PHOTO USHMMC ARCHIVES)
With a minute of silence being held at noon beside the Holocaust memorial stone in front of the Palais de l’Europe in Strasbourg, the ERTF remembered more than 3,000 Roma exterminated by the German Nazis during the night of 2-3 August 1944 in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“Almost 67 years after the Pharrajimos, we are assembled here today to honour and to remember over 3,000 Roma exterminated during the night of 2-3 August 1944 in “Zigeunerlager BIII” at Auschwitz - Birkenau; to remember the fear and the brutality. The Pharrajimos is by far the biggest tragedy in our Roma history. It has traumatised us till this day. The genocide committed on Roma has determined how we apply ourselves in defense of universal human rights, our need for freedom, and our stance towards well-meant multicultural ideals in today’s Europe.” said Mr Kawczynski, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, in his key address to the representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, staff members of the Council of Europe and the citizens of Strasbourg.
With the adoption of the Charter on the Rights of the Roma, ERTF has reinforced its commitments to raise awareness of Pharrajimos, which is less well recognised, and frequently separated from that of the Jewish experience, especially in the teaching of the history of this period. The Holocaust commemoration also has a role in combating anti-Tziganism and other forms of intolerance. The ERTF therefore calls upon those working to promote the rights of all Roma, Travellers and related groups throughout the world to organise their own events every 2nd August to ensure maximum visibility of this horrendous crime.
Today I would like to welcome the decision by the Polish parliament, from few days ago to declare 2nd of August as the official Roma Genocide Remembrance Day. This is a historic step forward in the official recognition of the persecution and extermination of Roma during World War II. I encouraged other Council of Europe member states to follow Poland’s example in Recognising and commemorating the Holocaust on Roma, the Parrjimos. stated Mr. Kawczynski in his concluding remarks.