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Pogrom Commemoration/ German Federal Commissioner: Society needs courage and strength to confront the past


Germany's Federal Commissioner for Jewish Life and the Fight against Anti-Semitism, Felix Klein, believes that every society needs courage and strength to confront its own past, underscoring that the Pogrom from Iasi, 80 years ago, was a "fundamental attack" on human dignity.

"We are here to commemorate those who were killed by police and civilian soldiers, with the participation of German soldiers. What happened in Iasi, 80 years ago, was a fundamental attack on our essence as human beings, on dignity. A sick ideology denied Jews the status of human beings, Romanian soldiers and civilians killed 13,000 men, women and children in the massacre and death trains, and uprooted their neighbours and fellow citizens from their lives that they have built for themselves in Iasi, where they contributed so many rich testimonies of the Jewish culture in this city. As a representative of the German government, I bow with humility and deep respect to the memory of those killed in the 1941 Pogrom and to the survivors," Klein said in a statement before Parliament, on Wednesday, on the occasion of a solemn session dedicated to the victims of the Pogrom in Iasi.

He pointed out that "Germany and Romania are painfully united by the war that was unleashed by Germany, the war of extermination against the Soviet Union that began a week before the Iasi Pogrom and prepared the ground for unleashed hatred, violence and anti-Semitism to lead to extermination."

"Everywhere the German army went, racism, hatred and death followed. Each destiny tells in its own way the unimaginable pain, the indescribable suffering and the systematic killing. How atrocious these episodes were, the way lives were destroyed, people got killed, cannot be put into words. However, we owe it to the victims and to ourselves to say these words and to prove them by our actions, to learn. Human dignity is not negotiable. Taking responsibility for the past and committing to take responsibility is also a commitment to human dignity and peace," Klein added.

The German official also mentioned that "memory obliges us to keep the past alive in the collective memory," the Pogrom from Iasi provoking us, every day, to live together according to the "standards of humanity."

"It concerns all of us today and tomorrow, and not just on such days of remembrance. No injustice, no disadvantage justifies insulting others, believing ourselves superior to other people, or physically attacking them. Standing aside when human rights are being violated is not tolerance. But this is precisely what happens during such times when in Europe we need to get along with each other and seek understanding between different cultures and religions. The community we all want to be in will flourish only if everyone's dignity is respected," Klein explained.

Germany's Federal Commissioner for Jewish life and the fight against anti-Semitism pointed out that Europe's core values include respect for democracy, equality and the rule of law, and the defence of human rights, including the rights of minorities.

A survivor, Michael Cernea, also spoke at the solemn sitting of the plenary session of the Parliament, in which the victims of the Iasi Pogrom, in June 1941, were commemorated for the first time in history. His shocking testimony was interrupted by much applause.

(Photo Source: BMI)