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Posted Sunday, August 16, 1998


Did Jews sent to Auschwitz go to Transnistria (Rumania) Instead? The Mystery Deepens.

We have received this material from Romanian historian George Popovici, Adjunct Director of Project Genocide in Charge of Eastern European and Interethnic Issues, living in the United States; it amplifies material posted on this Website on one of WW.II's significant mysteries -- were tens of thousands of European Jews, destined for a nameless fate at Auschwitz, shipped at the last minute to Transnistria instead?

Popovici writes: Since Professor Mayer has health problems, I have undertaken to clarify some issues myself. Carol Iancu, professor of Jewish Studies from France, writes in an article, "The Jews of Romania during the Antonescu Regime as reflected in French Diplomatic Documents", p. 264, in Randolph L. Braham (ed.), The Destruction of Romanian and Ukrainian Jews during the Antonescu Era (Boulder; Social Science Monographs, 1997) the passages reproduced below. They were brought to my attention by Professor Mayer, who knows much more about these things than I do.


"A telegram sent on June 22, 1942, by Ambassador [Jacques] Truelle [the wartime French Ambassador in Bucharest] to Paris reports that 8,600 Jews from Holland, 11,600 Jews from France, and 7,000 Jews from Belgium have been sent by the Germans to this region [i.e., Transnistria - G.P.] The entire operation of this slow process of putting people to death, a little known aspect of the Final Solution, is found here outlined in an arresting manner:

'Transport seems to have taken place under horrendous conditions, and neither children, the old, nor women were spared. The Jews were apparently housed in ruined barracks where German troops had previously been quartered. Their plight is worse than wretched. They have brought with them only 50 kilograms of baggage and 10 marks per person. The German and Romanian authorities use them for various kinds of work without feeding them or paying them. No one is let off, not even the sick or children, who even if they are only eight years old are treated as adults. As a result of this kind of particularly cruel treatment, mortality rates are about 30 percent per day. Among other things, various contagious diseases are beginning to show up in view of the primitieve housing conditions, without any hygienic facilities whatsoever. On June 13, the Romanian authorities on their own sent 4,683 Jewish men, women and children away from Cernauti'"

I contacted [SEE 3 BELOW] Radu Ioanid, of the U.S.Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington (USHMM), or, more precisely, the second in command of the division for relations with foreign countries, and a specialist on the Holocaust in Romania.


He classifies [BELOW] the source used by Truelle as an "unsubstantiated rumor". It is not my purpose to indicate my views in the dispute between Carol Iancu (in Romanian "Carol" incidentally means "Charles") and Ioanid.

Iancu is more anti-Romanian than Ioanid, and does not cite a specific document, but only Document No. x in his forthcoming book, which might have already appeared.

The importance of this controversy should not be underestimated: some Jews who are supposed to have arrived in Auschwitz were in the wagons which did not reach that camp, but instead went to the East, as Professor Mayer has indicated.

Perhaps they did not reach Romanian-administered Transnistria, but nearby areas in the Ukraine.

It should be kept in mind that the northernmost area between the Bug and Dniester Rivers was administered by the Germans.

The declassifications of the German radio transmissions captured by Venona (of the O.S.S.) might provide us with a great deal of information, as would the written documents which comment on the captured data.

Whatever has been leaked to me concerning Venona appears in a number of newsgroups, in one of my postings [6q7j7a$8rf$], which has not been commented on by anybody.

My knowledge of the subject matter is imperfect, and my (unstated) point in the postings was largely that Holocaust historians are wrong.



George Popovici wrote to Dr Ioanid at the USHMM on July 10, 1998:

My name is George Popovici, and I am a very distant relative of Mayor Traian Popovici of Cernauti. One of my friends has sent me the following text, which is of unknown origin. I have read some of your articles, and most of one of your books, The Sword of the Archangel, and it is my impression that you would be the best authority to whom I should refer the text below. Please tell me what is accurate and what is not accurate in it. I am rather skeptical about much of what is written in the text. You may assume that I am generally familiar with the English-language Holocaust-related literature on Romania published until 1994, but that I am neither a specialist nor genuinely up-to-date. Nor do I have access to the most recent literature or a deep interest in the topic. My motivation for writing this letter is mostly based on curiosity, and my training in history does not go beyond a few graduate courses. Since I suppose that you might be busy, please do not feel obliged to provide me documentation (i.e., footnotes, names of sources, etc.). You may answer in either English or Romanian. Thank you.


