July 8, 1941 – Ion Antonescu of Romania Exhorts His Ministers to Have No Mercy on Jews

Ion Antonescu was the Prime Minister of Romania during most of World War II. An anti-semite, he entered Romania into an alliance with Nazi Germany. His close friend (but no relation) Mihai Antonescu served as Vice President of the Council of Ministers.

On July 3, 1941, Mihai Antonescu delivered a speech at the Ministry of the Interior later published in a brochure under the title “Directives and Guidelines Given to the Civilian Inspectors and Pretors sent to Bessarabia and Bukovina.” In the Tenth Directive, designs for the Jewish population are put forth:

We are now at the moment in time most favorable to ethnic liberation, national revision and the purification of our nation from all those elements alien to her soul, which have grown like weeds, darkening her future. In order that this unique moment not be lost, we must be implacable.”

Less than a week later, on this day in history, Ion Antonescu added important clarifications to Mihai’s directives. At a Cabinet meeting, he addressed his ministers:

I beg you, be implacable. Saccharine and vaporous humanitarianism have no place here. At the risk of being misunderstood by some traditionalists who may still be among you, I am for the forced migration of the entire Jewish element from Bessarabia and Bukovina, which must be thrown over the border. I also favor the forced migration of the Ukrainian element, which has nothing to seek here at this time.

. . . You must be merciless… I do not know when, after how many centuries, the Romanian nation will again enjoy this total freedom of action, with the possibility for ethnic purification and national revision. This is the hour when we are masters on our territory. Let it be used! I do not mind if history judges us barbarians. . . . There are no other favorable moments in our history. If need be, shoot with machine guns, and I say that there is no law. . . . I take full legal responsibility and I tell you, there is no law!”

After the war, both Antonescus were convicted of war crimes and executed.

Ion Antonescu

Ion Antonescu

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