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1942: The "Final Solution"
 pg. 361 
The Holocaust in the Balkans

The story of the Holocaust in the Balkans is complex as well as tragic. While more than 550,000 Jews from Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece, and Bulgaria were killed, the circumstances surrounding their deaths and chances for individual survival varied from country to country.

The killing operations in Romania were particularly barbarous. German, Romanian, and Ukrainian forces swept through the Romanian territories of Bukovina and Bessarabia, slaughtering every Jew within their grasp. The city of Odessa in Transnistria (a Ukrainian territory acquired by Germany and Romania in 1941) was home to 180,000 Jews. In February 1942, however, it was proclaimed "cleansed of Jews."

In the traditional Romanian territories known as the Regat, the campaigns against the Jews followed a typical pattern: anti-Jewish violence, property seizures, and the creation of ghettos. A conflict between the Romanian government and the Germans, however, limited the number of Jews deported to Belzec. All told, upwards of 420,000 Romanian Jews perished during the Holocaust.

With the division of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Jews in the territory became governed by Hungary, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, and the independent state of Croatia, led by the Fascist Ante Pavelic. After Pavelic's Ustasa movement gained power with the help of Hitler, the Croats slaughtered more than a half-million Serbs (including the child pictured) and moved against the Jews as well. More than 80 percent of Yugoslavia's 80,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis and the Ustasa.

The fate of Greek Jewry hinged on the Italians. When Italy capitulated to the Allies in September 1943, German troops occupied Greece. Although deportations to Auschwitz were delayed until March 1943, 80 percent of Greece's Jewish population was killed.

The only Balkan-Jewish communities that sidestepped the Nazi whirlwind were located in Bulgaria. Bulgarian government officials were generally antisemitic but opposed the murder of Jews, and thus resisted German demands to initiate deportation procedures. Ultimately, however, the Bulgarian government agreed to deport the approximately 9000 foreign Jews who lived in areas acquired from the division of Greece. However, aggressively public, pro-Jewish campaigns mounted by physicians, writers, attorneys, and members of the Orthodox clergy were effective in persuading the Bulgarian citizenry that the antisemitic, collaborationist plans of the Bogdan Filov government were wrong. Bulgarian officials confiscated the possessions of the nation's Jews, but 78 percent of Bulgaria's 65,000 Jews survived the war.
Photo: Lydia Chagoll/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive

 September 1, 1942: Security forces raid five hospitals in the Lódz (Poland) Ghetto, evacuating and slaughtering patients. Babies are thrown out of an upper-story windows, some bayoneted before they hit the ground.
 September 1, 1942: A German shepherd that licks the face of a Jewish baby at the Treblinka extermination camp is savagely beaten by its SS master before the guard tramples the baby to death.
 September 1, 1942: Allied troops make significant gains in France and Italy, and Soviet troops reach Bulgaria.
 September 2, 1942: The 10,000 Jews of Dzialoszyce, Poland, are rounded up by Gestapo agents and by Polish and Ukrainian police, then terrorized while standing in the hot sun all day. Two thousand residents are executed in the Dolles Jewish cemetery. The 8000 residents who remain are deported to the Belzec death camp.
 September 2, 1942: In Oslo, Norway, Julius Samuel, the chief rabbi of Norway, refuses to go into hiding or to flee the country. He is arrested and interned in a camp at Berg, south of Oslo.
1942: The "Final Solution"
 pg. 361 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.