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Ploiesti, Romania (cont.)

During the time of the Holocaust

In 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, approximately 250 Jewish refugees arrived from Poland. The community set up a special committee to care for the refugees. Most of them lived in the houses of the local Jews, and a few of them even lived in hotels. The Joint (Joint Distribution Committee) from Bucharest sent clothing for them, and provided a budget for setting up a kitchen in which the refugees received three meals a day. After half a year, these refugees were forced to leave Romania. They made aliya to the Land of Israel.

Form the autumn of 1939 and onward, Nazi Germany paid particular attention to this region that was rich in oil. In December 1939, the Germans organized citizen's intelligence units. On May 29, 1940, an oil agreement was signed, and in December of that year, a general treaty between Antonescu and Hitler. As a result of all of this, the influence of the Germans grew in the region, and reinforced German army units were brought there. The police chief of Ploiesti, a member of the Iron Guard named Cojocaru, openly supported anti-Semites.

In November 1940, signs were posted on Jewish stores calling on the Christians to boycott Jewish merchandise.

On November 10 of that year, a group of approximately 30 Jews was imprisoned, with the charge that they joined a Communist meeting. They were tortured in jail for more than two weeks. On the night of the 27/28 of November, 11 of them were taken out to be murdered, including Rabbi Friedman. That night,

[Page 222]

the chief rabbi of the city, Rabbi Dr. Menachem Safran was also arrested. He was saved at the last minute, after being tortured with terrible afflictions, thanks only to special intervention.

On November 17, 1940, the men of the Iron Guard destroyed the main sanctuary, the Rabbi's Synagogue, the Heichal Sephardi, and the Luca Moise School. Several Torah scrolls were burned. The charge was that these buildings were in danger after the earthquake that afflicted the region a few days previously. The Jewish work units that were drafted for forced labor were coerced to perform that work. The furniture was transferred to churches, monasteries and Romanian schools. Money and clothing were stolen from the communal offices, and 50 wagons filled with wood, intended for the poor, were confiscated. The girls' school and the bathhouse were confiscated and turned into a hospital. The old cemetery near the girls' school was destroyed.

 

rom1_222a.gif [43 KB] - The invitation to the opening ceremony for the Institute of Jewish Culture in 1939
The invitation to the opening ceremony
for the Institute of Jewish Culture in 1939

 

rom1_222b.jpg [36 KB] - The communal school for girls
The communal school for girls

 

rom1_222c.jpg [37 KB] - The Sephardic synagogue, destroyed during the Holocaust era
The Sephardic synagogue,
destroyed during the Holocaust era

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