– As prepared for delivery –
Good morning. We are gathered here today to commemorate the Romanian victims of the Holocaust. This colossal act of barbarity and murder was unprecedented in scale. With certitude and determination, governments and people harnessed the terrible forces of hatred and intolerance into a destructive machine aimed at exterminating an entire people and culture. Genocide was its sole purpose.
This day also marks the anniversary of the forced deportation of Romanian Jews to Transnistria. This act, authorized by the Antonescu regime, began one of the most horrific phases of Romania’s history, not only for its Jews but also its Roma and other minorities. Hundreds of thousands of people perished. These victims were not faceless or anonymous. Each one was someone’s father, mother, son, daughter, friend, loved one.
We are here today to remember and to mourn these victims, to remember and to reject the barbarity of the Holocaust. Remembrance strengthens us. By remembering the horrors of the Holocaust, we can strive to prevent such atrocities in the future. For they should never be allowed to happen again.
It is a challenge for any democracy to come to terms with a legacy of unspeakable cruelty. However, we must resist the temptation to hide from difficult truths. As Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel has said, “to remember lends an ethical dimension to all endeavors and aspirations.” Remembrance strengthens our people and our democratic institutions. Today, we remember the horror of the Holocaust so that we may never repeat it.
Romania, I commend you for the steps you are taking to recognize this tragic chapter in your history. And I urge all Romanians, particularly the young, to immerse themselves in this history, and to never forget. Thank you.