Romania to build Holocaust memorial, premier says

Bucharest - Romania will press ahead with plans for a national Holocaust memorial, Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said Monday.

Tariceanu said work would soon commence at the site in the centre of Bucharest, the capital, to commemorate some
400,000 Romanian Jews and Roma killed under a Nazi-allied regime during World War II.

"The Holocaust must not be denied or forgotten, and it must never be repeated," Tariceanu said in a written statement ahead of Romania's October 9 Holocaust memorial day, introduced four years ago.

The memorial is to use a design by Romanian-born sculptor Peter Jacobi, who lives in Germany.

It envisions a seven-metre high building with a glass roof and metal beams. Light and shadows are reflected on the floor of black, polished granite.

A Star of David sculpture is to be erected beside the building in addition to a wheel, which has symbolic value for the Roma minority.

"Construction in Bucharest of a memorial to victims of the Holocaust will start soon," Tariceanu said. He gave no specific date.

Romanian authorities insisted well into the post-communist era that what happened under the World War II regime could not be labelled part of the Holocaust.

In 2004, the government accepted the findings of an international panel chaired by Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel that implicated Romanian civilian and military authorities in 1940-44 in mass killings and deportations.

Some 280,000 - 380,000 Romanian Jews died in Romania and Romanian-occupied areas, and 25,000 Roma were deported, about half of whom died, the report said.

October 9 marks the start of mass deportations of Romanian Jews to a then Romanian-occupied part of the Soviet Union. Tens of thousands perished in so-called death marches into areas east of the Dniestr river.

Some 800,000 Jews lived in Romania before World War II. Most of the Holocaust survivors emigrated to Israel and about
9,000 Jews now live in the country. (dpa)