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August 16, 2022



Czech politicians commemorate Roma Holocaust Memorial Day - chair of the Pirates says racism has not disappeared and we must work on securing Roma their place in society

2.8.2022 13:12
Auschwitz (PHOTO:  Gabriela  Hrabaňová)
Auschwitz (PHOTO: Gabriela Hrabaňová)

Roma Holocaust Memorial Day was marked on social media by several Czech politicians today. Some of the first to do so were the chair of the Pirate Party, Ivan Bartoš and the chair of the "Mayors and Independents" (STAN), Vít Rakušan.   

Commemoration of the Holocaust and its Romani victims also appeared on the official social media channels of the TOP 09 party. Tuesday, 2 August, marks 78 years since the tragic night in 1944 when the Nazis annihilated the prisoners of what was called the "Gypsy Family Camp" at Auschwitz-Birkenau in an operation that lasted into the early morning hours of 3 August; in the gas chambers, despite the active resistance of the prisoners, they murdered as many as 4,300 Romani people, according to the most recent studies. 

"We must commemorate this part of history! That is the only way to make sure it will never repeat. In the recent past of our country there was an effort to erase the memory of these events to the greatest possible extent. That can mainly be seen with regard to the concentration camp at Lety u Písku where a pig farm was on that site for a very long time," Bartoš posted, adding that the demolition of the farm has finally begun this year

"At that site, a memorial will be built to finally commemorate the Holocaust and its Romani victims in a dignified way," the Pirate chair continued. "All of that concealment, that attempt to forget, has just amplified prejudices and stereotypes and incited discrimination and hatred. We must come to terms with this and correct it. We must acknowledge that racism has not disappeared and that it is necessary to work on securing Romani people their place in society." 

The Holocaust of the Roma was also commemorated by other Pirate politicians, such as Legislation Minister and chair of the Government Council on Legislation, Michal Šalamoun, the MEP Mikuláš Peksa and others. Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan, chair of the STAN movement, posted that: "We must never forget these horrors. I am glad that just a few days ago we began paying one of our big debts and that a dignified memorial will finally be built on the site of the concentration camp at Lety."   

Retired politician Miroslav Kalousek also remembered the Holocaust and its Romani victims today. "Let's not tolerate racism, let's be human beings!" he posted. 
The TOP 09 party also commemorated Roma Holocaust Memorial Day on Twitter. "Let's not close our eyes to the past. That is the only way we can prevent it from repeating," the TOP 09 representatives tweeted.

The Polish Parliament first established 2 August as that country's official Annihilation of the Roma and Sinti Memorial Day in 2011. In 2015, the European Parliament recognized 2 August as the European Memorial Day of the Holocaust of the Sinti and Roma.

During the 17 months of the existence of what was called the "Gypsy Family Camp" at Auschwitz-Birkenau (from February 1943 to July 1944), 23,000 children, men and women were imprisoned there. Approximately 21,000 prisoners of Roma and Sinti origin died in the camp. 

Other imprisoned Roma were murdered in the concentration camps of Bełżec, Chełmno, Majdanka, Sobibór and Treblinka. Still others, the number of whom it is difficult to estimate, were shot to death and buried in mass graves in the forest.

The extermination policy of Nazi Germany led to the deaths of an estimated half a million Roma and Sinti from all over Europe. Some estimates put the number as high as 800,000 victims, or anywhere between one-quarter and one-half of the prewar population of Roma.

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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