WASHINGTON – The U.S. Helsinki Commission today commended the unveiling in Bucharest of the Monument to the Victims of the Holocaust in Romania.
During World War II, Romania’s pro-Nazi government of Marshal Ion Antonescu was responsible for the deaths of 280,000-380,000 Jews and more than 11,000 Roma, according to an international panel led by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel. The Romanian government officially recognized the panel’s 2004 findings and recommendations, which included building the national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust in Romania on public property in Bucharest.
“After decades of denying or minimizing its past with respect to Romania’s role in the Holocaust, the unveiling of the monument builds on the significant strides made over the last few years in Romania’s recovery of its true history,” said U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission). “I applaud Romania’s leadership for the progress they have made in finally acknowledging Romania’s wartime role in this unspeakable tragedy.”
Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) added: “While I applaud the creation of a memorial to the Holocaust victims in Romania, it should not have taken international panels, official reports, and global pressure to make this memorial a reality. History is filled with events we lament and decisions we regret. That does not mean we should hide from our past. I’m proud of the Romanian leadership for creating a tangible, visible reminder to all future generations that honors the memory of the victims of the Holocaust in their country.”
“Romanian officials are to be applauded for unveiling a monument to the thousands of victims of the Holocaust in that country. More than 60 years after World War II, such a memorial is long overdue in Romania,” said Ranking Republican Commissioner Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS).
“After decades of official falsification of Romania’s role in the Holocaust, the Romanian people, thanks to the work of a new generation of post-communist and post-nationalist historians, are at last being exposed to the truth about the crimes their countrymen committed during World War II. And many of today’s Romanians are showing themselves true patriots—they freely acknowledge what happened and say ‘Never again!’” said Ranking Republican Commissioner Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ).
The monument includes a central pavilion with names of Jewish and Romani victims, desecrated tombstones from Bucharest and Odessa cemeteries and other symbols of value to each minority group.