On January 14, 1941, Adolf Hitler revealed to the Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu the plan to invade the USSR, and on June 12, 1941 his "Guidelines for the Treatment of the Eastern Jews." Well before the Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942, Antonescu launched Romania's Final Solution in response to Hitler's cue. What we know of the Antonescu-Hitler connection argues against the functionalist interpretation of the Final Solution. Though subsequently forgotten, the Antonescu-Hitler understandings were invoked at the 1946 Paris Peace Conference, when the new communist government sought to blame Germany and exonerate Romania of responsibility in the death of the Jews deported to Transnistria in 1941/42.

At the beginning of the war against the Soviet Union, Mihai Antonescu, Romania's Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, a one-time professor of international law at Bucharest University and now the "ideologue" of the Romanian regime (he also held the post of Minister of Propaganda), spoke to the Cabinet. A man who had studied Mein Kampf and who cited from Hitler's speeches, Mihai Antonescu announced the end of humanitarianism: "I beg you be implacable. Saccharine and foggy humanitarianism has no place here. . . . The Roman Empire performed a series of barbarous acts against its contemporaries, and yet it was the greatest political creation. . . . Therefore, without any formalities, complete freedom! I take full legal responsibility and tell you, there is no law."1 This statement would have been impossible before the influence of Hitler, and it is reminiscent of the Führer's speech, on the eve of the invasion of Poland, about the Great Khan's role in history, when the Nazi leader said, "Genghis Khan killed millions of women and children by his own will and with gay heart. History sees in him only a great state builder. What weak Western civilization thinks about me does not matter."2 The influence of Nazi Germany upon the regime of General, and then Marshal, Ion Antonescu came primarily through Adolf Hitler.

On January 14, 1941, in Obersalzburg, Hitler and Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel revealed to Ion Antonescu in broad terms the first of two great secrets: Operation Barbarossa, the plan for the invasion of the Soviet Union, and their hopes that Romania would join the war against the Soviet Union and communism in order to [End Page 252] recover Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina—the Romanian territories annexed by the USSR in June 1940 following the Hitler-Stalin Pact. Mihai Antonescu boasted to the Cabinet that as early as January 9, 1941, at the German Legation in Bucharest he had discussed with "special emissaries from Germany the possibility of. . . launching a war against Russia."3 In June 1942 Mihai Antonescu told the ministers that from April 1941 he had been preoccupied with preparations for the war, preparations both military and diplomatic: "Marshal [Ion] Antonescu and I," he boasted, "knew a long time beforehand when we would enter the war."4

Five months after the Antonescus' discussions with the Germans, Hitler revealed to Ion Antonescu—whom he had received in Munich—the second great secret: his regime's intention to exterminate the Jews of Eastern Europe. This disclosure, however, remained a secret and did not appear in either transcript of the June 12, 1941, conversations. Clues, however, appear in other places. In August 1941, for example, believing that Germany stood on the brink of victory, Mihai Antonescu informed the Cabinet that he had discussed the "solution" of the Jewish Question with a representative of the Reich: "I can report to you that I have already conducted intensive negotiations with a high-ranking German representative of . . . organizations from Germany with regard to the Jewish problem. [The Germans] understand that the Jewish problem will ultimately require an international solution, and they wish to help us to prepare this international solution."5

Before continuing we need to mention another important matter pertaining to German-Romanian relations. In January 1941 Ion Antonescu suppressed a revolt of the Legionnaires, as the radical fascist Iron Guard were known. Much as Hitler had done away with the radical SA leadership during the Night of the Long Knives, Romania's "Conducator" eliminated a radical but unruly following. During the struggle between Antonescu and the Iron Guard, Hitler was obliged to choose between two potential partners. An order to the German forces then stationed in Romania to intervene on one side or the other could have altered the outcome. But Hitler favored Antonescu. At their meeting on January 14, Hitler gave a free hand to Antonescu to crush the Legionnaires. Even before that meeting it had become clear that everyone with an operational role in Berlin supported Antonescu: Hitler, Ribbentrop, the Wehrmacht generals who met with Antonescu, the head of the military delegation in Bucharest, various economic offices, and the soon-to-be-replaced chief of the German Legation in Bucharest, Wilhelm Fabricius. In principle, but from a distance, security chief Himmler and all of his organizations, as well as Propaganda Minister Goebbels, supported the Iron Guard.

It should be emphasized that the Legionnaires—and not Antonescu—were the natural partners of Nazi Germany. Hitler backed Antonescu, despite the fact that he was not his ideological counterpart, because Antonescu exerted firm control over his army and because he upheld the economic commitments that he had undertaken towards the Reich. On January 24, after the battle had actually been decided but [End Page 253] before Berlin knew this with certainty, Goebbels wrote in his diary: "In Romania, nothing clear yet. The Legionnaires continue their revolt and Antonescu orders them shot. The Führer is on [Antonescu's] side: he wants an agreement with a state and not with a world view. . . . Still, my heart is with them."6 Several days later, after learning of the Legionnaires' defeat, Goebbels wrote: "With the Führer. He continues to support Antonescu, since he needs him for military reasons. One point of view. But it wasn't necessary to wipe out the Legion."7

Adolf Hitler greets Ion Antonescu, date unknown, possibly April 12, 1942, at Klessheim Castle in Salzburg. Next to Antonescu stands the Romanian Ambassador, Gen. Ion Gheorghe; in between is Hitler's interpreter, Paul Schmidt. Behind Hitler appear his personal adjutant Julius Schaub and Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. USHMM, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.

Himmler's emissaries in Romania helped the Legionnaires' commander Horia Sima and other leaders of the movement to escape to Germany. Hitler understood that the Romanian dictator hated communists, Slavs, and Jews no less than he did. Nevertheless throughout the war years the heads of the Iron Guard remained in Germany, with their freedom of movement restricted but under relatively comfortable conditions: Horia Sima and his henchmen could serve as an alternative to Antonescu's regime if ever needed.

Antonescu did not forget the assistance that the Legionnaires received from the German secret services (the Gestapo, Sicherheitsdienst or SD, and SS) and various German diplomats. During the weeks following its suppression these envoys had hidden numerous leaders of the rebellion in the buildings they controlled, and later smuggled them out of the country dressed in German uniforms.8 The representatives [End Page 254] of Himmler and of the Foreign Organization (Auslandsorganisation) of the Nazi Party would be forced to leave Romania in April 1941. They were joined, at Antonescu's request, by all known Gestapo and SD agents there. In this way, Antonescu ensured his free hand in domestic matters.9 Whatever their sympathies with the Iron Guard, however, the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptampt, Reich Security Main Office, Himmler's security empire) were quite capable of working with the Antonescu regime in "Jewish" matters.

March 1941 had seen the arrival in Bucharest of "special emissaries of the Reich and of Himmler" (Mihai Antonescu's expression), immediately following the Conducator's suppression of the Legionnaires' revolt. "The political situation was still uncertain," as Mihai Antonescu euphemistically put it. The Nazi delegation, consisting of SS police officials such as Gustav Richter, Karl Hoffmann, Karl Pflaumer, and a certain Eitzen, had come to discuss what to do with the Jews of Romania. According to Mihai Antonescu, "they presented . . . an official request that responsibility for the handling of Romania's Jews be handed over to the Germans exclusively, since Germany [was] preparing the international solution to the problem." Writing in 1944, with the Red Army already in northern Romania, Mihai Antonescu claimed to have refused.10

In that version the minister told the Nazi delegation in March 1941 that Romania opposed "any physical solution" or harsh forms of oppression, and that "it did not accept crime as an institution and as a political method."11 He was lying. The Romanian administration did work with the Nazi delegation, and it did consent to the Germans' "international solution of the Jewish problem."

