Bucharest’s Holocaust Memorial

Unveiled with great pomp by a vote-hungry President Traian Basescu last week, we decided to go and have a look at Bucharest’s much talked-about Holocaust Memorial this morning. We really ought not to have bothered.

bucharest-holocaust-memorialFor a start, though it was officially unveiled last week, it is nowhere near being finished. This morning, workmen were still finishing off various bits, and judging by the cut of their jib, they did not appear to want any visitors disturbing them.

Not that there is anything to visit. Memorials should, by their very nature, not be fun places, nor even do they necessarily need to be interesting. But this is a nonsense, an incoherent mess that lacks any context, has few captions and will simply have passers-by asking each other ‘what’s that?’

bucharest-holocaust-memorial-2

(The standard of course for such memorials is set by the astonishing Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin).

To learn anything about the Jewish Community in Bucharest, and the Holocaust in Romania, you are far better off going to the Jewish History Musuem on Strada Mamulari.

4 comments

  1. Lucy dawson says:

    Hi,

    Do you happen to have any further images of the new holocaust memorial? I’m working on a university project and would love to get hold of some decent images so I can really see what the monument is like…

    Lucy x

  2. Craig Turp says:

    Wonderful stuff Chris. Glad to have you on board. Reminds me, apropos of nowt, of a story about the Jewish theatre in Bucharest. Kept open during the war it was popular with a group of German officers, who used to go to every performance. They all used to say that they were going as censors, to check that nothing too anti-German was being said during performances.

    There is apparently a book about the theatre, though lord knows who wrote it…

  3. Chris Lawson says:

    On my last visit, which admittedly was two or three decades ago (but this being Romania, I can’t imagine things have changed much), the terribly neglected Jewish Cemetery in Iasi had two or more huge concrete bunkers which housed the remains of Jews who starved, suffocated and died of thirst on the two infamous “death trains” which departed from Iasi at the end of June, 1941.

    These unfortunates deserve a decent memorial in the city.

    Iasi, once 50% Jewish, was a veritable capital of Romanian anti-Semitism before the war. Born in Husi, Codreanu studied under Alexandru Cuza who spewed hatred at the university.

    On a happier note, the incredibly prolific “Yiddish Shakespeare”, Avram Goldfaden, founded the first professional Jewish theatre in the world in Iasi, and there is a statue of him.

    • Chris Lawson says:

      I visited the cemetery quite recently (about six months ago), and am pleased to report that the Holocaust bunkers are in a much better condition. There were even small bouquets of flowers on the sills.

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