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Month: December 2020

Romanian Jewish Chronology

From the History Museum of the Romanian Jews; Hasefer Publishing House

2nd c. C.E. – Earliest mentions of the Jews in the Roman province of Dacia. 
12th c. C.E. (second half)– Benjamin of Tudela describes the Vlachs living south of the Danube and their relations with the Jews. 
14th c., first half– A Jewish quarter is mentioned in the town of Cetatea Alba (Bolgrad), Bessarabia. 
1473-1474– Isaac Beg, a Jewish doctor sent over by Sultan Uzun Hassan, is accredited at the court of Stephen the Great of Moldavia. 
Before 1480 – Jewish merchants are mentioned as traveling on the commercial roads of the Romanian principalities. 
1532, February 10– In a letter to Danish philologist Johannes Campensis the Romanian humanist Nicolaus Olahus expresses interest in learning Hebrew. 
c1550– A Sephardic community is first mentioned in Bucharest. 
1593-1594– The Italian geographer Giovanni Antonio Magini notes the presence of Jews in Moldavia in Michael the Brave’s days. 
1618-1620– Del Medigo and Shlomo Ibn Arvay, prominent rabbinical personalities of the Jewish Middle Ages, are signaled in Iasi. Their visit confirms the presence of an organized community in the Moldavian capital. 
1623, June 18– Prince Gabriel Bethlen of Transylvania issues an edict granting privileges to the Jews. 
1640– Documents indicate the presence of Jewish physicians at Prince Vasile Lupu’s court in Moldavia. 
1640 – The Govora bill of rights (pravila) includes a provision on the status of Jewish converts to Christianity. 
1646 – Cartea romdneasca de invaxatura (“The Romanian Book of Learning”) published in Ia~i contains legal pro­visions with respect to the Jews. 
1653 – For fear of Cossack uprising led by Bogdan Chme­lnitzki, Ukrainian Jews seek refuge in Moldavia, accord­ing to a chronicle by Neta Nathan Hannover, who serves as rabbi in Iasi during the late 17th c. His testimonial is issued in Venice. 
– The Swedish preacher Conrad Jacob Hildebrandt men­tions Jewish communities in the towns of Alba Iulia, Iasi, Soroca, and Stefanesti. 
1657 – Documents indicate Jewish communities living in Craiova and Targoviste. 
1676 – 1677 – Date of the oldest tombstone still standing in the Jewish cemetery of Piatra Neamt, Moldavia. 
1686 – A synagogue is mentioned in the belt makers’ neigh­bourhood in lasi. 
1694 – 1701 – A Jewish guild is mentioned in the records of the Walachian Treasury under Prince Constantine Brancovan. 
1698 – Documents show the existence of a synagogue in the town of Focsani. 
1702- 1704 – Jewish physicians and apothecaries are mentioned as practicing their trade at Constantine Brancovan’s court. 
1715– Oldest tombstone inscription preserved in the Jewish cemetery of Sevastopol Street in Bucharest. 
1717 – Demetrius Cantemir’s Descriptio Moldaviae, which includes significant references to the Jews of Moldavia, appears in St Petersburg. 
1720 – 1721 – Jews are mentioned in a public conscription taking place in several northwestern Transylvania counties. 
1724 – Documents acknowledge the presence of the Jewish doctor and philosopher Daniel de Fonseca at the court of Nicholas Mavrocordat, prince of Walachia. 
1727 – 1743 – Register of Prince Constantine Mavrocordat contains important data on the Jews of Moldaiva. 
1731 – A statute regularizes the Sacred Brotherhood (Jewish Society for medical and funeral assistance) of the Jews in Oradea. 
1741 – Jewish community in Iasi decides to elect secular leadership on an annual basis. 
1756, April, – Earliest known princely decree confirming the appointment of a hakham bashi, supreme leader of the entire Jewish community in Moldavia and Walachia. 
1774 – Census conducted by the Russian military administration in Moldavia finds around 1, 300 Jewish heads of families. 
1780, August 18 – Prince Constantine Moruzi of Moldavia issues a decree authorizing the Jews to found the borough of Soldanesti (Falticeni) 
1783 – Ordinance by the lieutenancy of Bratislava regulates status of the Jews in western Transylvania in accordance with Emperor Joseph II’s Edict of Tolerance. 
1792, May 30 – Boyar Costache Mares enters an agreement with a group of Jews he has sent for abroad to settle a market town on his estate of Vladeni (now Mihaileni) 
