Recognition of the Roma Genocide

 Recognition, official texts

Italy observes 27 January as Holocaust Memorial Day. It is called the Day of Remembrance. The date was established on 20 July 2000 following the adoption of Law No. 211. The law establishes 27 January as a memorial day to remember the racial laws, the Italian persecution of Jewish citizens and those who suffered deportation, imprisonment and death during the Holocaust. It also serves to commemorate those who opposed the Nazi regime and risked their lives to save and protect others.

There is no official acknowledgment of the Roma Genocide in Italy. The “Law 20 July 2000, no. 211, that institutes the Day of Remembrance” for those who have been deported in the concentration camps during the Second World War, doesn’t mention expressly the Roma.


 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

1922- 1943Rejections, expulsions and internment

On 19 February 1926, the Minister of Home Affairs ordered that Foreign “Gypsies”, should be rejected, even those in possess of valid documents allowing access to Italy. On 8 August 1926, the Chief of police confirmed that the main objective to be pursued was that of the eradication from the whole national territory of the “gypsy” caravans. On 14 May 1930 the Chief of police ordered the itinerant Italian “Gypsies” to return in their place of origin.

On 6 and 10 December 1937 and on 17 January 1938, the Chief of police ordered an ethnic cleansing of Roma and Sinti in the North-Eastern region of Istria. They were boarded on ferries and confined to several places in Sardinia, between the province of Nuoro and that of Sassari. At least 80 people were deported and scattered in the countryside, under the control of the police.

On the 11th September 1940 the Chief of police ordered all Roma and Sinti (included the Italian nationals) to be interned in specific places. The regime began to prepare a network of concentration camps in Italy that were uniquely reserved to the “Gypsies”. The first camp was located in a former tobacco factory in Bojano (in the province of Campobasso): between 1940 and 1941, 58 Roma and Sinti were taken here from different parts of the country. These were later joined by a further 100 people, who were registered in the camp lists at the beginning of 1943. Agnone (Campobasso) became the main camp for “Gypsies” interned by the Fascist regime; other camps or “place of internment”for Roma and Sinti were created in Berra (Ferrara), Prignano sulla Secchia (Modena), Torino di Sangro (Chieti), Chieti, Fontecchio negli Abruzzi (Chieti). In 1942, a new concentration camp was opened in Tossicia (Teramo).

1943-1945

After the armistice of 8th September 1943, the Roma and Sinti prisoners managed to escape from the camps. During the Nazi occupation and the Repubblica Sociale Italiana, September 1943 – April 1945, a few tens of them were arrested by the German police and deported to Nazi camps.

In Rome, there are two places where the Roma Genocide during the Second World War is remembered: a) in Piazza degli Zingari (Square of the Roma people), near the Coliseum, there is since 2001 a plaque that commemorate the Roma Genocide; b) in the Shrine of “Divino Amore” there is a monument made by Bruno Morelli, as a reminder of the Roma Genocide.


 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

The virtual Museum of Porajmos is a joint project led by the Archive Study Centre Gypsies of Rome- Foundation ex Campo Fossoli, in cooperation with the association Sucar Drom and the Federazione Rom e Sinti Insieme. It collects data and produces materials and information for the general public.

Associazione Sucar Drom


 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

Many Italian cities commemorates 8 April as the International Day of the Roma. There is not a national event related to this day; in fact, all the events and public ceremonies related to this day are organised by each city.

In 2006, the Community of Sant’Egidio proposed a motion, which was approved, for the institution of the International Day of the Roma (8 April) in the municipality of Rome; on this day it is also remembered the Roma Genocide during the Second World War.

Every year, on 16 October, in Rome, the Community of Sant’Egidio, in co-operation with the Jewish Community and the Roma Community, organizes a march to remember the deportation of the Jews from the Ghetto, which took place on 16 October 1943, during the Nazi occupation and in the months thereafter. In that occasion, it is also remembered the Genocide of the Roma during the Second World War. Similar events are held in many other Italian cities.

In 2013, the National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR) used Holocaust Memorial Day to raise awareness about discrimination by supporting the inauguration of an installation at the railway station in Milan to remember those who were sent to Auschwitz.

On 27 January 2015, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Italian Senate Human Rights Commission recalls ethnic Roma victims. PD Senator Luigi Manconi, head of the Senate human rights Committee, recalled numerous other victims of Nazi extermination during the Second World War. "On this day of remembrance and commemoration it is right to recall the extermination of ethnic Roma under Nazi-fascism and highlight the new wave of intolerance towards them."

 Remembrance day

There is an ongoing commitment of schools in the Holocaust Remembrance Day. No remembrance day for the Roma Genocide is observed.

