Romania to open first state-run Jewish Museum
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Romania to open first state-run Jewish Museum

Set to open in Bucharest in 2018, museum will focus on what before the Holocaust was Europe’s third-largest Jewish community

An honor guard soldier stands during a ceremony at a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest, Romania in February 2012, next to a monument bearing the names of Romanian Jewish refugees killed in 1942 aboard the SS Struma. Around 792 people drowned after the ship was struck by a Soviet torpedo (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
An honor guard soldier stands during a ceremony at a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest, Romania in February 2012, next to a monument bearing the names of Romanian Jewish refugees killed in 1942 aboard the SS Struma. Around 792 people drowned after the ship was struck by a Soviet torpedo (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Romania, which denied its role in the Holocaust for years, is to open the first state-run museum dedicated to the country’s Jewish community, once one of the largest in Europe before World War II.

The museum, due to open in 2018 in the capital Bucharest, will focus on the persecution of Jews and the Roma, said Alexandru Florian, the director of the National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust.

“It will illustrate the role played by Jews in Romania’s modernisation, as well as fight prejudice and the denial of the Shoah,” Florian told AFP.

So far, the privately-run museum in Bucharest’s Holy Union Temple synagogue has been the main custodian of Jewish history in Romania.

Some 800,000 Jews lived in the country in the 1930s, making it the third-largest community in Europe after the Soviet Union and Poland.

Jewish victims of the Iași pogrom on July 1, 1941. (Wikimedia Commons)
Jewish victims of the Iași pogrom on July 1, 1941. (Wikimedia Commons)

Up to 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were murdered on Romanian soil under dictator and Nazi ally Ion Antonescu.

The Romanian government rejected any responsibility in the Holocaust until 2003, when it set up a panel of experts led by late survivor and Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel to look into the country’s dark past.

The findings revealed that many of Romania’s Jews and members of other minorities were murdered in death camps in the Transnistria region, now part of neighboring Moldova. Others died in pogroms or in death trains.

Today, some 3,200 Jews remain in Romania.

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