Thursday, November 10, 2011

Conference calls on Romania to acknowledge WWII war crimes

November 9, 2011

(JTA) -- A conference focusing on Romania's Holocaust-era war crimes in Ukraine and Moldova called on Romania to acknowledge and apologize for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews.

The conference, which ended Wednesday, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, was convened to bring the full scope of World War II Romania’s fascist state-sponsored genocide to light. The conference examined Romania’s role in the Holocaust in Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union, particularly Moldova.

Convened by Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksandr Feldman and the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, which Feldman serves as president, the conference brought together some 70 participants from Ukraine and Moldova comprising a mix of Holocaust survivors, scholars and public figures.

The Romanian ambassador to Kiev initially accepted the conference’s invitation but at the last moment declined to attend. There was, however, official representation by the embassies of Austria, Azerbaijan and Israel, as well as lawmakers from Ukraine and Moldova.

“We are not demanding financial compensation from Romania,” Feldman said. “They cannot bring their victims back to life. Even though the Romanian ambassador did not attend the conference, we are pushing forward with this process until justice is achieved.”

The conference adopted a series of three resolutions that Feldman called “a small first step of a long journey before us.”

The resolutions call on Romania to recognize publicly and officially its role in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews from the territories of present-day Ukraine and Moldova; to issue a formal apology to the Jewish communities of Ukraine and Moldova; and to play an active role in cooperating with Ukrainian and Moldovan governmental and nongovernmental organizations in programs designed for memorializing Holocaust victims of Romania-occupied territories.

Next to the Nazis, Romania was responsible for the deaths of more Jews during the Holocaust than any other German-allied country. During World War II, the Nazi-allied Romanian government was complicit in the murder of approximately 400,000 Jews, both on Romanian soil and in villages and forests throughout Ukraine and Moldova.

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