The phrase "international solution of the Jewish problem" expresses Nazi demands at an early stage in the formulation of the "Final Solution." This was the first attempt by Himmler and the RSHA to take over the "handling" of the Jews of Romania. It came at a moment when a German force of 680,000 troops was stationed on Romanian soil, one and a half months after the Romanian fascist movement had been tamed by the Antonescu government, and at a crucial juncture in relations between Germany and Romania. During this period the understandings reached with Mihai Antonescu regarding the deportation and extermination of the Jews of Bessarabia and Bukovina took shape. What did that "solution" actually mean in March 1941? The answer appeared in Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg's March 1941 declaration that "The Jewish problem in Europe will be solved only when the last Jew leaves the European continent."12

The invasion of the Soviet Union began on June 22, 1941. In July 1941 the German military forced back tens of thousands of Jews who had fled Antonescu's "cleansing of the land" in newly reoccupied Bessarabia and who had been trapped farther east in Ukraine under the Germans. Ion Antonescu, who wanted a Bessarabia "cleansed of Jews," complained about this to the new German ambassador, Manfred von Killinger, claiming that the return of these Jews contradicted "the guidelines [End Page 255] which the Führer had specified to him in Munich regarding the treatment of the Eastern Jews."13

Karl Ritter, German Foreign Office Ambassador for Special Assignments, informed Wehrmacht General Headquarters of Antonescu's request, but added that:

I have been unable to discover anything at the Foreign Ministry regarding guidelines which the Führer gave General Antonescu with respect to the treatment of the Eastern Jews. The official record of the conversation between the Führer and Antonescu in the Führer's apartment in Munich does not contain anything on this subject. However, as the Führer spoke with Antonescu in Munich on other occasions as well, it is entirely possible that the question of the Eastern Jews was also discussed there. In any case, there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of General Antonescu's assertion.14

Antonescu referred to the plan that Hitler had disclosed to him as "Richtlinien über die Behandlung der Ostjuden [guidelines for the handling of the Eastern Jews]." Despite the fact that the term became corrupted as a result of being translated three separate times (from German to French, since Ion Antonescu did not speak German, and Hitler's trusted interpreter Schmidt didn't speak Romanian; from French to Romanian; and again, from Romanian to German), it is still recognizable under a similar name: "Richtlinien für die Behandlung der Judenfrage [guidelines for the handling of the Jewish Question]." A copy of the Richtlinien (with the former title) survives in Alfred Rosenberg's papers, unsigned and undated.15

During the months after March 1941 the German envoys had offered assistance in two areas: disposing of the Jews from the Romanian territories about to be recovered by the Romanian and German armies; and getting rid of the Jews of Old Romania and Southern Transylvania, i.e., the remaining territory of the Romanian state. Mihai Antonescu explicitly referred to the existence of specific agreements that he had reached with the RSHA before the invasion: During a September 23, 1942, discussion of the gathering Battle of Stalingrad German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop reminded Mihai Antonescu of Romania's commitment to hand over the Jews of Old Romania to the Germans in Poland; although a few days later Romania's tack would change, Antonescu agreed to get this second phase underway (a point we discuss below) but also reminded the German of Romania's fulfillment of the understandings (Abmachungen) he had reached in 1941 with "the SS" about the "evacuation" of the Jews from Bessarabia, Bukovina, and also Transnistria (no documentary version of these Abmachungen survives).16

Following Ion Antonescu's June 12, 1941, meeting with Hitler in Munich, the earlier conversations in Romania with the delegation from the RSHA, and the previously mentioned "understandings," the Romanian leaders in Bucharest drew up their own guidelines for the military forces and gendarmerie. On the eve of the invasion of the Soviet Union they also established a unit similar to the German Einsatzgruppen (special action forces for the destruction of targeted civilian groups), namely the Special Echelon of the SSI, or Special Intelligence Service. The Romanian directive that [End Page 256] corresponded to the German Richtlinien was entitled Curatirea terenului, or "Cleansing of the Land," a plan whose very existence was so secret that it was discovered only in 1982. This directive was carried out in Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, and it included "liquidation on the spot of all Jews in rural areas; internment of Jews in ghettos in urban centers; arrest of all persons suspected of being activists in the Communist Party," and more.17 The "cleansing of the land" was the Romanian euphemism for shooting tens of thousands of Jews and deporting the rest later. It both resembled and differed from the Nazi "Final Solution" in the East—similar in that it meant almost certain death, but different in that it represented the fulfillment of the Romanian antisemitic dream only within the limited territory of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina.

Virtually anyone who was armed took part in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Jews in Bessarabia and Bukovina: the Romanian army, the German army, Einsatzgruppe D, the Romanian gendarmerie and police, and even local Romanian and Ukrainian civilians. As stated, only Ion Antonescu and his deputy Mihai knew of Hitler's plan for "handling" the Eastern Jews. When misunderstandings arose, or the German army evaded what the Antonescus understood to be the Führer's will, they did not hesitate to turn to the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht), the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, or Ambassador Killinger for help. On July 18, Col. Alexandru Riosanu, governor of Bukovina, informed Ion Antonescu that "German army headquarters in Poland has ordered the German forces to transfer Jews who had fled with the Soviet army back to Bukovina by way of the Dniester." As far as these Germans were concerned, or so it would seem, these Jews were the Romanians' problem. Disappointed in their allies, the Romanians nonetheless found a way. Reported Riosanu, all was well, since on his orders "anyone who is caught is being executed."18

In late July 1941, the Romanian army hurried to deport more than 30,000 Jews to Mogilev-Podolsk in Transnistria, based on understandings with the Nazis that it would "cleanse" the liberated Romanian territories of any Jewish presence. Indeed, Transnistria remained under formal German occupation until the Tighina Agreement on August 30 gave it to Romania. But in any case the local German military commanders were unaware of any understandings between Hitler and Antonescu, and they forced the Jews back.19 Until matters were clarified, units under the command of Higher SS and Police Leader Friedrich Jeckeln, responsible for the rear lines of communication in Army Area South and the Reich Commissariat Ukraine, did shoot approximately 20,000 of the Jews who had fled the Romanians,20 but thousands of others the military sent back. Having failed to persuade local German commanders not to return Jewish refugees, Antonescu turned to Killinger as well, arguing that returning Jews to Bessarabia went against the Führer's guidelines. Antonescu likely had not fully comprehended the confidentiality of Hitler's intimations. This disconnect in Antonescu's mind is underscored by the fact that in the persons of Pflaumer and Elgering, "representatives of the German army attached to Romanian war [End Page 257] headquarters," the Antonescu administration actually had RSHA advisors on policy regarding the Jews of Bessarabia and Bukovina. As Mihai Antonescu explained to the Cabinet at its session of July 8, 1941, "Mr. Pflaumer has experience, particularly with respect to population exchanges and forced migration":

He reported to Gen. Antonescu on the steps taken in cooperation with the German army. . . . Mr. Pflaumer and his aides . . . will be our advisors and will instruct us, primarily in how to solve the many problems he has encountered here as well as in Bessarabia and Bukovina; and we will be using this opportunity to carry out a joint mission involving certain migrations in territories under Romanian and under German sovereignty.21

Mihai Antonescu informed the ministers that Pflaumer had had "a lengthy conversation with Gen. Antonescu several weeks ago," implying that this had made clearer what needed to be done:

Even if some traditionalists among you do not understand me, I am in favor of forced migration of the entire Jewish element from Bessarabia and Bukovina; they must be driven over the border. . . . In all of our history, there has never been a more appropriate, more complete, more far-reaching, more free moment for total ethnic liberation, for renewed national self-examination, for a cleansing of our nation . . . Let us utilize this historic moment. . . . If need be, use machine guns.22

Thus, when the German forces on the other side of the Dniester returned Jews to Romanian territory, the Antonescus hastened to protest—Ion by way of Killinger and the OKW, Mihai by way of Killinger and Ribbentrop (the latter stated that "Mr. Pflaumer's objective is precisely the opposite of what was done"). Mihai Antonescu reported to the Cabinet that the German Foreign Ministry had accepted the protest; it seemed that the Foreign Ministry had persuaded the military, because (Antonescu continued) on September 1 the Legation had informed him that all Jews who had been returned could be evacuated from Romanian territory "if necessary, with the aid of the German army."23

