Director of the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania (INSHR) Alexandru Florian on Friday voiced confidence that the Museum of the History of the Jews and the Holocaust in Romania will be built in the space under the administration of the Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History in Bucharest.
“The Museum of the History of the Jews and the Holocaust in Romania has been in the making since 2012. If it is built in the space under the administration of the Antipa Museum, the answer today is yes, according to the latest statement of the minister of culture, who last week was saying there would be a symbolic structure there called compound,” Florian said at the end of a news conference dedicated to the presentation of a recently identified mass grave at Popricani.
He said that “it is not about coordinating and subordinating someone else, but about creating a cultural space with more museums than the three existing ones – the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, the Antipa Museum and the Geology Museum (…), including this Jewish History Museum along the pattern of museum districts that exist in many Western cities.”
“This about sums up the spirit of the government’s decision that the minister said he would draw up, and the Antipa Museum would find opportunities to develop or modernise, as it has been claiming for about a month (…) In connection with this 7,300-square-meter public space, I think, between the Antipa Museum and the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, we are talking about an derelict, undeveloped public space, nothing has been done on it for over 70 years. I would say in a more popular way that the place is a waste land. And so it is not about aggressing any institution or destroying any park, as suggested at some point by the director of the Antipa Museum,” added Florian.
INSHR made the request for the allocation of the land organisationally, as mandated by the law, with the General Secretariat of the Government, but “no official reply has been received” except for the public statement of the culture minister.
Florian said he is still open to dialogue with the management of the Antipa Museum.
“I am open to any dialogue. The Elie Wiesel Institute and its future colleague, the Antipa Museum, can discuss a ton, but we have not had any contact, we have not been asked. I see that the Director continues to communicate through the media. It is what he wants, it’s his choice,” Florian added.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said she wanted to establish the Holocaust Museum in the shortest time, and if the location near the Antipa Museum is the best, that goal will be achieved.
She added that there are two options for setting up the Holocaust Museum – a government decision, or a legislative initiative.
“This is right in the governance programme, we want to establish the Holocaust Museum, we have had talks on that. There are two options at the moment: one is a government decision, the other is a legislative initiative. I believe we should have both options at the forefront and we will issue a government decision and, of course, there will be the legislative proposal in Parliament that we will endorse. So I think that is something we have promised and that we have to see through. The location is a location that has been identified near the Antipa Museum, we will see if that location is the best. If it is a good location, we will set up the Holocaust Museum there,” said Dancila.
She mentioned that she knows there are different opinions about the place where the Holocaust Museum should be set up, stressing that what is important is for the setup to happen as soon as possible.
Wiesel Institute: New mass grave in Popricani, additional argument that Holocaust existed in Romania
The unearthing by a team with the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania (INSHR) of a new mass grave in the Vulturi forest of the Popricani commune in the northeastern County of Iasi is an additional argument that the Holocaust existed in Romania, on Friday said the head of the INSHR, Alexandru Florian.
“We manage to fill in a page in Romania’s history that has gaps or blank spaces and we manage to bring an additional argument that the Holocaust existed in Romania, that those accountable or the main accountability belonged to the institutions of Romania, that a part of the wrongdoers, as I have told you, were tried and endured the rigors of Justice immediately after WWII,” the INSHR director asserted on the occasion of displaying the outcome of the research project for the identification of a new mass grave in the Vulturi forest, Valea Climoaiei, in the Popricani commune.
The project, coordinated by Elisabeth Ungureanu unfolded in June 2019. Ungureanu specified that under the guidance of geophysicist Dan Stefan, in June 24 – 28 geophysical prospection was carried on 3,600 sqm. Since the aimed area was full of metal fragments, being a battlefield area back in the 1940s, the method was labeled as inefficient because of the several false signals it gave, therefore the team continued to dig manually and mechanically.
When corroborating all the data – archive information, field input and oral history interviews – on 29 June at rd 0.70 m depth the first osteological fragments were identified, namely two shins, a femur, a mandible fragment and a fragment of a show sole, the researcher explained.
Ungureanu added that after unearthing the human remains, the Elie Wiesel Institute has notified the Military Prosecutor’s Office and a criminal investigation was immediately opened, in the following days a team was set up of staff with the Emergency Situations Inspectorate, the Forensics Bureau with the Iasi County Police Inspectorate, the Iasi Gendarmes County Inspectorate, two pathologists, prosecutors with the Iasi Military Prosecutor’s Office and archaeologist Florentina Marcusi. The criminal investigation at the scene was headed by the first deputy prosecutor Irinel Rotariu.
Following the preliminary data at the scene, as many as 25 victims were counted, of whom 12 adults, four young and eight children. For the 25th victim, the existing data so far could not allow the age identification, and in the following period the state authorities involved will conduct several examinations, including a forensic one.
Ungureanu has also presented a film with testimonies of a witness, Lucica Baltaru, who told the team how the Jews were brought from Iasi and then killed.