Author: Radu Ioanid
Publisher: Ivan R. Dee
The following review was contributed by: NORM GOLDMAN: Editor of Bookpleasures &CLICK TO VIEW Norm Goldman's Reviews
Between 1948 until 1989, the State of Israel had clandestinely engaged in one of the longest and most expensive ransom pacts in history, wherein Romania permitted most its 370,000 Jews, who had survived the Holocaust, to immigrate to Israel in exchange for hard currency and various other considerations.
Born and educated in Romania, and director of International archival programs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., author Radu Ioanid, exposes in The Ransom of the Jews: The Story of the Extraordinary Secret Bargain Between Romania and Israel, a hideous chapter in Romanian history, that little was known until recently.
Although, officials in Washington may have been vaguely aware of this secret pact, they had no concrete evidence-until the defection to the USA in 1978 of one of the Cold War’s most important defectors, Lieutenant General Ion Mihai Pacepa.
Pacepa was at the time of his defection a close confidant of Romania’s head of state, Nicolai Ceaucescu, and he had been the country’s chief spy.
As mentioned in the Afterword of the book contributed by Pacepa, the roots of The Ransom of the Jews go back to 1993, when the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was opened. It was there that Pacepa had met with Radu Ioanid leading eventually to a long ensuing relationship. During this time, the author was informed of the many super-secret documents that existed in the still- classified archives of the Romanian espionage services.
Due to the relentless and determined doggedness of the author, much of the information contained in this book has now come to light.
Ioanid points out, that contrary to the glowing propaganda that had emanated from Romania pertaining to its treatment of Jews, they were nonetheless subjected to blatant anti-Semitism with all of its trappings that had been practiced in many of the Communist countries, such as loss of government jobs, paying for otherwise free education, badgering by governmental officials, and other abuses.
As a result, there had been an intense effort on the part of the Israelis to bring out as many individuals as possible, even if it meant signing a secret pact with the devil. And that is exactly what had transpired.
This is a remarkable and engrossing read providing a window as to what exactly transpired between Romania and Israel, and how the latter had been exploited by the former in order to gain needed hard currency as well as receiving most favored nation status by the USA.
The author’s revelations, the product of many years of research, exude frankness and thoroughness that will give readers an excellent perspective of this surreptitious relationship that otherwise would be difficult to glean elsewhere.
Written with an open mind, this book will prove to be an important book in gaining a more clear perspective of how one Communist State professing to be somewhat independent of the USSR and even more democratic, was no better in its relations with treatment of its Jewish community.