Ion Popa successfully defended his PhD thesis in December 2013 at the University of Manchester, UK where he also received his M.A. in Religion and Political Life in 2009. Before joining the Center for Area Studies in February 2015 Dr. Popa was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust Research, Jerusalem (October 2014-January 2015), and a part-time lecturer in Holocaust Studies at the University of Manchester (2012-2014). Dr Popa published articles and book reviews in Yad Vashem Studies (2011), European Review of History (2012), Holocaust. Study and Research (2013) and Holocaust and Genocide Studies (2015) and the book manuscript based on his PhD thesis entitled A History of Denial: The Romanian Orthodox Church and the Holocaust, 1938-Present, is under publication by Indiana University Press. He presented papers at numerous academic conferences in Washington DC, Jerusalem, Bloomington Indiana, Krakow, Leicester and Manchester, including two lectures for the general public on the topic of Jewish-Christian relations at Imperial War Museum North, UK (October 2014) and at Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust Research (November 2014). Dr. Popa has been the recipient of several prestigious awards: Yad Vashem Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2014-2015), the Tziporah Wiesel Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Holocaust Studies, USHMM, Washington DC (2013), University of Manchester/School of Arts Languages and Cultures Award (2012-2013) and the Saul Kagan Claims Conference Advanced Shoah Studies Fellowship, New York (2010-2012).
Title of research project:
The Catholic Church and the Holocaust in Romania, 1938-1948
Focus of research:
The attitude of the Catholic Church in Romania towards the Jewish Community in the context of the Holocaust
Jewish-Christian relations, the Holocaust, church-state and inter-religious relations in Romania and Eastern/South-Eastern Europe.
Romania, Eastern Europe, South-Eastern Europe
My postdoctoral project aims to research the attitude of the Catholic Church in Romania towards Jews from 1938 to 1948. I see it as a continuation of my inquiry into the attitude of Eastern European Churches towards the Jewish community during and after the Holocaust. During my doctoral studies, which looked at the attitude of the majority Romanian Orthodox Church towards Jews, I discovered fascinating documents about the Catholic Church. Just before the Second World War there were 1,234,151 Roman Catholics (6.8% of the population) in Romania, constituting the third largest religious group after Orthodox 13,108,227 (72.6%) and Greek Catholics 1,429,391 (7.9%). Although a minority Church, the Catholic Church had a different relation with the Romanian authorities in comparison to other religions due to the Concordat signed by the Romanian state with the Vatican in 1929. My project has just begun, but most of the documents I already researched showed a contrasting image: while the Romanian Orthodox Church either encouraged the Ion Antonescu regime’s polices of destruction or was silent at the cries for help of the Jewish community, the Catholic Church in Romania was actively involved in rescue efforts. This contrast between the two Churches was the driving force behind my decision to pursue this topic.
This project has four main objectives:
In Press (expected date 2016/2017): A History of Denial: The Romanian Orthodox Church and the Holocaust, 1938-Present – Indiana University Press
Peer Reviewed Articles:
“Sanctuary from the Holocaust? Roman Catholic Conversion of Jews in Romania, Bucharest, 1942” – Holocaust and Genocide Studies, vol. 29, no 1 (Spring 2015), pp. 39-56
“Visarion Puiu, the Former Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan (Archbishop) of Transnistria – A Historical Study on His Life and Activity Before, During and After the Holocaust (1935-1964)” – Holocaust. Study and Research, vol. 5, no 1 (6) (2013), pp. 182-203
“Miron Cristea, The Romanian Orthodox Patriarch: his political and religious influence in deciding the fate of the Romanian Jews (February 1938-March 1939)” – Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 40, no. 2 (2012), pp. 11-34
Book reviews: “Uta Gerhardt, Thomas Karlauf, eds., The Night of Broken Glass, Eyewitness Accounts of Kristallnacht, translated by Robert Simmons and Nick Somers, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012” – European Review of History, vol. 20, issue 2 (Spring, 2013), pp. 332-333