« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 276]

The 1938 Discrimination Laws


1938 was the year that marked the beginning of the political and economical suffering of Jewish community of Romania. When the Iron Guard took over the rule of Romania they decreed that all Zionist organizations and the national funds be closed. Although the closures were also directed at the Hachshara, the halutzim did not abandon their positions and with the help of the local authorities continued their work.[1]

The situation worsened when the Goga–Guza government[2] came to power and enacted the discrimination laws. Dr. Nachum Goldman from the Jewish Agency in Geneva was tasked to discuss the problems of the Jewish minority in Romania,[3] but it did not bring any positive results. After the Goga–Cuza government was replaced by the fascist government of “His Majesty King Carol” all political parties and He–Halutz were outlawed on 30 March 1938. In a military order of 15 March 1938, He–Halutz activities were ordered to cease and all the training location to close.

[Page 277]

As a result many members[4] were harassed and arrested by the police.


The Order to dismantle He–Halutz [5]

We, the General of the Division, Gheorge Argeseanu, Military Commander of the 2nd Division, according to the order–law no. 856, published in the Monitorul Oficial (The Official Gazette), no. 34, from 11 February 1838 declaring martial law in the country, command that:

According to our order no. 1, of 23 February 1938 we declare martial law in the present territory.

As a result, the He–Halutz organization that operates in any rural and urban locations can harm our country's interests and can endanger the security of the population.

We order:

  1. To dismantle the entire He–Halutz organization in any of its forms, from any urban and rural centres
  2. To cease any gatherings, meetings and any work activities such as farms, gardens, shops, etc.
  3. The Headquarters will be closed and any meetings or gatherings will be forbiden
  4. Any permits previously issued to conduct meetings or to fundraise are cancelled
  5. Anyone who will contravene this order will be punished according to paragraph 6, of our order no. 1 of 23 February 1938, according to paragraph 5, or the order–law 856/1938
  6. The military police is in charge of implementing this order
  7. The order comes in effect immediately
Signed on: 15 March 1938, by: General P. Argeseanu; the Chief of Staff, Colonel Vintila Davidescu; the Military General Prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel, Judge V. Zaicu.

[Page 278]

Training underground

The local authorities did not close immediately the permanent training farms. They did not bother the farms because they understood that the trainees were preparing to leave Romania. Floreasca continued to function. In Jassy, the Friends of He–Halutz obtained permission for a number of trainees to work together with the Romanian peasants and to safekeep the equipment. In Hatzeg, Rabbi Shlomo Garin arranged with the chief of police to let the halutzim work and leave the farm at night. He offered his large house to the halutzim to sleep at night. Massada was also not harmed and in Beltz, the authorities did not consider the work on the farm dangerous to the security of the city.

Slowly new groups of halutzim started in new places, although it was dangerous during a regime (Garda de Fier – The Iron Guard) that was openly fascist and anti–Semitic. In Ramnicul Sarat, a 25 people group worked for an entire summer in dismal conditions and with very low pay on a farm owned by the chief of police and a few working groups functioned in Transylvania where the legal conditions were less harsh.[6]

Due to the interventions of Dr. Nachum Goldman with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania, Petrescu–Comnene, who was in Geneva on June 1938[7] and the lobbying by Dr. I. Nemirover, Dr.Sh. Zinger and Advocate L. Mizrachi with the Interior Minister, four new agricultural sites were approved. The authorities also promised to return the confiscated equipment and to allow fundraising

[Page 279]

intended to help the Jewish emigration.[8]

[Page 278]


“Immigrant Training” replaces He–Halutz

Permits to operate training were issued to the new organization “Hachsharat Olim” (Immigrant Training). This new organization planned to work for all factions regardless of political affiliation or ideological convictions. Mostly designed for the physical training, without any traces of culture or education, it included at the beginning four farms: Massada, Jassy, Hatzeg and Floreasca.

When He–Halutz was outlawed and forced to close, all youth organizations empowered the Immigrant Training to fundraise for the Jewish emigration from Romania.[9]

Many leaders encouraged the movement to abandon the political divisions and to come together under one organization with the aim to build the national homeland.

[Page 280]

The government bans also affected the youth summer camps that were organized each summer in the Carpathian Mountains. These camps provided social and educational training to the youngsters during summer vacations. The government sent supervisors to the youth summer camps and forced them to sing “Long live King Carol” at the start and the end of the day and discontinue the Zionist education. In the summer of 1939, the camps closed.

