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Labor Action, 30 May 1949


Eugene Vaughn

More Light on Anti-Semitism in Stalinland –

How Rumania Cracks Down on Jews


From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 22, 30 May 1949, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Further evidence is accumulating with regard to anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish practices in Stalinland, in addition to what was recently presented in the April 11 issue of Labor Action.

The latest boulder in a mountain of evidence is to be found in a survey called Jews Behind the Iron Curtain by Dr. Emanuel Patt, a Jewish Bundist leader, issued by the Jewish Labor Committee. This survey is enlightening on the current attitude of the Stalinist bureaucracy within the Russian satellite countries toward Jewish national and cultural life.

Dr. Patt reviews the facts that before World War II there were five million Jews to be found within the borders of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania and the Balkan states. When the war was over, there remained but one million in all these lands. A considerable proportion of the Jews decided to leave the countries where the very soil was soaked through with their blood.

But another part of the surviving Jews could not or would not leave their homes. They adopted the heroic decision of reconstructing their lives on the very ruins of their former existence. And before long these Jews came under the rule of precisely those who had been responsible for the destruction of the once-flourishing Jewish community life in Soviet Russia, the Stalinist bureaucracy.

Rumania an Example

The Jews in all the satellite countries are being forcibly denationalized. Rumania is an excellent example of what is happening to Jewish life within the borders of the Russian satellites.

In Rumania, the Jewish community as an organized cultural or national entity is on the verge of extinction. During 1948, Jewish organizations underwent a systematic “purge.” Jewish schools were forcibly liquidated. Even in schools where Yiddish could still be taught for a few hours (schools where the Jewish children exceeded 20 per cent of the school population were granted this privilege), Jewish history as a special subject was NOT admitted.

On November 5, 1948, a decree was issued ordering the nationalization of 19 Jewish hospitals belonging to the Jewish community. Similarly, the Jewish community was deprived of its right to administer social-security institutions; the Jewish sports clubs such as the Maccabees and Hakoah were dissolved; the Union of Rumanian Jews was dissolved after forty years of activity. On April 21, another 247 Jewish welfare institutions were nationalized, depriving even the Stalinist Jewish “democratic committee” of any real function.

For some time after the war the Rumanian government had made gestures favoring Zionism, as had Stalinist Russia itself. It even authorized the organization of mass emigration to Palestine. However, after Ilya Ehrenberg’s condemnation of Zionism and the Literary Gazette’s characterization of Zionism as a “bacterial weapon in the West’s war against the Soviet Union and People’s Democracies,” the Rumanian government immediately changed its line and its treatment of Zionism

From a major port of embarkation to Palestine for Jews of East Europe, Rumania became a jail for all those Zionist Jews who wished to leave. By the end of October 1948 the police raided the offices of the Jewish National Fund, Keren Hayesod and Keren Kayemet, and the leading Zionists were arrested.

Call Zionism “Fascist”

The Political Bureau of the Rumanian Communist Party at that time adopted a resolution on national problems which stated that “Zionism is a politically nationalistic, reactionary movement of the Jewish bourgeoisie which aims to divert the Jews from the common struggle, side by side with its progressive forces, against capitalism and their own bourgeoisie.” The Jewish Democratic Committee – the Communist agency of the Jewish front organizations – organized a mass meeting in which the Zionists were compared with fascists.

Threats of personal retaliation were directed against Jews who had declared their intention of going to Palestine. (260,000 of 350,000 Jews had registered for emigration.) On December 23, 1948, it was announced that the General Zionist organization “had voluntarily decided to discontinue its activities.” All Zionist parties were liquidated with the temporary exception of Mapam, the pro-Stalinist Zionist group. In 1949 the Mapam was also declared illegal.

No more Jewish schools, no more Jewish culture, no more Jewish organizations, no more Jewish communities. The Jews of Rumania have been subjected to the despotic rule of a small but powerful Stalinist clique. The Iron Curtain has fallen. So much for the Stalinist claim of being the great dispenser of cultural and national autonomy.


Even the government personnel remains imbued with anti-Semitic prejudices. The government has been lax in punishing anti-Semitism. It has been exceptionally lenient toward those responsible for the extermination of Jews during the war. Anti-Semites like Foreign Minister Titulescu were included in the early postwar governments under the benevolent eyes of the Stalinists. Those brought lip on trial for complicity in the murder of Jews during the war were let off with light sentences. Of those who took part in the Yassi pogrom in 1941 (which caused the death of 14,000 Jews), 150 have been identified and as yet no sentences have been pronounced.

An interesting sidelight on the lot of Rumanian Jewry is the running debate which has been going on in the American Yiddish press. The CP’s Freiheit and B.Z. Goldberg of the Jewish Day have been insisting for a long time that Jewish national life in Rumania has been flourishing as never before. The non-Stalinist press reported the contrary. Finally, in March, the Freiheit, published the announcement of the Rumanian government that six schools where Yiddish would be taught were to be reopened! It did not indicate any realization that this news item gave the lie to its previous insistence that Jewish cultural life had been flourishing right along.

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