Romania’s Holocaust Institute on Wednesday protested the appointment of a well-known journalist to the board of the country’s public TV station, saying the move is disrespectful to the victims of the Holocaust.
The Elie Wiesel Institute for the Study of the Holocaust said that Oana Stanciulescu is unsuitable for the position due to her criticism of a recent law that punishes Holocaust denial or the promotion of the fascist Legionnaires’ Movement with prison sentences of up to three years.
Her place on the 13-member board, approved by Parliament Tuesday, has generated strong reactions in a reflection of the difficulty Romanians have had in coming to terms with their history in the quarter-century since communism ended.
In a reflection of that turmoil, the party that represents the interests of ethnic Hungarians walked out of Parliament ahead of Tuesday’s vote, and the head of the Jewish community, Aurel Vainer, also protested.
Romania only began to commemorate the Holocaust in 2004 and some Romanians still doubt the Nazi-allied government’s responsibility and the extent of atrocities that happened on Romanian territory.
During World War II, about 280,000 Jews and 11,000 Roma, or Gypsies, were killed in Romania and areas it controlled as an ally of Nazi Germany. Holocaust denial refers to refuting Romania’s role in exterminating Jews and Roma between 1940 and 1944.
The legislation, which came into effect in 2015, also bans fascist, racist or xenophobic organizations and symbols, and promoting people guilty of crimes against humanity.
It’s only in the past couple of years that Romania has begun to prosecute the former prison commanders who ran lockups for political prisoners who had fallen foul of the communist regime, a cause that Stanciulescu champions.
Stanciulescu’s supporters respect her anti-communist views and her outspokenness on political issues.