Saturday, April 11, 2009



Holocaust of Roma and Sinti exhibition opens in Bucharest

The exhibition 'The Holocaust of Roma and Sinti populations. Present day racism in Europe,' opened on Thursday, April 9, at Romania's National History Museum (MNIR) of Bucharest, as a four-part event depicting highlights of the history of the two populations in 20th century Europe.
The first part presents the effects of the cancellation of the right to vote of the Roma and the Sinti populations of Germany as a result of the ascendance to power of the National Socialist Party.

Once WWII broke out, the first deportations of these ethnics from the Nazi-occupied Poland occurred, MNIR museum curator Ralua Malancioiu explains. Malancioiu says the second part of the exhibition depicts moments of the Nazi occupation.

The images on display reveal various persecutions against the Romany and the Sinti ethnics in the Nazi-occupied or Nazi allied countries.
The death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau was the venue of systematic killing of the Romany and the Sinti populations from almost all European countries, which is presented in the third section of the exhibition, says Malancioiu.

The fourth part, she says, is a visual depiction of overcoming the historical moment identified as the dictatorship of the national socialist political current after 1945. The fourth part of the exhibition recreates the European awareness over the Nazi genocide against the Romany and Sinti populations, and one of the first actions for resuming normalcy in the relations that define the European civilisation, namely the beginnings of the civil rights movement for the Sinti community in the then Federal Republic of Germany.

A distinctive note of the exhibition, says Malancioiu, is the presentation of current discrimination against the Romany population of Central and Eastern Europe.
After the official opening hosted by the European Parliament of Strasbourg, the exhibition 'The Holocaust of Roma and Sinti populations. Present day racism in Europe,' has travelled to Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, to great public acclaim. After the stopover in Bucharest, the exhibition will travel further in Europe.

Chairman of the Central Council of German Roma and Sinti Romani Rose says that the regime in Romania of Ion Antonescu, a close collaborator of the German National Socialists, is guilty of genocide, as hundreds of thousands of Jews and Roma were deported to Transdnistria in an attempt at their final destruction.

Rose hails the initiative of ex-President Ion Iliescu, who in 2003, under his tenure, commissioned an international board to review this part in Romanian history, an initiative Rose says is an important step forward toward the country's acknowledging the holocaust of Roma. Rose also says that reports by the European Union indicate that Roma and Sinti populations are subjected to discrimination and are socially underprivileged in Europe, more so than any other minority.

Rose argues that the members of the Roma and the Sinti communities are treated as foreigners, and although they have been living in their native lands for centuries they are not seen as part of the common history of the society where they live. Rose also says that in order to overcome the anti-Gypsy sentiment deeply ingrained in the European culture the genocide of the German National Socialists against the Roma and the Sinti should be urgently presented.

Official of the German Embassy in Bucharest Holger Scherf says the Roma and Sinti populations have suffered twice: first because of the National Socialist regime, which subjected the two populations to racism, and secondly because of the ignorance to which they were condemned after the collapse of the regime.

The Roma, he says, should be seen as fellow citizens, not as targets for discrimination and stigmatisation. The exhibition, which stays open throughout April 29, is organised by the Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma in cooperation with other non-governmental institutions and organisations.

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