Romanian-Jewish Topics (Part One of Two):
Quotations from an Alternative Anthology:
“Blouse Roumaine – the Unsung Voices of Romanian Women”
Presented and edited by Constantin Roman, Preface by Catherine Durandin, published by the Centre for Romanian Studies (London), 2009
1,100 pages, 160 biographies, 600 quotations, 4,000 references, credits, discography and URLs , 6 Indexes
“Betty” (née Betty Joan Perske), Miss Betty Bacall, Mrs. Humphrey Bogart, (b. New York, 16 September 1924)
First-generation Romanian-American, film star, wife of Humphrey Bogart
Mother left Romania by ship – aged somewhere between one and two – with her father, mother, elder sister, baby brother. Her father had been in the wheat business, had been wiped out, and had turned out whatever silver and jewellery there was left to a sister for money, enough to transport his family to the promised land – the New World – America. They arrived in Ellis Island and gave their name – Weinstein Bacal (meaning wineglass in German and Russian). The man must have written down just the first half of the name – too many people from too many countries, too many foreign names - so it was Max and Sophie Weinstein, daughters Renée and Natalie’s, son Albert.
(Lauren Bacall By Myself, pp. 5, Jonathan Cape, London, 1979)
We had happy times, my grandmother cooking, singing German songs, reading constantly in French, German, Romanian, Russian and English. She and mother spoke Romanian and German when she did not want me to understand.
(Lauren Bacall, By Myself, op.cit. 5)
Read more about Lauren Bacall:
Georgeta (Georgette) CANCICOV, née Maria Jurgea
“The Angel Saviour of Moldavian Jews”
(b. 29 May 1899, Godinesti, County Bacàu – d. Bucharest, 16 April 1984),
Novelist, essayist, violinist, nurse in WWI, wife of Liberal justice minister and politician Mircea Cancicov
Georgeta Cancicov - Saviour of Moldavian Jews:
Taking advantage of the fact that Marshall Antonescu stayed at her house whenever he visited Bacàu and given the good relationship she had with him, Mrs. Cancicov interceded robustly and ensured that no ghettos be set up in Moldavia.
Then, there was the question raised that Jewish women be forced to perform labour in town. We again interceded with Mrs. Cancicov in a petition addressed to Marshall Antonescu, who decreed that the women should only do such work as befitting their profession, which was a gain in our favour.
On the eve of 22nd August 1944, there was an order to evacuate all Jews. (Consequently), on the morning of 23rd August, in the courtyard of the Church of Our Lady, a detachment of 600 Jews was gathered for evacuation. You can imagine their distress, as they had to leave behind their families and be driven among (the retreating) Hitler’s armies. As I intervened with Mrs. Cancicov, she communicated to me in writing that no Jews should be evacuated and I presented this order to the (military) commander. He checked with Mrs Cancicov, who confirmed, on her authority, that nobody should go, so he freed everybody. As a result no Jews from the any other detachments were evacuated either.
Of course, there were countless other little matters on which Mrs. Cancicov acted as the protecting angel and saviour of our wretched and oppressed Jewish people.
(D. Ionas, President of the Jewish community of Bacàu, Petition to the Prefect of the County Bacàu, dated 9th September 1945, in favour of Georgeta Cancicov, whose house was requisitioned by the Soviet Army, quoted by the Memoria)
There will be no Jewish ghettos set up here: (I defy you, that) should there ever be any of these set up, then I am going to be an inmate in one of them myself.
(Georgeta Cancicov, reassurance given to Schiller, the representative of the Jewish Community in Bacàu, quoted by D. Ionas, op.cit)
Read more about Georgeta Cancicov:
Nina CASSIAN (Renée Annie Cassian)
(b. 27 November 1924, Galati),
Poet, novelist, translator, composer, exile and now expatriate living in New York since 1985
I worked to be understood by the farmers and workers, I was torturing myself and distorting my artistry. Some of us Romanian writers did it with conviction. That was the worst.
They don’t want me there, I’m not sure why. They used to consider me eccentric and rebellious…But now maybe it’s because they resent that I’m living a better life in America.
It is a terrible tragedy, at age 60, to leave one’s country and live in a place where one is surrounded by a foreign language and with two impossible professions — poetry and classical music, I have had my share of fame and glory, and didn’t expect more.
Read more about Nina Cassian:
Maria FORESCU (née Maria Füllenbaum)
(15 Jan 1875 Cernàuti, Bukowina – (?) 23 November 1943, Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Thuringia, Germany)
Movie star, operetta singer, Nazi concentration camp detainee, killed at Buchenwald
Maria Forescu (née Maria Füllenbaum) is one of Europe’s earliest stars of the silent movie. She dedicated herself to her career with great zest, acting in over one hundred and sixty films from 1911 to 1933, a thread which was abruptly severed by Nazi censorship which resulted in her dramatic deportation to the infamous Buchenwald cocentration camp where she was killed ten years later, in 1943.
