Centre for Romanian Studies

Centre for Romanian Studies header image 1


May 10th, 2009 · No Comments · Books, PEOPLE, quotations, Translations

(continued from Part ONE)
Quotations from an Alternative Anthology:
Blouse Roumaine – the Unsung Voices of Romanian Women”

Presented and edited by Constantin Roman, Preface by Catherine Durandin, published by the Centre for Romanian Studies (London), 2009

1,100 pages, 160 biographies, 600 quotations, 4,000 references, performances & exhibition credit, discography and URLs , 6 Indexes



As a young girl from Hungarian-occupied Transylvania, Ana NOVAC knew the whole gamut of Nazi concentration camps. She was a surviver of both Nazi and Communist dictatorship who opted for freedom in France.

As a young girl from Hungarian-occupied Transylvania, Ana NOVAC knew the whole gamut of Nazi concentration camps. She was a surviver of both Nazi and Communist dictatorships, who opted for freedom in France.

Ana NOVAC, (née Zimra Harsany)
‘The Romanian Anne Frank’
(b. Dej, Transylvania, 21 June 1929)
Actress, playwright, poet, novelist Auschwitz, Kratzau, Plaszow camps survivor, exile living in Paris

I was born in 1929 in Transylvania (România). One good morning when I was 11 years old I woke up to be a Hungarian citizen without having moved to another place, another street, or even without having changed my shirt. At the age of 14 I was deported to Auschwitz as a Jew. On my release in 1945 I had again become a Romanian citizen. That is why I have the greatest difficulty in establishing my nationality, other than from my identity papers which specified that I was Jewish.
(Ana Novac, The Beautiful Days of My Youth: My Six Months in Auschwitz and Plaszow)

That text was rejected by the censors as ‘anti-Semitic’….’It is useless to explain to a bureaucrat trembling for his job and his life that one can be Jewish, persecuted, and a bastard at the same time; that martyrdom and heroism do not necessarily go together; that misfortune does not imply any merit and does not confer any more right to glory than a car wreck, or an earthquake.
(Ana Novac, The Beautiful Days of My Youth: My Six Months in Auschwitz and Plaszow)

Read more about Ana Novac:


Ana PAUKER (née Hannah Rabinsohn, or Rabinovici)

Ana pauker together wit Elena ceausescu shares the distinction of belonging to the Romanian Communist Demonology

Ana Pauker together with Elena Ceausescu shares the distinction of belonging to the Romanian Communist Demonology

‘A Jewish Female Bukharin’
(b. 1893, Codàesti, County Vaslui, Moldavia – d. Bucharest, 1960)
Granddaughter of Rabbi Hersch Kaufmann Rabinsohn, communist activist prior to WWI, political prisoner, exile in the Soviet Union, NKVD operative/ spy, returnee,
vice-president of the Council of Ministers, (1949-52), Foreign Minister, (1947-53),
Politburo Member responsible for the enforced collectivization of agriculture, (1944-56),

Rabbi Alexandru Safran on Ana Pauker:
“Ana Pauker, a rabbi’s daughter…. when she was Minister of Foreign Afairs, wanted everybody to know, especially when I was present, that she was not a Jew, she was a communist”….
“… when she saw me approaching the Prime Minister and the other ministers she stepped out of the line and turned aside for a moment in order not to greet me. She thus thought to demonstrate that she, the communist, did not want anything to do with the Chief Rabbi and Jewry; that she had less in common with him than even the other members of government….”
“…the expression of Ana Pauker’s face during her time of glory, had always been impertinent”.

(Alexander Safran, Grand Rabbi of Switzerland, formerly Grand Rabbi of Romania: Resisting the storm, Romania 1940-1947, op.cit 139, 161, 166)

Tesu Solomovici on Ana Pauker:
The most shining star amongst the huge number of Moscow-trained spies and activists was, undoubtedly the Jewish communist Ana Pauker. She knew Joseph Vissarionovitch Stalin personally and worked under the orders and direct command of the henchmen of the Soviet repressive services, Lavrentie Pavlovitch Beria, Victor Semionovitch Abakhumov, Piotr Vassilievitch Fedotov and Pavel Mihailovitch Fitin and furthermore she enjoyed the admiration of yet another dinosaur of Soviet power – Vyactheslav Molotov. Notwithstanding all that, Gheorghiu-Dej succeeded, with a patient cunning to pluck out all her feathers.
(Solomovitch: 54-55)

Read more about Ana Pauker:


Elisabeth Roudinesco Parisian-born Psychoanalist of Romanian stock

Elisabeth Roudinesco Parisian-born Psychoanalist of Romanian stock

Elisabeth ROUDINESCO (Elisabeta RUDINESCU)
(b. 1944)
Academic, psychoanalyst, historian of science, historian, journalist, editor,
French-born Romanian living in Paris

