Home » Books published » Diana Dumitru, Vecini în vremuri de restriște. Stat, antisemitism și Holocaust în Basarabia și Transnistria. Iași: Polirom, 2019.

Diana Dumitru, Vecini în vremuri de restriște. Stat, antisemitism și Holocaust în Basarabia și Transnistria. Iași: Polirom, 2019.

Based on original sources, this important new book on the Holocaust explores regional variations in civilians’ attitudes and behavior toward the Jewish population in Romania and the occupied Soviet Union. Gentiles’ willingness to assist Jews was greater in lands that had been under Soviet administration during the interwar period, while gentiles’ willingness to harm Jews occurred more in lands that had been under Romanian administration during the same period. While acknowledging the disasters of Communist rule in the 1920s and 1930s, this work shows the effectiveness of Soviet nationalities policy in the official suppression of antisemitism. This book offers a corrective to the widespread consensus that homogenizes gentile responses throughout Eastern Europe, instead demonstrating that what states did in the interwar period mattered; relations between social groups were not fixed and destined to repeat themselves, but rather fluid and susceptible to change over time.

What people are saying about it:

“Dumitru’s multifaceted, detailed description of the still under-researched events in Bessarabia and Transnistria is based on many previously untapped sources. Her attempts […] have unearthed a lot of facts about Jewish history in the region. The book is thus a pioneering comparative work that furthers research on a hitherto neglected part of the Shoah.” (Markus Bauer, H-Net Reviews)

“Can states school their citizens for genocide? Does valuing cultural diversity, by contrast, create a lasting buffer against state-organized violence? Diana Dumitru’s thesis is provocative: that the Soviet ideology of ‘friendship of peoples’ attenuated popular antisemitism. Using the Romanian-Soviet borderland as a kind of natural experiment, Dumitru finds substantial differences between how neighboring populations in Romania and the USSR viewed their Jewish neighbors. Dumitru’s work will open new debates about the power of political choice in determining the course of the Holocaust in different lands.” (Charles King, author of Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams)

”Dumitru’s history shows the incredible power of the state’s rhetoric and regulations to shape the attitudes and beliefs of its citizenry. This is a shocking and essential story for scholars of Central and Eastern Europe.” (Kate Brown, author of A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland)

”The Holocaust in Bessarabia and Transnistria is much less familiar than that in Poland and the Baltic states, while by many accounts it was just as bestial. Diana Dumitru’s research explores an even less familiar reality: that Stalin’s totalitarianism fostered a climate that was relatively benevolent toward the Jews by comparison with the hostility fostered by the more traditional authoritarianism of Romania. In bringing to the surface this apparent irony, she demonstrates how the Holocaust remains an inexhaustible field of study, which continues to shed a revealing and troubling light on our present.” (Robert D. Kaplan, author of Balkan Ghosts: A Journey through History, and In Europe’s Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey through Romania and Beyond)

”Diana Dumitru’s important contribution to the burgeoning study of the Holocaust in the East demonstrates convincingly that Transnistrian Moldova, under Soviet rule from 1918 to 1940, witnessed far less collaboration than did Bessarabian Moldova, under Romanian rule. Her argument that Soviet internationalism explains this difference is an important challenge to both Holocaust Studies and Soviet history.” (Terry Martin, author of Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923‒1939)