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Romania unveils Holocaust memorial

ROME (JTA) — A Romanian National Holocaust Memorial was dedicated in central Bucharest.

Holocaust survivors joined political, cultural, social and religious dignitaries at Thursday’s ceremony for a monument commemorating Jewish and Gypsy victims. Since 2004, Romania has marked Oct. 9 as Holocaust Commemoration Day.

Among those attending the dedication were President Traian Basescu, who laid the cornerstone for the memorial in 2006, and Romania’s chief rabbi, Menachem Hacohen.

The Romania Ministry of Culture, Religious Affairs and National Heritage described the $7.5 monument, designed by Peter Jacobi, as "a contemporary expression of a memorial, the bearer of a message, a visible sign, an active space with which the public can interact freely."

The monument includes five sculptures symbolizing Jewish and Roma suffering, a central memorial site and two installations using tombstones.

Its construction was mandated by an international commission on the Holocaust in Romania, headed by Elie Wiesel, which released a 400-page report in 2004. As many as 380,000 Jews and thousands of Gypsies were killed in the Holocaust in Romanian-occupied territories.

The U.S. Helsinki Commission praised the monument.

"After decades of denying or minimizing its past with respect to Romania’s role in the Holocaust, the unveiling of the monument builds on the significant strides made over the last few years in Romania’s recovery of its true history," said Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.). "I applaud Romania’s leadership for the progress they have made in acknowledging Romania’s wartime role in this unspeakable tragedy."

Cardin, with U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), chairs the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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