Ladies and gentlemen,
The International Conference „ Future of Memory: the National Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust in Romania” is the second event of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, addressing the topic of combating anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and all forms of intolerance, thus marking the special importance Romania attaches to this issue which represents one of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council’s priorities.
Today’s event adds to the one I opened nearly one month ago, in Brussels, it focuses on promoting one of the most important projects currently at national level, the opening of the National Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust in Romania.
As you undoubtedly know, Romania exercised the chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This experience has shown that additional measures are needed at national level both to promote Holocaust education and to establish in the public awareness of the Romanian society some elements related to Romania’s responsibility in the Holocaust events and the memory of the Holocaust victims in Romania.
The project I mentioned, the opening of the National Museum of the Jewish History and the Holocaust in Romania, aims at the ambitious objective of contributing to the promotion of Holocaust education at the level of the entire Romanian society.
All relevant decisional actors from government sector to local authorities, Jewish community, and international partners are involved in accomplishing this project which had and will further have the full support of the Romanian Government.
I take this opportunity to greet the presence at today’s event of the representatives of some of the most important memorial museums whom I thank for being here today and for their participation in this event, especially for their constant support and involvement in the project of opening the National Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust in Romania.
This museum will be devoted to the history, culture and traditions of the Jewish communities and we want it to become a landmark for the understanding and awareness of the contribution of Jewish communities from Romania to the progress of the Romanian society along history.
We know that your schedule today includes a visit to the exhibition devoted to a Romanian honoring us, Viorica Agarici, a hero in two countries, bridging two religions, who proved the highest degree of humanity and great courage, helping the Jewish survivors of the “Death Train” after the Iasi Pogrom. Viorica Agarici was declared by the State of Israel as a righteous among the nations, and a tree in her memory was planted on the Alley of the Righteous at the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem.
At the same time, we intend to present the Viorica Agarici project at a permanent museum exhibition at the Roman Railway Station, where on July 3, 1941, despite the military orders, she requested the wagon doors to be opened, to help the dying or wounded Jews, the survivors of the Iasi pogrom, deported with the ” death train ” to the Calarasi camp, thus saving the lives of many people who would have died of asphyxiation and dehydration.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As I have previously mentioned, the fourth pillar of priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, Europe of Common Values, covers issues related to the effective fight against racism, intolerance, xenophobia, populism, anti-Semitism and the deterrance of hate speech.
In the current European context, marked by the worrying rise of intolerance phenomena, this event of the Romanian Presidency seeks to explore the ways in which such phenomena can be combated.
Memorial museums play a particularly important role in this respect, as they mix in an optimal way educational, memorial, academic and commemorative valences in the fight against denial and minimization of the Holocaust and thus they contributes to building the collective memory of the members of a society .
The recent results of the European polls show us that the anti-Semitism is a growing problem in the European societies. The members of the Jewish community in several European states are facing discrimination in school, at job, in online space, in media and in politics, they fear for their safety and their family’s safety, and avoid publicly displaying symbols which could identify them as Jews. The Jewish synagogues and cemeteries often fell victim to acts of vandalism and destruction.
Combating such developments requires unequivocal and determined measures at national level. Opening some memorial Holocaust musems is part of these measures, being able to influence public perception building about the Holocaust!
Ladies and gentlemen,
History must be known and assumed. Our duty of honour is to fight on the common front against any forms of intolerance on ethnic or religious grounds.
In this respect, I deem that the involvement of Jewish communities in the measures envisaged to combat anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial / minimization are absolutely necessary for the development of effective solutions to combat this phenomenon. In this respect, I welcome the substantial involvement of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania in the project of opening the future National Museum of History of the Jews and the Holocaust in Romania. I welcome the presence of the President of the Federation, Mr. Aurel Vainer, at today’s event.
I especially appreciate the constant support that the Federation has granted to all those governmental projects that are directed towards combating the Holocaust minimization and are devoted to the commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust in Romania.
We are backing the sharing of the more than ten –year experience accumulated by Romania in the process of assimilation and cultivation of the values represented by the International Alliance for Holocaust Remembrance – creation of institutions at national level, scientific study of the Holocaust phenomenon in Romania, commemoration of the victims.
We want Romania’s efforts in the field of Holocaust education, research and memory to be a point of reference for the states in the region andat international level. We also want Romania’s ambitious projects in this field to be materialized.
Events such as the one held today, contribute both to assuming the historical past and to avoiding future tragedies by promoting tolerance and counteracting the extremist discourse.
I would like to thank you for attending this event today and to wish every success to the conference panels!