George Popovici

Text: I have recently discovered some interesting materials which I would like to share with you. First of all, in early 1942, the Romanian Secret Service of Information captured Ilya Ehrenburg's message to the Jews of Poland and Romania to prepare to engage in anti-Axis activities during the planned spring offensive of the Red Army. In connection with the death camps, I would note that some point before reaching Auschwitz (and also Treblinka), the cars of the trains coming from countries such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands were decoupled. Some cars went to Auschwitz, and some went to other places in the East, including the German-administered Ukraine and Transnistria.



According to a document from 1942, 26,200 French, Belgian and Dutch Jews were shipped to Transnistria up to some time in the summer (?) of 1942. Most Belgian Jews deported in 1942, allegedly to Auschwitz, apparently reached Transnistria. Reports from 1943, indicate the arrival of Jews from Theresienstadt to Transnistria. These people had been sent to the "model ghetto" from Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and perhaps Bohemia and Moravia (I do not remember the details, although I have the sources).[1]

The reports also indicate the sending of Bulgarian Jews to Transnistria (not all of them went to Treblinka) in 1943, as well as the deportation and execution of Polish Jews by the Germans in Transnistria. It has been documented by Christopher Browning that the discussions between the Germans and the Hungarians also indicated that some high-ranking Budapest officials were planning to send 100,000 or so Jews from Hungary to Transnistria in 1942. On August 8, 1942 a German newspaper from Bucharest talked about 185,000 deportees to Transnistria. Romanian documents talk only about 110,033 or something like 125,000 who got there.

I have heard of a discussion between a by no means intelligent Jewish librarian whose parents had died in Transnistria who was writing a book on the Holocaust, and who has connections at Yad Vashem. One always needs connections to really get access to documents in Israel. She said that 60,000 Jews were deported to Transnistria in 1942, and she was certainly not smart enough to come up with that on her own. When questioned, she was evasive. Since the Romanians deported only something like 7,000 Jews to Transnistria in 1942, the rest had to come from elsewhere.[2]

I could go on and on, and I would like to document my statements with sources and documents. I already have materials from Romania, France, Russia, the U.S., etc. I can provide you with more details, and can cite my sources. Many of the Jews allegedly gassed at Auschwitz were sent to the East, shot by the Einsatzgruppen, or died in horrible conditions in ghettos (in one place in Transnistria, there was allegedly a 30% mortality per day, undoubtedly an exaggeration). Some of them were sent to Siberia by the Soviets in 1944-1945.


[logo]Radu Ioanid of the USHMM replied to the above letter:

I think I do have the answer to your question(s). Please do call me at 202 488 6118 or send me through e:mail your phone number. There is a lot to be said and it would be easier if we talk.

Thank you best regards Radu Ioanid


To which George Popovici however responded, on July 18, 1998:

Thank you for your message. I would have preferred to get the answer by e-mail, partly so that it could be posted from my deja-news account. In addition to that, for reasons related to privacy, I do not give my address and phone number. That's why I never sign petitions. Moreover, the USHMM is a government institution, and the scandal over Dr. Roth's appointment and resignation only reinforces my desire for privacy.

Moreover, and even more importantly, I have received materials which would document much, though not all, of what is written in the text.

This is not to say that I have enough historical discernment to judge everything, but only that I have an idea about what happened. At any rate, your comments also seem to indicate that there is some, or a lot of, truth to the allegations in the text. In other words, my curiosity has been satisfied.

Sincerely, George Popovici


[logo]Dr Ioanid replied to this as follows:-

I certainly respect your privacy and I understand that you don't want to release your phone number or address. Since there is a lot of information on the very important role played by your relative in the saving of the Jews from Cernauti I thought that it would be easier to talk to you on the phone.

In term so called the deportation of the Jews from Western Europe to Transnistria there is no documentary evidence proving that Jews deported from various Western or Central European countries arrived to Transnistria.

There is one exception, a document from Quai d'Orsay, mentioning an unsubstantiated rumor in this sense.

