A change in mentalities on the Holocaust is impossible in absence of solid education and of a sound platform for debate on these tragic events of the 20th century, President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday.
“On behalf of the Romanian state today I bring a pious homage to all the victims of the pogrom 75 years ago and of the xenophobic, racist and anti-Semitic actions in that time, and I honor the few survivors left. This great tragedy of the Jews has also been Romania’s tragedy and that’s why today, so many decades later, we make a joint attempt to get to know and understand the reason why and who commissioned such a crime, and above all how a crime of such magnitude has been possible at the heart of civilized world, in the capital of Moldavia,” is the head of the state’s heartfelt message read out in Iasi by presidential advisor Andrei Muraru at the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Iasi pogrom (28 to 30 June 1941).
Iohannis says that the killings in those days were committed with the participation of the Romanian state authorities and of German units, but that they were joined by common people, neighbors, year-long acquaintances turned accomplices to murder or even perpetrators.
The President warns the current generations they have a moral duty to not forget what happened and commemorate the victims of the massacre of the summer of 1941.
“The youth today are lucky not to live such moments that are disgraceful for the Romanian nation. For them, but also for the next generations we strive to gain awareness and take responsibility for that grim past and, above all, to draw the necessary conclusions so that the universal values and the idea of tolerance are steadfastly respected,” says Klaus Iohannis.
He underscores that Romania also has “reason for pride”, reminding our country’s taking over this year the chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
In the opinion of head of state, this is a top-level acknowledgment of the positive results of the last decade, but also “an impetus for further work towards assuming recent history and preserving the memory of the Holocaust.”
The President reiterated support for the setting up in Romania of a Holocaust Museum, an initiative he considers “necessary and urgent”; he encouraged local authorities to continue efforts to identify and preserve memorial spaces relevant to the history of the Iasi pogrom.
“Preserving the memory of the Holocaust and of the Hebrew cultural heritage is not only a necessary, but also a patriotic act, because it helps cultivate national memory. (…) If we succeed in the coming years, as we set ourselves a target, to define ourselves within a regional model for the research and preservation of the Holocaust memory, we’ll show not only that we have integrated the lessons of the past, but that we turned this into an example of good practice others, in these complicated times, could use,” added Klaus Iohannis.