August 10, 2007

WWII Romanian soldier joins righteous among nations


Yad Vashem yesterday posthumously honored a Romanian reserve officer who blocked the deportation of Romanian Jews to Nazi death camps during World War II.

Theodor Criveanu joined the Righteous Among the Nations group of non-Jews who rescued Jews from the Nazis. His son, Willie Criveanu, accepted the award on his behalf.

Six million European Jews were killed by German Nazis and their collaborators during the war.

The 20,000 Jews of Czernowitz, Romania, were interned during the war and slated for deportation to death camps.

As a reserve officer in the Romanian army, Criveanu was assigned the task of presenting authorities a list of Jews who were required to work in the ghetto, and were thus spared deportation.

According to testimonies given to Yad Vashem, Criveanu risked his own life by handing out permits beyond the allowed limit, including to Jews who were not essential to the workforce. Yad Vashem said it could not estimate how many Jews he saved.

Criveanu married the daughter of one of the Jews he saved. He died in Romania in 1988.

”My father’s life was based on justness, correctness. He was a great humanitarian, that was his nature,” his son said at the ceremony. ”He was a gift from God for my mother’s family and to so many more.”

More than 21,000 non-Jews have been honored by Yad Vashem, including Oskar Schindler, whose efforts to save more than 1,000 Jews was documented in the Oscar-winning film Schindler’s List. Of these, 53 Romanians have been honored.