BUCHAREST, Romania — A bust of Romania-born writer and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel was unveiled Tuesday in Bucharest on the country’s national Holocaust remembrance day.
The director of Romania’s National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust joined Bucharest’s mayor and the US and Israeli ambassadors for the event, held in a small square named for Wiesel.
Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 and died in 2016. He and his family were among an estimated 14,000 Jews who were deported to the Auschwitz death camp from a town in northwest Romania in May 1944. His mother and younger sister died there.
Romania deported 150,000 Jews and 25,000 Roma to Nazi concentration camps in a part of the Soviet Union that was controlled by the Axis powers from 1942 to 1944, when the country was run by pro-Nazi dictator Ion Antonescu. In 1941, he ordered a pogrom where more than 13,000 Jews were slain in the northeast city of Iasi.
Wiesel’s son Elisha said in a statement that his father didn’t “believe in guilt being passed down the generations,” but he added that Romanians had “a responsibility for what happens now, and for how you raise your children.”
In August, anti-Semitic graffiti appeared outside the house in the town of Sighetu Marmatiei where Wiesel was born. One stated Wiesel was “in hell with Hitler.”
Romania’s population of some 19.5 million includes about 6,000 Jews.