There are hundreds of statues and monuments in the United States and around the world to people who abetted or took part in the murder of Jews and other minorities during the Holocaust. The Forward has, for the first time, documented them in this collection of articles. For a guide to each country’s memorials click here.
Beiuș and five other towns — For most of WWII, Romania was ruled by the dictator Ion Antonescu (1882–1946), a Nazi ally seen with Hitler in the photo below, June 1941.
During this time, Romania ran with the blood of over 400,000 Jews and Roma, who were butchered in pogroms, gunned down in ravines, imprisoned in unspeakable conditions, and deported to concentration camps for elimination. In 2004, a commission of international Holocaust experts concluded that “Romania bears responsibility for the deaths of more Jews than any country other than Germany itself.”
Antonescu has other streets in Decembrie, Bechet, Constanța and Mărășești and a bust displayed in Sărmașu.
Many thanks to Emanuel Plopeanu for his detailed guidance on Antonescu and Alexianu rehabilitation. His commentary on the Antonescu street in Constanța here, in Romanian (Google translation here). Thank you also to Marius Cazan and Maximillian Marco Katz for sharing their deep knowledge of Holocaust whitewashing in Romania.
Bucharest — Romania’s capital hosts a bust, street, school and commemorative plaque honoring Mircea Vulcănescu (1904–1952). Economist, philosopher, ethics professor and convicted war criminal, Vulcănescu was undersecretary at the ministry of finance in Antonescu’s regime. Attempts to get Bucharest to remove the bust and rename the street have been unsuccessful. Vulcănescu also has a school in Bârsana.
Vulcănescu’s rehabilitation capitalizes on his status as an intellectual — he’s depicted as a mere “economist” or “philosopher,” which is how he’s described on his commemorative plaque. That’s a common tactic used by those who whitewash collaborators. Vice Romania article on the scandal over Vulcănescu’s legacy (Google translation here).
Costinești — A street named after Gheorghe Alexianu (1897–1946). As governor of Transnistria, Alexianu turned the region into a vast killing field for Jews and Roma. He arranged concentration camps to imprison Jews and Roma who had been deported to Transnistria from other regions in Romania and Ukraine. In 1942, Alexianu ordered the deportation of Jews from Odessa, a city where Jewish culture thrived; Odessa’s Jews were massacred afterward. Overall, at least 12,000 Roma and 280,000–380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were murdered under Romanian rule.
Below, German and Romanian soldiers deport Bessarabian Jews to concentration camps.
Alba Iulia and ten other towns — The majestic Alba Carolina citadel has a bust of Miron Cristea (1868–1939), the cleric who became Romania’s prime minister in 1938. In the lead-up to the Holocaust, Cristea blamed Jews for Romania’s problems with statements like “One has to be sorry for the Romanian people, whose very marrow is sucked out by the Jews.” Such antisemitism is nearly identical to Goebbels’ depictions of Jews as insects. In 2010, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum vociferously objected to Romania honoring Cristea with a commemorative coin; the coin was minted regardless.
Cristea has another bust in Ploiești; a bust and a street in Năsăud; two busts and a street in Toplița; a statue and a street in Caransebeș; and streets in Bistrița, Copăceni (Ilfov County), Gheorgheni, Lazu, Miercurea Ciuc, and Timișoara.
Cluj-Napoca and numerous other towns — A monument to Octavian Goga (1881–1938), poet and rabid antisemite who served as Romania’s prime minister before Miron Cristea (see above). Goga, who cofounded the antisemitic National Christian Party which featured a swastika in its logo and regularly engaged in anti-Jewish violence, used his time as prime minister to enact anti-Jewish legislation.
“The Jewish problem is an old one here, and it is a Rumanian tragedy. Briefly, we have far too many Jews,” Goga told The New York Times two days before enacting a law that stripped a third of his country’s Jews of their citizenship, a crucial step on the road to genocide.
This man is honored throughout Romania, ostensibly for his poetry; a very partial list includes a second bust, a street and a library in Cluj-Napoca; busts and streets in Sibiu, Sighetu Marmației and Târnăveni; monuments in Bucov and Zalău; and streets in Arad, Dumbrăvița, Iernut, Oradea, Timișoara and Vladimirescu.
Cluj-Napoca and Păun (Iaşi County) — Radu Gyr (1905–1975) was a Romanian poet, playwright and journalist. He was also a commander in the fascist Iron Guard, which carried out numerous pogroms. Today, Gyr is honored with a street in Cluj-Napoca, despite attempts by Romania’s main Holocaust research center to have it renamed. He also has a street in Păun (Iaşi County).
Odorheiu Secuiesc — This town’s memorial park has a bust of Albert Wass (1908–1998), Hungarian count, poet and antisemite who served in the Nazi-allied Hungarian army. The likeness is of Wass, but the bust is coyly named “Secuiului ratacitor,” or “The wandering Hungarian,” most likely to skirt Romania’s law prohibiting the public glorification of war criminals.
In Romania, Wass also has a bust in a school courtyard in Lunca Mureșului and another in a church courtyard in Reghin; a park with a memorial stone in Brâncovenești; and a school in Nușeni. See Hungary section for more on him.
Jimbor and Odorheiu Secuiesc — Busts of Jòzsef Nyírő (1889–1953) in Jimbor (above left) and Odorheiu Secuiesc (above right). A Hungarian writer and member of the fascist and antisemitic Arrow Cross Party, Nyírő smeared Jews as “well-poisoners” and called for their eradication from Hungary. The reason Nyírő has busts in Romania is that his birthplace in Transylvania belonged to Hungary at the time; later on, it became part of Romania. Hungary’s rehabilitation of Nyírő led to protests from the local Jewish community as well as Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel.
For more monuments to Wass, see the Hungary section.
Nazi collaborator monuments around the world
Lev Golinkin is the author of A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka, Amazon’s Debut of the Month, a Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program selection, and winner of the Premio Salerno Libro d’Europa. Mr. Golinkin, a graduate of Boston College, came to the US as a child refugee from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov (now called Kharkiv) in 1990. His writing on the Ukraine crisis, Russia, the far right, and immigrant and refugee identity has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, NBC, The Boston Globe, Politico Europe, and Time.com, among others; he has been interviewed by MSNBC, NPR, ABC Radio, WSJ Live and HuffPost Live.