(JTA) — A Romanian government minister who had denied the Holocaust spoke of the need to commemorate the tragedy at a ceremony in Bucharest.
Dan Sova, Romania’s minister for national projects and infrastructure, addressed a crowd of dignitaries on Oct. 9 in the Romanian capital at a ceremony held on Romania’s national Holocaust Memorial Day – a date marked officially for the third time since its introduction in 2010.
Earlier this year, Sova apologized for statements he made during a 2012 television interview in which he said that “no Jew suffered at the hands of Romanians” during the Holocaust.
“Commemoration of Holocaust victims should sensitize us to the tragedy and suffering of millions of people, but also empower us to firmly reject any xenophobic manifestation,” Sova wrote on his blog at the time.
Sova “has come a long way … after visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and numerous discussions with the founding director of MCA Romania, the Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism in Romania,” the center’s founding director, Maximillian Marco Katz, wrote in a statement. He said Sova seemed “sincere” in his regret.
“But there was something missing,” Katz added in his account of the ceremony: “The right audience to hear and to grasp the spoken words and to feel the sorrow expressed in the well-prepared speeches.”
He said that “unlike the first and second years of commemoration, there were no school students present at this event.” There were also “just a very few, maybe 10,” Holocaust survivors in attendance.
Historical evidence shows that Romanians killed tens of thousands of Jews, most notably in Iasi in 1941, butchering some 15,000 Jews in the streets. Sova said his statement was the result of his own “ignorance.”
Approximately 380,000 Jews were murdered in Romania-controlled areas during the Holocaust, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.