Many Countries Had Their Holocaust Collaborators. But Only Romania Had a Holocaust of Its Own

In Nazi-occupied Western Europe, numerous local bureaucrats and policemen participated in rounding up Jews and sending them to death camps in the East. And in Eastern Europe, many of the natives aided the Nazis in the murder of Jews—sometimes voluntarily, sometimes for pay, and sometimes under duress. But only Romania, which remained independent under a homegrown fascist regime, pursued a Holocaust of its own. Matt Lebovic reports on recent research on the subject:

When typhus broke out at a Romanian concentration camp 80 years ago, authorities at Bogdanovka decided to murder 40,000 Jewish inmates and burn down the camp. Carried out in Romanian-occupied Ukraine by Romanian soldiers, Ukrainian regular police, and local ethnic Germans, the Bogdanovka massacre has largely been ignored by historians.

In Romania, Hitler’s stalwart ally, the dictator Marshal Ion Antonescu, expanded his borders after Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Hitler gave Antonescu a free hand to solve Romania’s own “Jewish question,” and an estimated 420,000 Jews under Antonescu’s control were murdered relatively early in the war.

Much as Germany had its Brownshirts, Romania had a paramilitary group called the Iron Guard, founded in 1927. Also known as the Legionnaires or green-shirts, the organization promised to defeat “rabbinical aggression against the Christian world.”

The first large-scale Holocaust massacre in Romania took place in Iasi, a university city near the border with Moldova, in June 1941. Encouraged by Antonescu, Romanian soldiers partnered with the police and local mobs to murder 13,266 Jews. Iasi’s residents helped arrest Jews and loot their homes, as well as humiliate Jews marched out of town. [Then] the Iron Guard led mobs in murdering Jews on the streets and in their homes, deploying crowbars and knives in addition to guns. After the initial massacre, 5,000 Jews were packed into boxcars for a “death train” journey in which 4,000 of them perished.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anti-Semitism, Holocaust, Romania


Leaked Emails Point to an Iranian Influence Operation That Reaches into the U.S. Government

Sept. 27 2023

As the negotiations leading up to the 2015 nuclear deal began in earnest, Tehran launched a major effort to cultivate support abroad for its positions, according to a report by Jay Solomon:

In the spring of 2014, senior Iranian Foreign Ministry officials initiated a quiet effort to bolster Tehran’s image and positions on global security issues—particularly its nuclear program—by building ties with a network of influential overseas academics and researchers. They called it the Iran Experts Initiative. The scope and scale of the IEI project has emerged in a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails.

The officials, working under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, congratulated themselves on the impact of the initiative: at least three of the people on the Foreign Ministry’s list were, or became, top aides to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s special envoy on Iran, who was placed on leave this June following the suspension of his security clearance.

In March of that year, writes Solomon, one of these officials reported that “he had gained support for the IEI from two young academics—Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary—following a meeting with them in Prague.” And here the story becomes particularly worrisome:

Tabatabai currently serves in the Pentagon as the chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, a position that requires a U.S. government security clearance. She previously served as a diplomat on Malley’s Iran nuclear negotiating team after the Biden administration took office in 2021. Esfandiary is a senior advisor on the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that Malley headed from 2018 to 2021.

Tabatabai . . . on at least two occasions checked in with Iran’s Foreign Ministry before attending policy events, according to the emails. She wrote to Mostafa Zahrani, [an Iranian scholar in close contact with the Foreign Ministry and involved in the IEI], in Farsi on June 27, 2014, to say she’d met Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal—a former ambassador to the U.S.—who expressed interest in working together and invited her to Saudi Arabia. She also said she’d been invited to attend a workshop on Iran’s nuclear program at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. . . .

Elissa Jobson, Crisis Group’s chief of advocacy, said the IEI was an “informal platform” that gave researchers from different organizations an opportunity to meet with IPIS and Iranian officials, and that it was supported financially by European institutions and one European government. She declined to name them.

Read more at Semafor

More about: Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy