• Northern Transylvania Holocaust Memorial Museum
In 2005, the Northern Transylvania Holocaust Memorial Museum was opened in Şimleu Silvaniei (German: Schomlenmarkt, Hungarian: Szilágysomlyó). It documents the fate of the Jews who were deported from Şimleu Silvaniei and the rest of Northern Transylvania to Auschwitz in 1944.
Image: Şimleu Silvaniei, undated, Historical view of the synagogue, Biblioteca Centrala Universitara »Lucian Blaga« Cluj-Napoca
Şimleu Silvaniei, undated, Historical view of the synagogue, Biblioteca Centrala Universitara »Lucian Blaga« Cluj-Napoca

Image: Şimleu Silvaniei, 2009, The synagogue building today houses the museum, Martin Jung
Şimleu Silvaniei, 2009, The synagogue building today houses the museum, Martin Jung
The small town of Şimleu Silvaniei lies in the north of Romania, in the historical region of Transylvania. Once a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, the region of Transylvania along with the regions of Crişana and parts of the Banat became part of Romania after the First World War. At the end of the 1930s, Hungary increasingly raised a claim to the lost territories. In September 1940, Transylvania was partitioned under pressure of Germany and Italy, and the northern part, including Şimleu Silvaniei, was reincorporated by Hungary. In 1941, 1,500 of the 9,400 residents of Şimleu Silvaniei were Jewish, most of them considering themselves Hungarian.
In March 1944, the German Wehrmacht occupied Hungary. Subsequently, the German and Hungarian authorities began to systematically register, expropriate and deport the Jews living there. In May 1944, Hungarian authorities, particularly the local police and constabulary, rounded up about 8,000 Jews from Şimleu Silvaniei and surrounding areas in a ghetto on the premises of a brickyard in the neighbouring village of Cehei. Many of the prisoners had to sleep in the open; abuse by the Hungarian constabulary guarding the area was frequent. At the end of May 1944, the Hungarian authorities began deporting all of the 8,000 Jews from the Cehei ghetto: the Jews were brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau in three transports. There, the SS most probably murdered most of them immediately in the gas chambers.
Image: Şimleu Silvaniei, undated, Historical view of the synagogue, Biblioteca Centrala Universitara »Lucian Blaga« Cluj-Napoca
Şimleu Silvaniei, undated, Historical view of the synagogue, Biblioteca Centrala Universitara »Lucian Blaga« Cluj-Napoca

Image: Şimleu Silvaniei, 2009, The synagogue building today houses the museum, Martin Jung
Şimleu Silvaniei, 2009, The synagogue building today houses the museum, Martin Jung
About 1,600 Jews from Şimleu Silvaniei and at least 6,500 Jews from the region were forced into a ghetto in the village of Cehei in May 1944. It is estimated that after their deportation to Auschwitz at the end of May 1944, about 80 percent of the 8,000 Jews were immediately murdered.
Image: Şimleu Silvaniei, 1944, Jews in a tent camp near Şimleu Silvaniei, Yad Vashem
Şimleu Silvaniei, 1944, Jews in a tent camp near Şimleu Silvaniei, Yad Vashem

Image: Şimleu Silvaniei, 2009, View of the exhibition, Martin Jung
Şimleu Silvaniei, 2009, View of the exhibition, Martin Jung
After the Second World War, only a few hundred survivors from the town and surrounding areas returned to Şimleu Silvaniei. The synagogue, built in the 19th Century, became increasingly derelict. In 2003, the synagogue was renovated on the initiative of New Yorker architect Adam Aaron Wapniak and the descendant of a survivor from the town of Nuşfalău (Hungarian: Szilágynagyfalu), Dr. Alex Hecht. For this purpose, Wapniak and Hecht established the Jewish Architectural Heritage Foundation and its Romanian partner organisation Asociata Memoralia Hebraica Nuşfalău, which have since maintained the synagogue. In 2005, the synagogue of Şimleu Silvaniei was re-opened as the Northern Transylvania Holocaust Memorial Museum. The museum is the only museum in Romania exclusively dedicated to commemorating the Holocaust. It mainly deals with the events which took place in Northern Transylvania, but it also presents the history of the persecution of Jews in other parts of Romania, addressing themes such as the pogroms in Iaşi and Bucharest as well as the deportations to the region of Transnistria.
Image: Şimleu Silvaniei, 2009, View of the exhibition, Martin Jung
Şimleu Silvaniei, 2009, View of the exhibition, Martin Jung

Image: Şimleu Silvaniei, 2009, Signs marking the site of the former ghetto near Cehei, Martin Jung
Şimleu Silvaniei, 2009, Signs marking the site of the former ghetto near Cehei, Martin Jung
Name
Muzeul Memorial al Holocaustului din Transilvania de Nord
Address
Piata 1 Mai, no. 6
455300 Şimleu Silvaniei
Web
http://www.mmhtn.org
E-Mail
sinagoga@gmail.com
Open
Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
Saturday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Possibilities
Exhibition, educational offer