1803 – Condica liuzilor, a tax register of the Moldavian Treasury, records about 3000 Jewish heads of families. 
1804 – Prince Alexander Constantine Moruzi of Moldavia renews a rule which prohibits Jews from leasing land estates. 
1816 – 1817 – Art. 141 in Prince Callimachi’s Code authorizes Jews to buy houses and shops in the Moldavian towns. 
1818 – Prince Caragea of Walachia approves a request of the Bucharest Sephardim to build a synagogue in one of the suburbs. 
1831- 1832 – Organic Regulations go into force in Walachia and Moldavia providing that the Jews, though living there for centuries, shall be regarded as aliens and have no political rights. 
1834 – 1849 – Reign of Michael Sturza in Moldavia mixes privileges to the Jews with anti-Jewish restrictions. Jews are encour­aged to settle in Moldavia, found new towns, hold morefairs, and multiply fair days. 
1846 – 1847 – A Great Synagogue is built and inaugurated in Bucharest. 
1848 – A number of Jewish intellectuals and craftsmen join the revolutionary movements. Jewish bankers Davicion Bally and Hillel Manoah, painters C.D. Rosenthal and Barbu Iscovescu, and others provide active support to the Revolution. 
1848 – Manifesto of the Romanian Revolution in Moldavia stipulates gradual emancipation of the Israelites. 
1848, June 9 – Islaz Proclamation is adopted. Art. 21 provides the “Emancipation of the Israelites.” 
1852, August, 28 – Romanian-Israelite school with Romanian tuition opens in Bucharest. 
1857, March 22 – Israelitul Roman (“The Romanian Israelite”), the first Jewish newspaper in the Romanian principalities, is published in Bucharest in Romanian and French. 
1859, January 24 – Unification of Moldavia and Walachia into a national Romanian state. A. I. Cuza is elected prince, the first of modern Romania, and reigns till 1866. 
1864 – Cuza gives a speech in which he promises the gradual emancipation of the Jews. 
1866 – Carol of Hohenzollern becomes prince of Romania following Cuza’s abdication. 
1866 – The first Constitution of modern Romania provides in Art. 7 that only Christians can become Romanian citi­zens. Jews native of Romania is declared stateless per­sons. A Jewish problem officially develops in Romania. 
1867, July 6 – Bucharest’s Choral Temple is consecrated. Representatives and consuls of several foreign powers, the mayor of Bucharest, cabinet ministers, members of Parliament such as N. Lahovari, I. Marghiloman, etc., attend the ceremony. Rabbi Antoine Levy gives the inaugural speech. 
1867 – The Jews of Hungary, those dwelling in Transylvania implicitly included, become Hungarian citizens, enjoy­ing all rights shared by whosoever country’s habitant. 
1877 – 1878 – Romania’s War of Independence. The Jewish population provides material support for the military. Drafted Jews go to battle fields. Financed and manned by the Jews, the Zion ambulance service operates in the combat area. 
1879 – Under pressure of the Berlin Peace Conference, Art. 7 of the Constitution is amended granting non-Christians the right to become Romanian citizens. A number of 888 Jews are naturalized for having fought in, or supported, the War of Independence. This does not resolve the Jewish problem, though. Naturalization is granted on a case-by-case basis and is subject to Parliament approval. An application takes over ten years to process. By 1913 as few as 2,000 persons, including the 888 war partici­pants, had been naturalized. 
1897 – Representatives of Romanian Zionist Movement parti­cipate to the First International Congress of Zionism, which takes place in Basel, Switzerland. 
1899 – A Romanian census records 266,652 Jewish residents, or 4.5 percent of total population. 
1909 – The Native Jews Union is created with the main goal of securing naturalization of all native Jews. 
1913 – Nicolae Iorga’s History ofthe Jews in Our Lands is pub­lished. Though with an anti-Jewish bias, it is the first survey of the country’s Jews by a Romanian historian. 
1916 -1919 – Romania’s unifying war. Over 20,000 Jews, accounting for 10 percent of Jewish residents, are enlisted or enlist voluntarily. Of them, 882 die in action and more than 700 others are wounded; 825 are decorated. 
