2 August is the international day of commemoration chosen by Roma organisations to remember the Roma victims of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis.
This day is already being commemorated by the Roma community throughout Europe. Poland, Hungary and Ukraine officially mark 2 August as a national commemoration of the genocide of Roma. A number of other countries mark 7 March or 16 December.
Since the 1980s, the genocide of the Roma and Sinti has been increasingly recognised and commemorated in international circles. It remains, however, on the margins of the Holocaust narrative, generally unacknowledged by the broad public and not widely taught in schools. On 8 April 2015, the European Parliament filed a motion for a resolution which declares that a European day should be dedicated to commemorating the victims of the genocide of the Roma during World War II. The resolution recognizes the genocide of the Roma and also calls on member states to recognise the genocide.
The European Roma Rights Centre is commemorating the date by sharing an authentic photo from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collection each day on their Facebook page and on their Twitter account.
On the night of 2 to 3 August 1944, the Germans liquidated the so-called Gypsy family camp (Zigeunerfamilienlager) of Auschwitz II-Birkenau, murdering nearly 3000 children, women and men. At least 23 000 Roma were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau during the Second World War. In the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, in block 13, an exhibition is devoted to the extermination of the Roma and depicts the particular dimension of the Nazi genocide of the Roma in Nazi-occupied Europe.
IHRA and the genocide of the Roma and Sinti
The website www.romasinti.eu seeks to tell the personal stories of six young Sinti and Roma and their experiences of persecution during the Second World War. The exhibition was partially financed by IHRA’s Grant Programme.
The IHRA has a Committee on the Genocide of the Roma which aims to raise awareness about the genocide of the Roma under National Socialism. In September 2015 the Committee will present the results of their project to compile both an annotated bibliography of published material on the genocide of the Roma and an overview of organizations working on the genocide of the Roma and contemporary issues concerning discrimination. Both the annotated bibliography and the overview of organisations will be made available to the public on IHRA's website.
Photo: Roma and Sinti Genocide Remembrance Day 2014 at Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Credit: Marek Lach