IHRA Chair speaks at Roma Commemoration

06.08.2015

On 2 August, IHRA Chair Mr Szabolcs Takács spoke at the commemoration organised by the Roma Civic Association (RPT) at the 'Roma Historical, Cultural, Educational and Holocaust Centre' in Hungary. 

Mr Takács stressed that remembering and facing up to the facts is an obligation and noted that the Roma community, which had undergone so many trials during the course of history, was an inexhaustible source of creative force. The full text of Mr Takács' speech can be read here.

The invited guests viewed the exhibition in the Centre presenting the history of the Roma, the genocide of the Roma, Roma culture, and works of art by Roma artists.

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.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.

Smaller groups of Roma were transported from Hungary to extermination camps already in the spring of 1944. After the takeover by the Arrow Cross Party on 15 October 1944, the organized deportation of Roma families to concentration camps in Germany started on 2 November 1944.

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 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.