High-level government representatives joined with members of Romania’s Jewish community recently to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the deportations of the Jews from the Transylvania region during World War II.
The commemoration, which was held in Oradea, located in the Crisan-Maramures area of western Romania, on the border with Hungary, recalled the events of May 3, 1944, when Naziallied Hungarian authorities began rounding up the Jews of that town.
Along with members of the country’s dwindling Jewish community, Romanians and Hungarians also attended the ceremonies. The three groups have lived together for centuries in the Transylvanian town.
A religious service, conducted with the ringing bells of the town’s churches in the background, was led by Rabbi Ernest Neumann of the western Romanian city of Timisoara.
The ceremony was opened by Theodor Blumenfeld, the secretary-general of the Romanian Jewish Federation. In the course of his talk, Blumenfeld referred to this ceremony as the last request of longtime Romanian Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen, who died May 6 at the age of 81.
In a show of solidarity with Romania’s Jewish community, government and church officials spoke at the commemoration.
Among the government officials in attendance were Victor Opalski, personal representative of Romanian President Ion Iliescu, and Education Minister Livin Maior.
Opalski, reading the president’s message, referred to the 1,300 towns and villages devastated in the region and the 150,000 Jews deported from there.
“Out of the 166,601 Jews (deported) only 25,000 returned,” said Opalski.
It was the first time an official Romanian speech contained figures of those killed and from how many towns.