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March 23, 2023

Merkel opens Roma Holocaust memorial in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened a memorial in Berlin to Roma (Gypsy) Nazi Holocaust victims, BBC reports.The memorial – a circular pool of water with a small plinth in the middle – is in the Tiergarten Park, near the Reichstag, the German parliament building.The unveiling comes after years of delays and disputes over the memorial’s design and its cost.Experts say between 220,000 and 500,000 Roma were killed during World War II.President Joachim Gauck and some 100 elderly survivors joined Mrs Merkel at the opening ceremony. They observed a two-minute silence around the pool as the triangular plinth was raised from below the surface with a flower on it. Speaking earlier in an interview on her YouTube channel, Mrs Merkel said: “It’s very important to me that we have a culture of remembrance. “Every generation must confront its own history afresh. And for that we must have suitable places that people can go to in the future, when the witnesses from the time are no longer alive.” Mrs Merkel acknowledged that the building of the memorial had taken a long time and entailed “many discussions”, and recalled that the memorial to murdered Jews of Europe had also taken more than 15 years to complete. The memorial has been designed by the Israeli artist Dani Karavan. A fresh flower will be laid on the plinth at the centre of the memorial every day. “Auschwitz” by Italian poet Santino Spinelli is engraved around the pool’s rim. A chronology of the Nazi extermination campaign stands next to the memorial.In 1982, Germany officially recognised the genocide of the Roma and Sinti – a related people who live mostly in German-speaking areas of Central Europe.The leader of the Central Council of Sinti and Roma in Germany, Romani Rose, was also at the ceremony. German newspapers on Wednesday pointed out that Germany turns down asylum applications from Roma from Kosovo, and some accused Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich of unacceptable discrimination when he referred recently to “increasing abuse of asylum from countries in the Balkans”.

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