1918 – Romania’s Great Unification. The country’s Jewish organizations hail the historic fulfillment of Romanian endeavours. The number of Jewish residents rises three­fold, as new provinces join their homeland. 
1922 – The Union of Jewish Communities in the Old Kingdom is accredited. 
1922 -1932 – Jewish personalities and organizations get involved in parliamentary activity. 
1923 – The Native Jews Union turns into Romanian Jews Union. 
1923 – New Constitution is adopted. Art. 133 extends Romanian citizenship to all Jewish residents and equal­ity of rights to all Romanian citizens. The Jews are thereby granted political rights equal to those of all other citizens. 
1930 – Census counts 756,930 Jewish residents, or 4.2% of total population. 32.99% of Jewish residents were occu­pied in trade, 29.9% in the processing industry, and over 4% in liberal professions. 
1931 – The Jewish Party of Romania is founded. 
1937 – The Federation of Jewish Communities Unions (FUCE) is established. 
1937 – Goga-Cuza government takes office. Anti-Semitism becomes state policy. 
1940, July 10 – FUCE issues a declaration of solidarity with the Romanian nation, as the state loses the provinces of Bessarabia and Bukovina. 
1940, August – A law-decree imposes a legal status of the Jews based on the racist principles of the Nuremberg legislation that Nazi Germany had adopted in 1935. 
1940, August – Dictate of Vienna decides that Transylvania’s northern and western part is to be given up to Hungary. Over 150,000 Romanian Jews used to live on this territory. 
1940, September Romania is proclaimed a National Legionary State. 
1940, Sep.-1941, Jan. – Generalisation of anti jewish legislation. The ruling Legionnaires foster a policy of loot and terror against the Jews. 
1941, January 22-23 – Over 120 Jews are killed in Bucharest pogrom associated with the Legionnaire rebellion. 
1941, June 22 – Romania joins Nazi Germany in war against Soviet Union. Anti-Jewish terror sets in. 
1941, June 29-July 6 – Massacre of the Jews in Ia*i. Eight to twelve thousand Jews are killed either shot down in the streets and at police headquarters, or suffocated in death trains introduced for this purpose. 
1941, June-July – The Jews are evacuated from the countryside and small towns and forced to relocate in county capitals. Those from oil-rich basins are interned in the Teis-Targoviste camp. Groups of Moldavian Jews are interned in Targu Jiu camp for political detainees. 
1941, summer and fall – Pogroms in Bessarabia and Bukovina. The Jewish residents of Bessarabia and those of northern and southern Bukovina are deported to Trans-Dniester death camps. 
1942, fall – Deportations are halted. Antonescu regime for circumstantial reasons refuses to deport the Jews from Romania to Nazi death camps. 
1944, May-June – Horthyite occupation regime deports the Jews from northern Transylvania to Nazi death camps. 
1944, August 23 – Antonescu regime is overturned in Romania. 
After 1944– The Communist regime gradually takes control of the country. Mass emigration of the Jews begins. Most of them immigrate to Israel. Those that stay behind go through a deep social and economic restructuring and are gradually integrated in the new social and economic structures of Romanian society. 
1948 – The State Jewish Theater opens in Bucharest. 
1949,June– The Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania (FCER) and the Mosaic religion are given legal status. 
1956– Revista cultului mosaic (“The Magazine of the Mosaic Cult”) – renamed Realitatea Evreiasca (“JewishReality”) in 1995 – starts to be published. 
1977 – The Center of Romanian Jewish History Research is established. 
1978– The History Museum of the Jewish Communities in Romania opens in Bucharest. The Romanian Jewish History Documentation Center is established. 
After 1989– FCER expands its activity. 
1994– FCER elects a new leadership consisting of Acad. Prof. Dr. Nicolae Cajal as president, engineer Theodor Blumenfeld as general secretary, and advocate Iulian Sorin as assistant general secretary. FCER coordinates the activity of 48 local communities. Youths account for about one-fifth of the 12,000 community members.

