Iasi “Great Synagogue”
Few people have heard of Cartea Neagra – “The Black Book of the Sufferings of Romanian Jews”. This book, published in a four-volume series in Bucharest between 1946 and 1948, was written by Mataties Carp. It relates the largely unknown story of the slaughter of close to 400,000 Jews by the war time Romanian government .
This ignorance is mainly due to the efforts of the Romanian authorities to to deny, hide and cover up the truth about Romania’s contribution to the Holocaust. At the time, after the territorial losses of 1940 Romania was ruled by Ion Victor Antonescu – a fascist dictator.
Matatias Carp was a Bucharest lawyer as well as a talented pianist. When he realized what was happening to the Jews in Romania, he felt he had the moral duty to record “the suffering of Romanian Jews”.
As General Secretary of the Association of Romanian Jews, he had contacts with all the communities in the country and thus first-hand knowledge of what was taking place throughout was remained of Romania.
He began the gathering of data in June 1940 and started to organize the material in the spring of 1943 with the help of his only colleague, his wife.
People sent him photographs and reports about a whole region or town or sometimes simply about the killing of one family. He also secretly bought photographs from a German officer once Romania had been invaded by the Nazis. In addition, he bribed a civil servant and spent every Sunday at the Home Office in Bucharest patiently copying official documents.
He examined and authenticated every piece of data which he included in the book. This latter consists of the statements, testimonies, and official communiques of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities and their official copies, which contain the signatures of all the members of the administrative hierarchy. There are also photographs and other documents in this book (directives, reports, telexes, sales contracts, announcements reporting suicide, court-room decisions, etc.) as well as reports of investigations.
The first volume describes the anti-Semitic pogroms by the Iron Guard, a fascist Romanian or ganization trained in part by the Gestapo. The second one deals with the mass murder of the Jewish population in and around the Romanian town of Iasi in June 1941. The third volume is a chronicle of similar mass killings on territories that were temporarily occupied by Romania during the war, Transnistria, Bukovina, Bessarabia and the Black Sea port of Odessa. The last part differs in that it describes the deportation of the Jews of Northern Transylvania in 1944 by the Nazis and not under Romanian jurisdiction.
Parts of the book as well as its original preface by Dr. Alexandru Safran, Chief Rabbi of the Romanian Jewish Congregation, can be found here.