The meeting expressly focused on World War II fascist Romania's Holocaust-era war crimes committed on Ukrainian and Moldovan soil and the failure of the Romanian government to accept full responsibility for their complicity with the Nazis.
Convened by Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Feldman and the Ukrainian Jewish Committee of which he serves as President, the conference brought together around 70 participants from Ukraine and Moldova, comprising a mix of Holocaust survivors, scholars and public figures.
The Romanian ambassador to Kiev initially accepted the conference’s invitation to come to the proceedings but at the last moment declined to attend. In contrast, there was official representation by the Embassies of Austria, Azerbaijan and Israel as well as MP’s from Ukraine and Moldova.
With the goal of bringing the full scope of World War II Romania’s fascist state-sponsored genocide to light, the conference examined Romania’s role in the Holocaust in Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union, particularly Moldova.
Romania’s ultimate failure to attend caused a missed opportunity for the Romanian Government to address their World War II-era war crimes.
“We are not demanding financial compensation from Romania,” Feldman stated. “They cannot bring their victims back to life. Even though the Romanian Ambassador did not attend the conference, we are pushing forward with this process until justice is achieved.”
'Complicity only second to Nazis'
The conference adopted a series of three resolutions which Feldman characterized as “a small first step of a long journey before us.”
The resolutions addressed the need for Romanian unequivocal recognition of its World War II genocidal actions against Jews, a call for an apology and the urging of the Romanian government to take constructive measures such as engaging in Holocaust education and constructing memorials.
Typically unpublicized, next to the Nazis Romania was responsible for the deaths of more Jews during the Holocaust than any other German-allied country.
During World War II, the Nazi-allied Romanian government was complicit in the murder of approximately 400,000 Jews, both on Romanian soil and in villages and forests throughout Ukraine and Moldova.
Furthermore, the Romanian government has been very slow to accept responsibility for its actions during the Holocaust, a reality which compelled Feldman and the Ukrainian Jewish Committee to convene the conference with the hope of pushing Romania to fully acknowledge and apologize for the country’s past.
Another goal is to take positive measures including conducting a comprehensive internal, state-sponsored investigation of its World War II conduct, erecting memorials both in Romania and Ukraine, development of a Holocaust domestic education curriculum and caretaking of mass graves of Jewish victims.