The Iasi Pogrom, the Most Photo-Documented Genocidal Event in the Romanian Holocaust: Context of Images, Killing Developments, Public Discourse and the Uses of Photographic Memories in the Last 70 Years
Iasi Pogrom (June 28 – July 6, 1941) was the most photo documented genocidal event in the whole Romanian Holocaust History. Being one of the biggest mass violence actions against Jewish population from the beginning of the Second World War trough the East with almost 13,000 victims (bigger than Iasi Pogrom were, in 1941, just Odessa massacre, developed and executed by the Romanian Troops against Jewish population (20,000 victims, most of them were burned alive) and Babi Yar, near to Kiev, with 33,000 victims), Iasi Pogrom took place in few genocidal methods and perspectives, more than other massacres: individual crimes, „death trains”, beatings to the death, mass shootings in the forests or other places etc. The Romanian Army, administration and civilians, together with German soldiers and officers carefully prepared and organized the perpetration of the big part of entire Jewish population lived in Iași. According to official figures generated by census, in June 1941, in Iași, almost a half of the population (100,000 inhabitants) were Jews.
The paper describers that until now, there are 112 photos of Iași pogrom which has been discovered in different archives, within official documents or within the trial files. Just 33 images has been taken during the killing of the Jews from Iași streets, or when they had been captured, and 79 photos has been taken in different railways stations, where the „death trains” stopped. The majority of the photo authors were members of the Romanian secret services or German soldiers/officers. Part of those photos has been used as proves in different trials after the war, and a secret album (not identified yet) with Pogrom photos realized in order to be given to the head of state (Ion Antonescu) and to the prime-minister (Mihai Antonescu) from that period, is possible may to have contained some of these photos. In private or public archives from Romanian Jewish Community, Israel, Germany, United States or other European countries, there are tens of photos from Iasi Pogrom. All scientific and standard groups in the Holocaust (perpetrators, bystanders and victims) are very well represented in all these images, in different places or perspectives.
Photographs of the Iasi Pogrom circulated during the war. The paper summarizes a case when a public servant from American Embassy in Bucharest bought five photos and send them in Istanbul, and then to Washington, in October 1941. These photos are located nowadays at NARA. Other photos (23) taken during the pogrom has been published for the first time in the 50s. Other cases, with few photos of the Iasi Pogrom, are discussed in the last years because individual owners continues to send them on eBay.
The paper will analyze the public discourse regarding the photographic material during the communist times, post-communist era or the last years. Comparing with other pogroms, the vast material of Iasi Pogrom allow us to deliver a very well-constructed presentation, with tens of photographic examples in different perspectives. In the same time, the paper will present the nowadays developments, when the photographic material will became part of an official memorial in Iasi next year.