2 August 2021
Deputy Prime-Minister of Poland, Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport, Chairman of the Public Benefit Committee
Statement on the occasion of 2 August 2021, Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma
Honorable former prisoners, dear family members, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In 1929, almost 100 years ago, the so-called Central Office for Combating Gypsies was founded in Germany. With the passing of the German Nuremberg Race Laws in the 1930s, the systematic process to exterminate the entire Romani population followed.
After the outbreak of World War II, the administrative apparatus of the criminal Third Reich introduced the Zigeunerfrage ‒ a plan to exterminate the Sinti and Roma, who, according to Nazi policy, were considered racially undesirable individuals and unworthy of life. The most tragic event during porajmos ‒ the extermination of the Sinti and Roma ‒ was the liquidation of the Gypsy family camp in the German KL Auschwitz II-Birkenau in the night of August 2 to 3, 1944.
“My heart is sick. It wants to cry.” wrote Bronisława Wajs – Papusza in her poem »Tears of Blood«. “The black eyes will freeze, the hearts will die.”
The Roma ‒ hounded like animals, starving in the forests, bestially murdered, deported to the ghettos, exterminated in the gas vans of the Kulmhof camp, locked up in special zones, as in the Gypsy family camp of KL Auschwitz II-Birkenau, subjected to the medical pseudo-experiments ‒ suffered a cruel, inhuman fate. This tragic story we learn after too many years of silence.
Even in Poland as per the political decisions of the Soviet hegemon was to become ethnically uniform, several decades had to pass for this tragedy to be acknowledged.
It was not until the 1970s, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Romani Rose, the chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, that a memorial to the victims of the Gypsy family camp in KL Auschwitz was endowed. In 2001, on the anniversary of the camp’s dissolution, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim introduced a permanent exhibition on Porajmos in Block 13.
10 years ago, on July 29, 2011, the Polish Parliament passed a special resolution proclaiming August 2 as Holocaust Remembrance Day for Sinti and Roma.
In 2015, the European Parliament declared August 2 as the European Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma.
To all the victims of KL Auschwitz-Birkenau, I pay my utmost respect and remain in deep hope that the tragic experience of the Romani population so cruelly decimated may leave a deep scar in our hearts, so that what happened to these free people will never ever happen again in human history.