Sunday, April 23, 2017

Remembering the Iasi Pogrom

A MyHeritage Journey: In March (see The Dutch Jews at Sobibor) Abq Jew wrote about the branch of his family in or from the Netherlands.

And back in December (see Starting With Aunt Bea), Abq Jew wrote about his Aunt Bea, her friend Ronnie Gilbert (of Weavers fame), and - as it turned out - our mutual relative, Donna Korones.

And how we had all been brought together by Cousin Eleanore, Ronnie's memoir,, and Great Grand Mama's printout of the Oring Family Tree.

MyHeritage has now helped Abq Jew build out his Family Tree - from his father's (z"l) original 646 people to now more than 5,700.

This evening, we begin our observance of
יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה Yom HaShoah viLaGevurah
(Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day).

Let's continue our journey with Great Grand Mama, Abq Jew's beloved mother-in-law. Who had in her possession a Family Tree for her father's family, the Orings, built by her grandfather's half brother's granddaughter Linda Lou Samuels z"l, who (alas) passed away in 2011.

Great Grand Mama's Family Tree included two entire branches that were heretofore unknown. The first branch was in Romania, but made its way to Israel in the 1970s. The second branch was also in Romania, but never left.

The fate of the second Romanian branch is largely unknown. The fate of other members of Abq Jew's family in Europe, however, is.

Gmina Oświęcim, Oświęcim County,
Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland

Sobibór, Włodawa County, Lublin Voivodeship, Poland

Terezin/Theresienstadt, Czech Republic

And then there are Rachel and Etti Oring, Mrs Abq Jew's first cousins twice removed, who appear on the Family Tree with a shared year of death and no descendants. Their fate was

Died in Pogrom, Iasi, Roumania

It was a bit of a shock for Abq Jew to see those words printed so clearly on Great Grand Mama's Family Tree. He had not been aware of the Oring family's Romanian roots (neither had Mrs Abq Jew); and he had not known of the Iasi pogrom.

So Abq Jew looked it up. Yad Vashem tells us
Jews first settled in Iasi, located in the Moldavia district of Romania, in the late fifteenth century. The majority of Jews in Iasi earned a living from local commerce and as artisans. Iasi became an important center of Jewish life, and approximately ninety synagogues once existed there. 
In 1930, Jews made up thirty percent of the city’s population, totaling 35,465 persons.  
On Saturday evening, June 28, 1941, Romanian and German soldiers, members of the Romanian Special Intelligence Service, police, and masses of residents murdered and plundered the Jews of Iasi. Thousands were killed in their homes and in the streets; additional thousands were arrested by patrols of Romanian and German soldiers and taken to police headquarters.  
Lazar Rozin, who was only fourteen years old in June 1941, describes, “They entered our house, screaming and pillaging all of our belongings. They ordered us all out of the house, also my mother and my sisters. We walked to the police station and on the way we saw how people were beaten and bodies of dead Jews were strewn in the streets.” 
The next day, “Black Sunday,” Romanian soldiers shot thousands of Jews who had interned in the police headquarters yard.
Approximately 4,000 Jews, rounded up from all parts of town, were packed into freight cars and vans. The “death trains” were sealed and moved back and forth between railway stations. 2,650 of them died of suffocation or thirst, and others lost their sanity. 
Lazar Rozin states, “They piled us into the train…we did not know what was going to happen…we thought that they would not want to set the cars ablaze only because they did not want to destroy the locomotive itself … For five days we suffocated in that crowded train. Most of the people died in the car… we slept on dead bodies.” 
During the pogrom, the Romanian authorities, together with German soldiers, not only murdered thousands of Jewish residents of Iasi, but also sought to destroy an entire community that had existed for more than 300 years.

And what became of those who perpetrated this atrocity? Wikipedia tells us
The Romanian People's Tribunals were conducted in 1946 and a total of 57 people were tried for the Iaşi pogroms: eight from the higher military echelons, the prefect of Iaşi county and the mayor of Iaşi, four military figures, 21 civilians and 22 gendarmes. One hundred sixty-five witnesses, mostly survivors of the pogrom, were called to the stand. 
The majority of those sentenced under war crimes and crimes against peace (article 2 of Law no. 291/1947), 23 people (including generals and colonels), received life sentences with hard labor and 100 million lei in damages. One colonel received a life sentence in harsh conditions and 100 million lei in damages. 
The next-largest group, twelve accused, were sentenced to 20 years hard labor each. Sentences of 25 years hard labor were received by seven accused. Smaller groups received a 20-year harsh sentence and 15 years hard labor, and one accused was sentenced to five years hard labor. Several accused were acquitted.

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