Survivors and descendants of Jews killed during the Iasi pogrom in Romania on Tuesday attended ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of one of the worst single Holocaust massacres.
"We are here today next to the Iasi Synagogue, the oldest in Romania. We are inaugurating an obelisk which is a monument to remember the thousands of Jews slaughtered here at the end of June 1941", the president of the Iasi Jewish community, Abraham Ghiltan, said.
Between 13,000 and 15,000 Romanian Jews out of 45,000 living in the city of
Iasi at the time, were brutally murdered on the streets and asphyxiated in "death trains" between June 28 and July 6, 1941, according to historians.
The Romanian pro-nazi regime of Ion Antonescu gave the order for the massacre with the complicity of German troops.
"This is one of the most infuriating massacres of the Second World War", Paul Shapiro, director of the centre for advanced studies at the Holocaust museum in Washington told the audience.
"The Iasi pogrom is very important in the history of the Holocaust. It is a mass killing that takes place in the view of the public. So this established for the Romanians and for the Germans as well the fact that it was possible to murder people in front of their neighbours", Shapiro told AFP in an interview.
The method was used again in lots of places in Eastern Europe during World War II, from Ukraine to Belarus, he stressed
Betweeen 280,000 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were murdered or died during the Holocaust in Romania and the territory under its control, accordingto an international commission of historians headed by the Nobel Prize for Peace, Elie Wiesel, himself a Romanian-born Jew.