2 August 2020

Rita Prigmore

Holocaust survivor

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

Dear friends,

We are here today to commemorate the 2 August in memory of the Holocaust of the Sinti and Roma. My name is Rita Prigmore, I am a Sinti, I am a Holocaust survivor. I am here today to share my story, of myself and of my family to you.

We Sinti here in Würzburg were like everybody else arrested, and most of our family all were sterilized, the ones that did not go to Auschwitz and were deported. I am a twin. My twin little sister and I were born on 3 March 1943 and the Gestapo took us away from my Mama. They did experiments on my sister Rolanda and me, trying to dye the eyes. And to this day I have a health problem from it. It always reminds me, every pain I have.

My little sister was not so lucky. She died of the experiments of dyeing the eyes. This was done by Mr. Heyde here. The same experiments were done in Auschwitz by Mengele. I am very happy and grateful that I survived.

Racism has all over started again against us, against Roma, Sinti and Jews. We need to survive and stick together against any kind of racism, against any kind of hate. It does not matter where you come from, we are human beings and we are supposed to be children of God. But sometimes God does not help. So we have to help ourselves and stand by each other.

The youth event Dikh He Na Bister shows how important the memory and history is for young people. We shall never forget the history of the Holocaust. I ask you to stand up with me – every day – against racism, against hate and against injustice in the world.

Biography

Rita Prigmore’s mother was forced into sterilization. Since she was pregnant, she should have an abortion first. However, during an examination the doctors discovered that she would give birth to identical twins. Therefore, she was able to give birth on March 3, 1943 in Würzburg. Shortly thereafter, the director of the Würzburg University Psychiatric Hospital, Werner Heyde, began to carry out cruel “twin experiments” on the siblings Rita and Rolanda. Her sister died after a short time when the doctors tried to change the colour of her eyes with ink. Rita remained subject to the inhuman experiments of the regime for a year. She still suffers from dizziness, headaches and concentration problems. Only after the end of the war and only after emigration to the USA, Prigmore was able to reconstruct what had happened to her. Since then she has been spreading her story. So her experiences, as well as those of her mother, are archived in the Holocaust Memorial in Washington. With the support of the Community of Sant ‘Egidio, she gives lectures all over Europe on the Nazi persecution of the Sinti and Roma.

Testimonies of Holocaust Survivors

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