The Romanian government has been praised for making it illegal to deny the Holocaust, with Jewish groups urging other European countries to follow suit.

President Klaus Iohannis last week introduced the new law, with punishments of up to three years in prison for Holocaust denial and the promotion of the fascist Legionnaires’ Movement. 

Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu meeting with Adolf Hitler in June 1941.Ubz: Adolf Hitler geleitet seinen rumänischen Gast nach dem Empfang an den Kraftwagen. In der zweiten Reihe v.r. Reichsaussenminister v. Ribbentrop, daneben Generalfeldmarschall v. Keitel. 13.6.41              5903/41

Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu meeting with Adolf Hitler in June 1941.Ubz

Between 2012-13, a series of politicians, academics and historians were the subject of intense scrutiny, after appearing to cast doubt on the Shoah.

Lawmakers took action despite Romania already having a law prohibiting Holocaust denial, which dates from 2002, in response to the far-right’s growing admiration of Gen. Ion Antonescu, a pro-fascist dictator who sent 280,000 Jews to their deaths, and who was later executed for war crimes.

Far-right elements had however interpreted the 2002 law as relating only to actions in Germany, so the new law was drafted, with a wider scope.

World Jewish Congress welcomed the initiative as welcome good news, following longstanding grievances about the country’s failures to restitute Jewish property.

WJC President Ronald Lauder said: “We urge other European leaders to show the same kind of bold leadership and send a clear message: that fascists and Holocaust deniers are not only committing morally reprehensible acts, but also crimes punishable by law.”