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Petre Matei

Research Fellow (01/2021 – 7/2021)


Roma Deportations to Transnistria during the Second World War. Between Central Decision-Making and Local Initiatives


Web MateiThe deportations to which 25,000 Romanian Roma fell victim were not the result of German pressure on the Romanian government but the consequence of their long-term exclusion by local actors. To understand these deportations, it is thus necessary to compare the older attitudes toward Roma specific to certain milieus (nationalist parties, eugenicists, and law enforcement agencies) with the measures taken against Roma during the Second World War.


As the Roma in Romania suffered very different fates during the war, the project will examine how exactly such differences ensued. There was an overlap of agendas regarding the Roma on behalf of various actors who, in certain contexts, would collaborate or compete, radicalising themselves in the process. The criteria for identifying the ‘undesirable’ Roma were vague and subjective, allowing local stakeholders to interpret and negotiate them in accordance with their own agendas. This project also explores the defensive strategies embraced by the Roma deportees, who referred to the same formal criteria to prove that the measures against them were abusive.


Petre Matei is a researcher at the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania. He holds a PhD in History from the University of Bucharest. He has been a research fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, has carried out oral history interviews with Roma and Jewish survivors, has published around twenty articles on Roma history, and with Vintilă Mihăilescu he co-edited Condiția romă. Schimbarea discursului [The Roma Condition. Changing Discourse] (Iași 2014) and Roma. Der Diskurswandel (Vienna 2020). His research interests focus on Roma history, the Holocaust, compensation, and memory.


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May 2024
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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:


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