Last night and today, Israel marks Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Throughout the country, there are small ceremonies where survivors, or their children, speak of their experiences. People gather in neighborhood parks, at schools. There are also grand state ceremonies, reinforcing the importance of this singular mass murder to the Israeli identity and nation.
In this episode, I speak with Dr. Gali Mir Tibon, a former educator cum historian and writer who has written extensively on the unique and little known exceptionalism of how the Holocaust unfolded so differently in Romania from all other European countries. The story of the 750,000 Romanian Jews – half of whom survived the war – has been overshadowed by the focus on what transpired in Poland, Hungary, present-day Ukraine and in the network of work and murder camps throughout the Third Reich. One of the likely explanations for this is that there were no direct train transports of Jews from Romania to the camps. They were intended to have been sent to Belzec for mass murder but were spared by an astonishing sequence of events.
Gali Mir Tibon shares some fascinating stories, previously untold, of circumstance, luck and heroism. And I weave in relevant anecdotes from my own experience of growing up with my father, also a survivor from Romania. With the opening of historical archives, and the distance of time, we are just beginning to understand the scope of what happened in those horrific years.
In remembrance of all those who perished and those who survived.
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