Romania's president apologized for the deportation of thousands of Roma to Nazi death camps during World War II, the first time a government official has done so publicly.
President Traian Basescu also awarded the Order for Faithful Service to three Roma Holocaust survivors at a ceremony Monday.
"The authorities were merciless. They took the Roma from their homes, from the towns and army and sent them far away, to obtain a pure nation," Basescu said.
"We must tell our children that six decades ago children like them were sent by the Romanian state to die of hunger and cold," Basescu said.
More than 25,000 Roma - half of them children - were sent from Romania to extermination camps in the eastern Moldovan region of Trans-Dniester, which was then part of the Soviet Union. About 11,000 of them died there.