The community leaders succeeded to obtain a few permits to keep the camps open, but no one wanted to travel far away from home to the mountains. In Bessarabia the camps were set up on Jewish owned farms.[10]

A few activities took place in this period: the 12th Congress of Shomer Ha–Tzair on 9–13 April 1939 in Kishinev, the last seminar of Gordonia at the beginning of 1940 at the Massada farm in Beltz, the last Gordonia Council in the spring of 1940 in Kishinev.

The entire training activity practically stopped in 1939 and the training groups started to branch out

[Page 281]

in other directions beside agriculture. The financial burden fell equally on the groups and on the Ha–Halutz Centre. On spring 1939, even if some legal conditions did not change and it was possible to run the training, the membership decreased. The authorities relaxed a little the rule because they saw an excellent opportunity to get rid of the Jews, therefore they allowed the emigration.

From the beginning of 1939, He–Halutz started to organize the emigration and helped the members who were ready to leave on Aliyah Bet. He–Halutz became responsible to bring the groups to the ports and to ensure transport from there to Eretz Israel.

On the summer 1939 the General He–Halutz had 26 training locations with 888 members (10 locations in Bessarabia, with 370 members, 9 in Transylvania –268 members and 7 in Regat with 250 members). During the winter of 1939 only 13 locations were left with 400 people. With the emigration of 400 people through illegal Aliyah, there were still 500 people who finished training waiting to leave Romania.[11] Unfortunately, Romania prevented the distribution of the permits from the “Schedule” of April–November 1940.

In February –March 1939 He–Halutz prepared a survey of halutzim in training and of halutzim who finished training in the last two years.

[Page 282]

  In training On location Total
Ha–Shomer Ha–Tzair 130 199 319
Gordonia 68 240 308
Dror Ha–Bonim 133 72 205
Total 331 511 832

This survey was used to assign the number of representatives and secretaries from each faction. The Central Executive had 8 members: Gordonia – 3, Dror Ha–Bonim – 2 and Shomer Ha–Tzair 3. Secretaries: Gordonia 2 members, Dror–Ha–Bonim – 1, Shomer Ha–Tzair – 2 and Central 5 members.[12]


The Annexation of Bessarabia and Bucovina to the USSR; was this the end?

After the Annexation of Bessarabia and Bucovina by the Soviet Union at the end of June 1940, many considered that the He–Halutz movement was finished.[13] In fact, it continued in the underground. Some of the halutzim succeeded to flee from the Soviet Union, but some were arrested and severely punished.

In conclusion, the He–Halutz movement is considered a monumental chapter in the Zionist movement of Romania, with Bessarabia taking the first place!

[Page 283]

Many halutzim were fortunate to make it to Eretz Israel where they contributed to the development of settlements and kibbutzim: Osha, Alonei–Aba, Givat–Chaim, Dan, Hanina, Tirat Tzwi, Kfar Glikson, Massada, Maabarot, Maagan, Mishmar HaYarden, Nordiyah, Nahalat Jabotinsky, Nir Am, Ruchma, Shamir, Shaar ha–Amakin, and many more.

The halutzim were there to help their brothers and sisters during the Holocaust and to absorb the survivors in Eretz Israel.

[Page 284]

Partial list of contributions from He–Halutz Week and special fundraisers of Friends of He–Halutz during 5682–5696 (1922–1936) in Romanian Lei

Year Bessarabia Bucovina Regat Regat
& Bucovina
Entire country
Total for
Total General
Total Fundraising
in Jassy
1922 120,000   120,000                 120,000
1923 No data   No data             699,882   699,882
1924 No data   No data     No data           No data
1925 500,000   500,000     No data     No data     500,000
1926 170,000   170,000 100,000   100,000   600,000 600,000     870,000
1927 285,314   285,315     No data     No data     285,314
1928     No data     No data     No data     No data
1929 239,248 288,588 527,836 36,015 54,915 90,930 47,720 396,052 443,772 300,740   1,363278
1930 224,847   224,847 18,770 152,200 170,970 6,000 253,186 259,186     655,003
1931 161,609   161,609 10,900   10,900 33,660 206,274 239,934     412,443
1932 91,833   91,833 13,201   13201 4,020 82,100 87,020   291,942 483,996
1933 128,922   128,922 12,870 63,520 30,000 93,520       240,000 475,312
1934 100,000   100,000 No data     No data         100,000
1935     No data No data     No data         No data
1936 94,906   94,906 No data     No data         94,906
Total 2,116,679 288,588 2,405,267 191,756 207,115 398,871 155,820 1,567,612 1,723,432 1,000,622 531,942 6,060,134

