Yesterday, for the first time in 64 years, Romania held a national day of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust. The day was marked with special observations around the country, including a wreath-laying ceremony by Romanian President Ion Iliescu.
The commemoration took place in front of Bucharest’s main synagogue, the Choral Temple.
Following the ceremony, President Iliescu addressed the Romanian Parliament.
“The horrible tragedy of the Holocaust was possible due to the complicity of leader of the state’s institutions,” he said, “(The Holocaust is) a shameful chapter in our recent past…must be neither forgotten or minimized.”
He also stated that such a tragedy must not be repeated and that younger generations in Romania need to know and understand the entire truth.
President Ion Iliescu and Prime Minister Adrian Nastase laying a wreath of flowers at the monument dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust, in front of the Choral Temple, in Bucharest.
Other events around the country included having Holocaust survivors tell their stories to students in public school, a representation of “Anne Frank” at the Yiddish theater in Bucharest, and the opening of a special Holocaust exhibition.
Holocaust Day was one of the recommendations made by the International Commission on the Holocaust of Romania. The commission, which was named last year by President Iliescu, was organized to research the Holocaust in Romania and to present conclusions and recommendations on fostering Holocaust awareness and education in Romania.
Oct. 9 was chosen as the date for Romania’s Holocaust Day because it coincides with the anniversary of the start of deportations of Jews from the Romanian regions of Bukovina and Bessarabia to Transnistria. However, because Oct. 9 falls on Shabbat this year, the commemorations were observed on Oct. 12.
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin is a member of the commission.
Mariaschin, in a letter to President Iliescu, said “This first Holocaust Memorial Day in Romania represents a constructive beginning for the process of looking directly at recent history and of fittingly perpetuating the memory of the Romanian Jewish victims.”