Re: [Cz-L] Latest about the plaque

From: Marianne Hirsch <>
Date: Tue, 13 May 2008 20:32:20 -0400
Reply-to: Marianne Hirsch <>

Dear all, I'm afraid Vadim Altskan's version is
not accurate. The ghetto was formed on October
11, 1941. Popovici was instrumental in
convincing governor Calotescu to issue 15600
permits. By mid-November November 4000 people
were still left in the ghetto without permits, so
Popovici issued the additional 4000 in his own
name. These "Popovici authorizations" were
deemed invalid in June 1942 and many of those
people were deported in June/July of 1942.

Here are some excerpts from Popovici's testimony
(please forgive the strange formatting):

On the morning of October 11th, a cold day, damp,
sad as the hearts of so many unfortunates, I was
looking out my bedroom window at the snowflakes
and I could not believe my eyes. Outside an
enormous group of wandering people. Old people
aided by children, women with babies in their
arms, invalids dragging their crutches, all with
bundles in their arms, were pushing small carts
with boxes, or were carrying packs on their
backs, rags, bundles of linen, clothes,
blankets. They were walking in a pilgrimage
toward the veil of suffering of the city, towards
the ghetto. Š

             Only someone who knows he topography
of Cernauti, can realize how inadequate was the
space into which the Jewish population was
"invited" to move before 6 PM under the threat of
death. It was an area that could at its most
crowded accomodate 10 000 people, but which now
had to house 50 000, not counting the Christian
population that was living there. Š Even if
every available room were to hold 30 people or
more, most would still have to stay in corridors,
cellars, garages, under bridges, or wherever they
could find shelter from the snow. I'm not even
going to speak about health and hygiene. Lack of
drinking water, and more, since two of the three
water works were destroyed. The pungent smells of
urine, sweat and feces, and the loathsome
humidity spread over the entire area which
smelled exactly like a flock of sheep in a field.
Š ŠThe next day, on October 12, I am invited to a
meeting at the governor's. There were 18 others
present.Š I am the only one of all of these whoŠ
stood up and spoke about the Jewish problem in
light of the times in which we are living, in the
atmosphere of racial hatred in which we in
Romania, as part of a small nation, do not need
to participate . I also showed them the
participation of the Jews in the economic
development of our country, and what they brought
us in all domains of culture and work, and I
protested in my position as mayor against their
deportation. Š
             I asked for the exemption of those to
whom our people owed their appreciation, artists,
pensioners, officers, invalids. I asked if we
might keep here professionals in all branches of
industry. I asked for the exemption of all
doctors, and in the interest of rebuilding, I
asked for all engineers and architects. In the
interest of science and knowledge I asked for all
magistrates and lawyers. Š The result was that
the governor relented and agreed to a list of
thoseŠ who most deserved the appreciation of our
people. I was limited to Š 100-200 people. ...

On the afternoon of October 15, in a telephone
conversation with the governor, Marshall
Antonescu agreed to a revision of the massive
deportations, ordering the exemption of up to
20000 people, made up of the groups that I had
mentioned in the administrative meeting of Sunday.
             On that very evening of October 15
after I had agreed on a course of action with
general Ionescu I went to the Jewish hospital
which was on the edge of the ghetto on a main
street leading to the train station. Š I wanted
to bring the Jewish community leaders the message
 from the Marshall that part of the Jewish
population would be saved. Š
             The dramatic scene that I lived at
the moment that I brought them the message of
hope I consider the most solemn, the most moving
of my life.Š
             Old rabbis, intellectuals of all
ages, leaders of all walks of society, business
men, workers, all cried, sank to their knees,
thanked their God, thanked the Marshall for his
grace, and tried to kiss my hands, my clothes, my
feet. Tears do not always embarass a man. In
that moment, I was moved by this spontaneous
outbreak of gratitude and I started crying . ŠAt
that moment I was the mayor of the entire city
and not just of a part of it.Š

In the absence of official census lists that
would catalog the inhabitants by professionŠ we
immediately agreed that the selections should be
made by the Jews themselves since they knew
each other better among themselves and since they
had the leaders of their respective professional
organizations to which they belongedŠA force of
48 military functionaries Šaided by a team of
officers worked indefatigably so as to complete
in a month a project that normally would have
taken several months. Š

The most interesting fact is that once general
Ionescu and I succeeded in halting some of the
departures, we searched for more ways to slow
things down, thinking that the coming winter
would stop the deportations altogether.

I have to highlight one fact. All the work of
this commission of selection was done in the
light of day, in full view of all functionaries
who were charged with carrying it out, in full
view of the public which could exercise its
control when it wished to, and under the control
of the secret police who, as delegates of the
general staff, had the job to verify all
undesirables. ŠThe doors of the commission, and
especially those of the mayor were open to

best, Marianne

Marianne Hirsch
Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Director, Institute for Research on Women and Gender
Columbia University

On May 13, 2008, at 12:41 PM, Miriam Taylor wrote:

>In my initial correspondence with the city administration of Chernivtsi,
>I made a mistake in that I once wrote them that Traian Popovici issued
>15000 permits and at another time wrote that he had issued 20 000. They
>understandably wanted the information to be accurate. I asked Radu Ioanid,
>at the Holocaust museum to write to them and give them the accurate
>information. He could not do so himself, being on travel, but asked
>Mr. Vadim Altskan of the International Archival Programs Division
> Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies
>to write to Chernivtsi instead.
>Mr. Altskan has now written to Chernivtsi, explaining that Traian Popovici
>initially issued 4000 temporary permits, later was able to arrange for the
>distribution of another 15600 authorizations signed by Calotescu as well a=
>for the exchange of the Popovici permits for Calutescu permits.
>It follows that the accurate number is 19600 and that is the number which
>will be inscribed on the plaque.
>Please send your votes on the text.
This moderated discussion group is for information exchange on the subject =
Czernowitz and Sadagora Jewish History and Genealogy. The Czernowitz-L list=
 has an associated web site at that includes a =
 searchable archive of all messages posted to this list. Please post in "P=
 Text" if possible (help available at:

To remove your address from this e-list follow the directions at

To receive assistance for this e-list send an e-mail message to:
Received on 2008-05-14 00:32:20

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : 2008-10-17 22:48:13 PDT