Franklin Mott Gunther on “The Brutal Measures Taken in Rumania Against the Jews” in 1941
The popular Rumanian reaction to the recent excesses committed against the Jews is difficult of assessment. The Rumanians have heretofore insisted upon being known as a tolerant people, and I do not doubt that the majority of them learn of the massacres and other atrocities with, possibly, a slight feeling of satisfaction, mixed with a stronger sense of surprise, shock and misgiving. It is undoubtedly true that the anti-Semitic campaign of the Legionary régime, the continual attacks of the press, the present military collaboration with anti-Semitic Germany, and the attitude of the Government during General Antonescu’s absence at the front, during which time Mr. Mihai Antonescu has been Acting Premier, have all had their effect on popular opinion, tending to make it especially anti-Semitic, but I fail to believe that the country as a whole willingly countenances outright slaughter and brutality in the handling of the Jewish problem. [...]
But the fact remains that there has been no popular uprising or movement against all these cruelties. It may well be that the ethical sense of the Rumanian people has been somewhat dulled by recent miseries and disasters [...], with the result that they are not fully conscious of the horrors of the Jewish phase. Whatever the cause, 1941 has thus far proved to be a black year for the Jews in Rumania.
My own experience is that the better class of Rumanians thoroughly disapproves of the methods resorted to from time to time against the Jews, the cruelty and the injustice. [...]
The fact remains, however, that the lower-class Jew who has filtered into Rumania since the War from Galicia, Russia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, or elsewhere, and fastened upon village and small-town life is, by and large, not assimilable. The Rumanian resents his presence, although it is largely due to his own laissez faire that this type of Jew is here, and, from time to time when things are not going well, sporadic examples of appalling cruelty occur. The Jew is always the convenient butt. Frank Rumanians will admit that robbery is often the real leit motif.
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