Tag Archives: Europe

Mark Collins – A Great Book From a Romanian Jew, Mihail Sebastian: "Journal 1935–1944: The Fascist Years"

Further to this post,

What’s an Intellectual Romanian Jew to do Before WW II?

I am finishing his journal:

It is an accumulation of events, thoughts and emotions that is one of the most powerful books I have read. I would add that his amateur appreciation of military developments is quite acute (it would appear that Romanians had access to quite a variety of information from non-Axis sources).

More here on Mihail Sebastian from a Romanian. He survived the war and then “Mihail Sebastian was killed by a truck as he crossed a busy Bucharest street in May 1945…”

The fate of Jews in Romania during the war depended critically on where they lived; many of those in the old Regat survived but still were subject to harsh persecution:


Romania, as Germany’s ally, joined the war against the Soviet Union. The country’s declared reason for doing so was to recover the territories of Bucovina and Bessarabia. Individual Jews’ fates in Romania critically depended on the region in which they lived at the beginning of the war. In Antonescu’s plan for “cleaning up the land,” the Jewish population of Bessarabia and Bucovina was considered hostile and was destined for “elimination.” Intense antisemitic propaganda was spread especially within the army, but also at all levels of the state hierarchy. This particular population, and by extension all Jews, was depicted as the embodiment of the “Bolshevik threat.”

Under Antonescu’s rule, Jews were subjected to discriminatory regulations, but there were quite a few fluctuations in their status, depending on the war front situation and on the political interests of the regime. Jewish real estate was nationalized on 28 March 1941, except for a few categories (exemptions included decorated Jewish war veterans; war orphans who had been baptized as Christians 20 years earlier; Jews married to Romanian nationals; Jews baptized as Christians at least 30 years before). Jewish men aged 18 to 50 had to perform forced labor.

One week after the beginning of the war, on 29–30 June 1941, the Jewish community of Iaşi was the victim of a pogrom in which more than 14,000 Jews were killed in massacres supervised by the army and the local police, with the support of Nazi troops. With the German–Romanian invasion, on Antonescu’s order 45,000–60,000 Jews in Bessarabia and Bucovina were massacred. The remaining 157,079 Jews were deported to Transnistria: 91,845 from Bucovina, 55,867 from Bessarabia, and 9,367 from Dorohoi. Between 105,000 and 120,000 of the deported Romanian Jews died. More than 21,000 Jews from southern Bucovina (the counties of Dorohoi, Câmpulung Moldovenesc, Suceava, and Rădăuți), which was still a part of the Old Kingdom, were also deported before 1942.

From the very beginning of the war, in Bucharest, community leaders (namely Filderman, leader of the Federal Union of Jewish Communities [FUCE]; with the assistance of Alexandru Şafran, the chief rabbi), succeeded in organizing an institutional network to provide religious services, education, and social support. In December 1941, FUCE was dissolved and replaced by the Jewish Central, following the model of the Judenrat. Remaining the true leader of the community, Filderman led the fight against resuming deportations and other anti-Jewish measures. In some communities, permission was granted to set up schools for Jewish children who had been excluded from the Romanian education system. Ways were found to send aid, financed substantially by international Jewish organizations, to Jews who had been deported to Transnistria.

In the summer of 1942, Jews in the Old Kingdom [the Regat] confronted the most critical times, as Romania accepted the Nazi plan to deport all Jews living in Romania to the Bełżec extermination camp. However, by November 1942 it became clear that the Romanian authorities were deferring the enforcement of this action and eventually gave it up completely [emphasis added]. They did so as a result of pressure from the Allied forces, but also because of internal opposition mobilized especially by Filderman. Policies concerning Jews began to change in October 1942, and the deportations finally ended in March–April 1943. Approximately 340,000 Romanian Jews survived. Partial repatriation began in the second half of December 1943. On 20 December, the 6,053 inhabitants of Dorohoi who had survived deportation were sent back to their hometown. On 6 March 1944, a total of 1,846 of the more than 5,000 orphans were repatriated.

Approximately 135,000 Jews living under Hungarian rule in northern Transylvania were murdered after deportation to Auschwitz, beginning in the spring of 1944. The territory of Romania, thanks to the change in attitude of authorities toward Jews, became a refuge for those who succeeded in crossing the border from Hungary…

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Peak Growth: Great Economic Upsides in US and Western Europe–Once(ish) and Done?