Acting ostensibly within the framework of the Wehrmacht, Himmler's emissaries—Pflaumer and his staff—also continued missions in Transnistria. The governor, Gheorghe Alexianu, had met with Pflaumer and his aides before departing for Tiraspol, the temporary capital of Transnistria, receiving advice on how to organize his administration. Indeed, one can discern the influence of Nazi ideology in the structure of the Romanian regime in Transnistria, as well as the impact of the Nazi administrative advisors on a practical level. Alexianu reported to Antonescu that he had based the Romanian occupation regime on the Führerprinzip: "one man, one directive, one responsibility," or in other words, "the will of the Conducator, the supreme commander, as relayed to even the most remote bodies."24

On August 17, 1941, representatives of both governments began discussions that led to the Tighina Agreement on August 30, 1941 (Tighina was a border town on the Dniester) defining the boundaries of Transnistria and the distribution of administrative [End Page 258] and economic authority between the Romanians and the Germans. With regard to the Jews, it was determined that "the evacuation of the Jews to the other side of the Bug [which formed the eastern boundary of Transnistria] is not possible at the moment. They must therefore be concentrated in labor camps and put to work until it becomes possible to evacuate them eastward [i.e., to hand them over to the Germans], following completion of military operations."25 This article prevented the Romanian regime from forcing across the Bug those Jews who had remained alive in Bessarabia and Bukovina, or the (approximately) 200,000 Ukrainian Jews who had survived the first wave of executions by Einsatzgruppe D. But whither should these Jews be evacuated, and why was it necessary to prevent the Romanians from pushing them farther?

The answer lies in the inability of Einsatzgruppe D to "handle" all the Jews. There were too many of them scattered over too wide an area; it would have been impossible to kill all of them and at the same time to keep up with the attacking forces. The bulk of the Jewish population in southern Ukraine could not escape in time, and a great part of those who did flee were still overtaken by the rapid advance of the German army. The Romanians had to be prevented from flooding the rear areas behind Einsatzgruppe D with more hundreds of thousands of Jews. One of the ideas mentioned by Hitler to Antonescu was revealed by Eugen Barbul, Mihai Antonescu's personal secretary. According to him, Hitler told Antonescu at the end of 1941 that the ultimate destination of the deportees (i.e., from Western Europe, including Old Romania) was supposed to be a region north of the Crimean Peninsula and the Sea of Azov, where Germany would create a vast ghetto or enormous concentration camp to "isolate" the Jews from the world and force them to work at hard labor.26 It does in fact seem that this plan was seriously considered in Berlin and Bucharest and figured in one or another of the "heart-to-heart" talks between Hitler and Antonescu.

Ion Antonescu was privy to the early discussions concerning the future Wannsee Conference, but he did not have the patience to wait for its outcome. In December 1941, he was preoccupied with the question of what to do with the Jews of Odessa and of southern Transnistria, who were now being concentrated along the banks of the Bug on his orders. At the Cabinet meeting of December 16, 1941, he stated that "the question of the Yids is being discussed in Berlin":

The Germans want to bring the Yids from Europe to Russia and settle them in certain areas but there is still time before this plan is carried out. Meanwhile, what should we do? Shall we wait for a decision in Berlin? Shall we wait for a decision which concerns us? Shall we ensure their safety? Pack them into catacombs; throw them into the Black Sea! [As far as I am concerned] one hundred may die, one thousand may die, all of them may die, but I don't want a single Romanian official or officer to die.27

In fact the mass murder had been underway for some time, examples and numbers barely conveying the horror. Approximately 22,000 Jews had been shot, burned [End Page 259] alive, or blown up in the Odessa suburb of Dal'nik by the Romanian army during an orgy of violence on October 23, 1941, another three thousand more shot or hanged on the streets of Odessa between the eighteenth and twenty-sixth.28 Some 70,000 Jews were shot to death and their bodies burned by the Romanian occupation regime in the Golta District along the Bug between December 23, 1941 and January 8, 1942.29 Perhaps 65,000 Jews were expelled from Odessa, most of them dying;30 28,500 of them were murdered near the town of Berezovka by local ethnic Germans recruited into the SS.31 Some 60,000 to 70,000 more Romanian and Ukrainian Jews died of typhus, starvation, and cold in improvised camps and ghettos all over Transnistria during the harsh winter of 1941/42.32

What is often termed the "wild approach" to the Final Solution—the Richtlinien Hitler shared with Antonescu—can be characterized as follows: to start with, kill as many Jews as possible; round up the survivors; then work them to death between one selektsia and the next. This is what the Germans did on Ukrainian territory, and this is what the Romanians did in Transnistria from 1941 to the end of 1942. But the Germans generally prevented the Romanians from pushing any of their Jews into the territory of the Germans' own "wild approach."

A second method was the "planned approach," represented in Romania by Gustav Richter, the permanent emissary of Eichmann's RSHA office. Richter's Romanian counterpart, director of the Office for Jewish Problems Radu Lecca, testified that "when I first met Richter and discussed with him the reorganization of the Jews, he already had all the plans prepared."33 We have in our possession a written document from May 1941—prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union—that spells out in detail the actual plans of the emissaries of the RSHA and the German Foreign Ministry with regard to the Jews. Conspicuous from the outset is Richter's demand that the relevant Romanian officials concentrate the handling of the Jews under one authority, based on the assumption that the Final Solution was imminent. For this reason, a "Jewish central agency," must be established (an idea realized with the creation of the Centrala Evreilor, the Central Office of Romanian Jews, in December 1941 and January 1942); other Jewish organizations must be suppressed (the most important of these, the Federation of Jewish Communities, was dissolved on December 17, 1941); the property of the Jews must be registered; and finally, a fund for the deportation of the Jews—at their expense—must be set up.34

It reflected some cheek on the part of the twenty-nine year-old Richter to request (unsuccessfully) agreement from as senior a Romanian official as General Eugen Zwiedenek, undersecretary for Romanization, Settlement, and Inventory in the Ministry of Economy, that (among other things) any bill pertaining to "Romanization" be submitted for Richter's approval before being presented to Ion Antonescu. Richter's working plan included organizing a census of the Jews in order to know once and for all how many were living in Romania. Richter found a jumble of laws and measures enacted in Romania since 1938, but systematic steps to isolate the [End Page 260] Jews, to eliminate their presence from streets and houses, and to remove them from the line of sight of the average Romanian had not been taken. From his arrival, he took pains to see to it that the Antonescu administration acted against the Jews on the basis of instructions from Berlin, as expressed in his above-mentioned working plan. His associated report to Killinger included the following phrases: "solution to the Jewish problem in Romania"; "the coming Final Solution"; "deportation," etcetera. From this point onward, until he signed the plan to deport and exterminate all Romania's Jews, Richter utilized these code words again and again in his conversations with Mihai Antonescu and with other Romanian ministers. Did these words carry the same meaning in May 1941 as they did in September 1942?

As stated earlier, Richter represented the "planned approach" to the "solution of the Jewish problem"—meticulous preparations, misleading the Jews as to their true fate, hiding the bitter truth until the final moment, isolation in ghettos, the yellow star, forced labor, breaking the will to resist, and finally, loading onto trains to extermination centers in Poland. An invisible but very real line divided the Romanian Jewish community—a line whose southern portion followed the Prut River on the 1940–1941 border with the Soviet Union and continued in a northwestern direction toward the Baltic Sea, i.e., the pre-June 22 Soviet frontier. This was the line that separated the "Ostjuden," whom Hitler and Antonescu had discussed in June 1941 (the subjects of his Richtlinien), and the "Western Jews," as we shall refer to them here, encompassing Jews not living in the territories annexed by the Soviet Union in June 1940 (all Polish Jews were of course "Ostjuden," but the liquidation of those in western Poland was to take place along the "planned" lines, not by Einsatzgruppen massacres as in the East, the "wild" approach).

When the Antonescu regime tried to transfer Jews from Romania's territory to that of the Germans, its attempts were firmly rejected by Berlin. In Bucharest people were unaware of this invisible line between the "planned approach" and the "wild approach." In August 1941 Ion Antonescu decided to get rid of 60,000 Jews from the Regat ("the Old Kingdom," i.e., not Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, the territories occupied by the Soviet Union between 1940 and 1941). "We have tens of thousands of Jews that I intend to send to Russia," said the Conducator.35 Killinger reported on this to Berlin.36 The German Legation acted quickly, requesting only a week later that Mihai Antonescu "take steps to remove the Jewish elements only in a slow and systematic fashion."37 Antonescu was being asked to wait until the Nazis were ready to implement the planned approach for these Jews.

