Romanian prince: Expose my uncle as Nazi
Monday, 20 June 2005
It's an historic irony: European royals needing the help of Jews.
But such is the case for Paul of Romania, crown prince of Romania, foe of the country's last monarch, King Michael.
Prince Paul and his wife Lia are in Israel for a whirlwind visit to meet with officials of the government and Jewish organizations to ask them to help expose Michael - Paul's uncle - as a criminal accomplice of the Nazis.
The royals brought with them a stack of documents, many of them kept hidden for years and only recently uncovered, to prove their case that King Michael was a profiteer during the war years and after. They said their arguments have received little press in their home country because of fear of reprisals from the government.
So the prince and princess are here, they said, on the advice of the likes of French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, Lord Greville Janner of England and US Sen. Diane Feinstein.
Appealing to Israel and world Jewry is Paul's last hope of preventing the Romanian parliament from awarding Michael a 30 million euro compensation package for his World War II-era property that would include 2,600 acres of developed land.
Prince Paul and his wife, Princess Lia, present a copy of the government's records from 1941 that shows King Michael's authorization of numerous anti-Jewish laws.
"During the four years there was a Nazi state, the Jews [of Romania] were deported, their properties were confiscated, they were not allowed to be pharmacists or doctors, they had to wear the yellow star and 350,000 died," Paul said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. "And who is responsible? Michael created the Nazi state. And now he is getting rewarded!"
Paul said he would prefer that the money be spent on a "worthwhile" fund set aside either for compensating Jews for property confiscated during Romania's Nazi-influenced government of the 1940s, or for the establishment of a museum to what was once Europe's third-largest Jewish community. To do so would be to repay a "debt of honor," he said.
To help pay that debt, the prince has helped prepare a class-action suit in Romania on behalf of Jews whose property was seized under King Michael.
The prince claimed that Michael had offered him a portion of the 30m. euro compensation to keep quiet about the past, but he refused.
"I am on the warpath," Paul said. "I am out to prove that, yes, I am part of this family, but I am not part of the cover-up."
A cover-up, if there was one, would be part of royal intrigue in Romania that extends beyond an internal family conflict. Michael (Mihai in Romanian) was king twice - first as a child in the late 1920s, and again between 1940 and 1947, after his father (and Paul's grandfather), King Carol II, abdicated.
King Michael (second from left) salutes German troops in Romania, in one of several long-hidden photographs that Prince Paul claims proves Michael's complicity with the Nazis.
It was during Michael's second reign that the country came under the power of military dictator Gen. Ion Antonescu. Antonescu was a virulent anti-Semite who was supported by the similarly anti-Semitic and ultranationalist fascist group the Iron Guard.
King Carol II's abdication of the throne and flight from the country were the result of the strength of Antonescu and his quarrels with the Iron Guard.
Antonescu forged an alliance with Adolf Hitler. According to the records brought by Prince Paul, King Michael forged an alliance with Antonescu, and as a result signed into law several anti-Jewish ordinances; he may even have encouraged or tacitly approved of deportations and killings of Romanian Jews, the prince said. During this period, Paul noted, King Michael profited greatly, both politically and financially.
However, Michael also helped overthrow Antonescu in late 1944 and signed an armistice with the Allies, joining Romania's lot with that of the Russians. His reign would last until a Communist-dominated government bloc forced his abdication at the end of 1947.
Until now Paul, who was born in 1948, has fought Michael over recognition of the right to inherit the throne. The documents he has amassed, though, have provided him with an even stronger animus.
"I didn't realize how involved he was but Michael was a war profiteer and a criminal," the prince said. "Just because he joined the Allies at the last minute doesn't mean he should get away with it. Antonescu was shot for his crimes Doesn't Michael deserve the same?"
By Sam Ser, THE JERUSALEM POST Jun. 20, 2005