chance campaign against Nazi criminals
haunting faces stare from the walls of bus shelters,
reminding Romanians that this is the last chance to
denounce Nazi war criminals responsible for the murder of
Jews in World War II.
Romania's role in
the Holocaust was swept under the carpet during 42 years
of communism and played down by the government as
recently as a year ago. Now it is hard to
In launching a
"last chance" campaign, and offering rewards up to
$10,000 (8,300 euros) for information about war
criminals, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is seeking to tell
Romanians about their ignored history.
recalling the fate of the thousands of Jews killed in a
pogrom in the northern town of Iasi in June 1941 shows a
baby in the arms of his father. The caption reads:
"Gustav Segal died thinking of his family. His history is
that of all the Jews massacred at Iasi in
"I had no idea that
such massacres were carried out in Romania," said Anca, a
16-year-old student. "At school, in the history books,
there is not a single chapter that makes any reference to
the pogrom at Iasi."
woman, Iliana Rodica, said such a publicity campaign
would have been impossible a few years ago.
"The time has at
last come for this country to reconcile itself with a
past that it has long been denied," she said.
"I don't know if
this campaign will have any results, but at least it will
wake up consciences because terrible crimes have been
perpetrated against the Jews and young people don't even
know about it."
The last chance
campaign was launched last September after the government
and President Ion Iliescu caused an uproar by rejecting
Romania's responsibility for the annihilation of the Jews
during World War II and by minimizing the
demanded clarification, the government acknowledged the
responsibility of the wartime regime led by Ion Antonescu
for the deaths of some 250,000 Jews between 1940 and
The government has
set up an international expert commission under Nobel
Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel to study the history of
the Holocaust as it occurred in Romania.
It has also
established an annual national day of commemoration on
October 9, and at last requires schools to teach about
Sebastian Iancu, a
40-year-old engineer, said hunting down surviving Nazis
was all very well, but the task should have been started
"It was communism,
by seeking to hide everything, that distorted reality,"
he said. "But certainly, it is never too later too late
to do justice."