The precursor to the considerations below was the original British Industrial Revolution. Two pieces on unique historical times of Peak Growth; how might that ever return?

1) Why Growth Will Fall

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The US Standard of Living Since the Civil War

Robert Gordon has written a magnificent book on the economic history of the United States over the last one and a half centuries. His study focuses on what he calls the “special century” from 1870 to 1970—in which living standards increased more rapidly than at any time before or after. The book is without peer in providing a statistical analysis of the uneven pace of growth and technological change, in describing the technologies that led to the remarkable progress during the special century, and in concluding with a provocative hypothesis that the future is unlikely to bring anything approaching the economic gains of the earlier period.

The message of Rise and Fall is this. For most of human history, economic progress moved at a crawl…

I have read the book; certainly one of those most worth the read over the last decade.

2) Why the Economy Doesn’t Roar Anymore: The long boom after World War II left Americans with unrealistic expectations, but there’s no going back to that unusual Golden Age


Historically, boom times are the exception, not the norm. That isn’t true just in America. Over the past two centuries, per capita incomes in all advanced economies, from Sweden to Japan, have grown at compound rates of around 1.5% to 2% a year. Some memorable years were much better, of course…

…Americans expect the economy to be buoyant, not boring. Yet this expectation is shaped not by prosaic economic realities but by a most unusual period in history: the quarter-century that began in the ashes of World War II [and before the Great Depression, see 1) above], when the world economy performed better than at any time before or since…

growth.jpg


The quarter-century from 1948 to 1973 was the most striking stretch of economic advance in human history. In the span of a single generation, hundreds of millions [?] of people were lifted from penury to unimagined riches [in Western Europe not exactly penury, the war aside, but still a huge advance for the, er, masses: for West Germany see here and here (article at 2) via @FredLitwin)]…

Sunny ways ahead for the West, including Japan? And China? Still, if we–humanity–do not destroy and regress, are we not so much better placed than ever before? On verra.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – History Counter-Factual: No 1917 Lenin Train Ride, No WW II

Further to this post,

Wilson, World War I and Counter-Factuals: No Third Reich, No Soviet Union but…

It’s clear, with a century of hindsight, what a Europe without Wilson and his Fourteen Points would look like. A compromise peace would have allowed the Germans to quickly crush Russia’s nascent Bolshevik thugocracy like a bug, as they planned to do. Without the Bolshevik threat, European politics would have been transformed in positive ways, for without the Communist menace, which was real, with violent Red revolutions in Hungary and Germany in 1919, far-right extremists like Mussolini and Hitler would have enjoyed limited appeal…

how Wilhelmine Germany effectively started the 1917 Bolshevik October Revolution (actually a successful coup d’ état) which, as noted in the quote above, was instrumental in Hitler’s rise to power and thus ultimately to that so much more murderous and dreadful second war–from a book review at The Economist:

The Russian revolution
Missed connection
Vladimir Lenin’s railway journey from Switzerland to Russia changed history


Lenin on the Train. By Catherine Merridale. Allen Lane; 353 pages; £25. To be published in America by Metropolitan in March [more here].

A BRITISH intelligence officer dismissed Vladimir Lenin and his fellow revolutionaries as “fanatical and narrow-minded”. That was an understatement. But by early 1917 power in Russia was there for the taking. That February, 300 years of Romanov autocracy had been ended in a few dizzying days, while nothing had been put in its place. Russia, exhausted and desperate from three years of disastrous war with Germany and its allies, was being run by ineffectual and well-meaning moderates. Lenin knew exactly what he wanted, and he would deploy extraordinary energy and ruthlessness to achieve it.

But first he had to get there. The future Soviet leader had spent the war in Switzerland, marooned on a neutral island in a sea of belligerents [see Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Lenin in Zurich–Vladimir Ilyich certainly lucked out]. As the news broke of the upheaval at home, he became increasingly desperate…

A mischievous Estonian called Alexander Keskula was the first to suggest to Germany’s spy service that bringing Lenin home could serve a vital strategic goal. Strengthening the anti-war camp there would raise the chances that Russia would stop fighting, giving Germany time to beat Britain and France before America entered the war. Germany was soon convinced. The deal took just two weeks to negotiate: Lenin insisted that the train should be designated an extraterritorial entity. It was not to stop, and its passengers (a motley 32 in all) were not to be checked.

