Between Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide: An Alternative Analysis of the Holocaust of Romanian Jewry
This article examines the main characteristics of the extermination of the Jews in Romania as part of the Final Solution, in light of alarming political trends that have evolved in Romania in the twenty-first century. The author proposes an alternative explanation for the sharp dichotomy between the inherent extreme and brutal antisemitism of the Romanians (both of the establishment and of individuals), and the fact that Romania did not carry out a complete destruction of its Jews, as required by the race laws and as expected by its enthusiastic ally, Nazi Germany. This dichotomy, expressed in the extreme differences between the ranges of the extermination in different areas of Romania, emphasizes the unique nature of Romania and of the Holocaust of its Jews in comparison with the different ways the Final Solution was implemented in other European countries. The author seeks to challenge the religious dimension, usually characterizing theories of the Holocaust of Romanian Jewry, to an ethnic dimension in arguing that the extermination of Romanian Jewry oscillated in its definition between ethnic cleansing and genocide. The social, eugenic–racial, and ethnic–psychological basis of these processes is extremely important not only because of their contribution to a deeper understanding of the past, but also because of their centrality in the way the Romanian nation today perceives its historic responsibility for its conduct in that period.