“Being Jewish, in such conditions, did not make sense, because I was baptised, but not being Jewish did not make sense either, because this baptism did not imbue in me any integrating principles. How should I answer my classmates who might enquire about my origins and my religion? My father called himself an orthodox convert to Catholicism; my mother rather considered herself a Protestant and both parents felt rather detached from any religious tradition. Furthermore, my mother kept in a drawer a fake birth certificate which was produced for her benefit by a willing abbot, by which she was spared the obligation of wearing the yellow star badge and consequently saved from deportation. How could one believe, in such conditions, in the validity of a ‘real’ birth certificate and how will I know what might be the implications of ‘really’ belonging to a religion? It took me twenty years to unravel this imbroglio of my Jewish origins.
(Elisabeth Roudinesco, Généalogie)

“One day, as I returned from the cinema, where I discovered that the most famous Romanian on this planet was Count Dracula, I bought Bram Stoker’s book, which I read breathlessly. As soon as I reminded my father that his worthy ancestors may not have been those whose descendant he claimed to be, he raised his arms to the sky and treated me (in Romanian) of that highest swear word of being a ‘tzigan’. From then on we did not stop wrangling. He was always singing the merits of Voltaire, Anatole France and Paul Valéry, whose friend he was, while I loved Balzac, Michelet and Proust.”
(Elisabeth Roudinesco, ibid.)

Immigrant’s delusions:
“My father who emigrated (from Romania to France t.n.) in 1904, passed his time obfuscating his origins. Being wary of anti-Semitism (in France. t.n.) and anxious to prove his desire of being assimilated, he was claiming an Orthodox father and that he himself had converted to Roman Catholic. This is how he could claim, without admitting it, a link with Alexandru Socec. As for any reminiscences regarding his own itinerary, he invented a family novel to suit his imagination, to the point of thinking himself more French than the French themselves and to relegating his native Romania to the status of a country inhabited by vampires and gypsies. He had in his disquisitions two way of looking at history. A scholarly approach, based on academic books and which he presented and eschewed  in the clearest manner. By contrast his private life was punctuated by mystery and rumor. My father would assign to archives and to the truth a positivist cult, whilst for his own family history, he was covering his tracks and was clouding the genealogies.”
(Elisabeth Roudinesco, ibid.)

Read more about Elisabeth Roudinesco:


Annie SAMUELLI, victim of Communist witch hunt

Annie SAMUELLI, victim of Communist witch hunt

(b. 1912 – d. ca. 2003)
Clerk at the British Legation Bucharest, political prisoner, exile

Cosmopolitan bourgeois:
The debased spies, recruited from among the cosmopolitan bourgeois, have finally received their retribution.
(The Communist newspaper Unirea commenting on Annie Samuelli’s ‘conspiracy in favour of Great Britain and the U.S.A’. in the 1948 political trials. Quoted by Tesu Solomonovici, in Securitatea si Evreii, vol 2, pp.51l)

Miracle Rabbi:
Carla, aged 40, arrived at our cell: she was a brilliant accountant. Carla was given a 20 years prison sentence for having been a member of a so-called ‘subversive organization’. Although a Roman Catholic she would tell us about the pilgrimage to the tomb of the ‘Miracle Rabbi’:

Some hundred years ago, this rabbi would have led his folk on foot all the way to a small Romanian village to escape a pogrom in Poland. This humble and enlightened man handed out wise counsel, which was of the greatest help to the community. After his death at a venerable age, people would still come along to his grave to ask advice. The ritual unfolded in the following way: in memory of the rabbi’s long treck from Poland, the pilgrims, Jews and Gentiles alike, would walk to the cemetery, which was rather far from the city. Along the way, they would pick up a stone. Any request or problem would be scribbled on a piece of paper, which was put under the stone and placed on the rabbi’s grave. In time, all these stones grew to become a gravestone in the shape of a pyramid, which grew and grew. Each time a request or a problem was satisfied, the pilgrim would return to collect the stone and destroy the piece of paper.

Carla heard the story from an inmate with whom she shared a prison cell in said town. Although she was Romanian Orthodox this woman prisoner was convinced that her husband was praying at the rabbi’s tomb for her to be given a reprieve of her prison sentence, because the rabbi had already miraculously saved their dying son.
‘Well, would you believe it?’ Carla would exclaim. ‘This woman was acquitted within six months. And you know how rare it is for a political prisoner to be freed. She had failed to denounce some refugee and she would have been sentenced to a minimum of five years. Now, owing to the Miracle Rabbi, she could go home’.
(Annie Samuelli, Dayyenu)

Read more about Annie Samuelli:


Silvia SIDNEY, First Generation romanian-American Movie Star

Silvia SIDNEY, First Generation romanian-American Movie Star

Sylvia SIDNEY (aka SYDNEY), (née Sophia Kosow),
1stly Mrs. Bennett Cerf, 2ndly Mrs. Luther Adler, 3rdly Mrs. Carlton Alsop
(b. Bronx, New York, 8 August 1910 – d. New York, 1st July 1999)
First-generation Romanian-American, film and stage actress, needlepoint artist

As in the case of Lauren Bacall, (q.v.), another glamorous New York-born actress with Romanian roots, one may question Sylvia’s inclusion in the Blouse Roumaine. Sylvia’s father, Mr Kosow, was indeed Russian, but her mother was Romanian.

