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November 21, 2011 9:17 am

Justice Cannot Be Denied – Making History’s Wrongs, Right

avatar by Oleksandr Feldman

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Antonescu, leader of Romania during World War 2, and Adolf Hitler at the Führerbau in Munich (June 1941).

I recently had the opportunity to serve as host to an historic conference calling upon the Government of Romania to address the mass genocide which their nation was involved with during the Holocaust.  While the Nazis had many partners in their evil, few acted with such depravity and eagerness as did Romanian forces who were responsible for murdering approximately 400,000 Jews, both on Romanian soil and in villages and forests throughout Ukraine and Moldova.

More than seven decades after World War II began, few among the guilty nations continue to fail to fully recognize their complicity with the Nazis. Of course the German people live with a sense of collective guilt for harboring Nazism and will forever be forced to contend with the understanding that it was the German ethos which allowed such acts to be carried out in the name of the Reich. While no statement will ever allow us to forgive Germany, we can respect the fact that the modern German state does a great deal to address their culpability. Other countries, such as Italy and Japan, which acted in partnership with Nazi Germany, also don’t typically shy away from recognizing their sins of World War II.

Romania is a notable exception.  Despite some progress achieved by Romania in recent years in investigating Holocaust-era war crimes, the Romanian government has failed to properly address their national complicity and particularly the fascist World War II government’s direct involvement in war crimes outside of its borders, particularly in Ukraine and Moldova. It would be incorrect to assume that this phenomenon is a problem of past decades and 21st century Romania is willing to be more upfront with the international community. In fact, just last week at our conference, the Romanian Ambassador to Kiev – who initially accepted an invitation to come to the proceedings – at the last moment declined to attend this important call for justice, recognizing responsibility and memorializing victims.  The Romanian policy of silence continues.

As proponents of justice, morality and tolerance, we must demand that there be no statute of limitations on genocide. Romania, as with all other sovereign states that have been a part of murderous campaigns like the Holocaust, must stand before the world and admit their crimes.  Anything less would be a crime in and of itself.

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  • Michael

    The article reads at some point: “While no statement will ever allow us to forgive Germany”.
    Who the hell made the author of this article a journalist, if you ever were one?
    What sort of website would tolerate such a tone, and what kind of journalism is this anyway? More importantly, who does this guy think he represent when he says “us”?

    Back to the issue: Romanian’s Antonescu was actually the least servile among Germany’s wartime allies (source: Britannica).
    While it’s true that mass executions took place in Iasi and Odessa in 1941, these were the exceptions rather than the norm. It’s also true that a lot of jewish people died as a result of deportations. At the same time around 400,000 of them survived the war, as a direct consequence of Antonescu’s refusal to implement the final solution in Romania. The surviving jewish community of Romania was the largest in Europe to survive the holocaust by the way.
    Add to that the fact that Antonescu reversed the deportations, and he even allowed safe passage into Romania of jews from Hungary and Transsylvania, from were some were allowed to emigrate to Israel (source: Denis Deletant).

    Also some of your facts and figures are blown out of proportions.

  • clau2002

    If your numbers are right I presume both mathematics and Romanian Jewish leaders are wrong.From about 800 000 Jews living in Romania before WW2,some 250 000 were deported directly by Germans from Transylvania under Hungarian administration(written documents).Since some 450 000 made it to Israel and became the backbone of the state of Israel after the war(according to Shimon Peres)all that remains(about 100 000 not 400 000 unaccounted for) are basically the unfortunates deported to Transnistria(most of whom died due to the horrible conditions there) after they were brought to Moldova the previous year by the red army during the occupation.Yes there were pogroms in Iasi and violence against the Jews in Romania in the winter of 1940 during the brief government of the Iron Guard with few thousand victims,and yes there were executions in Odessa after the bombing of the Romanian Army”s headquarters….but…between what you are claiming and what really happened it is a great distance in order for us to believe it is an ignorant error and not cheap propaganda!

    • Eduard Dolinsky

      By 1941 Odessa and Transnistria regions of Ukraine had very significant Jewish population. Most of them had never been citizens of Romania, nor they ever lived there. Overall, almost one and a half million Jews were killed in Ukraine during 1941-44, and almost 300 thousand of them in Odessa and Transnistria. Here we speak about Ukrainian Jews killed and died under Romanian occupation, not about Romanian Jews.