65th anniversary on the 2nd of August – Auschwitz-Birkenau

by Michael Smith

This year, 2009, sees the 65th Anniversary of the liquidation of the Gypsy camp, the so-called “Zigeunerlager” at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In reference to this the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma (Zentralrat der Deuschen Sinti und Roma) together with its partner association, the Stowarzyszenie Romów from Poland, is encouraging and inviting everyone to join them at the international memorial ceremony which will take place at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland on the 2nd of August.

The 2nd of August has become the most important day of commemoration within the international community of the Holocaust victims of the Romani minority.

The last 2,900 Sinti and Roma, who the Nazis had deported to the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, from all over Europe, were gassed on this day in 1944, not very long before the liberation of this notorious death camps by the victorious forces of the Soviet Army.

For the most part those that were gassed were the old and sick and mothers with their children.

Against this background the anniversary not only has a fundamental meaning for those directly affected, i.e. the victims and their relatives, but also for the European culture of memory as a whole.

In addition to high political and diplomatic representatives from a large number of states, delegations from national Sinti and Roma organizations from the whole of Europe are expected to attend the memorial ceremony on the 2nd of August 2009 at the former site of the camp – one of the largest burial sites of Sinti and Roma.

In accepting this invitation by the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, extended to you by its president, Mr. Romani Rose, and by your participation you would not only pay tribute to the last survivors of the Romani Holocaust – whose number is rapidly shrinking day by day – but also show your support for overcoming the racism and social disadvantage which Europe 's largest minority is still subjected to.

Let us use this as a loud cry to the world of “never again!” We must also not forget and we must remind the world that even after the liberation of the camps the survivors of our People were still not treated with any kind of dignity. In fact they were still, basically, treated as before. Many of them had to stay in camps even after because they had their German citizenship taken away by the Nazis and the new administration in the Federal Republic of Germany had no intention of making things any easier for our People.

Let us never forget!

© M Smith (Veshengro), 2009