Filderman, Wilhelm

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FILDERMAN, WILHELM (1882–1963), Romanian Jewish leader. Born in Bucharest, in 1909 Filderman became a doctor of law in Paris. He returned to Romania and after teaching for two years at the high school of the Jewish community of Bucharest, started his law practice in 1912. In 1913 he was elected to the central committee of the Union of Romanian Jews. Filderman was an officer in the Romanian army during World War i and after the war became the acting leader of the Union of Romanian Jews. At the Versailles Peace Conference he was a member of the *Comité des Délégations Juives. He demanded the total emancipation of the Jews as an inalienable right and the inclusion of this principle in the peace treaty with Romania.

In 1920 Filderman became the representative of the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (jdc) in Romania and in 1923 was elected president of the Union of Romanian Jews. Between the two world wars, he fought antisemitism, and worked for the effective realization of full citizenship for the Jews. Filderman also published a number of books against antisemitism. He was opposed to a national Jewish policy and a separate Jewish party. In 1927 Filderman was elected a member of the Romanian parliament on the Liberal Party list. He was also the president of the Jewish community of Bucharest (1931–33), and in the same period he became president of the Federation of Jewish Communities. In 1937, during the period of King Carol ii's dictatorial reign, when all political groups were dissolved, the Federation of Communities also took over the functions of the political representation of the Jews, When the enlarged *Jewish Agency was constituted (1929), he was elected by the Federation of Communities as a non-Zionist delegate to its founding congress in Zurich.

After September 1940, when Ion *Antonescu took over the leadership of the country, Filderman intervened with him as a representative of the Federation, several times obtaining the revocation of serious measures, such as the wearing of the yellow badge, the deportation of Romanian Jews to Nazi camps in Poland, etc. At the beginning of 1942 the Federationof Communities was dissolved. Although Filderman no longer had an official status, he continued to address personal memoranda to the Romanian authorities denouncing the racial measures. He was a member of the underground Jewish Council, formed of representatives of the principal Jewish trends, When he expressed his opposition to the special tax of four billion lei demanded of Romanian Jewry by the Antonescu regime, he was sent to *Transnistria (March 1943), returning after three months through the intervention of the papal nuncio and the Swiss and Swedish ambassadors. Back in Bucharest, he immediately reported to the Romanian government on the terrible situation of the deportees in Transnistria and asked for their return, which was obtained at the end of the same year.

After the war, he again became president of the Federation of Communities and of the Union of Romanian Jews and representative of the jdc, Soon afterward, however, he came into conflict with the Jewish Communists, who wanted the Jewish institutions to affiliate with their party's policy. As a result of their instigations, Filderman was arrested in 1945 and liberated only after a five-day hunger strike. Afterward he was kept under house arrest for three weeks. He was increasingly attacked in the Communist press. In 1948 he secretly left Romania, after being informed that he would once again be arrested (this time on charges of spying for Britain), and settled in Paris. According to his will, his archives were transferred to Yad Vashem.

Filderman wrote Adevǔrul asupra problemei Evreeşti din România, în lumina textelor religioase şi a stasticii ("The Truth on the Jewish Problem in Romania, in the Light of Religious Texts and Statistics," 1925), Le problème du travail national et la crise du barreau en Roumanie (1937), and Manuila Sabin; Regional Development of the Jewish Population in Rumania (1957).


Curierul Israelit (Oct. 30, 1932); T. Lavi, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 4 (1960), 261–316.

[Theodor Lavi]