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The appointment to a ministerial position of a politician who made comments denying Romania’s responsibility in the Holocaust has angered many in the country.
The centre-left government in Bucharest has come under fire from Romania’s Jewish community and from civic activists following the appointment of Dan Sova as the country’s new minister for relations with parliament, as part of the government reshuffle announced on Monday.
“It is embarrassing that a Holocaust denier is appointed as minister. We do not want to ask for Mr Sova's removal. We just say that his nomination could be considered as a moment of mourning in our history,” said Aurel Vainer, the head of the Jewish community in Romania.
The 39-year old senator drew criticism last March when he said in a television interview that “no Jew suffered on the Romanian soil during World War 2.”
Sova went on to say that in a notorious pogrom in the eastern Romanian town of Iasi, “a total of 24 Jews were killed by the German army.”
His statements drew harsh criticism from the Jewish community in Romania. According to historians, the 1941 Iasi pogrom, when Romania’s fascist forces allied with Nazi Germany murdered at least 13,200 Jews, is one of the worst pogroms in history.
Sova was dismissed from his position as spokesman of the Social Democratic Party, PSD, following his remarks and sent to the Holocaust museum in Washington by the party leaders.
Upon his return he expressed regret for having made, as he described it, “unclear statements” but he refused to apologize for his comments, saying he was misquoted.
Holocaust denial is a crime in Romania. However, it was only in 2004 that the country itself accepted the findings of an international commission that war-time Romanian authorities were involved in the Holocaust.
From 1939 to 1944 Romania was an ally of Nazi Germany and echoed its anti-Semitic policies.
Up to 380,000 Jews and some 11,000 Roma were killed or died of mistreatment in the regions under Romanian rule during the Second World War.
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