Taken from a range of testimonies, including from Bela Katona
Bela Katona was a contemporary source of information as he wrote his book Varad
Viharban in 1946.
The chief Jewish doctor in the Oradea ghetto "hospital" (based in a former synagogue)
was Dr Miksa Kupfer. He saw at first hand the appalling treatment of the Jewish people
in the ghetto and sought, through his fellow medical colleague (Ignatiu Tertian) outside
of the ghetto, to get a message to the Romanian consulate in Oradea. Dr Miksa Kupfer
wanted the international community to understand the inhumanity which was taking
place within the ghetto.
The Romanian Consul-General Mihai Marina reacted immediately with a message to Dr
Kupfer asking him to prepare some confidential notes of the daily events. This Dr Kupfer
did and then managed to deliver his memorandum to the Consul-General. Mihai Marina
acted quicky upon the contents and had it translated into Romanian the same day by
the Press attache, Ioan Isaiu and into French by another member of staff.
By coincidence, the next day Vespasian Pella, the Romanian Ambassador in Berne,
Switzerland arrived in Oradea. He required an insulin injection, which was given to him
by Dr Tertian. Dr Tertian explained the humanitarian disaster which was unfolding in
the ghetto and passed across the Kupfer memorandum. The Ambassador immediately
agreed to take this back to Switzerland. Three days later, having passed through
Budapest, he handed the memorandum over to the Swiss Red Cross, who established a
committee of the Swiss, Portugese and Spanish members.
The committee travelled straight away to Budapest and met with the Hungarian
authorities and it is thought that as a result they obtained a deferment of similar
solutions to that of Oradea, being applied in Budapest at that time.
The Romanian consulate in Budapest under the leadership of Constantin Tincu was
active in issuing Romanian passports to Jews trying to flee from Budapest to Romania,
some of whom had arrived in Budapest from Poland and Slovakia.
This rescue mission occupied almost all the employees of the Romanian consulate in
Oradea, among them were Vice-Consul, Angel Lupescu and the clerks, Ion Romascanu,
Mihai Hotea and Mihai Mihai. On several occasions, the diplomatic car crossed the
border full of people who had managed to escape from the ghetto. The Romanian
gendarmes close to the border had established procedures where escaping Jews were
"arrested" and passed from village to village until they reached centres, such as
Timisoara, Turda or Arad, where they might be charged with entering the country
illegally and given a very short custodial sentence.
A number of other Romanians from Oradea and surrounding villages acted as escorts for
the escapees such as Ion Luncan and Ieremia Dramba. In some cases, female peasants
were used as escorts so as to attract less attention.
Subsequently, the escapees would often be moved across Romania to Bucharest and
from there to the coast and a boat to Palestine.
Other Romanian officials and former officials from Oradea assisted Jews to escape, for
example, the former mayor of Oradea and governor of Romania's National Bank,
Professor Mosoiu Tiberiu.
Thirty years after the war Mihai Marina wrote a reflective piece about his career and
about this period of his service as a Consul-General he wrote:
"No matter how many restrictions we had to face as employees of the Antonescu
regime in a fascist state, as humans, we could not remain insensitive to the suffering
caused by actions that mocked the very notion of human dignity. This made us take
action to support the Jews as much as we could and with all the necessary caution.
The main incentive and support in such matters came from the entire Romanian
population of Northern Transylvania."
Below is the report (roughly translated into English from the German) made by the
reviewer from Yad Vashem for the admittance of Constantin Karadja as
"Righteous Among the Nations".
Constantin Karadja (1889 - 1950), a diplomat in the Foreign Service of Romania,
as Consul General of Romania in Berlin (1931 - 1941) - officiated, born and Head
of the Consular Section at the Foreign Ministry of the fascist Romania (1944 1941)
in Holland, married a Romanian woman in England specializing in international law.
The application for recognition as a "Righteous Among the Nations" was submitted
to us by his granddaughter, who currently lives in Germany. She gave a substantial
description of his intense activity at the diplomatic level to rescue Jews of Romanian
nationality in Germany (1938 - 1941), in France and Hungary (1943 - 1944). His
granddaughter points out that because of his assistance to Jews of Romanian and
German nationality, the German authorities decided to label him as "undesirable
person". In the documents submitted to us there is no direct evidence. But as we
will see below, this is obvious.
As a result of the request to "Yad Vashem" Dr. M. asked Fladiel to supportive evidence
by Dr. Rado Yoanid, Head of International archive projects in the Holocaust Museum
in Washington and author of "The Holocaust in Romania", in which there is a separate
chapter on the "fate of the Jews of Romania abroad" (under the Nazi regime in the
occupied countries) is, of which due to the involvement Karadja thousands were
The Archives of the Holocaust Museum in Washington sent us dozens of copies of the
official documents Karadja that to Ion Antonescu, the dictator of the fascist Romania
in 1940 - in 1944 addressed, as well as to the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of
Foreign Affairs The Mihai Antonescu, in which he alerted about the urgent need to
take appropriate measures to enable the expatriate Jews with Romanian citizenship
to return to Romania. These documents were published by the Archives of the
Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to them, he showed great courage and was fearless in his questions to
the leader of the fascist regime in his country, the first assumed his position,
but later revised it, as they gave way to the Nazi regime in Germany. Thanks to
his efforts, it seems, but they should bear fruit later, because a few dozen Jews
from Germany (until July 1942), about 600 French Jews and 51,537 Jews from
Hungary, came back from January to May, 1944, a few days before the remaining
Jews were deported from there to the extermination camp Auschwitz. For all his
efforts, Karadja based on the principles of human rights and international law.
Besides, he was not deterred them, to warn Ion Mihai Antonescu and warned that
if Romania does not position would according to these principles, would get the bill
at the end of the war for it. His numerous papers have earned in my opinion a wide release.
