The United States has joined the American Holocaust Museum and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in pleading with Romania to stop minting a coin depicting Patriarch Miron Cristea, who had decidedly anti-Semitic views. He was the prime minister of Romania in 1938-39.
As Hitler prepared to tighten his grip over Europe and begin the mass extermination of Jews, Cristea succeeded in bringing a change in the Romanian citizenship law that resulted in more than one-third of the country’s Jews being stripped of citizenship.
The Romanian central bank recently began minting silver coins bearing portraits of patriarchs, including Cristea, in commemoration of the 125th year of the establishment of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which Cristea led between 1925 and 1939.
The bank stated last week it will continue minting the coin after having studied and rejected protest letters from the Washington Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of Holocaust in Romania.
"I am very disappointed by the decision on the part of the National Bank of Romania to issue the coin commemorating Patriarch Miron Cristea,” said Mark Gitenstein, the U.S. Ambassador in Romania. “Cristea's actions as Prime Minister - specifically his role in the revocation of citizenship for over 225,000 Romanian Jews - cannot be ignored,"
ADL national director Abraham Foxman said he was “shocked and disappointed” at the bank’s decision to honor Cristea, and he asked Romanian President Trajan Basescu to include information about Cristea’s anti-Semitic policies.