Romania’s Foreign Ministry (MAE) on Tuesday, the International Roma Genocide Remembrance Day, paid homage to all the Romany WWII victims.
“As chairman-in-office of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), Romania is attaching special attention to the memory of the Roma Holocaust victims. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes it is absolutely necessary for educational curricula to include the Roma genocide in the Holocaust period and to provide decent social conditions to the last survivors of the Romanian Roma deportation to Transnistria,” says MAE in a statement released on Thursday.
It adds that this year is the 72nd commemoration of the August 2, 1944 tragic events when nearly 3,000 Roma in the Auschwitz-Birkenau labour camp fell victims of the Nazi regime.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is strongly condemning any racist action, while urging the people to share the responsibility for outrooting prejudice and for fighting against negative discrimination and any extremist actions with an ethnic or racial overtones,” adds MAE.
It says the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) has a Roma Genocide Committee that deals with raising awareness of the genocide of Roma under Germany’s National Socialist regime and advocates the inclusion of a chapter on this issue in school curricula.
In a press statement released on Tuesday, MAE says representing it at remembrance events held at the Holocaust Memorial in Bucharest and coordinated by the National Roma Agency were Minister-delegate for Romanians Abroad Maria Ligor and State Secretary for Political Analysis and Parliament Alexandru Victor Micula.
Romany advocate Necula: Roma should be included in Holocaust Museum
Attendees of a Roma Holocaust remembrance event on Tuesday asked for the Roma to be included in the Holocaust Museum, the statutes of organisations dealing with Roma issues to be regulated and measures approved for the award of special annuities to deportees.
“There are very concrete things that the Roma, the Romany activists, demanded here. One regards the Holocaust Museum, which should include items on Roma. Likewise, a governmental decision is needed to regulate the statutes of the two organisations dealing with Roma issues – the National Roma Agency and the National Romany Culture Centre, which has become the Nicolae Gheorghe National Institute and that deals with culture and social issues. Thirdly, there should be compensatory measures for former deportees. Although entitled to annuities for having been deported, many of the beneficiaries do not draw them because the system ignores them,” Romany advocate Ciprian Catalin Necula told Agerpres on Tuesday.
He added that the Holocaust is a remembrance subject that has to be overcome so that no similar things will happen in the future.
“We have to develop consistent programmes that reflect social realities instead of imagined things. That means that when we intervene in various communities, irrespective of what they are, we have to base our intervention on knowledge of the community in question. I have very often seen projects that were failing to reflect realities; they were office projections of project promoters. This approach has been radically changed at the Ministry of European Funds. Now, we are demanding a priori analysis of communities. When application is made for a project for European funding for community-related issues, you have to have good knowledge of the community in question that is proved by an analysis, a research study,” said Necula.
Chairman of the Federation of Romania’s Jewish Communities Aurel Vainer said a new living history is needed built on this “continual dialogue for mutual knowledge and acknowledgement.”
“You have organised a successful event that remembers the Holocaust, for both the Jews and the Roma. I am convinced that history, even if it repeats itself – some theories would say in different forms – all the existing signals about today’s world, with extremism and terrorism, are surely signals that should get as many of us as possible to fight against such ideas and to carry on the ideas of good, cooperation, and enshrine in a really democratic development programme in Romania the thriving of all its inhabitants – Romanians, Jews, Hungarians, etc.,” said Vainer, according to Agerpres.
He also mentioned the importance of a Holocaust remembrance project that will get together all who have suffered from the Holocaust.
“I was a member on a board that was to bid for a Holocaust remembrance project. And I can remember quite will that there was a debate whether or not it should be a memorial for Jews only, or that it should include the Roma as well. The natural idea that all Romania’s Holocaust survivors should be represented by the memorial prevailed in the end,” said Vainer.
Chair of the Democratic Federation of Roma Nicoleta Bitu said she would not want to witness a Holocaust museum that does not include Roma.
“I think that the discussion over the Roma Holocaust is not about acknowledging the Roma, but a discussion leading to the soundness of the Romanian nation. Between memorial ceremonies we will have to do more, which means providing Holocaust education not only in Romanian schools, but also in the schools of politicians, in party schools where young politicians come to be educated but learn nothing about that; it should include a serious discussion of the image and symbol of [Marshall Ion] Antonescu in the history of Romania and the national identity of Romania,” said Bitu.