27 July 2003
Following remarks made by Romanian President Ion Iliescu in an interview for the Ha’aretz newspaper this weekend, where he stated that “The Holocaust was not unique to the Jewish population in Europe. Many others died in the same way,” and that also related to earlier remarks made by the Romanian government a month prior stating “within the borders of Romania between 1940 and 1945 there was no Holocaust,” Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev decided to work towards the establishment of an international commission of inquiry consisting of historians who will investigate the Holocaust period in Romania.
In a letter sent to the Romanian President, Shalev invited him to appoint a committee of Romanian historians “in order to research together the historical truth and bring the facts of the Holocaust in Romania to light.”
“Despite the fact that Yad Vashem just released a new book of research by Dr. Jean Ancel on the pogroms in Jassi, Romania in 1941 and despite the fact that two months ago, we released our books of research on the history of the Holocaust in Romania that were based on archival documents and years of research by Dr. Ancel, we reached the conclusion that only by means of an international commission of historians can we expose the truth to the public at large,” adds Shalev.
Shalev suggests that the commission include well-known experts in the field of the Holocaust in Romania from Israel, Romania, countries in Europe and the US.
The commission will base its findings on documents from Romanian and German archives, on testimonials from survivors and on research relating to the history of the Holocaust era in Eastern Europe and in Romania in particular.
Shalev emphasized that other countries in Eastern Europe who are beginning to deal with their pasts have established commissions of inquiry who include world renowned researchers and stated Lithuania as an example.