Romania marks decision to make Holocaust and Jewish history part of school curriculum

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Romania, a former ally of Nazi Germany, on Tuesday marked its decision to make the Holocaust and Jewish history part of the school curriculum, with Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu saying facing up to a dark past was necessary for a strong democracy.

Romania was a German ally in World War Two until August 1944 and hundreds of thousands of Romanian and Ukrainian Jews and Roma were killed in areas it controlled.

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The EU state admitted for the first time in 2003 that it took part in the killings.

“I am among those who do not hesitate to talk about patriotism,” Ciolacu said at the ceremony to mark the new class in Jewish history and the Holocaust, which was approved in 2021.

“However, I believe that for a strong, democratic nation, patriotism also means not hiding the dark parts of history and those who created them.”

Lawmaker Silviu Vexler, president of the federation of Jewish communities in Romania who initiated the curriculum change, said the class was “the first real move to fully take responsibility for what happened”.

Far-right parties have gained ground across Europe. In Romania, which holds presidential, general, local and European elections in 2024, the ultra-nationalist opposition party AUR, which swept into parliament in the previous election, has been rising in opinion surveys.

Ciolacu’s Social Democrats and the Liberal Party, parliament’s two largest parties which form the coalition government, have said they are exploring the possibility of pooling their candidates in elections to counter AUR’s rise.

Between 1941 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews across German-occupied Europe.

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