The eagerness with which Antonescu applied himself to killing Jews in both the eastern portion of Romania and in Old Romania (e.g., the orchestration of the Jassy pogrom) aroused Hitler's admiration (on August 19 he told Goebbels: "As far as the Jewish Question is concerned, it can now be stated with certainty that a man like Antonescu is pursuing much more radical policies in this area than we have so far").38 Given the violence of the Romanians, there seemed to be no need for a full-time [End Page 261] German advisor and Richter was called back to Germany in July 1941. He remained there until early October 1941, but then returned at the request, in August, of the Romanian government:39 Mihai Antonescu told Himmler Romania needed him "until we find a solution for the Jewish problem in Romania [which] requires an international, radical, and Final Solution, particularly by using the German experience in this field."40

On January 23, 1942, two days after the Wannsee Conference, Richter asked Mihai Antonescu to stop any emigration of Jews from Romania, "given the impending Final Solution of the Jewish problem in Europe." The foreign minister agreed in principle, thereby assenting to a concept of a "Final Solution" in Romania that included not only the Jews of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, but also those of the Regat and Southern Transylvania.41 In late April 1942 Richter abandoned his anonymous status and—going over the heads of the Romanian government—told the Jews of Romania (in effect announcing the fact to the entire population) that their fate was sealed. He published an article in the legation newspaper advising the Jews not to seize upon "false hopes" regarding the possibility of preventing the Final Solution. "The Jewish problem in Romania will be solved within the framework of Europe," stated Richter,42 repeating publicly the words he and other emissaries of Himmler had employed in private in March 1941. This time, however, Richter focused his attack on the Zionist movement and Chaim Weizmann, who symbolized the other solution to the Jewish problem: emigration. Over the coming months, he did not rest until he had secured Ion Antonescu's agreement on July 22, 1942, to deport Romanian Jews to Poland, the associated ban on Zionist activity, and the closure of the Zionist movement's offices in Romania on August 7.43

The negotiations regarding the "European solution"—that is, regarding the "Western" Jews—were conducted diligently and effectively. In Romania this meant the Jews of the Regat, or "Old Romania," and Southern Transylvania. These Jews were not slated for extermination in the "eastern territories" or in Russia, but in the death camps in Poland, in an orderly, organized, and "systematic" fashion. Despite the fact that the death camps were located north of Romania, Richter and his underlings continued to refer to their movement "eastward." No one dared to change the code words of the Final Solution. On July 27, 1942, Heinrich Müller, head of the Gestapo, informed Martin Luther, Under-Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, that the deportation of the Jews of Romania would begin on September 10, 1942.44 During his interrogation in Jerusalem in 1961, Adolf Eichmann admitted that he himself had written the letter bearing Müller's signature.45

A report by Emil Rintelen of the German Foreign Ministry reveals that it was Richter who coordinated the plan for the solution of the problem of Romanian Jewry. According to this plan, the transports would be sent to the region of Lublin. Those "unfit" for work would receive "special treatment [Sonderbehandlung]." After crossing the border, the deportees would be stripped of their Romanian citizenship. [End Page 262] In accordance with an RSHA directive, Richter received Mihai Antonescu's written consent to the deportations.46 On August 8, 1942, the newspaper of the German Legation in Bucharest hastened to inform Romanians and Jews alike that Romania was about to be cleansed of Jews (Rumänien wird Judenrein).47 The article praised the "comprehensive activity of the Judenrat" (i.e., the Centrala Evreilor) in preparing deportations and in the "rapid implementation of the measures taken." This was how the Nazis viewed the role of the Central Office of Romanian Jews, which explains why Richter had exerted pressure starting in May 1941 to establish such a body.

Gustav Richter crafted a detailed plan in September 1942 (discovered only in 1978) enumerating the principal elements of the recommended process: ideological justification; instructions for implementation; measures to conceal and mislead, allaying the fears of the Jewish population; settling of certain legal questions between Romania and Germany; reliance on the "Judenrat"; and logistics and operational planning (e.g., transports of two thousand deportees, though with no indication of how many or how often).48 Like a puzzle whose parts are scattered but whose final picture is known, the visit to Romania by Himmler's delegation in March 1941, Richter's working proposal of May, the Abmachungen between Mihai Antonescu and the RSHA men, the heart-to-heart talks between Hitler and Antonescu in June 1941, and Richter's later, and more specific, deportation plan of September 15, 1942, all fit together.

A conference took place at the offices of the German Railroad Direction Ost Berlin between September 26 and 28, 1942, by which time attention had shifted to the Jews of Old Romania. The plan was to arrange in cooperation with the Romanian Railroad Company the rolling stock and timetables for transportation of the Romanian Jews to Poland. It was hoped that transports of 2,000 apiece were to take place every two days until a total of 280,000 Jews had been deported. Their destination was to be the extermination camp at Belzec, the closest extermination camp in occupied Poland to the Romanian frontier. Unfortunately for the German participants, by that time the Romanian leadership had reconsidered matters; the Romanian railroad administration politely begged out of attendance "for technical reasons." Fortunately the plan to deport the "Western" Romanian Jews was not implemented, for reasons that we will mention here only briefly.49 It was put on hold by the Antonescu regime no later than early October and probably before September 26, in either case before defeat at Stalingrad and with no direct connection to the latter.50

The reasons for this are numerous and complex, but they can be summed up briefly: German disregard for one of Romania's primary objectives in the war—the recovery of Northern Transylvania; fear that the deportation of Jews from Southern Transylvania would strengthen the local ethnic Germans economically and facilitate the transformation of Transylvania into a German protectorate; the feeling that Romanian soldiers were serving as cannon fodder for the Reich on the Eastern [End Page 263] Front; rejection of Romanian requests to equip the Romanian army with better weapons; anticipation of an unfavorable end to the important Battle of El-Alamein (which raised the question of an Anglo-American landing in the Balkans);51 direct attacks and threats in the German Legation's newspaper against Romanian statesmen "who are serving the Jews" (such as Peasant Party leader Iuliu Maniu, who urged Antonescu not to bow to German pressure);52 the fact that Hungary and Italy (considered sovereign states) had not deported their Jews; resentment at various Germans' condescending references to the "Romanian race"; and so forth.

The plan was not abandoned for humanitarian reasons or any sudden awakening of conscience. After Stalingrad—in the world of twisted values that was National Socialism's legacy to Europe, and in light of the now real possibility of Germany's defeat—it seemed to Romania's leaders that they had in their Jews good merchandise to offer the Allies. Their decisions and their actions both on the eve of and after Stalingrad stemmed from the antisemitic perception that Jews ruled the world and that their own Jews were therefore powerful bargaining chips.

* * *

Why is the Romanian example important, and what can it teach us about the Holocaust? Romania was Germany's most important military ally on the Eastern Front. At the start of the war it placed 587,000 combat troops at Hitler's disposal. There were some 350,000 Romanian soldiers in and around Stalingrad alone; more than 100,000 were captured or killed there. Romania was Germany's military partner and, until April 1943, an ideological one. It was the only state that employed its army in the extermination of the Jews and not just to hand them over to the Germans. Antonescu's regime was responsible for the mass murder of over 400,000 Jews.53 Hitler and the heads of his administration in Berlin did not hide their intentions regarding the Jews from Ion or Mihai Antonescu. But these intentions were not recorded in the transcripts of their conversations. Only the difficulties in carrying them out led to elliptical references to them, for example Ion Antonescu's complaint that the Wehrmacht was violating the Führer's Richtlinien by sending back the Jews the Romanians were expelling from Bessarabia.

