January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the U.N. designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era where over 1 million Romanies were killed along with millions of Jews. Every member nation of the U.N. has an obligation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and develop educational programs as part of an international resolve to help prevent future acts of genocide.
FROM THE RrOMANI CONNECTION WEBSITE
During the 1920s the legal oppression of Romanies in Germany intensified considerably, despite the egalitarian statutes of the Weimar Republic. In 1920 they were forÂbidden to enter parks and public baths; in 1925 a conferÂence on "The Gypsy Question" was held which resulted in laws requiring unemployed Romanies to be sent to work camps "for reasons of public security", and for all Romanies to be registered with the police.
After 1927, all Romanies, even children, had to carry identification cards, bearing fingerprints and photographs. In 1929, The Central Office for the Fight Against the Gypsies in Germany was established in Munich, and in 1933, just ten days before the Nazis came to power, government officials in Burgenland called for the withdrawal of all civil rights from the Romani people. In September 1935 Romanies became subject to the restrictions of the Nuremberg Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor, which forbade intermarriage between Germans and "non-Aryans," specifically Romanies, Jews and people of African descent. In 1937, the National Citizenship Law relegated Romanies and Jews to the status of second-class citizens, depriving them of their civil rights. Also in 1937, Heinrich Himmler issued a decree entitled "The Struggle Against the Gypsy Plague", which reiterated that Romanies of mixed blood were the most likely to engage in criminal activity, and which required that all information on Romanies be sent from the regional police departments to the Reich Central Office.
The first document referring to "the introduction of the total solution to the Gypsy problem on either a national or an international level" was issued under the direction of State Secretary Hans Pfundtner of the Reichs Ministry of the Interior in March, 1936, while the wording endgultige Losung der Zigeunerfrage, i.e. the "final (or `conclusive') solution of the Gypsy question", appeared in print in a directive signed by Himmler in May, 1938. Between June 12th and June 18th that same year, Gypsy Clean-Up Week took place throughout Germany which, like Kristallnacht for the Jewish people in November that year, marked the beginning of the end.
In January, 1940, the. first mass genocidal action of the Holocaust took place when 250 Romani children were murdered in Buchenwald, where they were used as guinea-pigs to test the efficacy of the Zyklon-B crystals. later used in the gas chambers. In June the same year. Hitler ordered the liquidation of "all Jews, Gypsies and communist political functionaries in the entire Soviet Union."
On July, 31st 1941, Heydrich, chief architect of the details of the Final Solution, issued his directive to the Einsatzkommandos to "kill all Jews, Gypsies and mental patients." A few days later Himmler issued his criteria for biological and racial evaluation, which determined that each Rom's family background was to be investigated going back three generations. On December 16th that same year, Himmler issued the order to have all Romanies remaining in Europe deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau for extermination. On December 24th, Lohse gave the addiÂtional order that "The Gypsies should be given the same treatment as the Jews." At a party meeting on September 14th, 1942, Justice Minister Otto Thierack announced that "Jews and Gypsies must be unconditionally extermiÂnated." On August 1st, 1944, four thousand Romanies were gassed and cremated in a single action at AuschwitzÂBirkenau, in what is remembered as Zigeunernacht.
Extract from Ian Hancock's Afterword from the book, Settela.