The anti-Jewish pogrom of January 1941 represents "an unprecedented outburst of anger and cruelty" in Romania's history and no political force or movement should be allowed to push us again "to slide into recklessness and intolerance" Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Ludovic Orban, leader of the National Liberal Party (PNL) declared, on Thursday.
"We are commemorating these days one of the most fatal and shameful episodes in the history of 20th century Romania - the legionary rebellion and the procession of crimes and lawlessness to which 80 years ago the Jews of Bucharest's dark times fell victim. The legionary rebellion, which marked January 21-23, 1941, the bloody end of the division of power between the Iron Guard and General Ion Antonescu, unfortunately turned the Bucharest Jewish community into a favorite target," Ludovic Orban said on the occasion of the Commemoration of the January 1941 Anti-Jewish Bucharest Pogrom, an event organized online by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania (FCER).
He recalled that more than 1,100 Jewish homes and shops were then looted, six temples and synagogues devastated and defiled, houses burned, families left on the roads, "but, above all, hundreds of Jews arrested and tortured, of whom at least 120 killed with a savageness the memory of which makes us tremble."
"This tragic moment, a product of fascism and anti-Semitism, was unfortunately only a foreshadowing of the great massacres that would follow in the same year and in the years that followed: the June 1941 pogrom in Iasi, with thousands of fatalities, the mass killings and deportation of Jews between the Prut and the Dniester, the genocide committed in Transnistria by the Antonescu regime. Although it is but one of the bloody moments on the map of mass anti-Semitic crimes between 1940 and 1944, the Bucharest Pogrom remains a fateful symbol and it doesn't merely mark a new bloody stage of anti-Semitism as a state policy, in the era of far-right regimes inaugurated by the royal dictatorship of 1938. The Bucharest Pogrom also means a milestone on the path of the Romanian society's sliding into a moral bankruptcy that allowed the Jewish population to become the target of systematic persecution, exclusion, violence and daily humiliation, and ultimately of genocide," Lower House Speaker said.
According to him, the Bucharest Pogrom represents, at the same time, "the bitter lesson of a history that, although it moves away from us, must not, under any circumstances, be forgotten".