Romania, under pro-Nazi dictator Ion Antonescu, joined the Axis alliance in November 1940 and collaborated in the persecution and extermination of Jews. Quantifying the deadly impact of the Holocaust on Romanian Jews is complicated due to the numerous border and population shifts prior to and during World War II (WWII), with most experts evaluating population totals and deaths by area. For instance, in the summer of 1940, Romania was forced to cede territory to Hungary and the Soviet Union that contained more than half of its approximately 750,000 Jews. Following the June 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania seized back the ceded Soviet territories and occupied a larger area in Ukraine, to which it deported well over 100,000 Romanian Jews. Some 250,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews died in areas under Romanian control between 1941 and 1944. In 1942, the Romanian regime initially agreed to turn over to Nazi Germany the 300,000 Jews still within Romania, but then refused to do so, resulting in their survival.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) estimates that 220,000 Romanian Jews died in the Holocaust, which includes at least 90,000 Jews deported by Hungary from northern Transylvania. Other Romanian sources, such as the International Commission for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania, estimate a higher number – between 280,000 and 380,000. Of the 25,000 Roma deported to Transnistria, at least 11,000 perished.
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) estimates that between 9,300 and 17,000 Jews live in Romania today. In the 2011 census, 3,271 individuals declared themselves to be Jewish. The main organization representing the country’s Jewish community is the Federaţia Comunităţilor Evreieşti Din România (Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania).
In 1997, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) established the Caritatea Foundation, which assumed responsibility for preparing and submitting claims to the National Authority for Property Restitution (ANRP) for confiscated Jewish property. According to the Foundation, however, the process is complicated by ambiguities in Romania’s restitution laws, a general preference for courts to settle cases, short deadlines for documents, and overly bureaucratic procedures. Claimants may be directed to government-managed archives to obtain required documents, but the archives generally require long processing times that often result in missed submission deadlines.