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June 29, 2021 2:51 pm

Romanian Police ID Group of Minors in Synagogue Vandalism Reported on Eve of WW2 Pogrom Anniversary

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avatar by Sharon Wrobel

The historic synagogue in Orăştie, Romania Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Oguszt

Police in Romania have identified a group of minors who allegedly vandalized a synagogue in Orăștie, located in south-western Transylvania. The incident was reported on Monday, coinciding with the eve of the anniversary of a Holocaust pogrom that occurred in the Romanian city of Iași 80 years ago, and led to the killing of more than 13,000 Jews.

The identified minors aged between 9 and 14 years old are accused of smashing the windows of the synagogue building in Orăștie, a 19th-century historical monument, reported Romanian daily newspaper Adevărul.

The historical building is also being used as a cultural space and for exhibitions. The police will conduct further investigations into the incident, the report said.

On Monday, two archaeologists of the local Museum of Ethnography and Folk Art reported the acts of vandalism to police. They described broken windows and noticed a few dozen medium-sized stones inside the synagogue, according to Romania’s Stirile Transilvaniei newspaper, which published photos of the damage.

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The Iași pogrom took place between June 29 to July 16 of 1941. During a commemoration speech on Tuesday, David Muniz, Chargé d’affaires of the US to Bucharest called for the “urgent need to invest more in Holocaust education, to help citizens better understand how such a tragedy unfolded, and to ensure that it never happens again.”

“We mourn the thousands of Jews from Iași who died in the massacres carried out by the army, police, and gendarmerie at the order of Marshall Antonescu 80 years ago,” Muniz remarked. “We remember and mourn the thousands of others who lost lives en route to and in the death camps. We must also remember that ordinary people did not choose to participate in this atrocity overnight; slowly, over time, influenced by years of political and antisemitic rhetoric, millions came to so devalue the lives of their fellow human beings.”

Commenting on the commemoration events of the Iași pogrom, Daniel Holtgen, Council of Europe special Representative on antisemitic, anti-Muslim and other forms of religious intolerance and hate crimes said: “Protecting Jews and Jewish life is part of our common European values. Romania is demonstrating that clearly and impressively today.”

“These days we commemorate 80 years since the horrific events of the Iași Pogrom in 1941. We join those honoring the victims of the Pogrom at the Jewish Cemetery in Iași, paying our respects to those who tragically lost their lives,” the British embassy in Bucharest tweeted Monday.

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