Documents on the Struggle of Rumanian Jewry for its Rights during the Second World War: Part One
Even though Rumanian Jews suffered all forms of antisemitism from persecution to mass deportations to slaughter, part of them were saved and some even reached Palestine during the war. A joint “Jewish Council” headed by Dr. Filderman was set up to protect the Jews and carried out sterling work. Filderman contacted dictator Antonescu, a hater of Jews, to protest every discriminatory activity, sometimes even having it annulled. In numerous memoranda he tried to show that persecution of the Jews could only lead to economic disaster for the country. In June 1941, Rumanian troops invaded the USSR. together with Germany, and the Jews were evacuated from eastern Rumanian and sent to camps. Many were arrested and the yellow star had to be worn in military areas. Though the government hated Filderman and accused him of unpatriotic activities, he continued his efforts to save Jews. In May 1943, Filderman was temporarily deported to Transnistria. Following the defeat of the Germans at Stalingrad, where Rumania lost two army corps, a crisis developed between the two countries. Filderman requested that the Jews be moved out of the path of the retreating armies and that the deportees be returned to Rumania. In August 1944, soon after the Soviet attack, Rumania signed a cease-fire agreement. Dr. Filderman was a courageous leader, who by non-violent means saved tens of thousands of lives. He never abandoned his purpose, and was widely respected even by his enemies. He survived the war.