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Holocaust Memorial Museum officials meet President Iohannis, call extremely toxic slippages of public figures

President Klaus Iohannis met with visiting officials of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum on Thursday, with the participants arguing that the slippages of public figures are “extremely toxic” because they can erase or endanger the progress Romania has made over the last two decades, and the simulation of culture and history the in public space, used for political purposes, as well as defamation of some representatives of authorities or social categories should cease.

Iohannis welcomed at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace Director of the Office of International Affairs Paul Shapiro and Director of the International Archival Programs Division, Radu Ioanid, both of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. The US ambassador to Bucharest, Hans Klemm, and the General Director of the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania, Alexandru Florian, also took part in the meeting.

According to a press statement released by the Presidential Administration, the latest developments in a project for the establishment of a national museum of the history of the Jews and the Holocaust in Romania was discussed, along with the public agenda of the topics related to the preservation of the Holocaust memory and the fight against anti-Semitism. The officials underscored the importance of the two issues, taking into account the recent European developments, as well as the fact that the mandate of the forthcoming Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union will also include strengthening European values and counteracting anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance.

Iohannis praised the dynamics of the collaboration between Romania and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and underscored the importance of the expertise which the international partners can offer in their efforts to set up in Bucharest the national museum of the history of Jews and the Holocaust in Romania.

At the same time, he pointed out that the museum has to become an important educational resource, especially for younger generations.

He also reiterated the importance of a future initiative on the organisation of a formal educational body to educate officials, diplomats, security and law enforcement staff on the Holocaust, as well as the fight against anti-Semitism, xenophobia, discrimination and hatred .

Furthermore, the Presidential Administration emphasised the need to educate the society on this subject, as recent research has shown that this traumatic historical chapter is unfortunately very poorly known and responsibility for the traumatic chapter in history is poorly taken, and the president pointed out that ways should be identified so that these tragedies will not be forgotten, in order to preserve and defend the memory of the victims and to avoid dangerous slippages to superficial approaches or ignorance.

“The Holocaust Memorial Museum officials commended the efforts made by Romania and President Klaus Iohannis, in particular, in this direction, and voiced their full support for future projects. Also addressed at the meeting were the worrying developments internationally, including xenophobic, anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial tendencies, and in this context, the participants argued that the slippages of public figures are extremely toxic because they can erase or endanger the progress made by Romania over the last two decades, and this simulation of culture and history in the public space used for political purposes, as well as defamation of representatives of authorities or social categories must cease.”

Agreement was reached the meeting on continuing efforts made to reveal the historical truth, to preserve the memory of the victims, with emphasis on Holocaust education and scientific research. Iohannis pointed out that Romania and the European Union should be careful to keep on the public agenda the subject of the history of the Holocaust, not only in terms of tribute to the memory of the victims but also as a source of a strategy to counteract the intensification of anti-Semitism and xenophobia, both of which are closely related to the populist discourse of extremist parties.

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