[Page 285]

  1. 699,882 Lei:The Zionist Federation in Bucharest: 199,882 Lei; Other organizations in Jassy, Bucharest, Galatz, : 500,000 Lei
  2. 500,000 Lei:Part of this money was collected in Bucovina for the Bilicheni farm
  3. 600,000 Lei were collected by the Jews of the Regat for Jassy Farm equipment
  4. 288,588 Lei were collected in Bessarabia for the Massada farm
  5. 54,915 Lei: From the Jewish Community of – 15,000 Lei and from the Rabbanut 39,915 Lei for He–Halutz
  6. 396,052 Lei: From the High Council in Bucharest to assist Aliyah – 320,515 Lei; from Friends of He–Halutzin Bucharest – 72,236 Lei; Women's Zionist Society fo Romania – 3,300 Lei
  7. 300,740 Lei: This sum was transferred directly to assist Aliyah after the riots of Av 5689 (1929) and does not appear in the He–Halutz records
  8. 152,200 Lei: From the Rabbanut in 115,000 Lei to purchase cows for MassadaFrom Adolf Brenhauer, chairman of the Zionist Federation in the Regat – 100,000 Lei; from Women's Zionist Society – 70,000 and Friends of He–Halutz in Bucharest – 83,186 Lei
  9. 253,186 Lei: Women's Zionist Society of Bucharest – 158,830 Lei; Zionist Federation in Bucharest – 47,444 Lei
  10. 206, 274 Lei:Women's Zionist Society of Bucharest – 70,000 Lei; Zionist Federation in Bucharest – 12,100 Lei
  11. 82, 100 Lei: Money collected in the entire country (there are no details)
  12. 291,942 Lei in 1932 and 240,000 Lei in 1933: Women's Society in Bucharest Budget
  13. 30,000 Lei: Total sum (no details) published in the minutes of the Centre of He–Halutz meeting June 1934
  1. The Fundraising in Bessarabia had a very large response among the Community inclusive in the small villages where many volunteered for this task. In many localities, the Friends of He–Halutz and many wealthy supporters donated to the fundraiser effort.
  2. Because the Hebrew and the Yiddish press was banned in 1938, no data exists starting with 1938
  3. The decline in donations in the 1930 was due to:
    1. Decrease in Aliyah
    2. Decline in the economic situation of the Community (anti–Semitism and drought)
    3. Parallel Beitar fundraising activities
    4. The move to Bucharest of the He–Halutz Central
[Page 286]

Illustration no. 14A: Decisions (of the Seventh Congress of He–Halutz, Kishinev, January 1934
(See details on pages: 255–257)



  1. Report of David Barlas on his visit to Bucharest to chairman of the Immigration Department Return
  2. Davar, 4 February 1938 Return
  3. Letter from A. Dobkin to Dr. N. Goldman in Geneva, 9 February 1838 Return
  4. Curierul Israelit, Bucharest, issue 9, 20 March 1938 Return
  5. See the original in the Appendix, p. 350 Return
  6. From a Memo of the Immigration Department of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, November 1939 Return
  7. See in Appendix the instruction of N. Goldman to A. Dobkin Return
  8. From a letter of I. Furman to A. Dobkin Return
  9. The author has seen many authorization from the police Return
  10. See the article by Meier Zait in the book “On Bessarabia Land”, vol. 2. Tel Aviv, 5722 (1962) Return
  11. According to the Immigration Department of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, November 1939 Return
  12. According to the Circular of the Hachsharat Olim (Immigrants Training) organization in Romania, Bucharest, 30 May 1940 Return
  13. The halutzim at Massada thought that they will cooperate with the Soviet regime if they adopt the Marxist line, but soon they realized how wrong they were and they abandoned the farm… Return


« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.

JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  The Jews in Bessarabia     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page

Yizkor Book Director, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright © 1999-2021 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 29 Dec 2020 by JH