Tzvi and Loti Goldner 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Goldner family)
My visit to Iasi was a spontaneous one. I was in Romania to cover a march in Sighet in honor of the late Elie Wiesel, when I met the Claims Conference’s Greg Schneider, who told me about his upcoming visit to Iasi. My interest was immediately piqued – Iasi is where my grandfather, at the age of 16, saved his skin by hiding in an attic as Jews from his building were rounded up by Romanian and German officers during the pogrom.
I accepted an offer of an eight-hour car ride that began at the crack of dawn and took me through Romania’s winding country roads to Iasi.
With less than clear instructions, I set off to find the two-story residential building where my grandfather, as he was being led down the stairs in a single file of Jews, slipped out of line and fled upstairs to hide in the attic. “That’s how I was saved,” he says.
Nevertheless, my grandfather still wound up being caught and taken to the police station later that day, along with his brother, who was beaten there.
“At the entrance, the soldiers stood, Romanian and German, with guns, which they hit us with to hurry us up. “They started shooting at the Jews after they beat them. After that, they took many of the Jews to the trains.”
Luckily, my grandfather and his brother were released from the police station.
“What’s the city like now?” my grandfather wanted to know, when I called him at his home in Israel to tell him of my whereabouts. It’s a modern, bustling and quite beautiful university city, a far cry from the images my mind conjured up when I previously thought of the only thing I knew about it, the pogrom.
Even visiting the landmarks where the most horrific atrocities were perpetrated, it’s easy to overlook their history. But as Schneider remarked as we stood at the police station, where my grandfather was held and his brother was beaten, “too many Jews were massacred here for it not to be marked and remembered.”
Iasi’s railway station, where thousands of Jews were crammed into sealed freight trains and transported to their deaths, is marked by a small plaque which was affixed to its wall in 2011, but I got the feeling that its many visitors are unaware of its past