09 December 2014 Published in Romalitico Written by  Romalitico

The Forgotten Holocaust of Roma, 2 August 1944

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According to different sources of literature, there is an ongoing debate whether Roma during the Second World War were part of the Holocaust notion or “just another” trauma, like many other, past and present events. Nevertheless, the “Fotgotten” Holocaust of Roma (Samudaripen) is part of the Roma history which must not be in any case forgotten.

The forgotten Holocaust represents an elimination of about 220,000 Roma during Nazi period. It is difficult to show the actual number of victims due to the long denied chapter of the Holocaust, however, predictions are between 250.000 to 500.000 Roma. The fate of the Roma is similar to that of the Jews. German Nazis have easily persuaded the rest of the world by "proving" that the Roma nation is racially inferior to others by using the existing social prejudice against Roma. In such context, many Roma from the vicinity of Poland, Russia, Germany Hungary and other countries were deported to a concentration camp in Auschwitz – Birkenau where the Roma concentration camps were established. The difference with the Jewish camps was that Roma families were not divided; entire families with their children were kept together in those camps. Furthermore, it is discussed that the responsible person for the Roma camp was Doctor Josef Mengele who performed different experiments on the Roma population, especially on Roma children. Different testimonies of many children show that he behaved like a father, acting generously, tempting them with chocolates to his office where he performed all pH experiments, testing their endurance with a quiet death. Many Roma in this period, despite such persecution die of hunger, exhaustion and diseases (typhoid) etc.

The night passing 2nd of August to 3rd, 1944, the Roma camp is "wiped out." Special German SS troops bait Roma families in the gas chambers and take away their lives. In the book of Jitzak Arad – a survivor named Jacob Viernik describes the arrival of a large group of Roma in the camp Treblinka in the summer of 1943.       

"One day, while working beside a gate, I noticed how the Germans and Ukrainians make special preparations  ... at the same time the gate opened and more than 1,000 Roma came inside the camp. About 200 were men the rest were women and children.... All Roma were taken to the gas chambers and then burned…”

Today, after 73 years of this genocide there are still on-going discussions whether this really happened or not. Many of us have never heard about the Roma Holocaust. The history in our textbooks, encyclopedias emphasize the details of world wars, we celebrate the winners but forget the victims who truly deserve our respect and recognition.

In 2012, on the initiative of a Roma activist Nicolae Gheorghe, Resolution for recognizing the Roma Holocaust was drafted. Recognizing August 2 as an international day of the Roma victims during the Second World War. Some countries like Poland mark this day on a national level, many countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania organize different kind of events in respect of the victims. Nevertheless, the question whether the Roma politicians in the Republic of Macedonia will try to ask for an official recognition as well, it remains yet to be heard. Roma activists and the Roma population in Macedonia honor our Roma brothers / sisters who died during the Second World War.

 

In memory and eternal glory,

Team Romalitico

 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 02 August 2017 11:09

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