2 August 2020
Dr Piotr M. A. Cywiński
Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
Commemoration speech on the occasion of 2 August 2020, Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma
Today we commemorate the 76th anniversary of the liquidation of the so-called Zigeunerfamilienlager in Birkenau, which marked the end of the Sinti and Roma history in Auschwitz, at least on a massive scale.
It is indeed a day in which we should remember history, look at the past, and commit ourselves to remember these events. It is also, and perhaps above all, a day in which we should look at ourselves, our world today, and what we are trying to build. As the history of Auschwitz teaches us, discrimination causes unconditional exclusion. Exclusion ends in dehumanization, and that brings with it genocide. Unfortunately, we have observed this cause-and-effect process in many places around the world.
Today, however, discrimination against the Sinti and Roma population is present in almost all of Europe, in several countries. Regardless of whether we want to remember it or not, there are countries, regions, cities where they still exist today, perhaps not de jure, but de facto ghettos where the Roma, Sinti, Gitans, Manouches, all those whom we sometimes call romantically travelling people, and whom we do not accept in our communities on full civil rights. Let us remember – discrimination causes exclusion, which leads to dehumanization, and this, in turn, leads to genocide.