Commemorations for the victims of the Roma Holocaust were held on the occasion of Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day, in remembrance of the murder of 2,897 Roma men, women and children in the gas chambers at the notorious Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp one night in early August 1944.
Prime Minister Robert Fico and Government Proxy for Roma Communities Peter Pollák, together with other political representatives, laid wreaths at the Roma Holocaust Victims Memorial in Dunajská Streda, Trnava Region on August 2. The ceremonial event was organised by the Institute for Romological Research, Methodology and Practical Application, the TASR newswire wrote.
In his speech, Fico stressed that it was mostly elderly and ill people as well as mothers with children who were murdered.
“I would like to publicly thank poet, publicist and Roma activist Jozef Ravasz, whose proposal served as a blueprint for the creation of the Roma Memorial in Dunajská Streda, made by the Sarközy brothers, the Roma artist blacksmiths,” Fico said, as quoted by TASR.
Ravasz, who leads the Institute for Romological Research, Methodology and Practical Application, said that the Roma Holocaust remained taboo in Slovakia and other countries for many years.
“It was distorted, with many facts about the extermination of this minority by Nazis and fascists during World War II being unknown, not only to the majority population but, unfortunately, also to many Roma,” Ravasz added, as quoted by TASR.
He also said that Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day needs to be commemorated in a similar manner as the Jewish Holocaust.
“The Roma Holocaust was forgotten for a long time, going unmentioned even in history textbooks. However these black spots of European history cannot be forgotten,” Ravasz added.
Another event was held in the Slovak National Uprising Museum in Banská Bystrica on August 2. It was organised by the museum and a civic association called In Minorita, in cooperation with the Ethnology Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciencies (SAV), the TASR newswire reported.
Ethnologist and Roma expert Arne Mann observed that Roma from the countries occupied by Nazi Germany were placed in a special “gypsy camp” within Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
“It was designed as a kind of scientific facility for Dr Josef Mengele, who engaged in various experiments on Roma women, including pregnant women, and twins,” Mann said, as quoted by TASR. “Taking this into consideration, we cannot be silent about these things any more.” said Mann.
The event is part of larger project entitled ‘Ma bisteren!’ (‘Don’t forget!’ in Roma language), which began in 2005 and is aimed at educating Roma and non-Roma about the atrocities committed against Roma communities during WWII, TASR reported.
Except for these events, the Interior Ministry and the Office of the Government Proxy for Roma Communities, under the auspices of President Ivan Gašparovič, organised a concert, at which famous Roma artists performed, TASR wrote.
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
5. Aug 2013 at 14:00