August 02, 2019
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM MARKS 75th ANNIVERSARY OF LIQUIDATION OF ROMA CAMP AT AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU
WASHINGTON, DC – Seventy-five years ago today, German authorities murdered up to 5,000 Roma and Sinti imprisoned in the so-called “Gypsy Family Camp” in Auschwitz-Birkenau by gassing them in a single night. The liquidation of the camp marked a closing chapter in Nazi Germany’s deadly persecution of Roma—whom they deemed to be “racially inferior”—which began shortly after the Nazi Party assumed power in 1933. The marginalization, persecution, and eventual mass murder of Roma often relied on the support or acquiescence of Germans who did not hold pro-Nazi views, as anti-Roma prejudice was widespread.
Following the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Roma were hunted down and massacred across occupied Soviet territory. Thousands of Roma from the Greater German Reich perished in the ghettos and killing centers in German-occupied Poland. Romanian authorities deported some 25,000 Roma into the strip of southwestern Ukraine that they administered (so-called “Transnistria,” between the Dniester and Bug rivers), where over half of the deportees died of starvation, disease, or execution. Croatia, Hungary, Vichy France, Italy, and Slovakia imposed discriminatory restrictions on Roma and engaged in policies that ranged from persecution and incarceration to deportation and murder. While precise figures have not been determined, historians estimate that by World War II’s end the Germans, their Axis allies, and local collaborators had murdered up to a quarter million Roma. Of those, at least 19,000 perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The surviving Romani population faced ongoing discrimination and persecution after the defeat of Nazi Germany. Anti-Roma prejudice remains prevalent throughout much of Europe today, and Romani communities have been targets of violent protests across the continent. The Museum welcomes recent initiatives to establish institutions to educate the public regarding the fate of Roma during World War II and to combat continuing anti-Roma prejudice. The Museum hopes its significant archival and other research collections documenting the persecution and genocide of Roma will support such efforts.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.
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