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Slovakia marks Roma Holocaust

SLOVAKIA joined the rest of the world in marking the International Day of the Roma Holocaust on August 2.

SLOVAKIA joined the rest of the world in marking the International Day of the Roma Holocaust on August 2.

In Banská Bystrica people at the Slovak National Uprising (SNP) Museum laid wreaths and flowers below a memorial plaque with the inscription "Ma Bisteren!" ("Do not forget!" in Romany).

“The Roma Holocaust must be remembered because of the massive ethnic persecutions carried out against Roma,” Zuza Kumanová of the civic association In Minorita, co-organisers of the event, told the SITA newswire after the ceremony. “It is our duty to commemorate not only those who died but also those who were merely persecuted. It is our obligation to future generations to ensure that such events never occur again.”

The commemoration of persecutions against Roma during WWII, was organised as part of the Ma Bisteren project In Minorita. It was a joint project of the Slovak National Museum, the Milan Šimečka Foundation and the SNP Museum.

So far, at the initiative of In Minorita, seven Ma Bisteren memorials have been erected in Slovakia, at sites where the greatest atrocities were committed against Roma. The first memorial was unveiled in Banská Bystrica three years ago. Others have been built in Nemecká, Hanušovce nad Topľou, Dubnica nad Váhom, the village of Lutila near Žiar nad Hronom, at the Jewish cemetery in Zvolen, and in Slatinka.

State officials and representatives of the Roma community marked the day in Dunajská Streda on August 1.

“The Holocaust must remain a warning for current and future generations,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dušan Čaplovič, according to SITA. “This is why visits to Ausch-witz and other memorial sites dealing with the Holocaust have become an integral part of the history curriculum in Slovak elementary and high schools.”

The world marks the International Day of the Roma Holocaust on August 2. On that day in 1944, 2,897 Roma men, women and children were killed in gas chambers at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Some 21,000 Roma from Europe were killed at the camp during WWII.

The exact number of Roma who perished during the Holocaust is not known but the victims are estimated to have numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

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