Persistent reports from Rumania indicate that Octavian Goga, anti-Semitic leader, poet and Minister of the Interior in the General Averescu cabinet, will be brought back into the cabinet by King Carol. Such a move would prove most unfortunate for the Jews of Rumania. It would also be construed as King Carol’s capitulation to the ultra-chauvinistic elements in Rumania whose anti-Semitism is now strongly tinged by Nazism.
Goga is more dangerous than Professor Cuza as a leader of anti-Semitism. He is more suave, more polished, more skilful in his propaganda, and he exerts a considerable influence with the youth as Rumania’s national poet of today.
Since 1922 the University of Jassy has been the anti-Jewish center from which the former socialist, Professor Cuza, a rabid Jew-baiter for more than forty years, conducted his vicious campaign against the Jews. The anti-Jewish movement in Rumania has been primarily a student movement. At the time I visited Rumania, in 1927, about thirty thousand young men were registered as university students, but only one-half of that number were actually attending the universities. The rest merely wore the student caps. They did not attend school because there was no room for them. Professor Cuza has for years been the leader of the anti-Jewish students. Cuza always defended them when they committed acts of violence and saved many of them when they were in trouble. Cuza raised funds for propaganda against the Jews in the cities and villages. He organized anti-Jewish processions. Meetings were arranged under his direction in village churches, and the priests were urged by the Cuza student agitators to preach against the Jews, and to swear allegiance to the swastika. The wildest myths and legends about the Jews were disseminated. The forged “Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion” were used to bolster up the anti-Semitic lies. The Jewish religion was denounced in the most repulsive terms. The Jews were characterized as ritual murderers and exploiters.
From time to time the Rumanian government issued vigorous declarations to the effect that it was opposed to anti-Jewish discriminations and excesses, and that anti-Jewish offenders would be punished to the full extent of the law. According to these declarations, all the citizens of Rumania had equal rights and were entitled to equal protection under the law. Nevertheless the Cuzists kept up their agitation and their dastardly work, constantly creating disturbances, fanning the flames of hate, and committing acts of violence against the Jews. Whenever the government adopted disciplinary measures against these anti-Jewish offenders, the Cuzists criticized the government sharply and engaged in escapades intended to embarrass the King and the government.
But the man more dangerous than Cuza is Octavian Goga. He is a poet of note and a man of culture. Not content with his laurels as a popular poet, he craved political leadership. Having no party to support his political ambitions, he endeavored to win over the thirty thousand so-called students for his purposes, and made anti-Semitism his political ladder. He went out of his way to flatter the students on all sorts of occasions. He spoke of them as the pride, the stronghold and the salvation of Rumania, as the nationalists who held the future of their country in their hands, and he frequently declared that the Rumanian government must be wisely lenient with this all-important nationalist element.
Goga had written numerous anti-Semitic articles before he became Minister of the Interior in the Averescu government. He also published a book entitled, Mustul Care Fierbe, containing vicious anti-Jewish attacks, while he was Minister of the Interior. That book bore the imprint of the government press, “Imprimeria Statului â€” Buciresti.”
Here are characteristic extracts from his book which was published while he was still Minister of the Interior:
“…These locusts are not impassive witnesses of our present state, nor quiet consumers of Rumanian wheat. Their presence is an economic plague. Reaction against them is the most legitimate feeling of self-preservation. Let us not hear about placid humanitarian ideas and theories of equality expounded in flowery rhetoric…
“Think of the daily insults against our altars, of their pressure wherever they have an opportunity, of their interference in the intimate questions of Transylvania, of their political intrigues, of their want of delicacy . . . The instinct of the people, anonymous and without any doctrine, is aroused against them. The whole country is exasperated, and these creatures with their antipathetic beatitude in the dining cars have become enervating. They are a psychosis for the masses and are becoming a grave problem for the government. Public opinion is growing stronger from day to day as it feels with sorrow that celebrated statesmen of our country have lost their voices in the bank books of their institutions . . . This is the reality in the ‘Fascisto-anti-Semitic’ movement told with the cold objectivity of a medical examination …
“The state of mind of these men, changed during the past five years, from the servility they knew before, to the alarming insolence of today, is not a matter of indifference to us. As we have observed several times, this psychology seems rather strange, embroidered on a basis of very antipathetic cynicism. The restless Ahasverus immediately after having arranged his papers feels free to walk around everywhere. He is crying while we are mute in pious silence; he spits where we are writing in blood; he profanes our altars. He laughs at God, ridicules our institutions, insults the King and throws mud on our statesmen . . .
“It is a reflex of the general resurrection of the Semites after the great war that many an observer has pointed out? Is it a consequence of the political rights we have given them, this somersault from their position of the day before, which has upset some natures destined to discord? We must silence this press of Honigman that desecrates the public conscience and poisons the world. We are perfectly conscious of the Rumania revolt of good taste and we know what we have to do. Using the language of our days, we’ll add a note of the Old Testament: Truth, Truth, I say to thee: Castor Oil is coming . . .”
These passages from the book of the Minister of the Interior could not fail to give encouragement to the dark forces that, under the cloak of aroused nationalism, demoralized the student youth of Rumania, using them for their own sinister purposes and attempting, through them, to poison the minds of the Rumanian masses.
These passages from Goga’s book indicate quite clearly that he has not much to learn from the Nazis. The ideology of the Jew-baiters has always been the same. The same falsehoods are revived. The same old legends are given new life. Only some do it more crudely and savagely than others.
I met Octavian Goga in 1927, He tried to convince me that he was not an anti-Semite. He pointed out that the Rumanian government had displayed great sympathy for a hundred thousand unfortunate Jewish refugees who had fled from Soviet Russia to Rumania for shelter. He said that Rumania was the guardian of Europe against the influx of Asiatic Marxism, as he characterized bolshevism. He explained that the Rumanian students were aroused against the Jews merely because they were poor while the Jewish students were rich, that the Rumanian students had no means of supporting themselves, whereas the Jewish students knew no want. He then assured me that he was planning the building of student homes in the large university centers in the course of one year, and that then the cause for the bitterness of the Rumanian students against the Jews would be removed.
I pointed out to him on that occasion that the Jewish students had been practically forced out of the Rumanian universities by the anti-Jewish violence and intimidation.
Octavian Goga, though a protege of Queen Marie, was nevertheless removed through her influence as a member of the Cabinet. His anti-Semitic activities have continued, in more intense form, as part of his political program.
His appointment as a member of the Cabinet at this time would mean a new course and a definite, open anti-Jewish policy.
Can the Rumanian people afford to capitulate to this intensified and destructive Nazi chauvinism?
FREDMAN ON RADIO
J. George Fredman, past commander of the Jewish War Veterans, will be guest speaker tonight on a radio program sponsored by the non-sectarian anti-Nazi League over Station WEVD at 10 p. m.