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Civilians vs French State and French Railroad Company (Société nationale des chemins de fer, SNCF): a justice awaited for 60 years


Some 1,800 families are suing the French State and the French railroad company for the arrest, internment and transportation of civilians reported as Jews between 1941 to 1944, including the transportation of deported families to Eastern Europe death camps.

On June 6th 2006, the Administrative Tribunal of Toulouse found the French State and SNCF guilty of interning and deporting in concentration camps located in France individuals considered as jews. Whereas the French State agreed, according to the verdict, to pay 40.000 Euros (approximately US Dollars 52 000) to family LIPIETZ, the SNCF, condemned to pay 20.000 Euros (approximately US Dollars 26 000), appealed.

Procuror Didier PEANO spoke in favour of SNCF before the administrative Court of Appeal of Bordeaux.

This action against SNCF cannot be received due to the 30 years prescription and to the fact that no specific fault of the Company in the transportation of the Lipietz family has been reported.

He argues: “ The French State, who ordered and financed the transport, shall bear the sole responsibility and must bear the cost.

Subsequently, the administrative court of appeal of BORDEAUX decided on an exceptional basis that the case should be examined again on March 2007, by the highest group of judges ever of the Court.

At the same time, attempts to clear the French railroad company from/of any responsibility in the transportation of civilians in cattle wagons are being made.

To determine the level of responsibility of an enterprise is not an easy task.

Time and research will be needed to assess the willingness senior management and technical services of the company to collaborate with the French and German Authorities, their ordinary work being cut off from the absolute brutality of convoys to death camps and from the courageous resistance of a minority of railroad employees.

One must recall that, since 1940, the SNCF agreed to the transportation of Jews from Baden and The Palatine, provided a planning was established with the German Authorities, as for any regular operation.

SNCF senior management participated to all significative meetings dealing with deportation of the Jews of France, along with Nazi authorities and the French State.

Let us recall that Pierre-Eugène Fournier, former President of the French National Bank and of the SCAP (entity dealing with the ‘aryanisation’ of Jews belongings) ( Service de Contrôle des Administrateurs Provisoires ), was president of the French national railroad company from 1940 to 1946.

Perfectly aware of the conditions of the internment, deportation and final destination of the cattle trucks, the company never officially protested against the transport of civilians according to BACHELIER Report ( report financed by the SNCF in 1998 to analyse the company behaviour during WWII).

Hence, journeys were classified third class (despite transportation of humans in cattle trucks) and payment duly received even until after the end of the war.

Léon Bronchart, the one and only employee to refuse to conduct such a train, was only deprived of his annual indemnities.

Legal action against the French State was not possible before 2002, when the supreme administrative Court (Conseil d’Etat) decided that the French State could be held responsible for its actions during WWII.

Indeed, since 1946 (sentence Ganascia), the Conseil d’Etat rejected all actions aginst the French State, on the basis of the anti-jews laws enacted during the Vichy Regime.

In doing so, the Conseil d’Etat breached the continuity of State and put forward a generalised non-liability of the state.

It is as late as April 2002, with the Papon case, that the French Conseil d’Etat recognized that the French State had to be held responsible for its acts during the German occupation.

Why do victims or their legal successors sue the French State? In doing so, they express the need for a fair State and a fair Justice for all. By asking financial indemnity, they attempt to recover their trust in the French state.

They do not forget that the Vichy Régime was a legal creation of the French IIIrd Republic, where a majority of representatives gave full powers to Marechal Petain.

Citizens ask SNCF to face up its responsibilities in the deportation of Jews; they ask that the company opens up its archives to the public.

One can regret that SNCF is forced to do so, whereas most German companies involved in deportation have willingly confronted their past, such an approach called Vergangenheitbewaltigung in German.

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