Here are just a few main points:
1 In the years 1938 - 1939 he reported continuously about the anti-Semitic policies of National Socialist Germany, including the events of Kristallnacht, the sanctions against the Jews and the policy of deporting the German border. For example, he says: "If it is the poor displaced (with Romanian nationality) does not allow to be received in Romania or other non-European country, he could be imprisoned in a concentration camp, where many hundreds will disappear without a trace. "We then it requires that" the claims of the Jews with Romanian nationality, ask to be able to return to Romania, mainly processed without delay and for humanitarian reasons ".
2 On 7 March 1941 (to his tenure as Consul General in Berlin) received from the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the statement, in the passes of the Romanian Jews, the word "Jew" to be entered. Karadja sent on 24 March 1942 a letter of protest to the Romanian Foreign Minister, in which he asks him to withdraw this statement and explained it this way: "From a humanitarian point of view, we are worse (ie the Jews of Romanian nationality in Germany) nor the situation of the poor, in which we them unnecessary put obstacles in their exodus in the way that we can not derive any benefit from this administrative regulation. We can be sure that with the end of the war the opinion of the American and Anglo-Saxon public, which is also currently not particularly positive, this rule is interpreted as a further annoyance and lack of humanity and when the time comes, you will settle with us. "It suggests that in the passports not the word" Jew entered, "but the letter X, which should be solely known to the Romanian authorities. His opinion is accepted and withdrawn the statement.
3 With his appointment as Head of the Consular Section of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he succeeds to pass a statement of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is sent to the diplomatic missions and consular offices of Romania in Germany and the occupied European countries for information on 11.11.1941 and in the states: "All Romanians abroad must be protected without distinction, and it must be about people or their property that are exposed to discrimination, are reported." This means that using the Romanian representations to the German authorities to protect their Jewish citizens need. So you are protecting or by allowing them to travel permits are issued (to return) with the words "bon pour se rendre en roumanie" before deportation and the confiscation of their property. This situation changed in August 1942. The Germans claim that between them and the enemy Antonescu was agreed to put the statement out of power and to treat the Jews of Romanian nationality as the German authorities treat the local Jews. There are no documents in German archives to this Agreement. Karadja his hand is not happy with the repeal of the statement of November 1941, and will continue his numerous efforts to make the new statement is invalid, which is supported by the Romanian Foreign Minister, who relies on the fact that this scheme any no legal basis.
4 It was only in April 1943, it is possible Karadja avert the worst. He proposes to give the returning Jews for a limited time stay in Romania until it is possible for them to Palestine or other countries that are far away from Europe to emigrate. The Romanian Foreign Minister approves the request Karadja to let Jews of Romanian nationality from Germany, France, Greece and Italy to return to Romania, but on the condition that they be sent to fixed-time arrival to Transnistria, and in other countries outside of Europe they Asylum Find. The condition is set under the interference Karadja by Ion Antonescu himself suspended. An important reason for this is the impending war front to the Romanian border, with a defeat of Germany already seems certain.
5 Although the National Socialist Germany was allies of fascist Romania, Karadja warned in his letter dated 24.11.1943 to the Romanian foreign minister against the Germans deal with the Jews of Romanian nationality and Romania itself and stressed: "... international law, the principles of universal ethics and the fundamental rights of humanity were not considered by the German authorities and they have even denied our rights, they have discriminated against by our citizens. "It took great courage to express his time like this.
6 With increase in the deportation of Jews from occupied France to the camps of Auschwitz, it allowed the Vichy authorities, children travel back to Romania with Romanian nationality, on condition that they be included there. The Vichy authorities continued to answer an ultimatum to end of December 1943. Until then they should not get a response, it was said that the Jews would be deported. And again it was thanks to the unwavering actions Karadja and the pressure on the authorities in Romania, that the Jews, the approval of the Romanian foreign minister was given to come in trains from Paris to Vienna and Bucharest in Romania. In the letter to the Romanian Interior Minister Karadja from 02.29.1944, he announced that a first column of Jews France on 25 February 1944 has left the train to Romania. The second traveled on 6 March and the last on 26 March. Their total number was not called, which was not unintentional, since there had been tensions because of poor relations with the Jews abroad with Romanian citizenship between Karadja and the Home Secretary. It was 600 Jews, although the historian Dr. Jean Anchel their numbers estimated at 4,000.
7 With the beginning of the deportation of Hungarian Jews to the death camps in 1944 to Karadja sat back hard to ensure that the Jews who possessed the Romanian citizenship, could return to Romania. The Romanian Minister made this dependent on the number of incoming Jews in the number of emigrants to Hungary Jews (ie those with Hungarian nationality) would correspond. Karadja defied the very decided and again he received the approval of the Romanian foreign minister. As a result, more than 51,000 Jews were saved from deportation to Auschwitz. It should be mentioned that Karadja stressed to the Romanian Foreign Minister, among others, in its letter dated 30.06.1944, "If this is not possible in Hungary Jews to return to Romania, where they could find death and the future Hungarian authorities will not have the opportunity miss, the British and Americans of tomorrow to say that we have sent a large number of poor Jews to their death. "
Finally, I would say that there is no doubt in my mind that the decisive actions have led Karadja favor of the Jews of Romanian nationality in Germany, France and Hungary to the rescue of thousands. It takes Herzensmut to act the way he did it by diplomatic means. In the file there is no complete testimony about the fact that they were saved from certain death, in which they returned to Romania. But the fact of their salvation is of the Jewish community in Bucharest known, which had been set for their first pick-up point and he is called in official documents, which are located in the Romanian archives.
Even if it seems that Karadja so his life is not endangered, so I recommend him to recognize the award of the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions.