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April 21, 2021

National Holocaust Remembrance Day : Romanian officials bring homage to Holocaust victims, plead for combating anti-Semitism proliferation

In Romania, by Government Decision no. 672/ May 5, 2004, the date of October 9 (date which marks the beginning of deportation to Transnistria of Jews in 1941) was approved for official commemoration, nationally, of the Holocaust. On the basis of this decision, each year, on October 9, Romanian authorities organize manifestations dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust including: conferences, seminars, book launches, shows, school competitions.

President Klaus Iohannis sent on Friday a message on the occasion of the National Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying that it was a genocide of unimaginable proportions.

“We pay today a pious tribute to the victims of the Holocaust and honour the survivors, strongly condemning these atrocities that have mutilated our history forever. On behalf of all Romanians, I strongly state that we will never forget innocent victims and we are also committed to not allowing such a tragedy to repeat. But desire is never enough to prevent evil. The failure to remember history as it was has sad consequences. Unfortunately, although Romania has made extraordinary progress in recovering the memory of the Holocaust, we have been witnessing for years grotesque campaigns for the public rehabilitation of sinister figures of the ‘black past’, people of culture, politicians or military who, through their ideas and deeds, have led to the debasement, mockery and murder of fellow people. Those who want to wipe out the Holocaust in history, as well as those who are trying to exonerate criminals are complicit in this terrible evil. We will never stop condemning those who have sown hatred and committed crimes, and we will never bow our heads in the face of evil again,” Iohannis says in the message.

He recalls that in October 1941, Traian Popovici, then mayor of Cernauti, who witnessed the deportation of Romanian Jews from Bucovina, saved thousands of Jews from death.

“It was a genocide of unimaginable proportions,” Iohannis points out.

Also, the president asserts that “renewed hatred is the scourge of our times”, indicating that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered globally not only a health crisis, but also a crisis of distrust, generated by the propagation of false news and conspiracy theories, the promotion of hate messages and Eurosceptic and xenophobic speeches, of manipulation, of exacerbation of anti-Semitism.

“There is no greater risk of weakening democracy than the passive acceptance of all these ailments of the contemporary world. In the face of such dangers, the call to the realistic past may be the chance to rediscover European values: tolerance, respect for diversity, responsibility. Let us not let ourselves get caught in the trap of ignorance, of populist rhetoric, let us not remain silent in the face of attempts to rewrite history and deny the truth. Let us also remain vigilant and firm in the fight against anti-Semitism, intolerance, extremism and populism. The history of any nation is a collection of light and darkness. It is up to us to be able to show future generations that Romania can no longer change history, but that the lessons of history have changed Romania for the better, forever,” Klaus Iohannis’s message says.

PM Orban: Let’s make sure memory of Holocaust victims stays dignified, untainted by attempts to rewrite history

Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said today that honoring the victims of the Holocaust is a fundamental duty of the Romanian state, but also a sign of normalcy that shows that our country has learned from the lessons of the last century.

“79 years after the tragedies that marked Romania’s history, our duty is to make sure that the memory of the victims of Romania’s holocaust stays alive, dignified and untainted by attempts to rewrite history, and that the Romanian people resist the temptations of populism, racist and xenophobic cynicism, fundamentalism and various forms of extremism that endanger democratic and human values,” Orban said at the ceremony for the 79th anniversary of the deportation of Jews from Romania to Transnistria, organized by the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania.

“79 years ago, the persecution of the Jewish community in Romania entered its worst stage: deportation to Transnistria. Hundreds of thousands of Jews from Basarabia, Bucovina and Transnistria were dragged from their homes, deported in death marches, exposed to degrading and destructive conditions, decimated by disease, hunger and physical abuse, victims of a regime that expressed the darkest prejudices and forms of inhumanity Romania had known until then. It took decades for the truth of those years, about the death of Jews and Roma alike, to be recovered and spoken with responsibility, respect and piety in a democratic Romania turned capable of condemning the crimes of the dictatorship and emerge from the hypocrisy of the communist regime,” Orban said.

The Prime Minister went on to say that after 1989, historians, national and international opinion leaders, civic organizations have brought to light this “black page” in the history of WW II and in the history of Romania. He also pointed out that the communist regime has delayed for decades the full disclosure of this painful truth, and that attempts were made after Nicolae Ceausescu’s fall to hide or minimize the tragedy.

Orban also voiced appreciation for the contribution of the Federation of the Jewish Community of Romania to bring the Holocaust to the attention of the youth and congratulated the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania on its 15th anniversary for its research and scientific recovery of the Holocaust truth, but also for its constant contribution to the fight against racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

MAE: Maintaining the memory of the past for future generations, supporting and protecting survivors are part of the duty of honor

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) brings homage to the memory of the victims of the tragic events during World War II and pleads for powerful action, on the national and international level, to combat the proliferation of online hate speech and anti-Semitism, shows a message of the MAE sent on the National Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Respecting fundamental rights and freedoms, inherent values of a modern democratic society, have represented the basis of significant recent efforts on the part of Romania to assume its past, to condemn Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism,” the quoted source mentions.

They have included, MAE recalls, the exercise of the Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the adoption of the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism, the adoption in 2018 of a special law to combat anti-Semitism, the inclusion of combating anti-Semitism as a priority topic of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the preparation of a National Strategy to prevent and combat anti-Semitism, xenophobia, radicalization and hate speech.

“In the context of the current health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which generated a proliferation of conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pleads for powerful actions, on the national and international level, to combat the online proliferation of hate speech and anti-Semitism,” the release mentions.

Furthermore, MAE shows “maintaining the memory of the past for future generations, supporting and protecting survivors are part of the duty of honor that Romania assumed at the moment of recognizing its responsibility in the events of the Holocaust.”

On this occasion, MAE evokes the role of Romanian diplomats who, unlike the majority that watched passively the horrors of the Holocaust, were involved in saving a great number of Jews during the Holocaust. The diplomatic activity of Constantin Karadja and Florian Manoliu is well-known, the two being honored with the title Righteous among Nations by the Yad Vashem Institute. Recent research revealed the role of several Romanian diplomats, among them Eugen Filotti, Dumitru Metta, Mihai Marina and the entire team of the Romanian consulate in Oradea (which functioned between 1941-1944), in activities to save Jews in the context of the tragic events of World War II.

Source: Agerpres

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