In 2016 Romania will take the lead of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Starting 2016 Romania will take the lead of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Starting 2016 Romania will take the lead of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). In preparation to this function, the Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest has invited a delegation from Cluj-Napoca to the commemoration of the Day of Victims of the Holocaust in Hungary on April 16, 2015. An article by Sorin Grecu, published by Ziua de Cluj.
The festivities hall of the Memorial Center of the Holocaust in Budapest was full, and the moments of remembrance for the holocaust victims in Hungary were truly emotional. Next to the relatives of the victims in the concentration Nazi camps and few of the survivors that were present, at the commemoration her excellency Colleen Bell, the ambassador of the United States in Budapest and Ilan Mor, the ambassador of Israel in Hungary, and, from the Hungarian government, state secretaries Szabolcs Ferenc Takács and Csaba Latorcai. Also, the Romanian ambassador at Budapest, Alexandru Victor Micula, participated at the event.
Because of the admirable researcher, professor György Haraszti, the president of the Holocaust Documentation Center Public Foundation, our city (n.r. Cluj-Napoca) could be represented by professor Marius Bucur, vice-dean at the History and Philosophy Faculty of the “Babes – Bolyai” University, lector Tamás Lonhart, from the same faculty and Dezső Adorjáni, bishop of the Evanghelical Lutheran Church in Romania. From the survivors of the Holocaust, the presence of Shlomo Graber was sensational. Aged 89, he was born in Transcarpatic Ukraine and settled, after the war, in Switzerland. After this – a rare thing happened – we could say that he has a biography of a movie hero: he was deported two times, first to Galicia, in 1941, when the first massacre of Jews took place, and afterwards in Auschwitz, in 1944. After all this suffering he endured, following his release from the concentration camp, he was almost deported a third time, to Rusia, by the Soviets.
Before the beginning of the event, professor György Haraszti declared exclusively for our newspaper, Ziua de Cluj: “Our Institute is the only one in Hungary that organizes activities regarding the Holocaust, and it’s official name is the Holocaust Documentation Center and Memorial Collection Public Foundation. During the year we have many internationally recognized events that commemorate the Holocaust, like this one. We engage in strong relations between Romania and Hungary, but with the rest of the world too. We have a documentation of the victims of the Holocaust in Hungary, and Northern Transylvania, and at this moment we have over 170.000 names written on the marble panels, and today we will write 1.500 more”. State secretary, Szabolcs Takacs, also declared that he is in favor of the candidature of Romania for the presidency of IHRA, therefore it will take the lead of this alliance. Professor Haraszti intervenes in this discussion “This is why the significant presence of the Romanian representatives is normal at this international commemoration, because Babes-Bolyai University is collaborating with us in the research of the phenomenon.”
In her speech, Colleen Bell, the ambassador of United States in Hungary approved the initiative of the organizers showing that “this initiative of honest and open speaking about these tragedies has to continue”, and Ilan Mor, the ambassador of Israel felicitated the Hungarian authorities for assuming the responsibility for the genocide that happened almost 70 years ago, also advising the xenophobes that “Israel won’t be silent anymore, because we have seen Evil and we have to be vigilant.” The University professors from Cluj, Marius Bucur and Tamas Lonhart also spoke, in their discourse, about the responsibility of those who were indifferent towards this phenomenon, contributing, through their indifference, at its growing ampleness all the way to the proportions known in history.
A very emotional moment was, nevertheless, the Kaddish prayer pronounced by rabbi Totha Peter Joel, when all the descendents of the victims, the survivors of the Holocaust and all the participant of the commemoration lighted a candle in front of the marble wall, on which the names of the martyrs are encrypted. They also put, at the bottom of the wall, the photos of their missing relatives. Shlomo Graber also impressed the audience to tears with the devastating story of his life. Ilan Mor said that despite his age he is still so present and so alive among us that “he refuses to become history”. At the ending a group of young students from the Hebrew “Lauder” school of music, enchanted us with a musical program.
We leave behind the passionate researchers from the Holocaus Museum in Budapest, reminding ourselves of what professor Haraszti said about the executors of the Jews and about those who tried, with all their power, to save them: “ They were killed with hate, but saved with love…”
Translation by Anca Măzăroaei
For the original article, and more photos by the author of the article, see the website of Ziaua de Cluj.
Fpr additional photos from the event see the photo gallery.