Memorial Unveiled in Bucharest,
Romania (AP) -- Romania today unveiled a monument in
memory of some 300,000 Jews and Romanies [better
known by their derogatory name Gypsies] killed during
the Holocaust in the country, which until 2004 denied
that the extermination even happened.
Traian Basescu said it was Romania's duty to ''recognize
the genocide during World War II'' and to honor the
was joined by Holocaust survivors, both Jewish and
Romanies, and other leaders during the unveiling the
marble and concrete tomblike monument, which cost $7.4
today has only 6,000 Jews. The country's role in the
Holocaust and the deportation of Jews were ignored by the
Communists and minimized by subsequent governments after
communism collapsed in 1989.
monument is full of symbolism. Hundreds of
thousands were killed who would have contributed
to the cultural and economic prosperity of
Romania,'' said Rabbi Menachem HaCohen,
Romania's chief rabbi.
Chief Rabbi of Romania Menachem HaCohen
says prayer during memorial inauguration.
authorities set up the Elie Wiesel International
Commission on the Holocaust in Romania in 2003 after one
ministry in the Social Democratic government denied there
had been a Holocaust in Romania during World War
Romanians still admire pro-Nazi Marshal Ion Antonescu,
whose administration was responsible for the deaths. They
see him as a hero who fought against the Soviet Union to
recover Romanian territories.
is important that Romania acknowledges its past. It's not
an easy past,'' said Radu Ioanid who has written several
books on the Holocaust in Romania. ''There are still
people opposing this,'' he said.
have documented several pogroms in Romania, including one
in June 1941 in the northeastern city of Iasi, where up
to 12,000 people are believed to have died as Romanian
and German soldiers swept from house to house, killing
Jews. Those who did not die were systematically beaten,
put in cattle wagons in stifling heat and taken to a
small town. Of the 120 people on the train, only 24
Romanian Jews were deported from Transylvania by
Hungarian fascists to Nazi concentration camps. The
Northern part of Transylvania was controlled by Hungary
during World War II.
Peace prize laureate Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor
who was deported to Auschwitz, called on Romanians not to
forget their past.
stop and remember,'' he said in a message read out. ''In
this wonderful country and in Trans-Dniester under the
criminal regime of Antonescu, hundreds of thousands of
Jews were persecuted and assassinated in bloody
say that Romanians are beginning to learn about the
has made great strides in recognizing the past,
especially the government educational institutions,''
said Michelle Kelso, director of the Association for
Dialogue and Civic Education. ''However to win the hearts
and the minds of people, there needs to be more education
campaigns especially on the lessons of the