The Romanian example demonstrates that not only Einsatzgruppe D, but also the German Foreign Ministry—German diplomats such as Killinger and others—and the Wehrmacht and its commanders were involved in implementing Hitler's Richtlinien in the eastern territories. Generals Hansen, Hauffe, and von Rottkirchen were no less responsible than Ohlendorf for extermination operations. In their dealings with the Romanian governors of Bessarabia, Bukovina, and Transnistria, Pflaumer and his henchmen acted in the name of the OKW.

Antonescu refused to agree to the deportation of the Jews of Old Romania. Hitler did not pressure him, but left the task of persuading him to Ribbentrop, various Army generals, and others. Romania's army, its oil, and its food were more [End Page 264] important in his eyes than differences over a quarter million Jews. A change of government in Romania such as that which took place in Hungary, would have brought the leader of the Iron Guard, Horia Sima, to Bucharest with German backing, and would have led most likely to the implementation of Richter's plan.

What conclusions can be reached from the Antonescu-Hitler talks and understandings regarding the "solution" of the Jewish problem?

The first and most important is that the theory of the early (so-called) functionalists is wrong.54 Hitler knew what happened and ordered it. Antonescu discussed those matters only with Hitler, and never with Himmler, Goering, or Heydrich. Himmler never visited Romania, and never held an actual working session with Antonescu or his deputy. The fact that Eichmann, architect of the systematic deportations of Western European Jews to Poland, was not involved in Romania, is obvious. He was never invited, and the heads of Antonescu's regime (with the exception of Radu Lecca, director of the Office for Jewish Problems) almost certainly did not even know his name. Antonescu never mentioned Eichmann's name during his dictatorship, during preparations for his trial, or at his trial in May and June 1946. Eichmann was the master planner and perpetrator, but only where the right conditions were met, and Romania was not such a place. The reason was clear: only Hitler decided, and if Hitler did not intervene when the Conducator suspended the deportations in October 1942 Eichmann was powerless.

In the Romanian case, there is no need for supposition regarding Hitler's role in the decision for the Final Solution as undertaken by Antonescu's regime. There are indeed only a few documents that mention the secret, heart-to-heart talks between the dictators, but there are plenty of documents about the way Antonescu understood Hitler's ideas and decisions regarding the fate of Eastern European Jewry.

Hitler's unveiling to Antonescu of the Richtlinien on June 12, 1941 was the "smoking gun."55 Back in Romania, over a period of four or five days Antonescu made three decisions that prove he understood Hitler's ideas on Jewish matters and wanted to imitate the Nazis:

The decision to create a unit similar in purpose to Einsatzgruppe D (June 14–15);56

The order to the Gendarmerie for the "Cleansing of the Land";57 and

The decision underlying the order that Chief of the General Staff General Ilie Steflea communicated to the Army on June 19: "identify by regions all Yids and communist agents or sympathizers. The Interior Ministry must know who they are, forbid them to circulate, and be ready to do with them what I shall order when the time is right."58 This order was similar to the one given by Keitel to the Wehrmacht on May 19, 1941.59 Based on this, orders went to the military intelligence bodies—the Military Cabinet of the Conducator, [End Page 265] Military Headquarters' Second Section, and the Special Intelligence Service (directly subordinated to Antonescu)—and to the Interior Ministry (which commanded the gendarmerie and the police) and the Propaganda Ministry.

At approximately the same time Mihai Antonescu conducted talks with what he called "the SS," meaning the envoys of the RSHA, to discuss the future "removal" of the Jews in the provinces that had been lost to the Soviets in 1940. As mentioned, Mihai Antonescu referred to their agreements as Abmachungen.

The Romanian Einsatzgruppe analogue, the "Esalon Operativ" or "Esalon Special" created by the SSI, consisted of some 160 men whose task was ostensibly the gathering of information in order to protect the rear area of the Romanian army by counteracting espionage, sabotage, and terrorism. The Esalon was divided (as were the Einsatzgruppen) into smaller commands, or echipe. The first operation in which the Esalon was involved was the horrific pogrom carried out in Jassy on June 29–30, 1941, with the full cooperation of the Romanian army, police, and gendarmerie, along with German units stationed in Romania. More than 14,000 Jews were murdered there.60 The Esalon, the gendarmerie, and the police collaborated in Bessarabia with, and was in most cases under the guidance of, Einsatzkommandos (subordinate commands) of EinsatzgruppeD, as recorded in Einsatzgruppe reports.61 Each time the Romanians proceeded without plan, without erasing traces of mass murder, openly killing, robbing, raping, and shooting on the streets, leaving corpses unburied, or allowing themselves to be bribed by Jews, they aroused the ire of their Nazi comrades-in-arms. Chief of the Security Police and SD Reinhard Heydrich complained to Himmler on July 30, 1941, that:

The manner in which the Romanians behave in regard to the Jews lacks any method. We would not have any reproach about the numerous executions if the technical preparations and the executions themselves were sufficiently correct. The Romanians generally leave the corpses of the killed in the place where they were shot, without burying them. The Einsatzkommando ordered the Romanian police to act in a more methodical way in this matter.62

Hitler revealed the Richtlinien to Antonescu on June 12. Is there really a contradiction between the on-the-spot massacres practiced in the East and the state-organized deportations to specialized killing centers practiced in Western Europe, i.e., the "international" or "European" solution that the Nazi advisers urged on the Romanians in March 1941? These were indeed two separate solutions, but both were prepared in Berlin. The first was hands-on murderous, like the storm of the war in the East, demanding the participation of the Wehrmacht, the Einsatzgruppen, and the local population; the other one was planned and bureaucratic, tailored to the "elimination" of the Jews from Europe's more "advanced" western half. In the event, neither plan was completed in Romania. The German Foreign Ministry's September 1941 request that Antonescu not expect Einsatzgruppe D to handle Romania's Jews [End Page 266] showed that things could not just happen overnight. Romania did much, but it had not completed the extermination of the Jews of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina by the time changing circumstances dictated a new policy. In Poland the first German gassings of their victims took place only on September 3 (Soviet prisoners of war), the Chelmno killing center didn't start operations until December, and other killing centers didn't begin to operate until 1942. Even if Antonescu had wanted to initiate the "Western model" for the Jews of the Regat during the first phase of the war he would have had to wait; again, the change in Romanian policy took place before this program could have been completed even if it had been undertaken.

In regard to the Jews of Romania there were no differing individual initiatives among Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich, and the envoys of the Reich in Romania. They all spoke the same language and used the same code words (e.g., Endlˆsung, or "solution," Aussiedlung, or "deportation"). The terms "Lˆsung der Judenfrage in Rumänien" and "kommende Endlˆsung" appeared in Gustav Richter's first report/working plan envisioning the future "removal" of the Jews from Romania. One can assume that when Richter arrived in Romania in April he already knew this code expression and its significance; this would tend to be supported by Mihai Antonescu's contention that the RSHA delegation of late March asked him to include Romania's Jews in an "international solution." Richter's report therefore constitutes an important piece of evidence concerning Nazi intentions before the invasion of the Soviet Union. This was a planned solution, not what has been called a spontaneous one.

Antonescu understood the Final Solution as the brainchild of Hitler:63

On the basis of Hitler's revelation on June 12, 1941 and Mihai Antonescu's understandings with the RSHA delegation, Ion Antonescu launched his own "cleansing of the land" policy, explained on July 12 by the commander (for example) of the Orhei gendarmerie legion to his subordinates: "exterminate all Jews from the babe in arms to the feeble old person."64 All this tends to call into question subsequent interpretations that argued that "the Holocaust was not based on a programme"; or that "it was founded on improvised measures"; or that "Hitler gave no formal order to carry out the Final Solution"; or, more important, that Hitler "did not interest himself in the detailed implementation of the anti-Semitic programme; his few interventions did not reveal any practical plan. The propaganda aspect was of paramount importance for him, in this as in other issues."65 Even the assertion that the actual measures for implementing the extermination of the Jews "were never discussed officially or privately in the Führers's headquarters"66 is wrong. Hitler did discuss this matter with Antonescu in the Führer's headquarters in Munich as the German Foreign Ministry recorded.

