Marco Maximillian Katz
Marco’s grandfather and uncles were tortured and killed by the Romanian Legionnaires. In 2002, following a severe anti-Semitic attack on himself, with the assistance of the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) he established The Center for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism in Romania. “It is a demanding and not always rewarding activity. It often puts me in awkward situations with anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers as well as with Jewish and Israeli fellows. But I joined the ‘Back to Berlin’ journey to continue to fight anti-Semitism, discrimination and racism with the same stubbornness”.
For the record and for having a clear image of my family’s story:
In 1940 Hitler gave Marshall Ion Antonescu, the ruler of Romania at that time and a close ally of the Nazis, the permission to bring to power ͞Miscarea Legionara͟, the legionnaires movement, a fascist, religious nationalist extremist group of people. Few months later, when Marshal Ion Antonescu could not control the legionaries anymore, Antonescu prepared an military operation against his own protégées. In this context in January 21st 1941, the legionnaires invaded the streets of Bucharest and for three days they robbed and destroyed thousands of Jewish owned businesses and homes. At the end of these three days 124 Jews were registered as killed in this pogrom. Using the pogrom as a motive, after letting the legionnaires do their own thing for two days, Antonescu unleashed the army against them and reduced them to silence.
Among the 124 killed Jews was my uncle, Isidor Katz, aged 39 at that time. On the day when he was killed, his father, my grandfather, Marcu Katz who was a rabbi, attended the religious service at the Choral synagogue. The legionaries who attacked the synagogue tortured him by pulling out his beard hair by hair and beating him up. When he was told about his father’s situation, Isidor Katz ran from his house to the synagogue and implored the legionnaires to release his father and to take him instead. The torture of Marcu Katz continued: but this time he had to endure not only the physical pain but also he had to see how his son was beaten up, how his arms were twisted and his shoulders were dislocated. Hours later, Marcu Katz watched his son, still alive, being thrown in a truck full of other Jews who were also tortured and almost dead. This was the last time that Marcu Katz saw his son, my uncle, alive.
90 Jews, Isidor Katz among them, were driven to Jilava, a small village located just outside of Bucharest. There, in the woods, all 90 Jews were killed. Isidor Katz was executed by the legionnaires with a bullet shot in his head. His belongings were stolen by his murderers. My grandfather, Marcu Katz, survived to bury his son. Few months later, in June 1941, 13000 Jews were killed in Iasi. This time by the Romanian army under the command of Marshal Ion Antonescu.
Sometime after the pogrom, when he was called by the officials to present his case against the legionnaires, my grandfather refused to do so saying that revenge will not revive his son.
The torture of my grandfather, the extermination of my uncle, a 39 year old young man, left a mark on the entire Katz family including myself, the only kid to a family with 9 brothers and sisters. In their memory, when post-communist era anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial became visible, I established The Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism in Romania (MCA).