29 July, 2016

Call for articles on Roma Genocide Remembrance

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Category: Roma, Roma Genocide
Community Manager
7 am

On the occasion of the commemoration of the Roma Genocide on 2nd August, we are inviting you to submit short articles to be published on the No Hate Speech Campaign blog.

These articles should aim to educate and raise the awareness of the readers on the Roma Genocide and the importance of commemoration and recognition. Some ideas for possible articles include:

  • why it is important to recognise and commemorate the Roma Genocide for young people and for communities;
  • how remembrance activities such as Dikh he Na Bister support young people to learn from the past and to act in the present in combatting antigypsism in our communities;
  • stories and testimonies of survivors of the Roma Genocide;
  • (hi)stories of the movement for recognition of the Roma Genocide.

We welcome articles in English, but as well in your native language, especially in Romani. It is ideal that articles are accompanied by photos of videos. You can send your articles at youth.nohatespeech@coe.int.

Learn more:

2 August – Roma Genocide Remembrance Day

In May 1944, the Nazis started to plan the “Final Solution” for the “Gypsy Family Camp” in Auschwitz. The initial date for the liquidation of the “Gypsy camp” was planned for the 16th of May. The prisoners of the camp were ordered to stay in the barracks and surrounded by 60 SS men. When the SS men tried to force the prisoners out of the barracks they faced a rebellion of Roma men, women and children, armed with nothing more but sticks, tools and stones, and eventually the SS had to withdraw. The resistance of Roma prisoners gave them only a few additional months of life.

The Nazi also feared that an insurrection could spread to other parts of the camp and they planned the “Final Solution” on August 2nd. On orders from SS leader Heinrich Himmler, a ban on leaving the barracks was imposed on the evening of August 2 in the “Gypsy Camp”. Despite resistance by the Roma, 2,897 men, women, and children were loaded on trucks, taken to gas chamber V, and exterminated. Their bodies were burned in pits next to the crematorium. After the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945 only 4 Roma remained alive.

The fight for recognition

After the Second World War, hardly any attention was given to the fate of the Roma and Sinti under the Nazi regime neither by scholars nor by governments. During the Nuremberg trials there was not a single Roma witness and the Roma mass murders were only mentioned marginally. The Roma Genocide was often referred to as the “forgotten Holocaust” which seems still valid until today. It was not until the trail of Adolf Eichmann in 1962 in Jerusalem that the crimes against Roma under the Nazi regime were for the first time explicitly mentioned, proven and judged.

As of the 60´s a number of Roma and Sinti organizations begun the plight to officially recognize the Roma Genocide, mobilizing attention around the fate of the Roma during the WWII through actions such as the demonstration at the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1979 or the hunger strike in 1980 at Dachau. The demands presented before the German authorities were largely fruitless. For many years, the Roma Genocide was denied recognition based on the argument that the murders of Roma under the Nazi regime were not done on racial grounds, but rather for the Romani status as “antisocial” or criminal groups.

It was not until 1982 that the government of West Germany has officially recognized the Roma Genocide:

»The Nazi dictatorship inflicted a grave injustice on the Sinti and Roma. They were persecuted for reasons of race. These crimes constituted an act of genocide.«  Helmut Schmidt, Federal Chancellor of Germany, 17 March 1982

It is only in recent years and thanks to common efforts of Roma and non-Roma organizations and individuals that the Roma Genocide is gradually gaining official recognition:  in 2011 the Polish Government passed a resolution for the official recognition of the 2nd of August as a day of commemoration.

On 15 April 2015, a historical moment for the movement,  the European Parliament voted with an overwhelming majority to finally adopt a resolution which recognizes “the historical fact of the genocide of Roma that took place during World War II” and concludes “that a European day should be dedicated to commemorating the victims of the genocide of the Roma during World War II.” Of huge importance is the fact that this resolution also “underlines the need to combat anti-Gypsyism at every level and by every means, and stresses that this phenomenon is an especially persistent, violent, recurrent and commonplace form of racism.”

Dihk He Na Bister – Look and Don’t Forget Youth Event (Krakow, Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1 -5 August 2016)

2augustIn 2016, ternype International Roma Youth Network organises the unique youth event “Dikh he na bister” (Look and don’t forget) gathering about 350 young Roma and non-Roma from across Europe in Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Roma Genocide Remembrance Initiative aims at raising awareness among young Europeans, civil society and decision-makers about the Roma Genocide, as well as about the mechanisms of antigypsyism in a challenging context of rising racism, hate speech and extremism in Europe. With this initiative Roma youth advocates for the official recognition of 2 August as the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day to pay homage to the victims, heroes, survivors, and strengthen the identity based on the deep knowledge of the past.

You can read more about the event and the programme here.

The event is organised also with the support of the Council of Europe in the framework of the Roma Youth Action Plan and of the No Hate Speech Movement.

RIGHT TO REMEMBER: A handbook for education with young people on the Roma Genocide

Published by the Youth Department of the Council of Europe, the handbook is intended for youth workers in non-formal educational settings working both with Roma or non-Roma young people in order to raise awareness of young people about the Roma genocide, and to stimulate a critical reflection and debate about the causes and mechanisms of persecution, about the moral and human rights dimension of the genocide, and about the relevancy of Remembrance and Holocaust Education nowadays for young people.

You can read it online here.



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