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Romanian ambassador, brother save Holocaust site from becoming parking lot

Andrei and Alexandru Muraru, who are not Jewish, teamed up to prevent a train station in the city of Iași from being turned into offices

An aerial view of Iași, Romania. Credit: Ruslan Paul/Shutterstock.
An aerial view of Iași, Romania. Credit: Ruslan Paul/Shutterstock.

Even many who have an extensive Holocaust education may know little about the massacre of thousands of Romanian Jews in June 1941 in the Iași pogrom.

Andrei Muraru, the Romanian ambassador to the United States, and his twin brother Alexandru, a historian, learned about the pogrom from their grandfather, who observed it as a 20-year-old. “He told us he saw rivers of blood coming from the police station,” Alexandru told the Telegraph. “The brutality of the killings surprised even the Germans.”

The death toll was reported to have exceeded 13,500 Jewish men, women and children. At that time, almost 45,000 Jews lived in Iași.

The Murarus, who are not Jewish, teamed up to prevent a train station in the city of Iași near the Romanian-Moldovan border from being turned into offices, and the adjacent courtyard from becoming a parking lot. Mass graves nearby memorialize the many Jews, whose corpses were thrown from train cars en route to death camps. (There has been a Pogrom Museum at the former police station on site since 2021.)

A monument erected in memory of the approximately 13,500 Jewish victims of a June 1941 pogrom in Iași, Romania, Oct. 26, 2011. Credit: Rgvis via Wikimedia Commons.

“An estimated 380,000 Jews were killed in Romania during the Holocaust, and the country has never faced up to its role in the atrocities,” the Telegraph reported. “But things appear to be changing.” For the first time this year, Romanian students will learn about their countrymen’s role in killing Jews during the Holocaust in a new, compulsory curriculum.

“A country without minorities is a country without a future,” Muraru told the paper, adding that he hopes the country’s Jewish community will grow.

“We in Romania,” he said, “definitely feel the absence of our Jewish minority.”

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