Fax: +40 21 312 47 19

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

Viorel Achim, The Nicolae Iorga Institute, Bucharest, Romania

Radu Ioanid, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

Michelle Kelso, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Vladimir Solonari, University of Central Florida

Romeo Tiberiade, counsellor to the Roma community in the Dolj region of Romania

Susan Williams, Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana

Shannon Woodcock, LaTrope University, Melbourne, Australia

4 Initiatives of the civil society

4.1 Relevant projects having a real impact on the people and/or the wide public

The Association for Dialogue and Civic Education (Michelle Kelso) gives information on the Genocide of the Roma in Romania.

In October 2006, The Foundation organised a conference in Sibiu on the fate of Roma during WWII in Romania.

On 9th October 2006, a commemoration march took place through Bucharest in order to remember the Romani victims of the Holocaust and to demand greater recognition by the government of Romani Holocaust victims.

Since 2013, each spring Volunteering for Remembrance Seminar, organised by Phiren Amenca gathered in a youth Camp of Caransebes, more than 40 young actual and former EVS interns coming from Germany, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Italy, Austria, Macedonia, Serbia and USA in the village of Milcoveni, Romania, with the aim of exploring the issue of Roma Genocide Remembrance and Human Rights. Materials are produced through the seminar, such as The European ‘Boogie man’ Complex: challenging anti-Gypsyism through non-formal education, an educational toolkit.

EEA Grants and Norway Grants support the project Providing justice for Roma Holocaust victims in Romania. Despite the fact that Romanian authorities have officially recognised the Roma, alongside the Jews, as victims of the Holocaust in Romania, many Roma survivors are unaware of their rights and have not received any compensation for the horrors they went through. This is one of the reasons why the Community Resource Centre Association is working to identity Roma survivors so they can receive the compensation they are entitled to. The project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the NGO fund in Romania. The project also includes establishing a database with an overview of Roma Holocaust victims in Romania and the creation of an archive with pictures and audio and video testimonials. The project started April 2014 and ended November 2014. It receives €31 480 from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the NGO fund in Romania.

Irina Matei, project assistant for the Community Resource Centre Association, underlines the added value this has for historical research. Both the National School of Political Science and Public Administration and the University of Bucharest participate as project partners.

A documentary on the Genocide of the Roma is being prepared by Romeo Tiberiad. It will compile testimonies of Roma survivors. An article on it was published on 20th September 2012, with an interview of the Director and extracts from the documentary.

Romani CRISS-Bucuresti; Chrisitian Roma Centre,Sibiu, Romania; Romani ButiQ, Bucuresti : 3 Romanian Roma NGO contributed to the drafting of the resolution adopted by the Ep on 15th April 2015.

5 Point of view of the Roma community - including survivors' testimonies

A documentary on the Genocide of the Roma is being prepared by Romeo Tiberiad. It will compile testimonies of Roma survivors. An article on it was published on 20 September 2012, with an interview of the Director and extracts from the documentary.

About 100 Roma survivors live in Romania today, and a dozen in the region of Bolintin Vale. An interview of some of them was broadcast on French radio France International on 9 october 2014.

One of the survivors of these atrocities was Gheorghe Manole, known as ‘Mocanu’. Mocanu was only four years old when he, together with his parents, four brothers and two sisters were taken by the military and put on the train to Transnistria. His grandmother and grandfather were also deported.

Cioaba, L. (2006). Deportarea în Transnistria. Mărturii. Sibiu: Ed. Neo Drom.

Ioanid, R., Kelso, M. and Cioaba, L. (2009). Tragedia Romilor Deporati in Transnistria 1942-1945. Iasi: Polirom.

Kelso, M. (1999). “Gypsy Deportation from Romania to Transnistria 1942-44”, in In the Shadow of the Swastika. The Gypsies during the Second World War. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press.