Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Over 60 Jews Killed, 200 Wounded in Rumanian Rioting

July 8, 1940
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

More than 60 Jews were killed and 200 injured in anti-Semitic rioting throughout Rumania during the week following the Russian occupation of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, this correspondent established today from trustworthy observers arriving from Bucharest.

The figures do not include casualties during rioting between local Rumanian and Communist elements during evacuation of the occupied areas. Deaths resulting from these “rear guard” skirmishes are estimated to exceed 1,000. Many of the casualties in this category were Jewish but the riots were basically political and military, and only incidentally anti-Semitic.

The worst purely anti-Semitic riot occurred at Dorohoi, northern Moldavia, on the night of July 3. Forty Jews were killed and more than 100 injured before the police succeeded in restoring order.

Details of this pogrom are few and vague, but it is clear that it was instigated by Iron Guardists seeking to direct the populace’s indignation against the Jews rather than against Russia or the Rumanian Government for failure to organize resistance.

Rioting at Arad, near the Hungarian border, on July 2 threatened to become a massacre but the police quelled it in time to prevent wholesale slaughter. Six Jews were killed and 20 wounded, however, before the rioting ceased.

Most other cases seem to have been sporadic outbursts by individuals instead of an organized campaign. In every case exact details could not be furnished because observers in Bucharest were not allowed to leave the capital and had to depend on second hand reports. Nevertheless it was possible to establish beyond doubt details of two incidents which appear typical of most of the murders of Jews which occurred.

David Abromovitz, a young Bessarabian Jew, was shot and killed on the evening of July 2 while travelling in an overcrowded third-class coach of a refugee train between Dorohoi and Jassy, just outside the occupied areas.

One refugee who had been drinking accused Abromowitz, as a Jew, of being responsible for the Bessarabian debacle. Abromowitz protested and the heated argument that ensued ended when the man took out a pistol and shot him through the head.

Another murder definitely established was that of Adolph Groper, proprietor of the Park Hotel at Sinaia. Groper, originally from Bessarabia, was shot and killed the night of July 2 by a detective, also a Bessarabian, who accused him and other Jews of plotting Russian seizure of the province and of delighting in it. Groper’s body was shipped to Bucharest and cremated on Wednesday.

Although other cases of anti-Semitic violence continue to be reported, it seems that the Government has gained control and order has been restored. In the capital itself there were few anti-Semitic incidents despite the hysterical state of some sections of the populace.

On July 3 a riot broke out at the Polytechnic Institute when Gentile students assembled to forbid entry of Jewish graduate engineers who had been assigned to the school from factories throughout the country. The violence here was confined to scuffling and none was injured sufficiently to require hospitalization.

A similar incident occurred the same day at a military school in Bucharest, where Gentile reserve officers ejected Jewish reservists who had been ordered to report for duty. Superior officers intervened and ended the brawl before it reached serious proportions.

In all fairness to the Government, observers reported that despite the anti-Semitic policies it has made every effort to maintain order. Whether anti-Jewish rioting will be renewed in the future depends on the policies to be adopted by the Gigurtu Government.

Rumanian Jews are inclined to be pessimistic, however, because of the presence in the Government of so many Iron Guardists, who are violent anti-Semites.

One of these, Horia Sima, Minister for Cults, yesterday proclaimed the Government’s devotion to the “victorious nationalism” imposed by Germany and pointedly emphasized that religious liberty in Rumania henceforth would be limited to Rumanians. That is, Jews will be excluded from the right to worship.

Recommended from JTA