17 June 2003
On Friday, June 13, the Romanian government released an official press release claiming that: “within the borders of Romania between 1940 and 1945 there was no Holocaust.”
In a radio interview conducted earlier today, Romanian Minister of Culture, Razvan Theodoresco reiterated his government’s declaration, asserting that there was no Holocaust within the borders of wartime Romania, since there was no systematic murder carried out in camps.
In a cutting letter sent by Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Avner Shalev, to the Romanian Minister of Education, Ecatarina Andronescu, Shalev states that Romania is perpetuating a historical falsity: “We were shocked by the declaration of your government. This is a dangerous notion, which raises grave doubts as to the sincerity of your intentions to begin a true grappling with the past.” In his letter, Shalev cited the Romanian government’s complete disregard of the systematic murder of over 100,000 Jews carried out by the Romanian army and police (Gendarmerie) in two areas that were under Romanian sovereignty in the summer of 1941-Bukovinia and Besserabia. This annihilation was conducted under direct orders of the government in Bucharest.
During the radio interview, Minister Theodoresco admitted that there was a Holocaust in Transnistria, which was under Romanian occupation. However, he shunned the fact that a large number of Jews who were murdered there were deported from their homes in Romania and were Romanian citizens. He equally ignored that the murder was carried out with the active participation of the Romanian armed forces and police.
During the interview, Minister Theodoresco referred to the massacre of Jews in the city of Jassy (that was within Romanian borders) as a “war crime,” but not as the Holocaust. At present time, Yad Vashem is publishing a new volume of research by Dr. Jean Ancel regarding this massacre. Within the volume are dozens of original documents and photographs proving the direct, active and systematic responsibility of Antonesco’s government, forces and segments of the Romanian population in the murder of approximately 15,000 Jews in Jassy.
In his letter to the Romanian Minister of Education, Shalev adds that, “If Germany were to adopt a similar distinction, it could very well claim that there was no Holocaust in Germany, since the German Jews were systematically killed only once they were deported to Eastern Europe.”
In a Romanian television interview, Shalev publicly protested, saying that in greater Romania and in areas that were under Romanian control, 420,000 Jews were murdered, 240,000 of whom were Romanian citizens and 180,000 of whom were citizens of the FSU. He also called on chairmen of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research to immediately bring this issue up for discussion.
It should also be emphasized that Romania was the only member of the Axis whose Jews were not sent to extermination camps in Poland by the Nazis. Rather, the Romanians killed them on their own, by means of activating their armed forces and police within Romanian-controlled areas and those areas in the Ukraine that were allocated to them by Hitler.