It was not a jolly journey…

Unfazed by the showy and unexpected reception that his Bolshevik colleagues had laid on for him at Petrograd’s Finland Station, Lenin jumped onto an armoured car and gave a fiery impromptu speech. The revolutionary message was hopeful and seductive: peace, bread, power to the masses and not to the plutocrats, radical redistribution of wealth, the transformation of social relations. It was achievable, as a less hungry and desperate people might have realised, only through extreme violence, including mass murder, colossal economic dislocation, the extinction of political freedoms and the eventual creation of a privileged, bureaucratic boss caste…

Pity that “Train Kept A Rollin’“:

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Michael Ignatieff on Liberal (small "l") Dreams and Central European Realities

Some honest realism from a failed Canadian politician still hard at trying to make a positive difference:

Michael Ignatieff’s journey from politician to academic freedom fighter

Michael Ignatieff [his website is here] the academic is in the middle of unwinding a thought about why the refugee crisis looks different in Central Europe than it does in Canada…

…The new post he begins this fall as president and rector of the famed Central European University in the Hungarian capital of Budapest [website here] is about as politically charged a job there is right now in the world of academia…

The CEU is renowned as one of the most important centres of liberal thought east of the former Iron Curtain. The university was launched in 1991, two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a time when most believed Europe’s fate had been decided, and that liberal democracy had definitively won the argument against more authoritarian forms of government.

Founded and funded by George Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire philanthropist, the CEU was envisioned as a breeding ground for future generations of leaders, all theoretically sharing Mr. Soros’s vision of an “open society” of free speech and free markets…

Mr. Ignatieff was also drawn to Budapest and the CEU by the fact his wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar, is Hungarian-born. While Mr. Ignatieff says Ms. Zsohar was initially reticent to return to a country she left in 1970, her background and family connections give him a useful window into the culture.

He believes those ties have helped him understand why democracy in Hungary and other parts of Central Europe will necessarily look different than in North America.

Hungary and its neighbours are not the multicultural societies that Canada and the United States are. Mr. Ignatieff is a huge fan of Syrian refugee resettlement program launched by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his successor as Liberal leader. But, Mr. Ignatieff says, such an effort would be ill-suited for the more ethnically homogenous countries of Central Europe, which were founded as national homelands following the collapse of the multiethnic empires of the 19th Century [yikes! those empires existed before the 19th century and actually collapsed after World War I and 1918–see the end of this post: “Wilson, World War I and Counter-Factuals: No Third Reich, No Soviet Union but…“].

“The starting point for political reflection in this part of the world is, you know, Hungary for Hungarians, Poland for Poles, the Czech Republic for Czechs. These are parts of the world where democracy means national self-determination by big, preponderant majorities.”

“Liberals inside [Central European] societies are increasingly going to be marginalized politically unless they have an answer… [in a] language that says ‘we have a national identity, we are proud of it, you come into this country you have to integrate, you have to learn our language, there is one law for everybody, right, and we will decide how many people come in.’ It’s a tough liberal language,” he said. “It’s a language that liberals have had trouble using [it all depends on what the meaning of “liberal” is, eh?].”..

Gosharootie, not exactly sunny ways, what? Rather relevant:

No “End of History”, “Collapse of the Liberal World Order” Section

Earlier posts here related to Mr Ignatieff. He tweets @M_Ignatieff.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Crimea: Russia Looking for Excuse to Really Go at Ukraine?

This looks double plus not good–at MILNEWS.ca and keep following at twitter @milnews_ca:

Deep breaths all round, folks …

“FSB Russia prevented the commission of the Republic of Crimea terrorist attacks prepared by the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine” (news release, in Russian) – Google English translation here:

Federal Security Service prevented the commission of the Republic of Crimea terrorist attacks prepared by the General Directorate of the Ministry of Intelligence of Defense of Ukraine, the objects of which critical infrastructure and livelihood of the peninsula have been identified.

The purpose of sabotage and terrorist attacks – to destabilize the social and political situation in the region during the preparation and conduct of elections of the federal and regional authorities.

