WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum condemned Romania’s release of a coin commemorating an anti-Semitic church leader.
The coin honors the late patriach Miron Cristea, who led the Romanian church from 1925 to 1939 and was prime minister from 1938 to 1939.
Radu Ioanid, director of the International Archival Program at the museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, at the end of July asked that the coin be withdrawn from circulation.
Cristea was responsible for stripping about 37 percent of Romania’s Jews of their citizenship, The Associated Press reported. According to the Holocaust museum, he called the Jews “foreign elements” that must be removed because they “damage and weaken our Romania ethnic and national character.”
Ioanid said in his letter that the minting of the coin will contradict a law prohibiting the promotion of racist or xenophobic personalities and organizations.
National Bank of Romania spokesman Mugur Stet said the coin was part of a set commemorating the five patriarchs who have led the Romanian church since 1925, according to AP, and was not a special coin dedicated solely to Cristea.
The country’s government at times has denied that Romania exterminated Jews and Gypsies during the Holocaust, according to AP.