- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel was responsible for making his native Romania investigate the Holocaust and face its responsibility.

Romania deported 150,000 Jews and 25,000 Roma, also known as Gypsies, to concentration camps in an area of the Soviet Union controlled by the Axis powers from 1942 to 1944, when the country was run by pro-Nazi dictator Ion Antonescu.

After communism ended, many denied or downplayed Romania’s role in the Holocaust. In 2004, Wiesel chaired the Wiesel Commission which documented Romania’s role in the Holocaust and a government institute was set up bearing his name in 2005.

That institute, the National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania on Sunday called him “a tireless campaigner for freedom and human rights, for respecting each other, for the understanding and the dialogue between people.”

The Center for Monitoring Antisemitism in Romania thanked Wiesel for his support for the Holocaust Memorial in Bucharest, saying: “In 2003, when no one in Romania responded to our initiative for constructing the Holocaust Memorial in Bucharest, we turned, for support, to Elie Wiesel.

“He responded to our appeal and our project became a reality that, for generations, will honor the memory of the victims, Jews and Roma, of the WWII Romanian fascist regime.”

Wiesel was decorated with Romania’s highest honor, the Star of Romania, in 2002 but returned the award in 2004, after Corneliu Vadim Tudor, a politician and poet who was known for his anti-Semitic and nationalist commentary in his Greater Romania weekly, also received the same award.

He said he was “disappointed and sad” that then President Ion Iliescu had chosen to bestow the same honor on Tudor.

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