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Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 17:34 UK

Romanian mayor in Nazi dress row

Mayor Radu Mazare in the German uniform
Mayor Radu Mazare wore the German uniform at a weekend fashion show

A Romanian mayor has been strongly criticised by Jewish groups after appearing dressed in a Nazi uniform at a local fashion show.

Radu Mazare, mayor of Constanta, appeared at the event with his similarly dressed 15-year-old son.

The Simon Wiesenthal human rights centre called on Mr Mazare to admit his mistake, apologise and resign.

Mr Mazare said he had been inspired by the film Valkyrie, about an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler.

He added that the uniform was a German army one, not that of an SS officer. And, he said, he had attempted to cover up all the swastikas, although he said he had missed a very small one on the belt.

Dr Efraim Zuroff, a Holocaust historian and the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, expressed "insult and outrage" at the mayor's appearance.

In a letter to Mr Mazare, he wrote: "It would be hard to adequately describe the depth of the pain that your appearance caused, not only to Jews and other victims of Nazism, but to any person of moral integrity who knows the history of World War II.

"Today it is well-known that the Wehrmacht played an active role in the mass murder of European Jewry and many other innocent victims.

Mayor Radu Mazare in the fashion show
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre called Mr Mazare's appearance "an outrage"

"By dressing in a Wehrmacht uniform, you are expressing totally unwarranted support and nostalgia for an army which committed the most terrible war acts of genocide."

Dr Zuroff suggested Mr Mazare could make amends for his "incredible lack of judgement" by bringing an exhibition on the crimes of the German army to Romania.

Romania was a German ally in 1940 but switched sides just before the war ended.

An international commission chaired by Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel concluded in 2004 that the Romanian authorities had killed up to 380,000 Jews in territories under their control.

Nowadays, the Jewish community there numbers between 9,000 and 10,000.



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