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F. The Jews of Roman and the Jewish Problem
in the Local and National Press

Public Thanks

(“Romanu”, Roman 9 May 1885)

“On the 5th of the current month, while I was passing over the Moldova Bridge, Mr. Herşcu Calman, the bridge's warden changed for me a bill of 100 lei. Being in a hurry, I forgot on his table my purse containing another 100 lei and various valuable papers. It didn't take long after I arrived to my house, and Mr. Calman, following me with his carriage, found me and returned me my purse. For this laudable deed, I feel that I need to thank and honor publicly Mr. Calman, and be forever grateful.

Peter G. Misir.”

From: The Jewish problem in A.V. Nerson – Romanian Jews in the 20th century – Reflections on the Jewish Issue in Romania, Roman 1910. Printing House Leon Friedman.

Extracts:

“The idea that Jews are rich is wrong, a prejudice. In many of the towns of Moldova, Buhuşi, Neamţ, Focşani, you will find,

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in a population of 34000 Jews, 2 – 3 rich people, 1300 small merchants, the rest being poor laborers. The 200–300 merchants that own a shop look rich; however, in reality they live from today to tomorrow, have to pay rent, a policy etc., but in order to keep their credit in order, they do everything they can just to preserve the appearance of wealthy merchants. The majority of the Jews are small manufacturers or craftsmen: shoemakers, tailors, tinsmiths. Jews are involved not just in commerce.

Many of the Jews are craftsmen. Until 15–20 years ago, most of the tailors and shoemakers were Jews, and if so many of them became merchants, it was not their fault. Since the old days, commerce was the only way of living they were allowed to practice freely, and it is clear that practicing it for centuries, they improved and became good and able merchants. They could have been good farmers, good engineers and lawyers, if only they were allowed to be…

The law has expelled them from the rural communities, motivated by the fact the Jidan (pejorative word for Jew) exploits the peasant, tempts him into drinking and cheats him in measures. An inexperienced person may have thought that as soon as the Jews were expelled from the villages, happiness will prevail in the rural communities. However, the experience proved this assertion to be false. Since 20 years ago, as the Jews left the villages and the pubs were transferred into Christian hands, the misery remained the same as in the past, the alcoholism has not disappeared and the poor peasants had the only consolation of being exploited not by a Jew but by a Romanian brother, if it wasn't an Armenian or a Greek…

The fact is that the Jew, possessing good qualities, can easily adapt to new fields of activities: The Romanian families and

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the Romanian aristocracy are hiring Jews for managing their estates and factories, as well as doing their book keeping, and although they would like to hire a Romanian worker, their particular interest drives them, sometimes with regret, to hire a Jew as the head of their establishment. We all know the Romanian families that are involved in intensive agriculture, in manufacturing conserves, exploiting forests, in the timber business, or that they have oil wells, and it is a fact that Jews are placed at the head of those modern establishments. Nevertheless, every year during Easter, the Christians exploit the hate against the “Jidans,” because the traitor Judah Iscariot was one of them.

Neither the Spanish Inquisition and the massacres against Jews of ages ago, nor the more sophisticated persecutions, but of the same cruelty level, of the present days were enough to expiate the ancient sin in the eyes of the Christians, thus even nowadays we suffer, for the 300 – 400th generation, the consequences of an ignoble but individual act, done by one of our own… Christ was a Jew, who commanded nothing but to love your fellow man as you love yourself. How can your conscience cope with the inhuman measures you are taking against those of your own God's nation? How can you conciliate your deeds with His sublime morals?

The French journalist Hardouin has affirmed: “Nothing can be done without God's will. It was the Father's will that the Son, Jesus Christ, be betrayed by one of his disciples. None of the apostles hurried to carry God's will and betray. It was Judah who sacrificed himself and decided to be the first martyr of Christianity,

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and with a bleeding heart he betrayed, and he carried on with his self–sacrifice, until he degraded himself by taking the 30 dinars as payment for the betrayal.”

Anghel Corbeanu – Max Blecher (“R.C.M.“ 1 Jan 1972)

“Born on 8 September 1909 in Botoşani, M. Blecher comes from a middle class Jewish family. His father was a well off merchant who kept a porcelain shop on the main street of Roman, where the products of a small ceramics factory (Lazǎr), located at the outskirts of the town, were displayed and sold. He left the city of Botoşani to Roman as a child, studied there in the elementary school and high–school, growing up in the atmosphere of a provincial town, which generated the poetry of obsession of Bacovia (…)

From 1928, at the age of 19, M. Blecher's tragedy began – a life as an infirm, living the rest of his life on his back, immobilized. However, the terminally ill youngster was a lively intellectual, interested in literature, philosophy and painting.

On wheeled tables placed at the left and the right of his bed, where his ivory hands could reach – notes his friend Saşa Panǎ, who visited him many times – were placed the current books and journals, sent from abroad (…). After wandering in various sanatoriums for bones tuberculosis, in the spring of 1935, M. Blecher's parents rented for their son a quiet house at the outskirts of Roman.

