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Romanian Holocaust victims buried

04 april 2011, 18:32
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A rabbi carries a box containing the remains of one of some 40 Jews killed during the Holocaust. ©AFP
A rabbi carries a box containing the remains of one of some 40 Jews killed during the Holocaust. ©AFP
The remains of about 40 Jews killed during the Holocaust and found in a mass grave in northeastern Romania were buried on Monday in the Jewish cemetery of Iasi, AFP reports.

Five rabbis from Britain and the United States performed the burial under a grey and cloudy sky.

Dressed in black, they carried the remains, unidentified and contained in paper bags and cardboard boxes, and put them into a single grave in the cemetery overlooking the city.

"We have come here to help these people rest in peace. We believe it is God's will", British rabbi Meir Twersky, whose grand-parents are buried in Iasi cemetery, told AFP.

A religious service was scheduled for later in the day.

A total of 43 paper bags and boxes containing remains of the victims were handed over by the Romanian forensic institute to the Jewish community.

The mass grave was unearthed in a forest at Propricani, near Iasi, last November.

The exact number of victims, including women and children, has not been determined but researchers believe the grave contained the bodies or body parts of at least 40 people killed by the Romanian army, allies of the Nazis during World War II.

Historian Adrian Cioflanca discovered the grave after interviewing local people who said they saw Jews being killed.

Cioflanca told AFP, "We found the skulls of at least 35 people but there were other body parts so we can talk about at least 40 people."

According to an international commission of historians led by Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel, himself a Romanian-born Jew, between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were killed in territories run by the pro-Nazi Romanian regime during 1940-1944.

More than 15,000 were killed in Iasi during pogroms in 1941.

The Propricani mass grave is the first to be discovered since 1945, when 311 corpses were exhumed from three locations in Stanca Roznovanu, close to Iasi, according to the Wiesel Institute.

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