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Dr. Petre-Georgian Matei

Tziporah Wiesel Fellow
"The Romanian Police and the Gypsies: From Labeling to Deportations"

Professional Background

Dr. Petre-Georgian Matei recently received a PhD in history from the University of Bucharest in Romania, from which he also holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees. His doctoral thesis is titled “Roma in Romania in the First Half of the 20th Century: Identity and Alterity”. For his Tziporah Wiesel Fellowship, he conducted research for his project “The Romanian Police and the Gypsies: From Labeling to Deportations.”

Dr. Matei’s research interests lie in the Holocaust, nationalism, Roma, and oral history. He has published articles in academic journals on ethnic minorities and Roma in the 20th century, including “The Gypsy Assemblies in Transylvania in 1919” (Revista Istorica, 2010–11) and “Roma during the Interwar Period: Nationalist Perspectives” (Spectrum, 2011), and has presented papers at conferences in Romania and Germany, including “The Relationship between Interwar Roma Organizations and the Orthodox Church” (University “Lucian Blaga,” Sibiu, Romania, 2010) and “Roma in Romania in the First Half of the 20th Century” (The Center for Research on Anti-Semitism, Berlin, Germany, 2010). He has also conducted oral history interviews with Roma as well as Jewish Holocaust survivors.

He received a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst scholarship, which he used in conjunction with the Ruhr University, Bochum, where he conducted research for his doctoral thesis from 2005 to 2006. A native Romanian speaker, he is skilled in English, German, French, and Romani.

Fellowship Research

During his tenure at the Center, Dr. Matei researched the Romanian government’s policy on the Roma during the interwar period and during World War II. He sought to gain a better understanding of the treatment suffered by the Romanian Gypsies during World War II, when Romanian authorities deported approximately 25,000 to Transnistria, where many of them died. His preliminary thesis was that the deportations of the Roma were a consequence of the Romanian police’s long history of deliberate labeling and criminalization policies. These policies, he believes, had a different result during World War II than at other times because Antonescu’s government provided different means with which to enact them and because there was a policy of extermination in place during the era.

To complete his project, Dr. Matei used the Museum’s collections pertaining to wartime Romania, Transnistria, and the persecution of Roma in Romania. For his research he drew from the Museum’s collections from the Romanian National Archives, the Romanian Information Service, the State Archives of Moldova, and the Odessa, Nikolaev, and Vinnitsa Oblast Archives. The Museum’s oral histories pertaining to the Roma population in Romania also complemented these sources.

Dr. Matei was in residence at the Mandel Center from October 1, 2011 to April 30, 2012.