Secretary General honours Roma Holocaust victims

Strasbourg 31 JULY 2020
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On 2 August 1944, the remaining Roma of the so-called “Zigeunerlager” (Gypsy camp) – some 3,000 men, women and children – were exterminated in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Roma Holocaust was an attempt by the Nazi regime and its supporters to exterminate the Romani people of Europe.

In an online video statement to mark the 76th anniversary of the atrocities, Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić expresses her appreciation for how an increasing number of European countries formally recognise the European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day (2 August): “A better future can only be built on a solid understanding of the past”, she says.

Although exact figures do not exist, historians estimate that some 500,000 Roma people were murdered during the Second World War.

“My thoughts today are with those who lost their lives, those who survived and the Roma and Traveller communities who continue to contribute to the rich and diverse cultural life of our continent,” the Secretary General said.

The Secretary General stressed how this commemoration remains a key event for the Council of Europe, underlining the importance of teaching remembrance as well as honouring Roma victims and survivors of the Holocaust. She praised a recent recommendation adopted by the Committee of Ministers for all 47 Council of Europe member states on teaching Roma and Traveller history in schools.

For several years, the Council of Europe has held commemoration ceremonies to mark 2 August in front of the Palais de l’Europe in Strasbourg. However, due to the Covid-19 crisis a decision was taken to replace the physical gathering with the online video statement by the Secretary General.

@ Jarek Praszkiewicz, Central Council of German Sinti and Roma (2018)