My affirmation is based on about 800,000 war time documents originating from various Romanian, Moldavian and Ukrainian archives which exist on microfilm in our Museum. Alexianu the governor of Transnistria was very much worried and aware about every new transport of Jews deported to Transnitria. Again no trace of these Jews in the territory under his administration. Finally not one survivor from Transistria mentions the arrival of the Jews from Central and Western Europe in this territory. I want also to mention to you two recent books on this subject: Jean Ancel's Transnistria (Atlas, Bucharest 1998, 3 vols) and Evreii sub regimul Antonescu (Hasefer, Bucharest 1997).

Sincerely yours, Radu Ioanid

Further Notes on the above by George Popovici:
  1. Joseph Schechtman writes in his article "The Transnistria Reservation", in YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science (New York: Yiddish Scientific Institute, YIVO, 1953), on p. 190-191: "There are indications that in 1943, Transnistria began to serve as a kind of "reservation" for deportation not only of Romanian Jews, but of Jews from other Nazi-dominated areas. On February 28, 1943, the London press reported that thousands of jews who had been transported from their homes in Germany, Austria, Slvoakia and the Czech Protectorate to the "model concentration camp" at the fortress of Theresin in the Protectorate, were being sent to Transnistria. 17 [JTA Bulletin, March 1, 1943]
      Eight months later, reports from Bucharest stated that freight trains crowded with Jews deported from France, Holland and Belgium "continue to reach the city of Jassy en route to Transnistria", where they "are isolated in camps together with Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovina.
    18 [Ibid., November 1, 1943]
    Jews from Germany and Bulgaria, as well as 700 Polish Jews, were among the deportees of Mogilev.
    19 [Ibid., July 23, 1943]"
      There are some documents, which have been cited by Radu Ioanid in 1990 and 1997, which support the contention that there were German, Austrian, and Czech Jews deported to Transnistria in 1942 from Romania, and that Polish Jews who had gotten there in unknown ways were executed in the southern part of the territory by Germans, but they will be posted only in a further updating of this text.
      It has been documented by Christopher Browning and by others that the discussions between the Germans and the Hungarians also indicated that some high-ranking Budapest officials were planning to send 100,000 or so Jews from Hungary to Transnistria in 1942. See, for example, Christopher R. Browning, The final Solution and the German Foreign Office (New York: Holmes and Meier Publishers, Inc., 1978) p. 128 and passim. On August 8, 1942 a German newspaper from Bucharest talked about 185,000 deportees to Transnistria. Romanian documents talk only about 110,033 or something like 125,000 who got there. The documents concerning the planned deportations of most of the Jews of the parts of (southern) Transylvania (including Banat and Crisana) which were still under Romanian rule after the Vienna Award of August 30, 1940 clearly show that these movements of population, which were planned for the latter part of 1942, had Transnistria, not the German death camps in Poland, as their destination.
     See the documents published in Felicia (Steigman) Carmelly (on Behalf of the Transnistria Survivors Association, Toronto), Shattered! 50 Years of Silence: History and Voices of the Tragedy in Romania and Transnistria (Scarborough, Ontario: Abbeyfield Publishers, 1997), p. 102-107 (both photocopies of the negatives of the documents, and their translation into English). I also received the documents which Dr. Carmelly or her association received, from an anonymous source. I believe that she is probably some sort of medical doctor; I do not think that she is an historian. The documents are, of course, not properly interpreted in the book. The correct interpretation is mine. The documents have been cited in the newsgroups by George Popovici, and nobody has refuted that this is the correct interpretation.
  2. I already have materials from Romania, France, Russia, the U.S., etc. I can provide you with more details, and can cite my sources. Gheorghe Buzatu also shows that the documents in the archives of the Kremlin talk about the number of prisoners of war taken by the Soviet Union between June 22, 1941 and September 2, 1945.
      According to the Soviet data, the Soviets captured 10,173 Jewish prisoners of war. See Buzatu, p. 20-21. I think that this is an understatement because, for example, Finnish Jews were probably counted as Finns rather than as Jews, and because the number of Gypsies, 383, also seems unusually low. Many Gypsies were probably counted as Romanians, Hungarians, etc., and a number of Jews might have been also counted as something else.
      It is also reasonably clear that the numbers of prisoners who were counted is smaller than the numbers of missing-in-action, and excludes those who died on their way to the camps. I, of course, believe that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz, but the burning in open fires of Jews indicates that the gas chambers and crematoria at Auschwitz could not "handle" the job.

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