On August 2, 1944, approximately 3,000 Roma at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp fell victim to the Nazi regime. In Europe, around 500,000 Roma were killed in the events of the Holocaust.
In order to honor the memory of the victims, August 2 was declared the European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day by the European Parliament Resolution of April 15, 2015.
Under Law 124/2020, August 2 was created Romania’s National Samudaripen Remembrance Day. The word samudaripen means mass killing in the Roma language.
Later, Law 2/2021 passed to prevent and combat Antigypsyism.
According to the final report of the International Commission for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania, approximately 25,000 Roma of Romania were deported by the Antonescu regime to Transnistria. Of these, about 11,000 died.
President Iohannis: Stigmatization and discrimination of minorities must be severely sanctioned
President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday sent a message on the European Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day, underscoring that the stigmatization and discrimination of minorities must be “severely sanctioned.”
“Today we pay a pious tribute to the memory of the Roma, to the almost 500,000 children, women and men victims of the Holocaust. Entire families perished in this genocide, being subjected to terrible brutality. Our thoughts also go to those who survived the horrors and their descendants. This year, in Romania, we commemorate 80 years since the first deportations of Roma in Transnistria by Antonescu’s regime. Approximately 25,000 Roma were evacuated and condemned to live in inhumane and unsanitary conditions, deprived of food and compelled to do forced labour. Of these, no more than half had the strength to survive. The Romanian state has taken responsibility for this crime, a dark episode of our history,” said the head of state, in his message presented by state councilor Catalina Galer during a ceremony organized at the Memorial to the Victims of the Holocaust.
According to the President, “we cannot let the immense dramas these people went through, the humiliations they were subjected to and the traumas they suffered fall into oblivion.”
“The commemoration of Samudaripen keeps the memory of the victims alive, obliges us to remain vigilant and not allow racist, anti-Semitic, discriminatory or xenophobic messages and attitudes spread in the society. Every life destroyed in this terrible massacre should be regarded as our legacy that we must we take care of, but also a light that guides our steps on our European path,” added the head of state.
President Iohannis mentioned that Romania, like the whole of Europe, has been facing a difficult context for more than two years, generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the illegal war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, and during this period there were recorded “worrying” increases in hate-inciting tendencies, discriminatory and racist messages and behaviours, especially in the public space.
“The falsification, relativization or even denial of the Holocaust represent actions designed to intoxicate democratic societies, to make them renounce values and principles,” he added.
“Racist or chauvinist statements are unacceptable, and such attitudes and manifestations must be firmly rejected and condemned. We are going through complicated times and that is precisely why it is essential that the Romanian society stays united, offering an example of tolerance, acceptance, appreciation and respect for ethnic and religious diversity,” Iohannis said.
He highlighted that the Roma Holocaust requires greater attention, both at the European and national level.
“We have to make sure that the young and future generations know that during the Second World War the European Roma population was also persecuted and killed. It is also important that young people learn how the authorities at that time acted against its Roma citizens and subjected them to cruel and humiliating treatments, forcing them to endure hunger, cold and disease,” the President also said.
According to him, “the most important tool by which we can make sure that such reprehensible actions in history will never be viewed with indulgence remains education.”
“It is imperative that we make constant efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and hatred and to defend and promote fundamental rights, human dignity, freedom and democracy. Survivors’ stories of their harrowing experiences encourage and inspire us to be more supportive and open towards other cultures. The stigmatization and discrimination of minorities must be harshly sanctioned by each of us. We also have the duty to promote and cultivate respect and care towards fellow human beings. In today’s Romania, the members of the Roma community must not live with the fear that they will be subject to prejudices or isolated from society,” said the head of state.
The President also emphasized that it is essential to have an adequate legislative framework to prevent and combat any kind of discriminatory and xenophobic act, as well as the necessary tools to act against the marginalization of minorities.
“Romania is a model in our region, being among the first member states of the European Union to adopt a national strategy to prevent and combat anti-Semitism, xenophobia, radicalization and hate speech. On the European Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am convinced that the public central and local authorities will continue, with responsibility and energy, the steps made in taking responsibility for the painful past, and the Romanian society will strengthen its attachment to European and democratic values,” stated Klaus Iohannis.
PM Ciuca: Gov’t prioritises increasing Roma minority’s quality of life by inclusion
Increasing the quality of life of Romanian citizens belonging to the Roma minority based on active citizenship, socio-economic inclusion and capitalising on the Roma cultural heritage is a priority with the Romanian government, Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca said in a message on August 2, National Remembrance Day of the Holocaust against the Roma – Samudaripen.
“Today, we honor the memory of all the victims of the Holocaust against the Roma, one of the darkest chapters in the history of humanity. 78 years ago, on August 2, 1944, in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, the Nazi regime barbarically attacked several thousand ethnic Roma and Sinti. At the same time, we remember, with deep respect and compassion, the drama of the 25,000 Roma of Romania, who, eight decades ago, by order of the Antonescu regime, began to be deported to Transnistria, with the cold, hunger and diseases being fatal to 11,000 of them. The memory of the victims must remain indelible from the collective memory, and the atrocities that happened during the Holocaust must never be forgotten,” said Ciuca.
He added that taking on the traumatic lessons of history and condemning the guilty are part of the firm commitment to never allow such tragedies to happen again.
“The more we move away in time from the Holocaust, the greater the risk that silence and oblivion will settle over the suffering of the victims. That is precisely why it is essential that facts be researched and investigated, testimonies of the survivors disseminated, responsibilities assumed, so that the truth may be known by all,” underscored the Prime Minister.
The prime minister also mentioned the progress made by Romania in researching the history of the Roma, saying that the genocide of the Roma is still a marginal topic in Holocaust research, and that favours the perpetuation of denialist theses.
“Such approaches must be strengthened through educational curricula, awareness campaigns, adequate documentation of facts. Currently, both in the national strategy for the prevention and combating of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, radicalisation and hate speech in 2021-2023, as well as in the strategy of the Romanian government for the inclusion of Romanian citizens belonging to the Roma minority in 2022-2027, there are concrete measures to encourage education and research into the Holocaust against Roma, the promotion of Romany cultural heritage and Roma cultural identity, the creation of places of memory, combatting negative discrimination as well as anti-Roma speech, attitudes and incidents. Also, the Romanian government created by law August 2 as National Remembrance Day of the Holocaust against the Roma – Samudaripen,” added Ciuca.
He emphasised that the fight against anti-Semitism, extremism, xenophobia, racism and intolerance is a permanent responsibility and requires a continuous adaptation of the tools developed to counteract these wounds that threaten democratic values.
“Romania has the necessary resources and has demonstrated consistency in fulfilling this mission, which must be internalised by all involved and responsible actors – the legislation in the field must be properly applied, the history of the Holocaust must be known by students and young people, and the commemorative dimension must, in the future, be integrated with public actions. The difficult period we are going through, marked mainly by the illegitimate, unprovoked and unjustified invasion by the Russian Federation of Ukraine, brings back to attention the fact that democracy, peace and stability are values for which we must continuously fight, because the darkness of revisionism, extremism and hatred can always take over societies,” he said.
Ciuca gave assurances that the government is fully committed to promoting the memory of the Holocaust, combating anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia, supporting education and research about the Holocaust, respecting fundamental rights and freedoms, cultivating respect for human dignity.
“The history of the Roma has been marked by exclusion and negative discrimination, which has left deep traces, and our duty is to repair all these injustices and to campaign for a society of dialogue, inclusion and respect for European values and principles. Let us keep the memory of the victims alive!,” Ciuca concluded.
Foreign Ministry condemns the proliferation of hate speech against members of the Roma community
Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) paid tribute on Tuesday to the memory of the Roma victims of the Holocaust, voicing condemnation against any aggressive behaviours towards the Roma community.
“The MAE condemns the proliferation of hate speech against members of the Roma community, especially in the online environment, including amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the illegitimate, unprovoked and unjustified aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, MAE expresses its solidarity with the Roma victims of the conflict, support for the actions to manage the situation of the Roma refugees from Ukraine and firmly rejects any type of negative discrimination against the members of the Roma community,” MAE says in a press statement released on Tuesday.
According to MAE, “the suffering of the Roma in the Nazi concentration and extermination camps and their allies during WWII, remained, unfortunately unknown to the public for a long time.”
That is why, it is emphasised in the press statement, MAE backs up the national and international initiatives to promote education, research and commemoration of the genocide against the Roma.
First virtual museum of the Roma Holocaust in Romania, created by MNIR
The National Museum of History of Romania (MNIR) announces creation of first Virtual Museum of the Roma Holocaust in Romania, according to a press release sent to AGERPRES.
The project’s main objective is that of making the historic past from the Holocaust period known, and the accomplishment of this virtual museum to be an important source of information for the young Roma youth, for historians, researchers, students, as well as for the broad audience, the release adds.
According to the source, identification, selection, research, transcription, translation and digitization of documents and archival images are among the project’s activities. Furthermore, through the means of the survivors’ testimonies, the virtual museum will present the deportation of Roma in Transnistria during the Second World War.
The project is ongoing until November 15, 2022, and the website of the Virtual Museum of Roma Holocaust, which presents information in Romanian and English, will be launched at MNIR, on October 9, on the occasion of the National Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The virtual museum will be carried out by MNIR, in partnership with the “Ion Cioaba” Roma Cultural and Social Foundation, within the “Virtual Museum of Roma Holocaust”, initiated and coordinated by the foundation and co-financed by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund (AFCN).
Compiled from Agerpres