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Romania Requires Holocaust Lessons

January 5, 1999

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Romania has introduced mandatory Holocaust studies in schools and universities to remind students of the ``savageness of the modern world,″ an education official said Tuesday.

``The education process has to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust tragedies,″ said Mariana Margarit, a spokeswoman for the Education Ministry.

Students from elementary school to university will study the Holocaust as part of general history or more specific courses on history, literature, art and psychology.

Romanian teachers will undergo special training in Israel to teach the courses, which will begin in a few months. The ministry also plans to organize periodical trips for Romanian students to Israel, Margarit said.

Professors at the Center of Historical Studies of the Jewish Community in Romania saluted the ministry decision, saying it ``will enlighten the last five decades of dark communism.″

``The Holocaust theme was taboo during communism, and the last years of the communist dictatorship were entirely anti-Semitic as so many Jews left Romania,″ said Dumitru Hancu, a Jewish scholar and professor at the Center.

About half of the 800,000 Jews who lived in Romania before the war were killed. Hundreds of thousands of Romanian Jews left for Israel during communism, leaving only about 14,000 Jews in Romania now.

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