President Klaus Iohannis on Tuedasy sent a message on the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Iasi anti-Jewish Pogrom (June 28 – 30, 1941).
“These days we mark eight decades since one of the bloodiest pages in the history of Romania. Undisguised hatred, atrocious violence, absolute contempt for human dignity were just some of the tools used by the authorities of the time to put into practice an abominable plan – cleansing the city of Jews. More than 13,000 innocent souls ended up in terrible torment, after the authorities that should have protected them turned into executioners. With indescribable cruelty Iasi Jews were forcibly snatched from their homes, separated from their loved ones, savagely beaten and then thrown into the death trains or killed by machine gun bullets. Representatives of the Police, the Army, the intelligence services swooped upon members of the Jewish community, robbed them, tortured, humiliated and killed them at the orders of a criminal regime,” Iohannis states in the message delivered by presidential advisor Sergiu Nistor during the commemorative events organized in Iasi.
The head of the state emphasizes that “the Iasi Pogrom of is not only the tragedy of the Jews of Iasi, which followed that of the Jews killed during the legionary rebellion at the beginning of the same year, but is the drama and responsibility our nation has been facing since then.”
“When the state institutions not only fail miserably in fulfilling their natural obligations towards their own citizens, but also discriminate against them, persecute them and mercilessly kill them, the rule of absolute evil and arbitrariness will have been established,” Iohannis said.
Commemorating the victims of the Iasi Pogrom is the main moral reparation the current and future generations are bound to offer, underlines the head of the state.
“Anti-Semitic rhetoric and its cruel consequences struck Iasi, a city that was an important center of Jewish life; in 1930, Jews represented about 30 percent of the city’s total population. From a cradle of Jewish life, culture and civilization, Iasi turned within short in a center of anti-Semitism and then of death, human degradation and terror. The remembrance of the suffering of those days and the commemoration of the victims are the main moral reparation the present and future generations have an obligation to follow. If this happens, we have the guarantee of owning up to the facts as they happened and of respecting the fundamental rights and freedoms. In this process of remembrance, let us also evoke the names of those people who showed courage and altruism in their attempt to save their fellow humans thrown into the clutches of hell,” says Iohannis.
He points out that “the health of a society is inextricably linked to the honest assumption of the traumatic past, to the way it relates to democratic values, tolerance and respect for human dignity.”
The head of the state welcomes the inauguration, in the courtyard of the former Police Headquarters, of the Memorial Museum dedicated to the victims of the Iasi Pogrom.
“It is a project the construction of which took a longer time, but I am convinced that it will play a prominent role in cultural and community life. This museum is not just a pious tribute to the memory of the pogrom victims, a proof that the lesson of the past has been authentically assumed, but also a space of European values, which will speak to the next generations about the importance of freedom, tolerance, respect for the other,” the President notes.
He goes on to say that as lately denialism, hate speech, attempts to distort history, populism and anti-Semitism are becoming increasingly present in public space, we have the obligation to “defend our values, democratic principles, the rule of law, while education must remain at the heart of this ongoing struggle to counter these toxic currents.”
“No matter how hard our efforts and no matter how determined we are, there will always be dark minds and souls who will play down crime, trivialize victims and defend criminals. We notice how, lately, negationism, hate speech, attempts to distort history, populism and anti-Semitism are becoming increasingly present in the public sphere, and where they find the fertile ground of ignorance, they take dangerous roots. We have an obligation to defend our values, democratic principles, the rule of law, and education must stay at the epicenter of this ongoing fight to counteract these toxic currents. The ‘Educated Romania’ project aims to create an inclusive education system, adapted to reality, to present and future needs. The grounds for responsible behavior, valuing truth, law and human rights are set at an early age and solidify along the way,” Iohannis says.
He also points out that Holocaust education must play an important role in the education system.
“Schools and universities must be encouraged to promote such educational programs, so that children and young people are part of the process of consolidating a tolerant society,” Iohannis advises, adding that democratic principles and values must be staunchly defended.
“Dear Romanians, bowing our foreheads in memory of those killed, showing their descendants our compassion and solidarity, may we always keep in mind the lessons of history and defend democratic principles and values! Without them, we have no future! May the memory of the victims live forever in our hearts!,” concludes the President.