(Extract from the Biography of Maria Forescu published in “Blouse Roumaine – the Unsung Voices of Romanian Women”, 2009)
Read more about Maria Forescu:
Nicoleta (Nicolette) Franck (née Apotheker/Apoteker)
(b. 21st July 1920, Iasi, România)
Lawyer, political analyst, journalist, translator, exile in Switzerland
The tragedy of the vote (for presidential elections) of 26th November 2000 cannot be explained in any other way than in the perspective of the political illiteracy of the Romanian people. Our schools had not yet made good the teaching of history, and so distorted has it remained that our past is not correctly understood and thus we cannot shape the present or have a glimmer in the future.
Certainly after half a century of outright lies peddled by the communist régime, Romanians now believe only in rumours rather than public declarations. Consequently they are easily misled through whispered rumours, which are aimed at the calumny of honest people, pointing out their failures rather than at their achievements, - the latter, alas, being few and far between and rather slow in materializing.
Read more about Nicoleta Franck:
‘La Princèsse de la Musique’,
‘Clarinette’, (nickname given by Dinu Lipatti)
(b. 7 January, 1895, Bucharest– d. 7 December 1960, Brussels),
Pianist, exile in France and Switzerland
Clara Haskil about Georges Enesco:
I always felt alone when I played with Enesco. I could not see what we had in common. This great man and little me. Yet we were both Romanian, and apparently our playing blended perfectly. But what else? Such a towering figure. And me?
(Clara Haskil, ibid.)
Clara Haskil about Dinu Lipatti:
Oh, I could spend hours talking about Dinu. He was always so aware, so alive, in spite of all the terrible pain he had to suffer. And his music-making! I really can’t find the words to describe what I felt whenever I hear him play. I often thought he felt almost guilty he had been blessed with so much genius.”
(Clara Haskil, ibid.)
Clara Haskil about Dinu Lipatti:
How much I envy your talent, may the Deuce take it! Must you have so much talent and I so little? Is there justice in this world?
(Jean-Yves Conrad, Roumanie, capitale Paris, Guide des promenades insolites, sur les traces des Roumains célèbres de Paris, page 130)
Read more about Clara Haskil:
Princess HELEN of Greece and Denmark,
Romania’s ‘Queen Mother’ (Regina Mamà Elena)
(b. 2 May 1896, Athens - d. 28 November 1982, Lausanne, Switzerland)
consort of King Carol II,
Helen, Queen Mother of Romania, seen by Great Rabbi Alexandru Safran:
I would like to refer to the posthumous award of the title of “The Righteous Among the Nations” to Helen, Queen Mother of Romania. This letter is meant to bring to the fore two fundamental aspects pertaining to this matter: (1) actions by which the Queen Mother saved the lives of many Jews during the Second World War; (2) the risks personally taken by the Queen Mother in undertaking such actions.” (…)
“Such consciousness of possible risks extended over the whole period between 1941 and 1944. My own contact with the Queen Mother allowed me to gage her sharp and lucid perception of the realities of these unstable and turbulent times and at the same time to be appraised of her apprehensions concerning such risks. I can, at the same time bear witness that the Queen Mother constantly interceded on behalf of the Jews and that she saved Jewish lives in spite of all apprehensions: she was drawn to it by her kindness and her moral values.
Hoping that this letter will be helpful to the Commission of the Righteous Among Nations Award…
(Alexandru Safran, Grand Rabbi of Switzerland)
Read more about Helen Queen Mother of Romania:
(née Elena Grünberg, alias ‘Wolf’),
(aka ‘Magda’, aka ‘Duduia’, aka ‘Princess Elena’)
Mrs. Elena Tâmpeanu - by her first married name
(b. 1896, Herta, România, or 1899, Iasi Moldavia – d. 1977, Estoril, Portugal)
Socialite, royal concubine, third wife of King Carol II, exile
Limerick on Madame Lupescu:
Have you heard of Madam Lupescu,
Who came to Romania’s rescue?
It’s a wonderful thing
To be under a King:
Is Democracy better I ask you?
While he whom I adore, he in whom I put all my hope for the good of my country did not send me a telegram, not even a single line in order to share with me his happiness, happiness to which I had contributed… my heart is sad, it is bleeding because I expected to be the first to whom you would send a telegram.
(Elena Lupescu’s letter to Carol, Quoted by Lilly Marcou, Le Roi trahi – Carol II de Roumanie)
Read more about Elena Lupescu:
Romanian-Jewish Topics(continued in Part Two):
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