In the 1930s, the Jewish population of Iasi had become almost as large as the Romanian population, and the functioning of the city depended on the coexistence of the two ethnic groups. Beginning in 1938 and culminating in the military dictatorship of Marshal Ion Antonescu, Romania’s pro-Nazi governments began to apply anti-Semitic laws to solve the “Jewish problem.” Marriages with Romanians were banned, Jews were excluded from office, expropriated and deprived of their rights. The occupation of Romanian territory by the USSR in 1940 was attributed to the “Judeo-Bolsheviks”, which increased local anti-Semitism. They wanted to deport the Jews, and the orders gave way to abuse.
With the entry of Romania in the Second World War together with Nazi Germany, the attack on the Soviet Union was launched, starting in Iasi on June 22, 1941.
Between June 28 and 30, following an orchestrated attack on the German command in Iasi, Jews were accused of hiding weapons and firing on the army or sending information to the Soviets. Soldiers searched their homes, beating, shooting or robbing the population. Thousands of Jews, mostly men, were brought to the court of the Questura and shot in groups.
The survivors were sent to the train station, where they were crammed into cattle cars, whose windows and doors were blocked. In the heat, congestion and lack of water and air, thousands of people died in torment on the two “death trains”. Investigations have shown that more than 13,000 people were killed in those days.