2 August 2020
President of the Slovak Republic
Commemoration speech on the occasion of 2 August 2020, Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma
Dear participants of our virtual commemoration,
Today we pay tribute to the 500 000 Roma and Sinti who were murdered during the Second World War. Regrettably, we still know relatively little about the Roma Holocaust.
Unfortunately, we are only slowly learning about the unimaginable horrors that have shaped the destinies and have been imprinted into memories of specific people, families and communities. It is not only my wish but also our responsibility as a society to ensure that the general public learns about the Roma Holocaust and, more generally, about Roma history. So that all our children learn about it during their history classes. So they understand how easy and yet extremely dangerous it is to dehumanize a group of people due to what makes them different; or how easy it is to use prejudice to justify verbal, physical violence or, in its extreme version, even genocide. It is necessary to know our past if we are to form cohesive and tolerant societies – today and in the future.
The Roma Holocaust cannot be forgotten.
Today, when we commemorate the tragedy of the Roma Holocaust, it is the obligation of us politicians, to firmly reject any forms of racism, antisemitism, antigypsyism, homophobia and other forms of intolerance and to stand up for those that experience this hatred today.
However, it is important to do far more. The pandemic due to which the commemoration of this important day is restricted today, has in fact even further exacerbated inequalities in living conditions of numerous Romani communities. From insufficient access to drinking water to enormous inequalities that Roma children face in access to education. These conditions are a reflection of us all, of our willingness to create space for inclusion and ensure that everyone can live in dignity and equality. The crisis has once again reconfirmed the need to do more.
We are in this together, with Romani men and Romani women; our cooperation must be based on an equal partnership. This very principle must be reflected in our entire society–simply because the Roma are its full-fledged constituents.
We all live together in one world.
We shall not forget.
Thank you for your attention.
Vice President of the European Parliament
European Commissioner for Equality
Vice President of the German Bundestag
Dutch State Secretary Paul Blokhuis
Amb. Chris J. Lazaris, IHRA Chairman
UN Special Rapporteur UN minorities
President of the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)