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Thursday, 28 December, 2000, 23:17 GMT
Jewish museum attacked in Bucharest
Bucharest synagogue
Exhibits were smashed by two men searching for "human soap"
Two men have vandalised the Jewish History Museum in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, attacking a guard and smashing windows.

The men entered the musuem, which is housed in a former synagogue, early on Thursday morning, asking "Where is the soap made of human fat? Is there any Auschwitz soap?"

They punched a 63-year-old guard in the face and choked him, smashing windows and scattering exhibits on the floor, before leaving.

Sorin Iulian, the secretary-general of the federation of Jewish communities called the attack "an unprecedented act of hooliganism, with anti-Semitic overtones".

Investigators are trying to identify the attackers.

"Until last summer, we did exhibit a case of soap made of human grease in the Nazi concentration camps," Mr Iulian said, but he added that it was withdrawn amid doubts about its authenticity.

About 800,000 Jews lived in Romania before World War II, but half of them perished under the regime of Marshal Ion Antonescu, which was allied with Nazi Germany.

Others died after being deported to the former Soviet Union.

Only 12,000 Jews, most of them elderly, now live in Romania.

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