As a result of operational search activities on the night of the 6th of August 7th, 2016 in the region of the Armenian Republic of Crimea discovered a group of saboteurs. During the arrest the terrorists as a result of fire contact the Russian FSB officer died. At the site of clashes found 20 improvised explosive devices with a total capacity of more than 40 kilograms of TNT, ammunition and special means of initiation, regular and anti magnetic mines, as well as grenades and special weapons, consisting armed special units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The measures taken on the peninsula of Crimea eliminated intelligence network Chief of the Defence Intelligence of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Detained persons from among the citizens of Ukraine and the Russian Federation shall be assisted in the preparation of terrorist acts, which give a confession. One of the organizers of the terrorist attacks is prevented Evgeny Panov, born in 1977, resident of Zaporozhye region, a member of the DIU who is also detained and giving a confession.

On the night of August 8, 2016 Ukrainian Defense Ministry special forces were made two more attempts to break the subversive and terrorist groups that prevented law enforcement units of the FSB of Russia and cooperating agencies. Attempts to break camouflage massive bombardment from the neighboring state and armored vehicles of the armed forces of Ukraine. During the fire contact serviceman killed Defense Ministry.

Based on the results of investigative activities and combat the investigation department of FSB of Russia in the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol prosecuted. Conduct additional operational activities and investigations.

Adopted additional security measures in public places and the rest of people, as well as for the protection of critical infrastructure and livelihood. Strengthened border regime on the border with Ukraine.

This, meanwhile, from UKR Defence Intelligence (original in Ukrainian) …

“The grouping of Russian troops in the Crimean out the anti-terrorist measures threats … “We do not exclude provocations, which can be implemented on the territory of Russia occupied Crimea and other occupied territories of our country,” – said the representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine.”

… with this reminder from UKR DefInt (also in Ukrainian): “Russian forces in Crimea are able to use nuclear weapons”

Also, this, from the UKR MoD (in Ukrainian) … “Statements FSB untrue”
… as well as Ukraine’s Security Service: “SBU denies Russian security agency claims about Ukrainian diversionary group in Crimea”

Various media takes…

“Russia accuses Ukraine of armed Crimea incursion, says two killed” (Reuters, UK-based wire service)
“Russia accuses Ukraine of attempted Crimea ‘incursions’ “ (BBC)
“Russian FSB foils terrorist attacks plotted by Ukrainian intel agents in Crimea” (RT, RUS state TV)
“Russia allegedly arrests Ukraine Spec Ops who planned terrorist attacks in Crimea” (Ukraine Today)
“SBU: Ukraine does not try to regain Crimea by force” (112-international, UKR private media)
“Ukrainian General Staff Denies Kiev Involved in Plotting Attacks in Crimea” (RIA Novosti, RUS state media)
“Attempts to Destabilize Crimea Will Be Met With Tough Response” (RIA Novosti, RUS state media)

More from Google News here.
Let’s see how this shakes out, then…

Quite and with trepidation. Remember there are Canadian Forces as trainers in western Ukraine: Op UNIFIER.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Summer 2016 Edition of CDA Institute’s “ON TRACK”

Contents via a message from the CDAI–full edition is here:


– “Editorial – What’s Wrong with Canada’s Reserves?” by Dr. Howard Coombs
– “Global Nuclear Threats, Missile Defence,
and the Trudeau Government’s Defence Policy
Review” by Dr. Andrew Futter and Jeffrey Collins
– “China-Japan relations and the politics of threat” by Benoit Hardy-Chartrand
– “A Perfect Storm: Europe in the Grip of Two Crises” by Dr. Carl Hodge
– “Arctic Security: Thaw or Re-freeze?” by Andreas Østhagen
– “La reconnaissance de l’Abkhazie par la Géorgie et l’Union européenne: vers une nouvelle approche géo-stratégique du Caucase ?” par Sophie Clamadieu
– “Daesh at Its Zenith? The challenge of what
happens next” by Richard Shimooka
– “Lessons from the Paris and Brussels Terror Attacks” by Dr. Michael Zekulin
– “Unexamined Consequences: Leadership Decapitation
and the Rise of ISIL” by Dr. Haroro Ingram and Dr. Craig Whiteside
– “Strategic Thinking: Empowering Success in the Contemporary Operating Environment” by Dr. Emily Spencer

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds