Roma Genocide Remembrance Day

On 2 August, 2018, the Chair of the IHRA Committee on the Genocide of the Roma, Martina Maschke, and Committee member, Gerhard Baumgartner, attended the commemoration at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum to mark the day of remembrance for the victims of the genocide of the Sinti and Roma, on behalf of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

The commemoration at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum marks the day in 1944 when the last group of nearly 2,900 Sinti and Roma were killed in the gas chambers.

Among the speakers were Dunja Mijatovic, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Beate Klarsfeld,  famous for her involvement in the investigation and prosecution of Nazi crimes, and Beata Szydlo, Deputy Prime Minister of Poland. A deeply moving speech was made by Rita Prigmore, a survivor of Josef Mengele's experiments, whose twin sister died when Mengele attempted to change the eye color of the two babies. All the speakers warned against the dangers of nationalism, intolerance, societal exclusion and racism.

Austria was represented by Werner Almhofer, Austrian Ambassador to Poland, together with his wife. Also in attendance was Andrzei Tombinski, General Honorary Consul and leading Roma activist Marion Dworzack, her daughter Diana Sophia Maria and a group of young activists from Romano Centro as well as Christian Klippl and Andreas Sarkőzi, the chairpersons of the Culture Association of Austrian Roma.

The IHRA Committee on the Genocide of the Roma aims to raise awareness about the genocide of the Roma under National Socialism and seeks to increase the commitment of the IHRA to inform, educate, research about and remember the genocide of the Roma. The Committee also seeks to draw attention to the continuous prejudice towards Roma before, during and after the Second World War as well as to demonstrate the link between the history of discrimination and persecution and the present situation of the Roma.

In 2015, IHRA's Committee developed a unique bibliography and historiographical review as well as an an overview of international organizations working on historical and contemporary issues connected to Roma and Sinti.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research worldwide and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.

Martina Maschke with Marion Dworzack, Diana Sophia Maria and members from the Romano Centro. Photo courtesy of Marion Dworzack.