(Extract  from: ‘Blouse Roumaine – the Unsung Voices of Romanian Women’)

Read more about Silvia Sidney:


Sanda Stolojan: a freedom fighter and sharp observer of Romanian exiles

Sanda Stolojan: a freedom fighter and sharp observer of Romanian exiles

Sanda STOLOJAN (née Alexandra Zamfirescu)
(b. 1919, Bucharest – d. 2 August 2005, Paris)
Essayist, poet, memorialist, translator, journalist human rights activist,
Personal interpreter for four French presidents, exile in France

Franco-Romanian Jews:
I went to Beaubourg to the symposium on Benjamin Fondane, on whom I was writing an article in the ‘Cahiers de l’Est’. In the auditorium many Romanian Jews were gathered , a world with which we other Romanians have few contacts other than some personal friends. An old émigré, Claude Émile Rosen, read one of Fondane’s poems in Romanian. Stefan Lupasco who knew Fondane was there too. Generally the tone of the evening, imprinted by the philosopher Chouraki, a specialist in the Jewish mystique, was Hebraic and anti-Romanian, with pre-war Romania painted in anti-Semitic colours all over. Throughout the course of the evening I felt an odd sensation of being there only tolerated, marginalized, in spite of being at the core of a cultural space with which I was very familiar. In a certain fashion I was the “Jew”, the foreigner within this audience. In fact our manner of living our exile is situated at the opposite pole of the sensitivity of these Franco-Romanian intellectuals of Jewish origin. It is all a matter of the past, a question linked to the antecedents of our lives, yesterday in communist Romania, today in Paris. Even further back, there is a matter of ancestors, ours steeped in the glebe of deepest Romania, in its beliefs and traditions, theirs errant for three thousand years; ours lost in the Neolithic mist, theirs mingled to the history of Babylon and Egypt. These are profound matters, old causes, as old as the biblical prophecies and their different interpretations which shaped us. And then there is the recent past, our situation and theirs under communism, which of late has forced us to take the road of exile, where we see them again, these old errant hands. Today the experience of exile ought to bring us closer to each other, but our contact with them, like that of last evening, only revealed to what extent we remained attached to our land archetype implanted in the Parisian milieu. What could be more foreign to their spirit than our obsessions, our reactions, our commitment. It is by rejecting this spirit of our soil that Cioran succeeded in placing himself above this state of mind which is justly ours, that of the provincials of Europe, a characteristic which was also his. Paradoxically, it is while strongly denouncing his origins that Cioran discovered his inner depth: for, as he said, ‘Nobody is in control of his own inner depth’. How could one solve this dilemma? How could our exile bring us closer to the Jewish exile?”
(Sanda Stolojan, Au balcon de l’exil Roumain a Paris)

Read more about Sanda Stolojan:

Sabina Wurmbrand - a Pastor's Wife who knew the Communist Prisons

Sabina Wurmbrand - a Pastor's Wife who knew the Communist Prisons

Sabina WURMBRAND (née Sabina Oster)
(1913, România –2000, California, U.S.A.)
Missionary of the underground church, pastor’s wife, political prisoner and prisoner of conscience, exile in the USA

Prison Carcer:
..I was marched to the guardroom and put into a prison cell. It was a narrow cupboard built into the wall in which you could just stand. The iron door had a few holes to admit air… After a few hours, my feet were burning. The blood in my temples beat with slow, painful thuds. How many hours could they keep me here?… Drops of water were falling from somewhere on the roof of the box. It was a desolate sound. I counted them to make time pass… I don’t know how long I did this, but at a certain moment.
I simply began to cry aloud to avoid despair:
’One, two, three, four,’
I cried, and again:

‘One, two, three, four…’
After a time the words became inarticulate. I didn’t know what I said. My mind had moved into rest. It blacked out. Yet my spirit continued to say something to God.

(Sabina Wurmbrand, The pastor’s wife)

Read more about Sabina Wurmbrand:

© copyright Constantin ROMAN, 2003-2009, all rights reserved

Tags: ······················································································································································································

No Comments so far ↓

Like gas stations in rural Texas after 10 pm, comments are closed.