August 02, 2018
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM COMMEMORATES ROMA GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE DAY AND CALLS ON EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS TO PROTECT ROMA CITIZENS FROM VIOLENCE TODAY
WASHINGTON, DC – On Roma Genocide Remembrance Day, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum remembers the suffering and resistance of members of the Roma community targeted for destruction by the German government and its allies during World War II, and is deeply concerned about the escalating persecution and violence directed at Roma in several parts of Europe today.
Before World War II, Romani communities lived in every country in Europe. With the Nazi rise to power in Germany in 1933, Roma and Sinti were classified as “racially inferior” and became targets of the genocidal policies of Nazi Germany and its allies. Tens of thousands were massacred in German-occupied territories, and thousands more in the killing centers. Of the 23,000 Romani men, women, and children incarcerated in so-called “Gypsy Family Camp” in Auschwitz-Birkenau, roughly 19,000 perished there, 4,200 to 4,300 alone when the camp was liquidated on the night of August 2, 1944. Although research on the fate of Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust remains incomplete, recent scholarship suggests the Nazi regime and its Axis partners murdered at least 250,000 Roma. By the end of World War II, Romani communities across Europe were decimated, and in several countries, the annihilation of Roma was effectively total.
Today, Roma face intensifying persecution and violence, at times in a climate of intimidation generated by incendiary hate speech and genocide denial of public officials. At least one person has been killed in the course of several attacks against Romani communities by far-right neo-Nazi paramilitary organizations in Ukraine in 2018. In June 2018, the Italian Interior Minister proposed a government census of Roma, vowed to expel Romani non-citizens from the country, and called for “mass cleansing street by street, piazza by piazza, neighborhood by neighborhood.” Violent attacks and expulsions have also taken place in recent years in many European countries.
As we remember the Roma and Sinti who perished at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators, the Museum calls on all officials, governments, and citizens to unequivocally reject the dehumanization of Roma and any violence directed against their communities. Incidents of violence should be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators held to account.
More information about Nazi Germany’s genocide of the Roma is available on the Museum’s online encyclopedia.
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. Its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit, ushmm.org.
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