Auschwitz Memorial; photo: Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma.

2 August 2020

Ronald Lauder

President of the World Jewish Congress

Commemoration message on the occasion of 2 August 2020, Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma

Five years ago, the European Parliament made 2 August the European Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma to commemorate all 500,000 Sinti and Roma murdered in Nazi occupied Europe.

On this date, the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, which you represent, and the Association of Roma in Poland, in cooperation with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, are organising an event to commemorate the memory of the last 4 300 Sinti and Roma who, despite their bitter resistance, were driven into the gas chambers and murdered by the SS in Auschwitz-Birkenau on the night of 2 August 1944.

They were murdered because they were Sinti and Roma, just as six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in the Shoah simply because they were Jews, almost one million of them in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Auschwitz was the zenith of all evil, to which antisemitism and antigypsyism can lead.

Auschwitz is the largest Jewish cemetery in the world. In Auschwitz the systematic extermination of European Jewry was refined and perfected. In Auschwitz, more than a million Jews were exterminated in four gas chambers and four crematories. It is also the place where thousands upon thousands of Sinti and Roma, Poles and Soviet prisoners of war were brutally murdered alongside the Jewish victims.

By keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive, we ensure that future generations learn from the past, so that history does not repeat itself.

And yet, in these days, weeks and months, we are witnessing the spread of hatred against Sinti and Roma, against Jews and other minorities, of racism, antigypsyism and antisemitism, and this seed, whose DNA is made up of conspiracy myths, historical relativisation, glorification of violence and hatred, is meeting fertile ground. The attacks in Halle in October 2019 and Hanau in February 2020 remain the bitterest fruits of this seed from the recent past.

We must raise our voice against this. For racism, hatred of Jews and hatred of Sinti and Roma have not been eradicated. They continue to grow, worldwide.

The Jewish people – as well as Sinti and Roma – know all too well what an end can be put to hatred clothed in words.

On 2 August we commemorate side by side. We stand together to honour the memory of all 500,000 Sinti and Roma murdered in Nazi occupied Europe.

Commemoration Speeches

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