I’m sorry. You probably could have lived your life without knowing this. It’s a beautiful June evening in Boston, after a beautiful June day.
But there was thing called the Holocaust (Shoah if you prefer), and it never stops reminding us it was once here:
Survivors and descendants of Jews killed during the Iasi pogrom in Romania on Tuesday attended ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of one of the worst single Holocaust massacres.
“We are here today next to the Iasi Synagogue, the oldest in Romania. We are inaugurating an obelisk which is a monument to remember the thousands of Jews slaughtered here at the end of June 1941″, the president of the Iasi Jewish community, Abraham Ghiltan, said.
Between 13,000 and 15,000 Romanian Jews out of 45,000 living in the city of Iasi at the time, were brutally murdered on the streets and asphyxiated in “death trains” between June 28 and July 6, 1941, according to historians.
The Romanian pro-nazi regime of Ion Antonescu gave the order for the massacre with the complicity of German troops.
“This is one of the most infuriating massacres of the Second World War”, Paul Shapiro, director of the centre for advanced studies at the Holocaust museum in Washington told the audience.
“The Iasi pogrom is very important in the history of the Holocaust. It is a mass killing that takes place in the view of the public. So this established for the Romanians and for the Germans as well the fact that it was possible to murder people in front of their neighbours”, Shapiro told AFP in an interview.
I don’t know what to say. A massacre only marginally more costly in terms of loss of life than many others, but infinitely more inhumane in its details. Take an average Taylor Swift concert, and shoot or strangle to death every fan in full public view. And then not talk about it for 70 years.
Who does that?
Or who annihilates 90% of their Jewish population, and is called a civilized nation?
In June and July 1941, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Germans occupied Lithuania.
The Lithuanians carried out violent riots against the Jews both shortly before and immediately after the arrival of German forces. In June and July 1941, detachments of German Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units), together with Lithuanian auxiliaries, began murdering the Jews of Lithuania. By the end of August 1941, most Jews in rural Lithuania had been shot. By November 1941, the Germans also massacred most of the Jews who had been concentrated in ghettos in the larger cities. The surviving 40,000 Jews were concentrated in the Vilna, Kovno, Siauliai, and Svencionys ghettos, and in various labor camps in Lithuania. Living conditions were miserable, with severe food shortages, outbreaks of disease, and overcrowding.
In 1943, the Germans destroyed the Vilna and Svencionys ghettos, and converted the Kovno and Siauliai ghettos into concentration camps. Some 15,000 Lithuanian Jews were deported to labor camps in Latvia and Estonia. About 5,000 Jews were deported to extermination camps in Poland, where they were murdered. Shortly before withdrawing from Lithuania in the fall of 1944, the Germans deported about 10,000 Jews from Kovno and Siauliai to concentration camps in Germany.
Soviet troops reoccupied Lithuania in the summer of 1944. In the previous three years, the Germans had murdered about 90 percent of Lithuanian Jews, one of the highest victim rates in Europe.
Every country collaborated with the Germans in the continent-wide slaughter of the Jews. Every one (every occupied one—the Brits were excluded). The Dutch had their heroes who hid Jews and their cowardly collaborators who betrayed them.
Yet that nation, and that continent, feels empowered to judge Jewish dietary law. (See below.) Unbelievable.