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August 11, 2022

 

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Lada Viková: Paťiv le Romenge, save has marde le holokaustoha - Honor to the Holocaust victims of Romani origin

2.8.2022 17:37
Anna Maria (Settela) Steinbach (23 December 1934 – 31 July 1944), a Sinti girl who was murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz. (PHOTO: Beeldbank WO2)
Anna Maria (Settela) Steinbach (23 December 1934 – 31 July 1944), a Sinti girl who was murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz. (PHOTO: Beeldbank WO2)

Roma Holocaust Memorial Day on 2 August commemorates the biggest massacre of imprisoned Romani people during the Second World War. On the night of 2 August and early morning hours of 3 August 1944, the murder of all the remaining prisoners in what was called the "Gypsy Camp" at Auschwitz II-Birkenau took place, numbering anywhere between 3,000 and 4,000 people.

Those murdered were children, the elderly, the ill and the infirm. However, the testimonies of survivors (those who were transported elsewhere at the last possible moment) inform us that people were also murdered there who could also have left as "able-bodied" persons in the transport, but who preferred to remain behind with their children and infirm loved ones.

These people did not leave for the better conditions that were being promised to them, even though they were able to do so. What was it like for them to make that decision?

They may have hoped that since they had already been left alive in the camp for so long, those in charge might not want to kill them - but they also might have anticipated that their deaths awaited them in that place. The anguish and the hardship that they had already endured would have made that perfectly clear: hunger, disease, loss of their loved ones, beatings and humiliations from the guards, and the medical experiments performed on some of them.

They had also been the eyewitnesses to the murder and incineration of large groups of prisoners in the gas chambers. Their camp, as is known, was near the crematorium, so they were some of the first to immediately learn of the mass executions.

Suddenly they were given an opportunity to leave, but they did not. It is those who could have left, but did not, whom I am thinking of first and foremost today.

We can imagine what the last moments of what was called the "Gypsy Camp" were like. Those who escaped at the last moment, as if by some miracle, have told the story.

One such person was MUDr. Rudolf Weiskopf (who later took the surname Vítek), the author of what is probably the most comprehensive memoir about these events. He was brought to what was called the "Gypsy Camp" along with others as a doctor of Jewish origin and was himself a prisoner.

When recalling the moments that preceded the murder of the camp prisoners, he describes his certainty that his own death was imminent: The Nazis nevert wanted to leave any eyewitnesses alive. The day the Romani prisoners were taken to their deaths is one he remembered in great detail even years later, as if the events had been deeply engraved in his memory.

He described that day as an unusual one: The last big transport of Romani people to be used for forced labor was sent away. More than 3,000 of those who had declared themselves able-bodied were transported.

The atmosphere of their leave-taking, however, lasted an exceptionally long time. The train that the entire transport was meant to board was stopped on the track next to the camp.

Those leaving boarded the train but then, for the next several hours, were able to disembark and bid their loved ones farewell again and again through the barbed wire, and to receive bottles of drinking water and other small tokens from them. The electricity running to the barbed wire fencing was not turned on.

It was not until 3 PM that the doors of the train closed and the wagons were set into motion. About one hour later, the prisoners who were left behind learned that their death sentences had been pronounced.

The worst moments were recalled by MUDr. Vítek as follows:  "A big pack of SS in heavy boots rushed into the camp, occupied the main road, and another group of them occupied both sides of the barracks by the barbed-wire pens. Another division brought in heavy machine guns and readied them to be used everywhere. Around 5 PM a long column of automobiles drove up, as did many SS soldiers on motorcycles armed with submachine guns. Simultaneously a horde of SS careened into the camp, heavily intoxicated, yelling and behaving as if they were insane."

MUDr. Vítek also testified that the Romani victims, before they were executed, did their best to defend themselves, but their drunken executioners proceeded even more brutally when they did so. Using the most abusive violence, they put the Romani prisoners onto trucks against their will and drove them to the crematorium.

