Czech Republic: Museum of Romani Culture marks Holocaust Remembrance Day
On 27 January 1945 the complex of Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz, where millions of people from all over Europe suffered and died, was liberated by the Red Army. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the day the "death factory", as Auschwitz is called, was closed.
At the initiative of the Czech Council on the Victims of Nazism, the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic and many other organizations, the Czech Republic established 27 January as the Day of Holocaust Remembrance and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity (Den památky obětí holocaustu a předcházení zločinům proti lidskosti). Among the various groups of victims of the Nazis' policy of slaughter are the European Roma.
The number of Romani victims of the Holocaust is usually estimated at between 300 000 - 500 000. In the Czech lands only about 10 % of Romani people survived the Nazi terror.
"During the war, practically all of our historically native Czech and Moravian Roma were slaughtered. A significant portion of those Romani people had successfully integrated into the society around them during the interwar period - for example, most Moravian Romani people were already settled, the process of integration here got off to a very good start. Those Romani people, however, disappeared, their existence on our territory was forgotten, as was the model of their successful integration. After the war, in their place, different Romani people came here, in particular from eastern Slovakia; the process of their integration had to begin again from zero," said Museum of Romani Culture director Jana Horváthová.
Even today, many of the absurd prejudices from that time persist in society, which means commemoration of the Holocaust has a completely contemporary dimension to it here. The Museum of Romani Culture is doing its best to emphasize this in its activities every year when it prepares a thematic program.
From 26 - 28 January 2015, educational programs for schools will be held at the Museum about the Romani victims of the Holocaust, the Second World War, and its impact on today, including the screening of a documentary film produced by the Museum called "To Live! Ceija Stojka" ("Žít! Ceija Stojka“ - 2009). By learning about the life story and works of the famous Austrian-Romani artist and author, Ceija Stojka (1933 - 2013), pupils and students can see the events of the war through the eyes of a young girl who was interned in several concentration camps.
The Museum has a permanent exhibition dedicated to the topic of the Romani victims of the Holocaust, which evokes the environment of the concentration camp gas chambers and presents commentaries, historical documents and photographs. The Museum also holds two annual Holocaust commemoration ceremonies. one in March and one in August.
On Tuesday, 27 January, the documentary will be screened for the public at 18:30 in the Volunteer Center at the Lužánka Recreational Center (Lidická 50, 602 00 Brno, entry is free). The screening will be followed by a discussion with Michal Schuster, an historian from the Museum of Romani Culture.
For more information (in Czech) please visit the Museum's website or Facebook. This year's Holocaust commemoration ceremonies will be held on 9 March at the Museum and on 23 August at the former "gypsy camp" at Hodonín by Kunšťát.
Editors Note: Professor Ian Hancock has argued that the total figure for Romani deaths during the Holocaust has not yet been determined and may exceed 500 000. Click here to read his article for Romea.cz on this issue.
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