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Roma and Jews commemorate Holocaust in Romania

12 october 2011, 12:18
Dozens of Romanian Roma and Jews on Tuesday commemorated the start of the Holocaust 70 years ago, laying red carnations in memory of the thousands of victims of the pro-nazi Romanian regime, AFP reports.

"The Holocaust triggered unprecedented cruelty, not only against Jews but also against Roma and other minorities in the name of nothing more than blind hatred", the US ambassador to Romania Mark Gitenstein said during a ceremony at the Holocaust memorial in Bucharest.

Between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews died during the Holocaust in Romania and the territory under its control, according to an international commission of historians headed by the Nobel Prize for Peace, Elie Wiesel, himself a Romanian-born Jew.

"About 25,000 Roma were also victims of cruel persecutions", the director of the Holocaust museum in Washington Radu Ioanid said.

The ceremony opened with children symbolically wearing the yellow star imposed on Jews by the Nazis showing pictures of the pogroms that took place in many Romanian towns in 1941, signalling the beginning of mass deportation and extermination.

To a sad tune played by an accordeonist and a violonist, they also sang in memory of the victims and read poetry in the Romani language.

Ioanid warned against a revival of anti-Semitic feelings.

"The Romanian Jewish community recently still had to fight to have the definition of an anti-Semitic word changed in a widely-circulated dictionary", he reminded the audience. He also attacked the National Bank decision last year to sell a coin depicting an inter-war leader who held anti-Semitic views.

Several ambassadors from foreign countries attended the ceremony. No government ministers were present though some sent an official to represent them.

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