"Strong divisions of furious murderers invaded the cell blocks. They were as bloodthirsty as wolves, they beat the Gypsies mercilessly, the debilitated men and the weeping women, they began tearing babies who were shrieking in terror from the adults' arms and then throwing them at the parked vehicles. They tried to force the adults out into the parking lot. The Gypsies were trying to defend themselves, the SS shouted mercilessly, roaring terribly, cursing dirtily, pushing the Gypsies out of the barracks, beating them indiscriminately with the butts of their guns, with heavy nightsticks and carabiners, and pushing them into the automobiles. [...] Once the first vehicle was full it set off, followed by motorcycle patrols of SS with submachine guns at the ready. When the first full vehicle left through the camp exit and turned toward the crematorium, an indescribable panic erupted throughout the camp as a whole. Everybody was screaming, weeping, the women tore their hair out, the children were bawling, it was horrible. The Gypsies had attempted to resist, but suddenly they all understood the end was near. The women had already lost their voices [...], they were biting, striking everybody around them, scratching, but against the unbridled, violent advance of those healthy, strongly-armed executioners, whipped up by their Nazi fanaticism and by alcohol, the women were helpless." (Vítek pp. 30-31)

At the last moment, one of the Nazi physicians managed to persuade Mengele to at least save the other doctors who had been imprisoned there. Thanks to that, one of them decided to record his recollections of that Romani suffering so we can not only remember those moments full of horror, but also imagine what they were like.

In his testimony, MUDr. Vítek also described the last three victims of the massacre: Girls, practically still chldren, two of whom had hidden beneath their straw mattresses from the rampaging murderers and one of whom hid in a sewage pipe. They were not apprehended until nighttime and were taken in the morning to be executed by firing squad.

We must dedicate particular remembrance to their tortured young lives: They made an effort to save themselves, but the Nazis could not identify with their bravery and preferred to uphold their own sense of consistency and order. At the same time, it is correct to also remember the other Romani victims who died in other camps, during the death transports, or while escaping, or who were murdered by special commandos in their own countries.

It is naturally appropriate to recall that at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, those who were so brutally murdered that night were above all children and the infirm. It is also necessary to think about those who could have left, but who preferred to stick with their loved ones till the end, to support them.

In their cases, we can ask whether their deaths were necessary. If they had joined the transport, some could have survived and there would not have been so many victims.

From the perspective of statistics, that is apparently the case, but if we view this from the timeless perspective of eternity, their deaths are of great importance to us. They are a sacrifice that clearly testifies to the bonds of family, strong ties that even the threat of death cannot put asunder.

Their deaths testify to their genuine love, which never betrays the beloved. They testify to their deep humanity and inner strength, despite the tortures they were still undergoing at that very moment.

Honor to their memory!

Here it is appropriate to say not just Ma bisteras! (We will never forget!), but also Leperas! (We remember!). From that perspective, there is great hope for our society - a memorial is being built at Lety u Písku, where pupils and students, guided by professional instructors, will be able to learn about the Holocaust of the Roma and these horrors in 2023.

Paťiv le Romenge, save has marde le holokaustoha

Maškarthemutno ďives sar leperipen pro holokaustos pro Roma hino andro dujto augustos u leperel e raťi, kana has murdarde andro koncentračno taboris jekhbuter romane nipi tel o dujto baro mariben.

