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

2 August 2020

Klaus Iohannis

President of Romania

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

On the European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember the atrocities suffered by the Roma population in Europe, throughout World War II, and we pay tribute to the memory of these innocent victims. This pledge is of paramount importance to Romania.

Remembrance is a fundamental dimension of our lives. Almost half a million Roma children, women and men were murdered in Nazi-occupied Europe. In Romania, 25,000 Roma people were deported to Transnistria on the orders of Romanian dictator and Nazi ally Ion Antonescu. About 11,000 Roma people lost their lives there.

An unthinkable pain caused by an irrecoverable loss. Many of them died from disease, cold or hunger. It was with no doubts a deliberate and systematic act of murder. Discriminated, humiliated, deprived of their rights, excluded from society and finally imprisoned and murdered, Roma people were victims of a criminal regime, characterised by racism, discrimination, terror, propaganda, persecution and human rights abuses. We are painfully aware that among the perpetrators there were also Romanians.

The need to remember is more urgent than ever at this critical time. We must keep the memory of the victims alive and strengthen efforts to combat Antisemitism, xenophobia and Holocaust denial. We have a fundamental duty to ensure that each new generation knows and keeps the truth alive. Roma genocide is often ignored and less studied; therefore, it is important to be recognized and taught in schools, to be publicly debated, to be openly remembered. Being aware of the Holocaust and its atrocities prevents us form repeating the mistakes of the past.

We cannot change history, but our societies should reach the ability to learn and do better. Romania can be considered a regional model in terms of assuming the Holocaust and combating Antisemitism. My country fully assumed its dark past and learned the lesson of the sacred promise of ”Never Again”. We have taken strong and decisive steps to protect the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and fight against extremism, intolerance, revisionism and discrimination.

The dark past is a warning that should guide us in the present day. I want to underline several achievements that Romania has accomplished in this direction in the fields of education, security, law enforcement, promoting Holocaust research: the successful chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), special legislation for prohibiting fascist, racist or xenophobic organizations and symbols and also forbidding the promotion of the cult of personalities guilty of crimes against peace and humanity, to combat and to prevent Holocaust denial and distortion, opening the Holocaust archives, the establishment of The National Museum of Jewish History and Holocaust.

We have recently reaffirmed our determination to defend our Roma community’s traumatic memory. I evoke here the adoption of the Law establishing the 2nd of August as the National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust against Roma – Samudaripen.

Regarding the Roma communities, my country is strongly engaged in fighting against discrimination, hate and marginalisation and promoting social inclusion. Remembrance becomes more powerful when it is completed by firm acts of protecting diversity, tolerance and human rights.

Today, Europe faces multiple crises that can undermine our core values. Populism, extremism, racism, xenophobia and Holocaust denial are dangerously rising. In this context, it is our duty to defend human rights and promote the respect for law, equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, tolerance, solidarity. Also, education and research about Holocaust are vital for the health of our democracies.

As President of Romania, I reaffirm my nation’s unwavering commitment for preserving the memory of the Holocaust, promoting the democratic values and fighting Antisemitism, extremism, racism and discrimination.

Commemoration Speeches

Stéphane Dion

Ambassador of Canada in Germany, Special Representative of Canada to the EU and to Europe

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