For the first time, Romania’s parliament will remember a bloody and savage pogrom during World War II in the northeast city of Iasi. In less than a week, more than 13,000 Jews were killed „in broad daylight”.
A joint sitting of parliament will mark 80 years since the pogrom on June 30.
Historians consider it the biggest massacre in Romania’s modern history. It is also seen as one of the most brutal massacres at the start of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
Nazi-allied leader Marshal Ion Antonescu ordered thousands of Jews in the city, a thriving hub where many Jews lived, to be rounded up.
The Romanian leader thought the Jews would sabotage Romania’s war efforts.
They were starved, beaten, tortured and shot at. Some 2,500 Jews were marshaled to the railway station, stuffed on trains and deported.
The trains traveled for days without food and water, and in stifling heat. When they arrived at their destinations, thousands had died.
Romanian and Germany Army officers, gendarmes, members of the fascist Iron Guard, specially liberated from prison to take part on the killings, and ordinary civilians took part in the killings.
Unlike Nazi German deportations and exterminations, which involved secrecy and undercover operations, the Iasi pogrom was carried out in „broad daylight”.
Some 13, 266 Jews died in the pogrom from June 29 to July 6. Jewish groups put the figure at 15,000.
„The Iasi pogrom was a massacre on a massive scale, one of extreme violence and extreme savagery”, said Alexandru Muraru in a statement Thursday. He is the prime minister’s advisor on anti-Semitism policies, the memory of the Holocaust and communism.
History and destiny
„It led to widescale destruction of the Jewish population there and dramatically changed the history and destiny of the capital of Moldova”, he added in a statement.
Survivors of the pogroms and their descendants have been invited parliament to mark the anniversary.
The top state, religious and diplomatic officials will also take part in the ceremony.
President Klaus Iohannis, the prime minister and ministers, former presidents, the patriarch, the head of the royal household, the head of the Jewish community, ambassadors, and other groups have been invited to attend.
„This is an extremely important moment from the point of acknowledging and taking responsibility for the past. It is a genuine reflection of the way today’s authorities are contributing to the national memory”, the statement said.
The Elie Wiesel International Committee for the Study of the Holocaust published a report in 2004 saying that Romanian authorities were responsible for the deaths of 280,000 to 380,000 Jews and 11,000 Roma from 1940 to 1944.
Mr Muraru was appointed to the newly-created post in charge of fighting anti-Semitism and preserving the memory of Holocaust and communism in January.