Raťi maškar dujto the trito augustos andro berš 1944 murdarde andre sar phenenas romano lagros, savo has andro Auschwitz II-Birkenau vaj trin abo štar ezera romane dženen. Has oda o manuša, save na birinenas te kerel buťi, phure či nasvale u tiš o čhavore. Has maškar lende, sar leperenas o manuša, so kada predžiďile (ola, so mek odari gejle andro agorutno momentos het), tiš ajse manuša, save šaj gejle andro transportos sar „ajse so mek birinen te kerel e buťi“, kajča varesave kamenas te ačhel paš pengeri famiľija, paš o čhavore, abo paš ole, so imar na birinenas. Na gejle the avka, hoj šaj gejle – pro (sar lenge phenenas) feder than. So lenge avlas pre goďi, te pal kada duminenas? Šaj phenenas penge, kaj te len mukhle imar ajci andro taboris, ta len na kamen te murdarel, aľe tiš šaj užarenas, hoj len odoj murdarena savoren. Imar oda, sar pharo o dživipen odoj has: bokh, nasvaľipena, mule manuša khatar lengere fameľiji, mariben the baro bibachtaľipen le bacharendar, o doktora probinenas pre varesave manuša medicinska eksperimenti. Tiš dikhenas, sar murdaren le manušen the labaren but dženen andro khera le gazoha. Lengero taboris – sar imar džanas – has paš o krematorija, u jon pal oda, kaj odoj murdaren jekhvareste buter dženen, džanenas sar perše. Ňisostar ňič lenge phende, hoj šaj džan odari het, no jon na gejle. Pre ole, save šaj gejle het, no ačhile, adaďives gondoľinav nekhbuter.

Šaj amenge avel anglo jakha, sar oda has akor, kana o romano taboris avle te murdarel avri. Vakeren pal oda ča ola, save varesar predžiďile. Jekh lendar has o MUDr. Rudolf Weiskopf (paľis les vičinenas Vítek), jov nekhbuter pal kada džanelas te leperel. Andro romano taboris, sar les vičinenas, les bičhade mek avre manušenca sar doktoris, savo has Čhindo. Has odoj tiš sar trestancos. Andro leperipen anglal oda, sar murdarde sa manušen andro taboris, irinel, kaj paťalas, hoj odoj tiš merela: o nacista na kamenas, te pal oda, so odoj kerenas del vareko e duma. Pre oda ďives, kana ile le romane trestancen pro meriben the pal o but berš peske leperelas igen mišto – sar te leske ačhiľa savoro but zorales pre goďi. Oda ďives has, sar irinelas, na makarsavo: džalas het agorutno transportos, kaj has o Roma, so len ľidžanas  het pre buťi. Has andre vaj 3 000 romane manuša, save phende, hoj birinen mek te kerel e buťi. 

But penge o manuša jekh avreha mangenas, te del o Del, kaj pen mek pale dikhen. E mašina, andre savi o transportos džalas, has pre šina paš o taboris. Ola, so džanas het, gejle andro vagoni, no mek buter ori šaj lendar avnas avri, u pale the pale šaj džanas kija trastuňi bar pašal o taboris, te phenel mek peskere manušenge, so lenge has pro jilo, te lel lendar či varesavo caklos le paňeha, abo vareso cikno, so len denas. Andro trasta na has e elektrika. Trine orendar pal o dilos phandle o vudara andro vagoni u e mašina odgejľa. Imar jekh ora pal kada o trestanci džanle, hoj len kamen savoren te murdarel. O Rudolf Vítek pre kada leperelas:

„Andro taboris sigaha avle but SS, has upre urde sar andro mariben, terďonas pro angluno drom andro taboris, u aver gejle pro duj bare seri pal o khera, kaj has trastuňi bar. Aver grupa odoj cirdľa phare kulometa u kisitinde len avka, kaj te viľinen, sar kampela. Vaj pandžengero odoj avľa bari kolona motora the but slugadža SS, save has but mate, gravčinenas u kerenas e bibacht.“

O MUDr. Vítek paľis mek irinelas pal oda, hoj o Roma pen na kamenas te del, oda mek bararďa le Ňemcengeri brutalita. Bara zoraha len marenas, chudenas the thovenas pro bare motora, save len ľidžanas kijo krematorijum.

