BUCHAREST (AP).- Romania's central bank has issued a special coin commemorating a prime minister and religious leader who stripped Jews of their citizenship before World War II. The coin has prompted protest from a director at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Radu Ioanid, who runs the international archives at the museum, said he was "shocked" by the bank's decision to mint the coin depicting late Patriarch Miron Cristea, who led the Romanian Orthodox Church from 1925 to 1939 and was prime minister from 1938-1939.
The patriarch was responsible for revising the citizenship law, stripping about 225,000 Jews or 37 percent of the Jewish population of their Romanian citizenship, Ioanid said.
A spokesman for the National Bank of Romania, Mugur Stet, said Monday that the coin was part of a collectors' series of five, minted in silver, memorializing the five patriarchs who have headed the Romanian Orthodox Church since 1925.
Some 300,000 Jews and Gypsies were killed in Romania during the Holocaust. Today, the country has only 6,000 Jews.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.