Factsheet on the Roma Genocide in Albania
Recognition, official texts
In Albania, the Holocaust is recognised; however, there is no information whether the Roma are recognised or not as victims of the Genocide.
According to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) (Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism, page 66), the Holocaust in Albania is referred to as the “systematic and regular genocide pursued by the German Nazis against various ethnic, religious and national groups prior to and during World War II, up until 1945”. The following groups are included in references to the Genocide: Jews, Roma and Sinti, communists, immigrants, gays and lesbians, alcoholics, religious fundamentalists and German dissidents.
Albania observes 27th January as its Holocaust memorial day. The day is called the “Day of Commemoration” or “Day of Memory”. It was established by Law Number 9280, adopted on 23rd September 2004 and proclaimed by the President of the Republic in decree number 4345, on 11th October 2004. Article 2.1 of the law sets 27th January as the commemorative date.
Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)
On 27th January, governmental institutions, national as well as the local - partake in commemorative activities in memory of the victims of the Holocaust – particularly the Jewish victims – and those who sacrificed their lives in the fight for freedom against Nazism. Government officials at all levels participate in the commemorative events, including the President, the Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers, the Chairman of the Parliament, heads of municipalities and communes as well as other officials and government employees.
Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue
According to the available information, there is no specialised institution, commission or research centre specifically dealing with the issue of the Roma Genocide. There is, however, a Roma Technical Secretariat which helps the ministries to deal with Roma and minority issues.
In March 2013, the municipality of Tirana has announced that the Holocaust Memorial will be built.
Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)
Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum
According to the OSCE (Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism, page 66), “Teaching on the Holocaust occurs chronologically throughout the history curriculum, beginning with the history of the Jews since antiquity and leading on to World War II and the foundation of Israel. Holocaust education occurs approximately at the age of 13. History schoolbooks feature a chapter on Dictatorial Regimes: Germany During the Nazi Dictatorship.” It is not known if Roma are included in these materials, although the OSCE calls for inclusion of the Roma Genocide.
Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks
It is not known if the Roma Genocide is included in the school textbooks, although the OSCE calls for its inclusion.
History schoolbooks feature a chapter on Dictatorial Regimes: Germany During the Nazi Dictatorship.
Training of teachers and education professionals
According to the OSCE (Education on the Holocaust and on Anti-Semitism, page 66), no specific teacher training or funding is allocated for Holocaust education in and of itself. History and geography teachers receive Holocaust education as part of a broader training course run by the Institute of Pedagogical Studies. Some teachers have voluntarily undertaken courses at the Institute, for instance “Facing History and Ourselves”. Teachers receive training on how to deal with discrimination, during which the Holocaust is also discussed.
Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions
Albanian schools observe 10th December as a day devoted to “Good understanding and tolerant attitudes in schools”, following an order issued by the Minister of Education and Science in February 1998. Every 10th December, various activities focusing on Holocaust historical events are taking place in schools.
Schools and universities participate in events on 27th January through a number of activities aimed at remembrance of the Holocaust and its victims. Activities organised at schools include exhibitions of paintings and drawings, poems and essays. A common theme of all activities is “never again”. Schools focus on the importance of learning the lessons of the Holocaust and their relation to today’s crises in the world. Elementary, secondary and high school teachers seek to integrate multicultural, anti-bias and social justice themes into their lesson plans.
Roma Active Albania NGO is a member of TernYpe – International Roma Youth network and one of the co-organisers of the project “Young Europeans Commemorating the Roma Genocide” which took place for the first time in Krakow (at Auschwitz Memorial) in August 2013. The aim of this initiative, that gathers young Roma and non-Roma from 15 European countries, is to strengthen the engagement and awareness of Roma and non-Roma youth and youth organisations on the Roma Genocide; to advocate for the recognition of the Roma Genocide and promote the remembrance on European level as well as to build a Human Rights Platform of European youth organisations to challenge stereotypes and anti-Gypsyism.
Another project that involved young Roma and non-Roma participants from Albania called Pravde Jakhenca (With Open Eyes) took place from 24thJuly to 4th August 2013 in Krakow/Żywiec in Poland. 60 young Roma and non-Roma from Albania, Germany, Macedonia and Poland came together in Zywiec, Poland, to learn more about the Roma Genocide during World War II and to fight anti-Gypsysm and racism in the present.
Rromani Baxt Albania - works to maintain the culture, art, traditions, and other spiritual values of the Roma community as well as seeks to integrate the Roma more cohesively within Albanian society;
Unioni i Rromëve të Shqipërisë "Amaro-Drom" / Union of the Albanian Roma “Amaro Drom”
The treatment of Roma in Kosovo is a major concern for most NGOs.
A European workshop “Passing on the Remembrance of the Holocaust and prevention of crimes against humanity: a cross-cutting approach” took place in Tirana from 5 to 8 September 2012. School teachers from Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Slovenia joined to a group of experts to discuss the topic. Participants of the workshop gained an insight to the challenges related to Holocaust in Europe and in Albania in particular. Dr. Fabienne Regard, expert to the Council of Europe, presented “Guidelines for teachers and educators” for teaching about Holocaust. Roma victims are also included in the material.
HACKL, E. (2001). Lamtumirë Sidoní: novelë. Shkodër: "Camaj-Pipa". [Original in German]
KADARE, Ismail: “Chronicle in Stone" (»Kronikë në gurë«), novel, 1971, in English, Onufri
SINANI, Shaban: “Jews in Albania: The Presence and Salvation”, 2014, Naimi Publishing House and Literary Services.
In the year 2000, Centre for Documentation and Information on Minorities in Europe - Southeast Europe (CEDIME-SE) issued a Report on Minorities in Southeast Europe on Roma of Albania with support of the Greek Helsinki Committee.
At page 5, the Report states that during the Second world war, Albania was under Italian rule within the territories of “Greater Albania.” Albanian Roma were not persecuted or deported to death camps, unlike the Roma in many countries in Eastern Europe. However, Albanian Roma participated in the war and many of them were fighting in the Albanian military (Kolsti, 1991:53-54). Until the German occupation of the Greater Albania in 1943, neither the Italians nor the Albanian nationalist persecuted the Albanian Roma because of their increasingly problematic international political situation. The German army’s occupation of Albania lasted no longer than one year, there was insufficient time and capacity to pursue a policy of deportation or extermination of the Roma (Kovacs, 1996:19).
CROWE D, KOLSTI J: “The Gypsies of Eastern Europe”, M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, NY, 1991- and in particularly part IV: Albanian Gypsies: The Silent Survivors”, page 51
HORAK, Stephan M. and Others: “Eastern European National Minorities, 1919-1980” - a Handbook, 1985, Libraries Unlimited, Inc., Littleton
2012: “Albania, La storia” ( Albania, the history) 95 min, Italy, , directed by Roland Sejko, Luce Archives
Occupation of Albania by Italian fascist forces, role of Albania in WWII.
2012: "Besa: The Promise", 90 min, USA, documentary, Director Rachel Goslins, JWM Productions, LLC
A story of Muslim families of Albania who saved the lives of nearly 2,000 Jews during World War II, not only from Albania but also those fleeing from other Balkan countries to Albania.