Scrapbookpages Blog

April 2, 2012

Punishment for a Romanian Holocaust denier: a trip to the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC

According to a recent news article which you can read in full here, Romanian congressman Dan Sova will be punished for “denying pro-Nazi dictator Ion Antonescu’s responsibility in the Holocaust.”  As part of his punishment, Sova will be sent to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

Specifically, Sova said that “historical data show that a total of 24 Jews were killed during the Iași pogrom by the German army.”    I am not familiar with this “pogrom” but I am guessing that Sova minimized the horror of a German war crime in which more than 24 Jews were killed.

I don’t recall that the exhibits at the USHMM give the details of this little-known pogrom in Romania, a country that was an ally of Nazi Germany in World War II.  The exhibits at the USHMM are slanted toward American high school students who are the main visitors, and only the highlights of the Holocaust are presented.

According to Wikipedia, “In Romania, Emergency Ordinance No. 31 of March 13, 2002 prohibits Holocaust denial. It was ratified on May 6, 2006. The law also prohibits racist, fascist, xenophobic symbols, uniforms and gestures: proliferation of which is punishable with imprisonment from between six months to five years.”

Dan Sova is getting off lightly — he could have been put on trial for breaking the Romanian law against Holocaust denial and sentenced to five years in prison.  Instead, he will be forced to see the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. I doubt that Dan Sova will be reading my blog, but I am going to give a description of the USHMM so that potential visitors will know what to expect.

I spent two days at the USHMM in April 2000.  The exhibits might have changed since then, but I am sure that the building is the same.

Close-up of sculpture at 15th Street entrance to US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum is located in the heart of America’s capital city, Washington, DC, just off the Capitol Mall. The photo above shows the entrance on 15th Street. The main entrance is on the other side of the building on 14th Street.  I don’t know what the piece of sculpture represents, but it looks like a smashed swastika to me.

The brick courtyard in front of the 15th Street entrance to the USHMM, shown in the photo below, is named Eisenhower Plaza in honor of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe, who commanded the invasion on the beaches of Normandy, which subsequently led to the liberation of the Jews from the Nazi concentration camps in Germany.

View of USHMM from courtyard on 15th Street

A two-part modern sculpture entitled Loss and Regeneration, designed by Jewish artist Joel Shapiro, who was born in America in 1941, stands in the courtyard with one section near the sidewalk, and the other part near the door to the museum, as shown in the photo above.

The abstract black figures symbolize the destruction of European Jewry and the regeneration of the Jews. The first section of the sculpture is a house which has been tipped over and is now balanced precariously on the tip of one end of the peaked roof, symbolizing the loss of Jewish homes when the Nazis destroyed the shtetls, as the Jewish villages in Poland were called.

House in Tykocin, a Jewish shtetl in Poland

A plaque, dedicated to the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust, is on the ground near the uprooted house; it is engraved with a poem found in 1945, written by a child in the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). It was probably written in German or Yiddish, but the words on the plaque are in English:

Until, after a long, long time
I’d be well again
Then I’d like to live
And go back home again.   (more…)