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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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