European Roma and Sinti commemorate 70th anniversary of the gassing of 3 000 Roma and Sinti at Auschwitz
Former concentration camp prisoners, representatives of Romani organizations, and young Romani people all commemorated the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the so-called "gypsy camp" in the Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz. During the night of 2 August and the morning of 3 August 1944, the last 3 000 Romani and Sinti children and women left in the camp were murdered in the gas chambers there.
Other European Roma were murdered in the concentration camps of Bełżec, Chełmno, Majdanek, Sobibór and Treblinka. They were also shot dead and buried in mass graves, mostly throughout Eastern Europe, that often were not discovered until long after the war.
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"For Roma and Sinti all over the world, this place is what connects us. We are here and we are connected by pain, by remembering this murder, by remembering our dead, we are connected to one another as a nation," Roman Kwiatkowski, chair of the Roma Association, said at the former extermination camp today, according to the website of the museum there.
Together with 1 000 other people from various corners of Europe, Kwiatkowski participated in the commemorative ceremony in Poland today. Wreaths were laid at the memorial to the murdered Roma and respect was paid to the victims of the Nazi death factory.
Auschwitz II - Birkenau became the biggest concentration camp for European Roma during the war. On the basis of Himmler's order dated 29 January 1943, roughly 20 000 Romani people from Belgium, the Netherlands, northern France, Poland, the former Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Slovakia, and the states of the former Soviet Union were deported to Auschwitz.
Most of those deported perished in the gas chambers there. According to estimates, the Nazis imprisoned a total of 23 000 Romani people at Auschwitz, of whom 5 500 were from the former Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, according to Michal Schuster of the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno.
Nazi Germany's extermination policy led to the death of an estimated half a million Roma and Sinti from all over Europe. Some estimates range as high as 800 000 victims, which is anywhere from 25 % to 50 % of the pre-war Romani population.
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