14,000 Jews of Iași, Romania Murdered in Pogrom
ON THIS DAY in Jewish History: June 28, 1941
The Jews of Iași, Romania are hit with the brunt of an 8 day pogrom at the hands of Romanian and German soldiers, Romanian Special Intelligence, police, and masses of Romanian residents.
By the end of the week, an estimated 14,000 Jews would be murdered, their property pillaged, and another thousands more deported to an undefined location on a "death train".
May the memories of those murdered be a blessing and their souls never be forgotten.
Jews had been living in the Moldovia district in Romania since the 15th century.
By the 1800's, a significant portion of Iași was Jewish. There was a significant amount of Jewish and Zionist activity in the 1800's. In 1878, the poem titled "Hatikvah" that would later become Israel's national anthem, was written in Iași by Naftali Herz Imber.
Unfortunately, as Jewish life became more prominent in Iași, so did antisemitism (especially in universities).
When Hitler rose to power in 1933, the major political parties in Romania adopted antisemitic agendas. In 1940, fascists political groups like the Iron Guard (ultra-nationalistic & antisemitic) gained popularity. Romania (which had originally tried to stay neutral) allied with the Axis powers and aided Nazi Germany. Jews were pushed out of their positions in society, stripped of various rights and antisemitic attacks increased throughout Romania.
Romania planned to enter the war against the Soviet Union at the end of June 1941. The Jews were all painted as "communists conspiring against Romania, trying to sabotage Romania’s war effort".
Ultimately, on Shabbat, June 28th, 1941 in Iași, Romanian and German soldiers, special intelligence units, police and many local civilians carried out a pre-planned pogrom against the Jewish population of Iasi.
Jews were stabbed, shot and beaten in the streets. Their homes were pillaged, looted and destroyed. While many, many civilians were part of the mobs murdering the Jews and turning on their Jewish neighbors, there were a few individuals who tried to defend the Jews and were killed as well, including a town priest.
Thousands more Jews were arrested and stuffed into a “death train” - over-packed cars where they had to go days without food or water as they went from station to station with no destination other than to kill them off. The majority of the Jews aboard the train did not make it off alive and died of starvation, dehydration or suffocation.
The survivors were then forced to clean the blood of the Iasi streets.
An estimated 14,000 Jews were killed during the pogrom which lasted for 8 days. Many more were deported and the 300 year old Jewish community came to an end.