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Mayor apologizes for Nazi uniform

Constanta’s mayor, Radu Mazare, dressed up as an officer in the Nazi military at a fashion parade at a Black Sea resort. Constanta’s mayor, Radu Mazare, dressed up as an officer in the Nazi military at a fashion parade at a Black Sea resort. (Stefan Ciocan/Mediafaxfoto via Associated Press)
By associated press
July 24, 2009

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BUCHAREST, Romania - A Romanian mayor has apologized for dressing up in a Nazi army uniform with a swastika insignia, saying in an open letter yesterday that he is not a fascist or an anti-Semite.

Constanta’s mayor, Radu Mazare, 41, expressed his regret to people who were offended by his dressing up as a Nazi military officer for a fashion parade Sunday at a Black Sea resort.

He said the uniform was a reference to the film “Valkyrie,’’ in which Tom Cruise plays Colonel Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, the aristocratic army officer who was among those executed after a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in July 1944.

Mazare’s gesture attracted criticism in Romania and abroad.

A Romanian antidiscrimination group urged the general prosecutor’s office to investigate. In Romania it is illegal to display swastikas, and conviction can bring a three-year prison sentence.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel called on Mazare to apologize and resign.

“It would 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,’’ the center said.