Forgotten Roma Holocaust
Exactly 65 years have now passed since the end of the Second World War. The war left its mark on the lives of millions of people, and millions more were the victims of mass murder. Certain groups of citizens were even singled out for annihilation; among these were the Jews and the Roma. The Jewish people chose a descriptive word for the greatest trauma in their history – the burning, or the Shoah. The Roma use a metaphorical expression – the Devouring – that is, Porajmos, or Samudaripen.
Since the early 1990s, the Roma have commemorated the Roma holocaust on the 2nd of August each year with a memorial service at the site of the former concentration camp in Auschwitz – Birkenau. The camp originated in 1942. Roma prisoners had a Z for Zigeuner (Gypsy) tattooed on their left hand along with a camp number. Roma from Czech Republic, Moravia, the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, Poland and the states of the former Soviet Union ended up here. Some 20,000 European Roma passed through its gates, the majority of whom found only death within. The camp was liquidated in 1944. Some hundreds of work-capable prisoners were shipped to other camps, and on the night of 2 August 1944 the remaining 2976 Roma men, women and children were murdered in the gas chambers. Approximately 21,000 European Roma deported to Auschwitz – Birkenau probably met a similar fate.According to some activists the Nazis killed 25 to 35 percent of all Roma living in Europe.
Despite the fact that 65 years have passed since the end of the war, the public still has very little information about the Roma holocaust. The subject of the Roma holocaust is still missing from the teaching of history in schools. For this reason the Roma Media Center (MECEM) has prepared a short 26-minute educational documentary whose goal is to make children and young people aware of the suffering of the Roma during the Second World War. The film was made with the support of the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic.