Factsheet on the Roma Genocide in Finland
Recognition, official texts
January 27th has been an official Holocaust Remembrance Day in Finland since 2002. In Finnish the day is called Memorial Day for Victims of Persecution (Vainojen uhrien muistopäivä), in Swedish, the second official language, Memorial Day for Victims of the Holocaust (Minnesdagen för förintelsens offer). The Memorial Day honours the memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, as well as other victims of persecution during World War II, including Roma victims. It was established by the Prime Minister's Office on 20 February 2001.
In Finland, the Roma and Sinti genocide is officially commemorated on 27th January.
Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)
In 1939 around 6 500 Roma lived in Finland. As in the case of the Jews, the Finnish Roma were not handed over to the Germans. Instead, there were plans, made by Finnish authorities, to build concentration camps in Finland to gather the non-combatant Roma population there. According to the records, in 1939-44, 1 000 Roma men served in the Finnish army. There is no data on the Roma victims of the Finnish camps. One of them was Petrozavodsk. According to Finnish sources more than 64 000 Soviet citizens were imprisoned in Finnish KZ camps and more than 18 000 of them died.
Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue
Finnish network for Holocaust and Genocide studies (within the centre for Nordic studies):
The Finnish Holocaust Remembrance Association is in charge of organising the commemoration day. Their website, which is dedicated to the Holocaust, makes almost no mention of Roma victims, except to say that they were not handed over to the Germans.
Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)
The Centre for Nordic Studies (CENS) at the University of Helsinki, in cooperation with the Institut français de Finlande and the Finnish network for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, arranged the first Finnish-French workshop on the Roma during WWII. The keynote speaker is Marie-Christine Hubert from France who has worked on the internment of Gypsies in France during WWII.
During 2012 and 2013 an exhibition called “A History for Today” (“Historiaa nykypäivälle”) has been touring Finnish towns. This exhibition, dedicated to the fate of Anne Frank and also presenting the latest research results on Finnish Holocaust history, has been compiled in cooperation between the Anne Frank House, University of Helsinki and the Peace Education Institute (Rauhankasvatusintituutti).
27 January has been an official Holocaust Remembrance Day in Finland since 2002. In Finnish the day is called Memorial Day for Victims of Persecution (Vainojen uhrien muistopäivä), in Swedish, the second official language, Memorial Day for Victims of the Holocaust (Minnesdagen för förintelsens offer). The Memorial Day honours the memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, as well as other victims of persecution during World War II, including Roma victims. It was established by the Prime Minister's Office on 20 February 2001.
In Finland, the Roma and Sinti genocide is officially commemorated on 27 January.
Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum
In all Finnish schools, pupils learn about the Holocaust through a number of different pedagogical methods and activities. The Holocaust is a compulsory subject in history classes at both the comprehensive and upper secondary school levels, and is included as part of teaching on the history of Germany and Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, and on the history of World War II. Moreover, the subject of the Holocaust is also addressed in classes on religion, social studies, ethics and literature. Schools sometimes organize days and weeks dedicated to the subject of the Holocaust. Roma victims are included in the teaching of the Holocaust. Yet it is unknown if the Roma Genocide is specifically dealt with in Finnish school.
Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks
Training of teachers and education professionals
Historians from the University of Helsinki and the Jewish school of Helsinki, have contributed to develop with the Anne Frank House (The Netherlands) teaching materials on anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination. In September 2012 a youth meeting was held in Helsinki with youngsters from all over Finland to advise and contribute to the content of the materials.
The Finnish Peace Education Institute and Cultures of Silence research project (University of Helsinki) have recently published new teaching material against antisemitism and racism. The materials are targeted at secondary and upper secondary schools, as well as vocational institutions. These pedagogical tools provide activating exercises for all the themes discussed, and can be used in e.g. history, ethics and psychology teaching. The first booklet, "Persecution of Centuries," discusses antisemitism both in the past and today. The second booklet, "Prejudiced - me?" focuses on prejudices, stereotypes and discrimination as phenomena. Both of the booklets aim at providing tools for critical thinking and acting against racism.
Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions
Since the school system in Finland is decentralized, schools organize Holocaust-related events independently. These activities are encouraged by the Ministry of Education and the Finnish National Board of Education that provide educational materials on the topic.
Creative association for arts and culture drom's project “the Forgotten Genocide”:
Drom Association is a creative association for culture and arts, founded in 1976 which promotes equality, multicultural competencies and intercultural interaction. Drom Association was born from the professional Roma theatre Drom, founded within the Theatre Academy of Helsinki. Drom created a personal point of view for the Roma people, and successfully performed in Finland and abroad for 15 years. The Finnish author and Cultural Counsellor Veijo Baltzar is the president of the Drom Association.
In the spring of 2010 the Finnish NGO Drom Association organized in Helsinki an international series of events entitled "The Forgotten Genocide" dedicated to the Roma Holocaust. The president of Finland Tarja Halonen served as the patron of the project. In addition to the Goethe-Institut, the project involved the embassies of the Czech Republic, Austria and Sweden. The Embassy of Sweden provided support for the participation of the Anne Frank Foundation. The main event of was international scholarly seminar "The Roma and the Holocaust" on the history and present situation of the Roma held at the House of Science and Letters in Helsinki on 8 - 9 April 2010. As a neutral country Finland had the worthy opportunity to host these events focusing on the Roma Holocaust. Although the Roma Holocaust has been officially recognized, it isstill far from being processed historically and it is a subject that has remained completely unknown to many people. Other events in this connection consisted of the Barvalo Drom (Rich Road) exhibition at the Caisa Cultural Centre, presenting Roma history, culture and art in broad perspective, and the concert series Barvalo Drom with its main concert at the Savoy Theatre on 9 April. "The Forgotten Genocide" was the first series of events devoted to this theme in Finland and it gained significant visibility both nationally and internationally.
The cooperation was established between the Drom Association and the Anne Frank Foundation with regard to realizing the exhibition "Miranda - the Roma Holocaust. Who's afraid of the White Man?". It is a touring exhibition produced by Drom Association in 2011. "Miranda" has been on display in various venues in Finland since the spring of 2012. Its revised and expanded version was on show at the National Museum of Finland from 13 September 2013 until 23 March 2014. Miranda presents recent European history from a Roma perspective, the vital culture of the Roma, and their present conditions. It tells of a civilized world that did not know, see or hear what happened while enacting the laws and drawing up the rules that led the Roma to the concentration camps and gas chambers of the Second World War. The symbol and uniting concept is the true story of Miranda, the daughter of a Slovakian Roma family who was sent to a concentration camp along with other members of her family. The stories are excerpts from a hitherto unpublished novel by Veijo Baltzar. "Miranda" exhibition has been produced under the direction of Cultural Counsellor Veijo Baltzar and in association with the Anne Frank Foundation of the Netherlands, the Museum of Romani Culture (Czech Republic) and Miika Tervonen Ph.D. (University of Helsinki).
Before that, in the beginning of the 2000s, first public representations of Finnish Roma at war have emerged. Travelling exhibition “Isämme sodassa - meidänkin isänmaame” (Our fathers at war – Finland is also our fatherland), initiated by Pertti Palm, aimed at showing that Roma also made sacrifices during the war to protect the country.
Lakatos, M. (1981). Katkerat savut: romaani. Helsinki: Librum. [Original in Hungarian]
Mehr, M. (1990). Kirvesaika. Helsinki: Kirjapaja. [Original in German]
Nikupaavola, R. et al.(1995). Kirjavaliot: neljä lyhennettyä menestysteosta. Helsinki: Valitut palat. [Original in English. This book includes Ja viulut vaikenivat - And the violins stopped playing - by A. Ramati]
Baltzar, V. (2000) - Phuro. Helsinki: Tammi.
On the website "Hitler's Third Reich and World War II" it is possible to read news related to Roma and WWII.
On the website “Kuuluisat romanit” there is a list with the names and the achievements of many Roma, some of them are artists whose works are related to the topic of the Genocide.
Bruchfeld, S. et al. (1998). Kertokaa siitä lapsillenne...: kirja juutalaisten joukkotuhosta Euroopassa, 1933-1945. Stockholm: Hallituksen kanslia elävä historia. [Original in Swedish]
Vos, C. (2005). "The Past in Iconic Clichés The case of ‘the girl between the doors of a cattle-wagon to Auschwitz’". In: Salmi, H. (ed.). History in Words and Images. Proceedings of the Conference on Historical Representation held at the University of Turku, Finland, 26–28 September 2002. Turku: University of Turku, Department of History, pp. 157-170.