Moldova, new to Holocaust remembrance, institutes a plan

Moldova's Jewish residents largely fled or were deported to their deaths during the Shoah, and its government has only marked Holocaust Remembrance Day since 2016.

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January 31, 2019 18:30
1 minute read.
Moldova's national flag is seen in central Chisinau, Moldova

Moldova's national flag is seen in central Chisinau, Moldova. (photo credit: GLEB GARANICH / REUTERS)

 
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WASHINGTON – The small Eastern European nation of Moldova was devastated in the Second World War, torn apart by its neighbors and occupied for decades afterwards.

But the landlocked country has begun in recent years to reconcile with its past and remember the Holocaust with formal, state-organized ceremonies.

Moldova’s Jewish residents largely fled or were deported to their deaths during the Shoah, and its government has only marked Holocaust Remembrance Day since 2016.

This year, the government expanded its commemoration efforts, orchestrating an elaborate series of events.

One ceremony at a monument to victims of fascism in the capital Chisinau featured figures dressed as Jews in Nazi-run ghetto garb – wearing grey coats and yellow stars – performing to the music of Schindler’s List.

A delegation of dignitaries attended, and was then taken to the Chisinau Jewish Cemetery, a 30-acre plot with over 40,000 graves that was badly damaged in the war but has recently been rehabilitated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research.

The nation’s parliament also hosted a roundtable to discuss Holocaust education and, according to its speaker, has for the first time “implemented its commitments” to remembrance, “determined to exclude all reluctance that prevented the knowledge of history and learning of its lessons.”

Paul Packer, US President Donald Trump’s appointee as chairman of the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, attended the ceremonies.

“The history of the Holocaust is our history,” said the speaker of Moldova’s parliament, Andrian Candu, in a statement. “Ensuring awareness of this at the level of state institutions and that of every Moldovan citizen is an achievement that we must strengthen even further. The time has come for us to learn that the fight against intolerance, antisemitism and xenophobia, discrimination and racism is an obligation for each and every one of us.”

Moldova faces a tense election next month that pits a socialist party aligned with Moscow against the ruling democratic party, aligned with America and Europe.

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