On Heroes’ Day

This year too, on Heroes’ Day, we gathered before the Monument erected at the “Filantropia” Cemetery in the Capital – leaders of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania (FJCR); superior officers of the Bucuresti Garrison, the Romanian Air Forces, the Special Telecommunications Service, the Ministry of National Defense; war veterans; knights of the “Mihai Viteazul” Order; representatives of the Presidency, the Parliament, the Government and the Embassy of Israel in Bucharest – in order to honor the memory of those who died, without having a Romanian citizenship, during the wars for independence and reunification fought by the country they loved. “A significant participation”, noted counsel Iulian Sorin, showing the fraternity between the Jewish and the Romanian hero soldiers, as well as the successors’ gratitude. Bowing their heads before their supreme sacrifice, gen. Dumitru Cretu and dr. Andrei Marga (minister of National Education) pointed out the loyalty of the Jews towards Romania, proven on the battlefield, as well as their important contribution to the country’s culture and civilization. Out of the hundreds of names of Jewish fighters decorated for their deeds of valor during the war for the reunification of Romania (1916-1918) that are listed in the community’s chronicle of honor, engineer Osy Lazar quoted some illustrative examples. The liturgical song performed by Maximilian Kertezs, conductor of the Coral Temple’s choir, Rabbi Eliezer Glanz’s prayers for the peace and the prosperity of Romania and Israel, for the rest of the souls that sacrificed their lives for Romania, “El Male Rahamim” sung by cantor David Tachman, the floral tributes set down on behalf of the Presidency, the Government, the Embassy of Israel, the Army and the FJCR, as well as the military honors were all symbols of the recognition and the eternal memory enjoyed by the Jewish heroes.

  • In 1916-1918, over 10% of the Jewish population was on the front.

 

General DUMITRU CRETU

“A nation that does not love and respect its heroes does not deserve to live. We honor our heroes and we must never forget them. The time to celebrate them never seems to suffice. The deeds of these heroes are too great. There is too much blood mixed with the earth of this country. Together with the Romanian people, representatives of some populations who live with the Romanian people died in the torments of the wars this beautiful country fought. I have a particular admiration for the Jews, who, in hard times, proved to be good Romanians, well integrated in the economic and social life of Romania, acknowledged as such by our parents and grandparents. […] Today I wish to honor the memory of my brothers in arms, Romanians and Jews, who died in combat. At 21 years old, I had to say farewell to them. The special love of the Jewish population for Romania is a well-known fact. More than once did I have the opportunity of testing the humaneness, the enthusiasm of our Jewish co-nationals, in difficult circumstances of my own existence. […] May God rest the soul of all the heroes, Romanians and Jews, who sacrificed their life for this country.”

Dr. ANDREI MARGA

“A nation draws the contours of its history and secures its continuity by celebrating its heroes, and, first of all, by acknowledging them. On behalf of the Romanian Government, I wish to pay homage to those who sacrificed their life for Romania in so many crucial moments, for the foundation and the modern evolution of our country, be they Romanians or members of other ethnic groups that lived and live in this country. In particular, I wish to pay homage to our Jewish co-nationals who died, together with many other fellow-citizens, Romanians or not, for the enhancement of our country. The dramatic history of the Jewish people in Europe is very well known; a very urbanized population, with glamorous roots in the ancient culture. The Jews asserted themselves in the fields of science, art, industrial design and trade. Much later, it became a certainty the fact that they were absolutely loyal citizens, who did not hesitate to go to war if the country requested it, and to sacrifice their life when necessary. As history evolves, we come to discover more and more heroes among the Jews, people who died for our country. And I must underline the fact that the research on Jewish history advance with great speed in our country, and in others. Not to mention that, at this very moment, three of our universities are cooperating with three institutes studying the history of the Jews in Romania. And, talking on a larger scale, I would like to remind you of how many efforts had to be made in Germany for 40 years, so that a fact that was challenged during the 1930′s may be acknowledged: the Jewish contribution to the German culture, which practically shaped for a while the whole European academic culture. Today, this is a well-known fact: the most important cultural creations of Germany – in philosophy, music, literature – were the result of a very beneficial interaction with the Jewish intelligentsia. We can say that, if this is true for Germany, it is also true for the countries which fatally did not belong to the center of the European culture, not even geographically. Today, when we think of the presence, the evolution and the history of our Jewish co-nationals among the Romanian people, our thoughts naturally encompass the current situation. […] A significant Romanian-born Jewish community now lives in Israel. And many Jews born in Romania live in America or in other countries. I would like to praise two things now. First of all, the solidity of the ties that our Jewish co-nationals have kept with Romania, and a very healthy nostalgia. We meet with many of them, philosophers, first-class politicians, and they confess this nostalgia. Secondly, I praise in full honesty what was done and is being done for the development of the state of Israel, in the fields of economy, democracy, science and technology. And I would like to underline how much we appreciate Israel’s achievements, and how deep and sincere is our will to cooperate with such great institutions and such great partners – the citizens of the state of Israel. I wish to close by expressing our homage for the Jewish heroes.

Counsel IULIAN SORIN

“It is impressive to witness here, at the ‘Filantropia’ Jewish Cemetery, a festivity that pays homage to the heroism of the Jewish soldiers who fought shoulder to shoulder with the Romanian soldiers for the independence and the reunification of their common homeland, Romania. Six centuries of cohabitation between the Jewish population and the Romanian people have been six centuries of brotherly cohabitation in a peaceful and fruitful cooperation. History had its black clouds and storms that dramatically darkened these relations, but were not able to destroy them. And the presence of a representative echelon of the Romanian army at this festivity, the presence of parliamentarians, of Government members, prove how the Romanian people feels deep down inside about the contribution of the Jews to the development of the country. These two monuments dedicated to the heroes who sacrificed their lives for Romania are not the only testimony. If you visit this cemetery, you will come across the graves of many distinguished personalities of the cultural, scientific, artistic and economic life, whose contributions were like bricks laid to the foundation and erection of Romania. I find it significant that, during the war for independence in 1877, Jews did not have Romanian citizenship. Nevertheless, Jewish volunteers did take part in this war, having an important contribution. One might also mention the ‘Zion’ ambulances, bringing relief to the wounded, or the weapon-in-hand participation, like the one of Mauriciu Brociner, Jewish non-commissioned officer, who besieged the Grivita rampart under captain Valter Maracineanu’s command. After the captain fell heroically, Brociner was the one who led the attack on the rampart, where he placed the Romanian flag. For his deeds of valor, he was promoted officer on the front. His remains are also at rest in this cemetery. During WWI, while they were still not entitled to the Romanian citizenship, more than 10% of the Jewish population was present on the front. Which is actually equal to the percentage of the Romanian people that were involved in the fighting. These are not just words or empty literature. These are historic facts and history took care to remember them. On behalf of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania, of Academy member Nicolae Cajal, president of the Federation, and of Great Rabbi Menachem Hacohen (who are both abroad and could not attend this festivity), allow me to warmly salute you and to cordially thank you for your presence here and for what this presence signifies. I hope that the future will find us in the same state of friendly cohabitation, for the good of our common homeland, Romania.”

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