On the Romanian front, the killing of Jews, including women, children, and the elderly and sick, began as soon as Romanian troops (sometimes along [End Page 267] with Germans) occupied a particular place. But it also is true that the Romanian "case" demonstrates, as did the initial Einsatzgruppen experience, "the inadequacy of firing-squad executions in terms of the psychological burden of the executioners, the lack of secrecy, and the difficulty of coping with the huge numbers of victims."67 There were simply too many Jews spread over too vast a territory, and not all of them could be shot on the spot. But all measures undertaken subsequent to the first wave of killings, such as the use of the gas vans, were intended to accomplish the same original task and not to realize any new goal. All these measures support the conclusion that the Final Solution as it began to be enacted on Soviet territory did result from an earlier decision and from instructions to the Einsatzgruppen prior to the invasion on June 22, 1941.

Of course, decision-making did not abruptly stop in 1941, and vital decisions indeed continued to be made in 1942 and even later, but subsequent decisions only perfected the implementation of what was an ultimate first decision to liquidate the Jewish people.

Influenced by his contact with Hitler, Antonescu stressed again and again the ideological factor in the proposition that an entire people could and should be liquidated. There is no need to recount here how Antonescu's life, ideas, speeches, publications, and so on, illustrate the psychological, emotional, and personal motives for his "jump from regular anti-Semitism to something extraordinary" (Andreas Hillgruber's phrase regarding Hitler).68 Antonescu's "jump" can be traced easily. No psychic shock caused it. Antonescu was a fierce and bitter antisemite before he met Hitler, but no Romanian general, not to mention politician, would have dared to propound a plan for the extermination of all Jews. It occurred in contacts with Hitler as a result of his admiration for the Führer as a military leader and for the Nazi dictatorial and totalitarian regime.

It must be underlined that the Antonescu regime adopted the Final Solution at a time when the Conducator was convinced that Germany would defeat the Soviet Union. This certainty was based on the German victory against the French and British armies in 1940, on the results of the Balkan campaign, on the defeat of the British expeditionary force in Greece, and on Antonescu's personal conclusion that the Wehrmacht had found the solution to the number one problem of all wars against Russia: space. Antonescu told Hitler on June 12, 1941: "Napoleon, and the Germans themselves, had to fight, in 1917, with the huge problem of space; but now, with motors in the air and on the ground, space as an ally to Russia is of no more importance."69 The Romanian leader adopted the Nazis' racist vocabulary regarding the fate of the Jews. On June 22, 1941 he bragged that he had "addressed with courage" the Romanization process, expropriated the Jews, and promoted cooperation with Germany "in keeping with the permanent interests of our vital space."70 In October 1942 he would blame the "Yids" for having dictated, together with the British and the Americans, the conditions mandated at the Paris Conference in 1919. On the same occasion he reminded his audience that the founder of modern Romania, [End Page 268] Ion C. Bratianu, had been forced to accept, at another peace conference (the Conference of Berlin in 1878) the "degrading" condition of granting civil rights to the Jews, "which has led to the Judaization of the country, and has compromised the Romanian economy and the purity of our race."71

Perhaps the ideological factor explains the difference between the decisions and the behavior of these dictators during the implementation of the Final Solution. Hitler's desire to exterminate the Jews, which was part of his credo, may have been inseparable from his desire to win the war.72 Antonescu, an antisemite who believed till the end of his life that Jews ruled the world, ultimately came to the conclusion that participation in Germany's "Final Solution" (regardless of the outcome of the war) would compromise the future of Romania and his own.

The secret Antonescu-Hitler agreements regarding the Final Solution were properly recorded in the files of the Romanian Foreign Ministry and invoked at the Paris Peace Conference in 1946 in order to exonerate Romania of responsibility for the slaughter of the Romanian Jews deported to Transnistria in 1941/42 (the Ukrainian Jews were not mentioned). In a study presented to the Allies by the Foreign Ministry, still full of cadres from the former fascist regime, Romania explained that the huge number of casualties among the deported Jews was caused . . . by Germany's incapacity to honor its formal obligation to take over the Romanian Jews and "resettle" them as it had committed itself to do in the fall of 1941:

In the fall of 1941, the German Legation presented to Antonescu's Government a plan that included Germany's intentions vis-à-vis the Jewish population in Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary. The Jews of these countries should have been deported to a region situated northeast of the Black Sea, beyond the line Rostov-Kharkov, where it was planned to establish an immense ghetto for [them]. For this purpose the Romanian Jews were to be gathered and deported to Transnistria, this [territory] being considered as a first stage of the deportation. After that the Jews would have been transferred farther to the region that was allotted to them.

According to the Ministry, the German Legation had informed the Romanian government that Hungary, Bulgaria, and Slovakia had agreed to send their Jews to Russia, and that was why Romania agreed to do likewise. One notes the careful language the Romanian diplomats used in this document:

The powerful Soviet military reaction [sic] in the winter of 1941–42 prevented the Germans from implementing their project to deport the Jews to the region assigned to them. As a result the Jews deported from Romania remained in Transnistria, in very harsh conditions, in an extremely cold winter without adequate dwellings—because the deportation plan foresaw that they would spend the winter in a region farther in the East, and without the equipment that would have allowed them to bear with fewer casualties the cold that cost also the Romanian troops billeted in Transnistria a great number of human lives.

(The report concluded by stating that only 1,528 Jews had perished as a result of the deportations, that one might add 3,750 Jewish victims of the likes of the Iron Guard [End Page 269] in the interior of the country, and that in any case the Hungarians in Northern Transylvania behaved much worse than the Romanians.)73

These were those same Jews whom Antonescu wanted to kill without waiting for what later was known as the Wannsee Conference, issuing the necessary order on December 16, 1941.74 The reader is reminded that as of 1946 the German plan presented in late 1941 to the Romanian Foreign Ministry, the record of the negotiations regarding the erection of the Jewish reservation, and other documents that subsequently disappeared, still existed.75 Be that as it may, the finalization of Romanian policy with respect to the Jews demanded guidance on the part of the Germans. What is being presented here are not theories, assumptions, or textual analyses, but rather a documented record of German and Romanian policy in action.

Jean Ancel is an independent historian affiliated with the Yad Vashem. He was editor of Documents Concerning the Fate of Romanian Jewry during the Holocaust (1986), 12 vols.; Wilhelm Filderman's Memoirs and Diaries (2004); and many other works; author of The History of the Holocaust: Romania (2002), 2 vols.; Transnistria 1941–1943: The Romanian Mass Murder Campaigns (2003), 3 vols.; Prelude to Murder: The Pogrom in Jassy, June 29,1941 (2003); and co-editor of Pinkas Hakehilot, Rumania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Romania); and Yad Vashem Studies 2 (1980).


1. Lya Benjamin, ed., Problema evreiasca în stenogramele Consiliului de Ministri (Bucharest: Editura Hasefer, 1996), p. 17. Antonescu was appointed Minister of Propaganda on May 26, 1941.

2. Cited in Christopher Browning, Essays on the Emergence of the Final Solution (New York; London: Holmes & Meier, 1991), p. 5.

3. Transcript of Cabinet meeting of June 25, 1942, Interior Ministry Archives, file 40010, vol. 9, p. 30 (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [USHMM] Archives, RG-25004M, reel 32).

4. Ibid., p. 32. Mihai Antonescu reminded General von Rottkirchen on August 28, 1942, that the plan to attack the Soviet Union had been disclosed by Goering to Ion Antonescu and himself in January 1941, at which time "we had been told categorically that the Romanian army should not take part in war operations. . . . Only Marshal Antonescu and I had knowledge of the day when Romania and Germany were to declare war on Russia." Jean Ancel, ed., Documents Concerning the Fate of Romanian Jewry during the Holocaust (Jerusalem: Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1986), vol. IX, doc. 162, p. 423.

5. Transcript of Cabinet meeting of August 5, 1941 (excerpt). Interior Ministry Archives, file 40010, vol. 9, p. 21 (USHMM Archives, RG-25004M, reel 32).

