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2,000 Jews Slain in Rumanian Terror; Eyewitness Tells Brutalities

January 30, 1941
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

This, I believe, is the first eyewitness account to reach the outside world of the Iron Guard horror in Rumania.

It was necessary for this correspondent to come to Sofia to send out details of the revolt because the Bucharest censorship refused to pass anything but milk and water versions of the insurrection and banned any mention whatever of the well-organized anti-Jewish program carried out simultaneously with the disorders last week.

The tale is one of unrelieved horror–a record of fiendish brutality without precedent in the history of Rumania and with very few precedents in the history of any other country.

Between 4,000 and 6,000 persons were killed in Bucharest alone while the death toll for Rumania as a whole was somewhere between 9,000 and 12,000. These are conservative estimates based on conversations with competent military and police officials and surgeons who have no reason to exaggerate the magnitude of the slaughter.

Of the 4,000 or more lives lost in Bucharest approximately 2,000 were rebel guardists, 600 soldiers and 1,400 civilians. At least 1,000 of the latter were Jews who were murdered by one Iron Guard Army while another battled the khaki-clad Rumanian army in the center of the city. Jewish leaders believed their dead throughout the whole country would exceed 2,000.

Unknown hundreds of Jews will never be found, however, because of the manner in which they were put to death. The spectacle of thousands killing and being killed in a fight for political power is terrible enough but the spectacle of thousands of noncombatants tortured and murdered only because of their race or religion is far worse.

For that reason and also because the general outlines of the insurrection already have been made public, I will confine myself to reporting details of the pogrom, whose relation to the whole uprising must still seem obscure. This correspondent, like most newspapermen, always has been unwilling to place credence in atrocity stories but, after what I saw and was told at Bucharest by an eyewitness whose word cannot be doubted, I am forced to admit that atrocities can and do occur and that those which occurred at Bucharest far exceeded in bestiality anything that might ever be imagined.

Dozens of Jews–women and children as well as men–were literally burned alive. I am not speaking of those who were burned to death in hundreds of buildings to which Guardists set fire, after shooting and beating the inhabitants and looting the contents of their homes. I am speaking only of Jews who were beaten senseless on the streets, robbed, then doused with gasoline and set afire.

In the Bucharest morgue yesterday a military surgeon showed me the charred bodies up in the streets of the Jewish quarter following the most frenzied stage of the pogrom, last Wednesday.

Trusted friends have told me, and officials have confirmed, numerous cases of Jewish women whose breasts were cut off, not to mention sadistic mutilations like gouged out eyes, brandings and bone-breakings.

Perhaps the most horrifying single episode of the pogrom was the ”kosher butchering” last Wednesday night of more than 200 Jews in the municipal slaughterhouse.

The Jews, who had been rounded up after several hours of Iron Guard raids, were put into several trucks and carried off to the slaughterhouse. There the Greenshirts forced them to undress and led them to the chopping blocks, where they cut their throats in a horrible parody of the traditional Jewish methods of slaughtering fowls and livestock.

Tiring of this sport after a few score had been thus dispatched, 40 to 50 armed legionaries, mad with hate, beheaded the rest with axes and knives. Some mangled bodies were disposed of by pouring them down manholes to the sewers usually used to carry off animal remains.

The only other episode comparable to the slaughterhouse massacre–in point of numbers only–was the mass execution in a field near Jilava prison of 160 Jewish leaders who had been imprisoned in the office of the Jewish community on Calea Dudesti.

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