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Here he wrote at all times, carrying out his vocation until his last moment. This was the way Saşa Panǎ surprised him, writing in the same position he ate and slept, with the notebook placed on a plank, fit on his knees, bent by ankylosis. This was the way Mihail Sebastian found him, and will never forget the big eyes, a little glassy, dilated by the long insomnia, the quiet voice, sometimes sticky from unshed tears…“

Engineer Ion Uscatu – “Remembrance – Righteous among people – A name for eternity – Viorica Agarici

“3 July 1941 – A freight train arrives to the station, with the cars locked and guarded by soldiers. Viorica Agarici was already accustomed to such trains, from which prolonged moans were heard. But she is stopped by soldiers, carrying rifles with bayonets on top. Little did she know that this train was one of the two “death trains”, departed from Iaşi three days ago with the destination Cǎlǎraşi. But Viorica was not a person to be frightened, not even by bayonets. She stopped in front of the train, and warned the soldiers that she will break the doors open, to see what is happening inside, and what is the reason for the moans and screams.

The guards, Romanians or Moldovans, became frightened by such daring, and although they were afraid of punishment, they let her open one wagon. And when the guards affirmed that those were the “Jews from Iaşi,” she shouted back that “the Red Cross does not distinguish between those in need. If they are guilty, they would be brought to trial”. Opening the wagon, the railway workers, and the sanitary workers remained speechless.

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In the words of our heroine, Viorica Agarici: “Then, I saw what kind of inferno it was there, in a layer of human waste and blood, tens and tens of people in each wagon, naked, maddened by thirst, packed like sardines, the dead, the dying and the living all together. For three days they were traveling in an unbearable heat, in freight cars hermetically sealed, which had been used before to transport carbide. The smell was unbearable”.

“The shouts of Viorica Agarici were so loud, at the scene of these monstrosities, that the guards were intimidated, and they let the train being transferred to a garage line, where the orderlies took out tens of corpses, and those alive were showered with a hose. The wagons were later cleaned also, and those who remained alive were fed and allowed to drink, a most important thing, because they were condemned to death by thirst. A day and a night lasted this ordeal of bringing back to life those 1000 people who had remained alive in the train, and if they arrived at their destination, it was because of Viorica Agarici. Secretly, she gave them food and water supply, which enabled them to hold on till Cǎlǎraşi. And the colonel Anton Gherasim, at the order of the “general” that was Viorica Agarici, replaced the dirty straw in the wagons, with new dry straw. To what did Viorica expose herself – this small woman with a soul as big as a mountain?

Her deed could not remain without consequences, consequences worthy of those days. Some people walked for days in front of her house and her windows, placing flowers! Others, however, broke the windows and destroyed her house. And the lady had to

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resign from the Red Cross and flee to Bucharest. After the liberation, some of those saved by Victoria Agarici in 1941, have ensured for her a pension for 35 years, till her death in 1979. She did not have another pension. Others took care to lock Anton Gherasim in jail, as a war criminal, and confiscate his house. This is the way history is written!

22 May 1983: On the Avenue of the Righteous among People in Jerusalem, in a special ceremony, her son, a man 75 years old, was invited to plant a tree in her memory, since she was included in the list of the “Righteous among People”. It has been said there: “Viorica Agarici has rehabilitated the human race, demonstrating that although there are in the world beasts with the face of human beings, there are as well noble beings that deserve the biblical description of “creatures made in the shape and resemblance of God”. But the old man (who had spent 17 years in prison as a son of an estate–owner) was not allowed to attend the ceremony. The tree was planted in his absence.

 

In place of conclusion

It was proposed that the street where Viorica has lived, and in the past was called Ion Agarici (now Ecaterina Teudoriu) receive back its past name in recognition of her heroism. Well deserved!

In 1937, I was the class delegate to the “Red Cross,” the school delegate being prof. Iacob König, teacher of Latin, Romanian, French and German. The irony was that I was a Jew, but a delegate of the Red Cross, not the Red Star or the Red Crescent.

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We collected one Leu per pupil each month, and passed it to the teacher. We got a receipt! He and his son had been “travelers” in the train of death, where he was taken out convoluted around his son's neck, under the terrified eyes of Viorica Agarici, who had known him for many years. But his mouth, now closed, could not say to her anymore: “Be happy lady. None other than you believed in this principle: the Red Cross does not recognize country or nationality; it only recognizes the human being!”

In the avenue of the Righteous among people, in Jerusalem, the tree planted in 1983 grows along the others, carrying the inscription of one of those who proved by their lives and deeds that they are the real pillars that support humanity: Viorica Agarici, Lech Walesa, Helmut Kohl, have bent their heads as a sign of penitence for the happenings in their countries. Viorica Agarici has redeemed, we think, the evil deeds that happened in ours.

(“Cronica Romaşcanǎ” [Roman Chronicle], no. 27, 27 Jun – 4 Jul 1983)

Sandu Sticlaru – “Romanul Liber” [The Free Roman], Roman / 28 Jun – 4 Jul 1991

“ ;The constant oscillation between pseudo–seriousness and pseudo–humor gives this actor a special charm, which turns, for his listeners, into an audible performance. No matter what kind of play he presents, he will always leave the strong impression of his voice – a mix of friendliness and wonder, power of expression and pomposity of a musketeer. In general, Sticlaru refuses main roles, which could have kept him constantly on the stage and through which he could have dominated

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the other characters. On the contrary: his presence is secondary, adjacent or parallel, compensatory or contradictory; yet, by his confident style of playing and the characteristic sonority of his voice, the character that he is portraying will follow the members of the audience long after he has left the stage. Through the repertoire that he chooses, as well as through his ability to portray a large line of characters, Sandu Sticlaru accompanies his public along the various ages of his life (…): a complex interpretation, whose artistic palette contains not the exceptions, but the daily life of the people, with its joys and achievements, but particularly its moments of wisdom.”

 

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