"On Relations between Modern Science and Mass Murder in Romania-occupied South Ukraine, 1941-1942"

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 Vladimir Solonari (University of Central Florida)

"Fighting Typhus – Killing Jews: On Relations between Modern Science and Mass Murder in

Romania-occupied South Ukraine, 1941-1942"

(Introduced by: Marius Turda, Oxford Brookes University)

[43min10; 3 slides]


This paper was presented to the international symposium:

"Reassessing Nazi Human Experiments and Coerced Research, 1933-1945: New Findings, Interpretations and Problems"

4 - 7 July 2013, Wadham College, Oxford


Convened by Paul Weindling (Oxford Brookes University), Marius Turda (Oxford Brookes University), and Volker Roelcke (University of Giessen).

Kindly funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and the University of Giessen


Abstract: This paper explores the connection between the death of tens of thousands of Jews from typhus in the camps and ghettos of Transnistria, and Romanian policy towards Jews in the region. More specifically, the paper focuses on the issue of intentionality: did Romanian officials purposefully use typhus epidemic as a way to “peacefully” eliminate racial enemies of the Romanian nation or was this calamity an unintended result of incompetence, poor planning, and negligence on the part of Romanian officials?

On the basis of a great variety of sources, the paper concludes that the intentionality hypothesis is not supported by hard evidence. However, catastrophic mortality rates stemmed not only from incompetence and negligence but also from deliberately defined priorities which favoured protection of the army and the abandonment of Jewish inmates to their own fate. Anti-Semitic ideology also contributed to the unfolding of this dynamic: the Jews were seen as members of an irredeemable enemy nation, and so saving their lives was to many an official and doctor a non-issue. The Romanian medical establishment was divided among itself: while its leaders fully subscribed to the view that the well-being of the troops and administration was their sole responsibility in the region, individual doctors did help the suffering Jewish inmates.


Bio: Vladimir Solonari received his PhD in history from Moscow State University in 1986. Since 2003 he has been teaching at the department of history at the University of Central Florida. He is the author of Purifying the Nation: Population Exchange and Ethnic Cleansing in Nazi-Allied Romania 1941-1944 (Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010). He also published a number of articles on contemporary Moldovan, Romanian, and Ukrainian history and is currently working on a book project on the social history of southern Ukraine under the Romanian occupation, 1941-1944.



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