Yad Vashem Honors Romanian Gentile Who Saved Jews During WWII

Israel's Holocaust museum posthumously honors Romanian reserves officer who blocked deportation of Romanian Jews to death camps.

Israel's Holocaust museum Yad Vashem on Wednesday posthumously honored a Romanian reserves officer who blocked the deportation of Romanian Jews to Nazi death camps during World War II.

Theodor Criveanu was inducted into Yad Vashem's "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 World War II. The 20,000 Jews of Czernowitz, Romania, were interned during the war and slated for deportation to death camps. As a reserves officer in the Romanian army, Criveanu was assigned the task of presenting authorities with 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. He also included in his lists numerous Jews who were not necessarily essential to the work force. Yad Vashem said it could not estimate how many Jews he had 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 award-winning film Schindler's List. In total, 53 Romanian righteous gentiles have been honored.