„Andro ubikaciji zoraha avle but kala bibachtale murdaroša. Sar ajse rukone, so kamen te pijel o rat, marenas bijal o jilo le Romen, šukoren muršen the le džuvľijen, save rovenas, le čhavoren lenge cirdenas andal o vasta u čhivkerenas len pro motora. Tradenas le phuredere manušen, te korkore džan pro motora. O Roma pen na kamenas te del, o esesaka kernas bari vika, marenas len le pištolenca, bare drukenca, le korbačenca, džungales lenge rakinenas u tradenas len avri andal o ubikaciji pro motora. […] Sar has peršo motoris pherdo, maj džalas het u pašal leste džanas o esesmana pro motorki le samopalenca andro vasta. 

Sar peršo motoris banďarďa pal o drom kijo krematorijum, andro calo taboris o manuša daratar na džanenas, so sigeder te kerel. Bari vika, roviben, o džuvľija penge čhingerenas o bala, o čhavore but rovenas, has oda igen bari bibacht. O Roma pen na kamenas te del, bo imar džanenas, hoj imar džana pro meriben. O džuvľija imar našavenas o hangos […], danderenas, marenas pašal pende the randenas: aľe mujal zorale murša, mujal municija, savi ole murdarošen has, u mujal lengero nacisticko fanatizmos barardo la tharďaha našťi kerenas ňič.“(Vítek s. 30-31 )

Andro agorutno momentos jekh nacisticko doktoris mangľa le Mengeles, te arakhel choča le doktoren maškar o trestanca. Ča vašoda, kaj jekh lendar kada leperipen pre bari bibacht, savi has kerďi le Romenge, kamľa te irinel, šaj the amen leperas kada igen pharo ďives, u šaj amenge kada avel anglo jakha. O Rudolf Vítek andre peskero leperipen irinďa tiš pal trin ternore čhaja, save ačhile andro taboris u garude pen: duj lendar tel o štroki, u jekh has garuďi andre kanalizačno rura. Rakhle len mek oja rat, tosara len ľigende pro than, kaj len viľinde. Pre lengero terno dživipen tiš kampel te leperel la paťivaha: kamenas te dživel, o nacista has bijal o jilo, dikhenas ča slugadžike reguľi the te avel sa kerdo mišto. Paš kada tiš leperas pre aver romane manuša, save čore mule andre aver tabori, andro transporti, save len ľidžanas pro meriben, abo has murdarde, sar kamenas te denašel, či len murdarde špecijalna komandi andre thema, kaj dživenas. Tiš kampel pale the pale te leperel, kaj andro Auschwitz II-Birkenau oja raťi murdarenas le čhavoren the manušen, so imar na birinenas. Tiš kampel te gondoľinel pal ola, save šaj gejle het, aľe jon ačhile paš e famiľija dži andro agor, te len den zor. Šaj duminas, kaj avka mule buter manuša, jon šaj na kample te merel, bo andro transportos varesave šaj predžiďilehas. Te the jon odgejlehas,  na mulehas ajci džene. Kada hin e statistika, no te dikhaha beršenca pale, lengero meriben hin predal amende sar zoralo mementos. Sikhavel, sar pen o fameľiji kamenas, mujal o meriben ačhile jekhetane. Kada has čačo kamiben, savo ňič na phagľa. Kada sikhavel ole manušengeri zor, e paťiv, savi len has, lengero dživipen has jekh bibacht, kaj ča jon mek the akor paš peste ačhenas.

Paťiv savore dženenge!

Hin paťivalo te phenel na ča Ma bisteras! (Nezapomínejme!), no tiš Leperas! (Připomínejme!). Hin mišto, kaj andro Lety u Písku avla baro Ma bister!, te kaja nacisticko bibacht nane ňikda šoha bisterďi. Imar andro berš 2023 odoj o študenta le profesijalnone lektorenca pal kada sikhľuvena.

 

Lada Viková, translated from the Czech by Gwendolyn Albert
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2.srpna, History, Holocaust, Památný den romského holocaustu



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