6. Joseph Goebbels, Tagebücher (Munich; Zurich: Piper, 1992), vol. 4, 1940–1942, p. 1524.

7. Ibid., p. 1525.

8. At the height of the battle of Stalingrad, after Iron Guard leader Horia Sima had fled from Germany to Italy and there were fears in Bucharest of a Nazi-Legionnaire plot, Antonescu recalled the affair in a letter of December 9, 1942, to Marshal Erich von Manstein. J.C. Dragan, ed., Antonescu Maresalul României si rasboaiele de reîntregire (Venice: Nagard, 1988), vol. III, no. 132, p. 323.

9. Letter from Himmler's office to Ribbentrop, April 2, 1941, Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945 (hereafter DGFP) (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964), vol. XII, doc. 258, pp. 443–44.

10. Cable from Mihai Antonescu to Romanian Legation in Ankara, March 14, 1944, Romanian Foreign Ministry Archives, Ankara file, T1, p. 108. Karl Hoffmann was an emissary of the RSHA; he later served as an attachÈ for police affairs in Bulgaria. SS-Brigadeführer Karl [End Page 270] Pflaumer was interior minister of the state of Baden beginning in May 1937; later he served as police commander and head of administration in Alsace. From March 1941 to March 1942 he was advisor for administrative affairs in Romania, and specifically on organizing the administration in the "occupied territories" of Bessarabia and Bukovina. Richter (b. 1912) was a member of the Nazi Party from May 1933, serving with the Security Service (SD) from March 1934. In 1935 he was appointed official in charge (Referat) of Jewish and Freemason Affairs for the entire southwestern region of Germany, and he filled other positions in the security police. He arrived in Romania from Dijon, France, where he had served as a representative of the SD. On April 1, 1941, he began serving as an advisor on Jewish affairs and Aryanization at the German Legation in Bucharest. Nothing is known about Eitzen. See Personenverzeichnis (Biographical sketches) in: United Restitution Organization (URO), [Dokumentensamlung] (Frankfurt: URO, 1959), vol. 3, pp. 11–12; Raul Hilberg, La destruction des Juifs d'Europe (Paris: Fayard, 1988), p. 644.

11. Ibid. (cable).

12. Rosenberg's statement of March 28, 1941, on the removal of the Jews from Europe. Der Prozess gegen die Hauptkriegsverbrecher vor dem internationalen Militärgerichtshof Nürnberg (Nuremberg, 1947), bd. XXI, p. 255 (document PS-2889).

13. The Ambassador in Romania to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, August 16, 1941, DGFP, Series D (1937–1945), vol. XIII, "The War Years, June 23–December 11, 1941," doc. 207, pp. 318–19.

14. Ibid., doc. 332, p. 528.

15. Der Prozess gegen die Hauptkriegsverbrecher, bd. XXV, p. 302 (doc. PS-212).

16. Transcript of conversation between Ribbentrop and Mihai Antonescu (excerpts), September 23, 1942. Dokumentensammlung (Frankfurt: United Restitution Organization, 1960), vol. IV, doc. 13, p. 578. Possibly the agreements were verbal, possibly they were destroyed later; they had to have been reached no later than June 21

17. Ancel, Documents, vol. V, doc. 2, p. 2. See also Ancel, "The Romanian Way of Solving the 'Jewish Problem' in Bessarabia and Bukovina, June–July 1941," Yad Vashem Studies XIX (1988), pp. 207–208.

18. Cable from Col. Riosanu to Gen. Antonescu, July 18, 1941. Arhivele Statului (National Archives), fond Presedentia Consiliului de Ministri, Cabinet Antonescu, file 89/1941, p. 16.

19. Series of exchanges by telephone between pretor of the Third Army and chief pretor of the Romanian army, concerning the deportation of 25,000 Jews to Ukraine and the return of 13,000 of them to Romanian territory at Ataki and Soroka, August 6–17, 1941. M. Carp, Cartea Neagra, "Transnistria," vol. III (Bucharest: Dacia Traiana, 1947), docs. 43, 44, 46, 56, 58, pp. 96–99, 105–106. "The reports of Einsatzgruppe D assumed that in excess of 27,000 Jews were driven from Bessarabia and Bukovina across the bridges of Mogilev-Podolsk into German-occupied territory." Andrej Angrick, "The Escalation of German-Rumanian Anti-Jewish Policy after the Attack on the Soviet Union," Yad Vashem Studies XXVI (1996), p. 218. Recent findings in Romanian archives confirm that the number of the Jews driven by the Romanian army across the Dniester was more than 30,000. See SSI Report re: the 30,000 Jews from the Hotin District in Bessarabia and Bukovina, August, 18,1941, Arhivele Statului, fond Presedentia Consiliului de Ministri, Cabinet Antonescu, file 76/1941, p. 86 (USHMM Archives, RG-25002M, reel 17). [End Page 271]

20. "Total number of Jews liquidated in the operation in Kamenetsk-Podolsk [driven by the Romanians] around 20,000," Angrick, p. 228. On August 19 the SSI reported that 30,000 Jews were interned in a camp and that "none returned west of the Dniester," Cabinet Antonescu, above note 19, p. 19. On August 27, the Romanian General Police Headquarters reported that the German Army returned 12,600 Jews to Bessarabia in two convoys and that they were interned in the Vertujeni camp, ibid., p. 91.

21. Transcript of Cabinet session of July 8, 1941, in Benjamin, Problema evreiasca, doc. 99, p. 265–66.

22. Ibid., pp. 266–67.

23. Transcript of Cabinet session of September 2, 1941, ibid., doc. 104, p. 283. German sources also believed that Pflaumer's influence on the policies of the Romanian administration in Bessarabia and Bukovina was decisive. M. Broszat, Das dritte Reich und die Rumänische judenpolitik (Munich: Gutachten des Instituts für Zeitgeschichte, 1957), p. 150.

24. Report of Governor Alexianu to Ion Antonescu, September 12, 1941. Oblast' Archives of Odessa, Ukraine, file 2242-1-677, pp. 18–19b.

25. Tighina Agreement, concluded by General Artur Hauffe and Gen. Nicolae Tataranu August 30, 1941. Office of United States Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (Washington: GPO, 1946–1948, hereafter Nuremberg Documents), PS-3319. Romanian version in Ancel, Documents, IX, no. 83, pp. 188–91; German version in ibid., V, no. 62, pp. 59–63.

26. E. Barbul, Le III Homme de l'Axe (Paris: Editions de la Couronne, 1950), pp. 133–34.

27. Transcript of the Cabinet meeting of December 16, 1941, Interior Ministry Archives, file 40010, vol. 24, p. 17b (USHMM Archives, RG-25004M, reel 33).

28. Jean Ancel, Transnistria, 1941–1942: The Romanian Mass Murder Campaigns (Tel-Aviv: The Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Institute, Tel Aviv University, 2003), vol. 1, pp. 198–201.

29. Ancel, Transnistria, chapter 3, "The Kingdom of Death," pp. 87–161.

30. Gendarmerie commander in Transnistria to the Administration, September 11, 1942, Foreign Ministry Archives, vol. 20 (marked "Jewish Problem"), pp.166, 263 (USHMM Archives, RG-25006M, reel 11).

31. Franz Rademacher of the Foreign Ministry in Berlin to the Ministry of Eastern Occupied Territories and to Eichmann, May 12, 1942, Nuremberg Documents, NG-4817.

32. Ancel, Transnistria, pp. 427–28.

33. Interrogation of Radu Lecca at Securitate in Bucharest, July 8, 1953. Interior Ministry Archives, file 40010, vol. 123, p. 82 (copy in the USHMM Archives, RG-25004, reel 36).

34. First report by Richter to Ambassador Killinger, May 21, 1941. Ancel, Documents, II, no. 129, pp. 401–403.

35. Transcript of Cabinet meeting of September 6, 1941. See n. 20 above, p. 303.

36. Killinger to Foreign Ministry in Berlin, September 1, 1941, Nuremberg Documents, NG-3989 (copy in Ancel, Documents, III, no. 51a, p. 102. [End Page 272]

37. Foreign Ministry advisor Helmuth Wohlthat to Reichsbankoberinspektor Hoppe, August 12, 1941. Nuremberg Documents, NG-3106 (copy in Ancel, Documents, V, no. 54, p. 53.)

