Testimony:

Ion H. (born in 1921) is a Roma who served in the Romanian army and was drafted to Transnistria, where he had to guard a camp of Roma deportees.

The camp was situated about 2km away from the military barracks and 2km away from the village. I don’t remember its name, but Roma slept in bunkers and tents inside the camp. It was forbidden to go out of the camp. There was a market near the camp where locals brought food to barter…I still can’t forgive myself for not having helped them. I was Roma, just like them. Moreover, my family members were also deported. But I could do nothing…”

Over 13 days in 19 towns and villages, Yahad-In Unum interviewed 24 witnesses and identified one mass grave of Jewish victims.

 

Places:

Region of Transylvania
Investigated towns/villages: Blăjel, Veseuş, Brateiu, Merghindeal, Cincu Mare, Hosman, Bradu, Avrig, Arpașu de Jos, Sâmbăta de Jos, Porumbacu de Jos, Cârţa, Viştea de Jos, Cermei, Salonta, Oradea, Turda, Sărmășel-Gară, Sărmașu.

 

Background:

According to the census of 1930, 75,342 Roma (2.3% of total population) lived in the province of Transylvania, and 17,919 (1.9%) in Banat. At that time, Transylvania was considered to be one of the largest Roma communities in Romania. Transylvania became a part of Romania only in 1918. Before this, it was under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for decades, while other regions of Romania developed under the authority of the Ottoman Empire. Consequently, the culture and traditions of the Roma we met during this trip differ from other Roma groups.

The particularity of the investigated region lies in the fact that during the Second World War, it was divided between two countries: North Transylvania remained under Hungarian rule, while South Transylvania was part of Romania. What emerges from this investigation is that the deportation policies in the Transylvania region towards Roma people and Jews were different and depended on the administration. While Romanian Roma were all systematically deported, the Roma living under Hungarian rule were able to continue their life in peace as no significant action occurred in their villages and they remained unaware of other Roma deportations, as was the case in the investigated region of Arad.

 

Key Findings:

– Unique culture of Transylvanian Roma
– Disparity of deportation policies and various forms of persecution of the Roma
– Fate of the Transylvanian Jews

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