Romania’s president on Tuesday remembered a pogrom in the Romanian city of Iasi in 1941 where 13,000 Jews were killed. He called it “one of the bloodiest pages” in Romanian history.
“Uncontrolled hatred, appalling violence (and) absolute contempt for human dignity were just some of the tools,” used by authorities to “put into practice an abominable plan – cleansing the city of Jews” , a speech by President Klaus Iohannis said that was read out by an advisor at a ceremony to mark 80 years since the pogrom.
On Wednesday, Romania’s parliament will also remember the massacre which occurred at the end of June that year during World War II. In less than a week, more than 13,000 Jews were killed „in broad daylight”.
Historians consider it the biggest massacre in Romania’s modern history. It is also seen as one of the most brutal pogroms at the start of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
Romania’s 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 marched to the railway station, stuffed on trains and deported.
“Jews were forcibly snatched from their homes… savagely beaten and then thrown onto death trains or killed by machine gun bullets” the president said in his message.
The acts of “unspeakable cruelty” were carried out by police, the Army and the intelligence services who robbed, tortured, humiliated and killed Jews “on the orders of a criminal regime”.
The president’s message was delivered by presidential advisor Sergiu Nistor during a commemorative event in Iasi.
Before World War II, Jews made up 30% of the population before World War II. The city turned from a
“cradle of Jewish life, culture and civilization.. into a center of anti-Semitism and then of death, human degradation and terror” klaus iohannis
Current and future generations are obliged to learn the lessons of the past, he said.
The Memorial Museum dedicated to the victims of the Iasi pogrom was formally inaugurated in the courtyard of the former Police headquarters.
The president warned that Holocaust denial, hate speech, attempts to distort history and anti-Semitism “are becoming increasingly common” .
“We must defend our values, democratic principles, the rule of law. Education must remain at the heart of this ongoing struggle to counter these toxic currents.”