A commemoration ceremony for the Bucharest pogrom of January 21 – 23, 1941 was held at the dedicated memorial raised in the ‘Chief Rabbi Dr. Alexandru Safran’ plaza in tribute to the 125 victims.
Among the 100 persons in attendance were US ambassador Hans Klemm, Germany’s ambassador in Bucharest Cord Meier-Klodt, and the deputy chief of mission of the state of Israel in Bucharest.
A moment of recollection in honor of the pogrom victims was held before the memorial service.
President of the Federation of the Romanian Jewish Communities Aurel Vainer mentioned that of the 125 victims, 89 were shot in the Jilava Forest, and the rest were killed in other Bucharest locations.
“Our duty is not to forget what has happened. (…) I’d say those were days of intense tragedy in the Jewish neighborhoods of Bucharest and Romania. Concretely, gangs of legionnaires, using the opportunity of the Iron Guard rebellion against the Antonescu regime, set on to attack the Jews, (…) seized people and took them not far from here, to Calarasi Street, at the headquarters of the legionnaire workers’ movement, and then to various locations in Bucharest, where they were tortured and, why not openly state it, assassinated, like those at the Bucharest slaughterhouse,” Vainer said.
He noted that there is historical evidence in support of the idea of a pogrom.
“Some claim it wasn’t a pogrom, that only some people have been seized and shot down. There is historical evidence, including numerous photographs – and there are statistics speaking to that – that especially in this Jewish neighborhood of Dudesti Vacaresti, a host of shops and homes have been devastated, and synagogues have been desecrated,” Vainer said.
He mentioned that back than the director of a Bucharest orphanage took in a number of Jews and hid them, thus saving them from falling victims to the criminal turmoil of those days. “To us, memory and gratitude are two fundamental values,” said Vainer.
He also referred to the need for people to learn from the events of the pogrom days.
President of the Jewish Community of Bucharest, Paul Schwartz, mentioned that this Monday marks the 77th anniversary of the Jilava Forest massacre.
“Here we stand, in front of the monument raised by the Federation, with the support of the Sector 3 Mayor’s Office, in memory of the 125 victims of the January 21-23, 1941 Legionnaire Pogrom. On this day exactly 77 years ago, the Jews who had been taken from Bucharest to the Jilava outskirts commune were shot in the head with one to three bullets,” Schwartz added.