38. Goebbels, Tagebücher, pp. 1659–60.

39. Luther to Killinger, August 27, 1941. Nuremberg Documents, NG-4962.

40. Mihai Antonescu to Himmler, August 7, 1941, Ancel, Documents, IX,no. 81, p. 185.

41. Richter's notes on meeting with Mihai Antonescu, January 23, 1942, in Ancel, Documents, III, no. 311, pp. 494–95.

42. G. Richter, "Jüdische Fata Morgana," Bukarester Tageblatt, April 26, 1942; copy in Ancel, Documents, III, no. 360, p. 588.

43. Cable from Killinger to Foreign Ministry in Berlin, August 8, 1942, on Richter's success in having the Zionist movement suppressed and its property transferred to the Judenrat; Ancel, Documents, IV, no. 53, p. 98. In principle the Romanian government did not oppose the emigration of the Jews, and only subsequent to its consent in July 1942 to the Nazi plan to deport them to Belzec did it go along with Richter's urgings to ban Zionist activity; it reversed itself again after suspension of the deportation plan that fall, and once more permitted both Zionism and emigration. The reader should bear in mind that the government's willingness to allow Jews to leave did not mean that they did: that would have depended on the British mandatory authority in Palestine. On December 12, 1941, the ill-fated Struma left Romania with 769 passengers, all but one of whom perished after Turkey refused to allow it to dock and a Soviet submarine sank it as a suspected enemy vessel. Another ship left on November 19, 1942, but then no other until January 24, 1944.

44. Müller to Luther, July 26, 1942, Ancel, Documents, IV, no. 41, p. 78.

45. Interrogation of Adolf Eichmann at Israeli Police headquarters, Yad Vashem Archives, pp. 1768–73.

46. Rintelen to Luther, August 19, 1942, Ancel, Documents, IV, no. 65, p. 120.

47. "Rumänien wird Judenrein," Bukarester Tageblatt, August 8, 1942, Ancel, Documents, IV, no. 49, pp. 93–94.

48. "Richter Plan" (Aussiedlung der Juden aus Rumänien), Ancel, Documents, IV, no. 96, pp. 190–96. For the background to the plan's formulation and its termination, see Ancel, "Plans for Deportation of the Romanian Jews and Their Discontinuation in Light of Documentary Evidence, July–October 1941," Yad Vashem Studies XVI (1984), pp. 381–420.

49. See chapter 36, "The Rejection of the Nazi Final Solution," in Jean Ancel, Tolú ha-Shoah: Romanyah, vol. 2 (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2002), pp. 1241–92.

50. J. Ancel, "German-Romanian Relations during the Second World War," in The Tragedy of Romanian Jewry, ed. Randolph L. Braham (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), pp. 57–76; J. Ancel, "The Impact of the Course of the War on Romanian Jewish Policy," The Shoah and the War, eds. Asher Cohen, Yehoyakim Cohavi, and Yoav Gelber (New York: Peter Lang, 1992), pp. 177–210. Belzec would not have been able to handle the large numbers of Romanian Jews until the addition of six new gas chambers in June and July 1942; Treblinka's capacities were being stretched to the limits by the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto. [End Page 273]

51. After the Stalingrad debacle both the Antonescu regime and opposition circles hoped that a landing by the Western Allies might preclude a Soviet occupation.

52. "Judenknechte," Bukarester Tageblatt, October 11, 1942. Richter blamed Romanians who became "servants" of the Jews by thwarting the plan to deport the latter "east"; copy in Ancel, Documents, IV, no. 151, pp. 297–98).

53. See chapter 8, "Romanian Statistics on the Scope of the Genocide," in Ancel, Transnistria, pp. 509–32.

54. See Martin Broszat, "Hitler und die Genesis der 'Endlˆsung,'" Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 25 (1977): 739–75; Hans Mommsen, "Die Realisierung des Utopischen: Die 'Endlˆsung der Judenfrage' im Dritten Reich," Geschichte und Gesellschaft 9 (1983): 381–420.

55. Christopher Browning recently concluded that "Absent a 'smoking pistol,' historians must extrapolate and speculate"; Initiating the Final Solution. The Fateful Months of September—October 1941 (occasional paper) (Washington: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), 2003, p. 4.

56. Ancel, "The Romanian Way," pp. 227–29.

57. Jean Ancel, "Antonescu and the Jews", Yad Vashem Studies XXIII (1993), p. 233.

58. Ibid., p. 232.

59. Special instructions for Operation Barbarossa issued by the OKW on May 19, 1941, with enclosed "Directives for the Conduct of the Troops in Russia." Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Tribunal (Nuremberg-Document NOKW-1962) vol. X (Washington: GPO, 1951), pp. 990–94. Regarding the orders given to the Army, von Hassell noted in his diary on June 16, 1941: "Those orders concern brutal and uncontrolled measures the troops are to take against bolshevists when Russia is invaded. . . . Thus the Army must assume the onus of the murders and burnings which until now have been confined to the SS." The Von Hassell Diaries, 1938–1944 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1947), p. 199.

60. Jean Ancel, Hakdamah leretsah: Peraot Yasi, 29 beyuni 1941 (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2003), pp. 382–83.

61. Ancel, "The Romanian Way," pp. 228–31. For example on July 29 Einsatzkommando 10A reported that at Balti "the Romanian police worked under the guidance of the Kommandos," engaging in brutal anti-Jewish actions and murders in the town and the surroundings."

62. Nuremberg Documents, NO-2651; copy in Ancel, Documents, V, no. 17, p. 26.

63. I have adopted partially the conclusions of Christopher Browning in his recent study published by the USHMM (see Browning, "Initiating") as a basis for my own conclusions, p. 2.

64. Interrogation of Popoiu Constantin, commander of the Orhei Gendarmerie Legion included in the warrant for arrest, Bucharest Tribunal, 1950, Ancel, Documents, VI, no. 43, p. 477.

65. "The Realization of the Unthinkable," in Hans Mommsen, From Weimar to Auschwitz, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), pp. 233, 236, 250.

66. Mommsen, p. 234. [End Page 274]

67. Browning, Essays on the Emergence, p. 6.

68. Andreas Hillgruber "War in the East and the Extermination of the Jews," in Michael R. Marrus, ed., The Nazi Holocaust (London; Westport, CT: Meckler, 1989), vol. 3, The "Final Solution": The Implementation of Mass Murder, part 1, p. 85.

69. Protocol of Hitler's talk with Antonescu on June 12, 1941, DGFP, vol. 13, no. 167, p. 267.

70. Dragan, Antonescu, vol. II, no. 13, p. 197.

71. Ion Antonescu to Bratianu, October 29, 1942, in Dragan, vol. II, no. 23, p. 27.

72. Eberhard Jäckel, "Hitler and the Holocaust," in The Nazi Holocaust, p. 69.

73. Situation des Juifs en Romanie (1940–1944) Yad Vashem Archives, Romanian Collection, 0-11/35, pp. 18–19; and Ancel, Documents, vol. VIII, no. 424, pp. 496–97.

74. Excerpts from the protocol of a Cabinet meeting addressing, inter alia, typhus in Transnistria and the deportation of Jews of Odessa, Interior Ministry Archives, file 40010, vol. 78, pp. 358–61 (USHMM Archives, RG-25004M, reel 35).

75. Most of the documents on Romanian-German talks and plans regarding the Jews disappeared even before the collapse of the Antonescu regime; some were hidden by the new authorities. Items discussed by Antonescu and Hitler were not recorded by Schmidt. Eberhard Jäckel investigated my early assertions that Hitler had disclosed to Antonescu his plan regarding the "Eastern" Jews, and came to the conclusion that I was correct. In a letter of June 13, 1987, he wrote: "It is your merit to have discovered this important and extraordinary fact." But he was "surprised" that Schmidt did not record anything on this in the stenogram. Jäckel concluded that Ritter did ask Hitler about the discussion before sending his answer to Wehrmacht General Headquarters in response to Antonescu's complaint to Ambassador Killinger. Jäckel also specified that the meeting took place at the Führer's headquarters in Munich.