2 August 2021

Kamil Majchrzak

Vice-President of the International Committee Buchenwald Dora and Kommandos (ICBD) and Member to the Delegation of the Polish Association of Former Political Prisoners of Nazi Prisons and Concentration Camps (PZBWPHWiOK), Founder of the Initiative Ghetto-Pensions Now!

Statement on the occasion of the European Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma, Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, 2. August 2021

Remembrance demands not only commemoration, but even more bearing witness. From past alone or a preoccupation with history there arises no responsible action for the present.

The willingness to take ethical responsibility for the other one, for the human opposite, is necessary. We descendants play a particular role in bearing witness. Particularly in the view of the silencing of the last Holocaust Survivors.

Sinti and Roma are part of our history and part of our societies for more than 600 years.

That is why the International Committee Buchenwald-Dora and Kommandos endeavors to make their history to our history. It’s because their persecution is a part of the history of Europe. It is a part of history of our societies.

Although in the night of the 2nd to the 3rd of August, the family camp of Sinti and Roma in Auschwitz-Birkenau got dissolved violently, still, transports with deported Sinti and Roma arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

On 26th September 1944, a transport with 200 Sinti and Roma children set off to Auschwitz-Birkenau, which were gassed to death here in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The civil rights movement of Sinti and Roma has made an important and essential contribution to address the memory gaps of the German culture of remembrance.

The International Committee Buchenwald-Dora and Kommandos, which originated from the international clandestine Committee (ILK) in the German concentration camp Buchenwald… wants to make a significant contribution to fill the gaps of our culture of remembrance, too.

We campaigned together for the Ghetto-Pensions, successfully. We achieved that Polish Roma received finally for the first time a Ghetto-Pension for their employment in the ghetto. Even if there are still problems with the implementation of this hard-won claim, it is first of all a success, because it was a recognition of the work of these persecuted people.

We will continue to work together with the Sinti and Roma on various commemorative projects in the future.

One of them is our effort to ensure that the fate and history of the Sinti and Roma persecuted by

My grandfather had to do forced labor at the Ellrich subcamp, together with French prisoners, Belgian prisoners, but also with a large number of Sinti and Roma who came to this camp.

It would give us great pleasure if we could create a dignified place of remembrance for the persecuted Sinti and Roma of Europe through youth camps, for example in Ellrich.

The descendants play an increasingly important role of the preservation of testimony. In the future, they will have to be integrated much more into the Memorial structures in order to bear witness. To prevent distortion, minimization or denial of the Holocaust against the Sinti and Roma and the Holocaust and the Shoah in general.

We face many challenges in Europe. Neo-Nazi attacks, assaults, right-wing populism, questioning of democratic institutions and the rule of law are becoming an ever-growing problem in Europe.

We descendants can make an important contribution to this.

Because from the confrontation with history and the dense memory that we have in our families, we can provide an essential link to deal with the present age from the perspective of history.

We would be pleased if descendants in Europe and around the world, from different families, who bear the different fates of the persecution in their families, join us to work together to preserve and perpetuate this memory.

Opening Remarks

Romani Rose

Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma

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