The sumptuous building was built in 1921 as headquarters of the “Romanian Life” culture magazine. The chief editor was the writer Garabet Ibrăileanu, since its founding (1906) until the moving of the headquarters to Bucharest (1930). The magazine’s group of writers gathered many men of culture, such as Mihail Sadoveanu, George Topârceanu, Calistrat Hogaș or Ionel Teodoreanu.
The building’s architecture is Neo-Romanian and we can notice the arched windows on the first level, the higher floor and the roof which exceeds the cornice. In the yard, we can see an entrance to the cellar from the yard and four windows at the sidewalk level.
If the beginning was a good one for society, things would totally change near the Second World War, when the police station (quaestorship) moved into the building. This represented a police authority, superior to a commissariat, which functioned only in the big cities. A tragic event took place here in June 1941, a week after Romania’s entrance in war against the Soviet Union. On the 29th of June, on the last Sunday of the month, a series of events wreaked havoc in the city. The military authorities acted violently against the Jewish population. Thousands of people, mostly men, were imprisoned and executed afterwards in the building’s yard or tortured in the cellar, the action taking place under the pretext of eliminating the Jews, presumed to be Soviet agents. The survivors were forced to clean the blood from the Police Station’s courtyard. Along with six locals who received the title “Righteous among Nations”, other tens of inhabitants opposed the violent actions against the Jews or helped the in any way possible, some of them being beaten or even killed, such as the priest Grigore Răzmeriță from St. Ilie Church from across the street (demolished in 1953).
The Iași Pogrom
In the 1930s, the Jewish population of Iași became as numerous as the Romanian one, and the city’s prosperity depended on this coexistence. Since 1938 and culminating with the military dictatorship of the marshal Ion Antonescu, the filo-Nazi governments of Romania began to apply anti-Semite laws to solve “the Jewish matter”. Marriages to Romanians were forbidden, Jews were excluded from public functions, expropriated and deprived of rights. When Romania entered the Second World War alongside Hitler’s Germany, the attack on the Soviet Union was launched, starting from Iași in June 1941. The occupation of Romanian territories by the USSR in 1940 was attributed to “Judeo- Bolsheviks”, which emphasized the local anti-Semitism. The deportation of Jews was desired, but the vague orders left room for abuse. Between the 28thand the 30th of June, the Jews were accused of hiding weapons and firing at the army, or of sending information to the Soviets. The soldiers searched their houses, beating, shooting or robbing the population. Thousands of Jews were brought in Police Station’s yard and shot in groups. The survivors were sent to the train station, where they were loaded into wagons for cattle, where the windows and doors were blocked. Due to the heat, the cramming and lack of water and air, thousands of people died in agony in the two “death trains”. The investigations showed that over 13.000 persons were killed in total, in Iasi, in those days.