 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

The Italian national curriculum includes teaching about the Holocaust. Following reforms, the Holocaust was introduced as one of the main subjects taught in high schools. The Italian government co-operates with the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI). It is unknown to which extent the Roma Genocide is taught.


 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

In every school level curriculum the Holocaust and the Genocide of the Jews is included, but not specifically the Roma Genocide.


 Training of teachers and education professionals

Laura Fontana, CEO of the Education and Memory project, published an article "Rethinking School Trips to Auschwitz. A Case Study of Italian Memorial Trains: Deterioration of Holocaust Pedagogy?" in “The Holocaust Ethos in the 21st Century: Dilemmas and Challenges”, Ariel University of Samaria, 2011. The article offers guidelines on how to teach Auschwitz to pupils, especially on field trip. Yet, it merely evokes the Gypsies’ camp in Auschwitz.

The Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, together with the Council of Europe, organised on 11 and 12 December 2014 in Rome an International Seminar “Introducing Roma history teaching into national school curricula: a policy response towards inclusive education”. The objective of this seminar was to provide an institutional forum to support a policy development process towards incorporating Roma history teaching into national school curricula. This involves, on the one hand, providing and facilitating available Roma history teaching materials and resources to relevant authorities, some of them being produced by the Council of Europe, and, on the other hand, identifying the institutional mechanisms able to facilitate an efficient and resourceful process towards introducing Roma history teaching in national school curricula. More than 50 participants coming from about 20 Council of Europe member States participated in this Seminar, including high state officials, members of parliament, historians, policy-makers on history school curriculum, as well as experts and officials that can facilitate a reform process towards introducing the Roma history teaching in the national school curriculum. Positive examples in introducing Roma history teaching were discussed. As an example, the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research has set up a working group together with the National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR) and experts from civil society with the specific aim to draft a Decree that will introduce knowledge of Porrajmos (the Roma genocide during the Second World War) in Italian schools.


 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

In Rome and Milan, two centres have been established by Jewish communities to organize meetings and to facilitate connections between schools and Holocaust survivors and their children and grandchildren.

Approximately 80 000 Italians, mostly students, visit Auschwitz every year.

Testimonies

Porrajmos is a virtual museum that gathers information on the persecution of Roma and Sinti during Second World War. It comprises of video testimonies of Roma survivors who were inmates in Italian camps.

 Initiatives of the civil society

Private corporate bodies and associations periodically promote, especially on the Day of Remembrance, the memory of Roma Genocide; it is possible to highlight the activities undertaken by the group Osservazione and by the Istituto di Cultura Sinta di Mantova.

Other example:

Community of Sant’Egidio
Piazza S. Egidio 3A
00153 Roma. Italy
Telephone: + 39 06585661
Contact person: Dr. Paolo Ciani

The activities of the Community of Sant’Egidio regarding the Roma: since 1982, there are activities related to education issues, as well as to the mediation with the “Gadjo”. There are also activities in Genoa, Novara, Florence, Naples, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Würzburg, and Antwerp.

Several activities in the Comunità di Sant’Egidio. “Everyday friendship”: Learning how to live together (school of peace), services free of charge once a week (medical care, legal counselling, administrative orientation), visit to the Roma inmates, solidarity between Young and Elder (visit to hospital), common celebrations and festivities, defence of Roma rights in different institutions by volunteers. The curriculum of the Italian language course for immigrants and refugees run by the Community of Sant’Egidio includes specific lessons about the Roma Genocide. Almost 1,000 students are involved every year. On the occasion of the Day of Remembrance, the Community of Sant’Egidio organizes cultural activities addressed to students from every school level, focusing on the Genocide of the Jews and the Roma. In June 2007, the Community of Sant’Egidio organized a conference about Anti-Gypsyism in Italy. The proceedings of this conference have been published in a book, Il caso Zingari (Leonardo International, Milano, 2008). In 2008, Il caso Zingari has been presented in several Italian cities (Rome, Milan, Naples, Genoa, Padua) during conferences attended by many people. In October 2007, on the occasion of the interreligious international meeting “For a World Without Violence: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue”, organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Naples, Ceija Stokja, Roma survivor from Nazi Concentration camps of Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, and Bergen Belsen gave a speech about the Roma Genocide. The Community of Sant’Egidio works for raising awareness of the Roma Genocide in the new generations. In April 2008, 200 young people of the Community of Sant’Egidio visited the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau for a ceremony recalling the victims of the Shoah and the extermination of the Roma.

The project “MEMORS. The first virtual museum of Porrajmos in Italy. Persecution of Roma and Sinti during the Fascist era” is a joint initiative from the Archive Study Centre Gypsies of Rome- Foundation ex Campo Fossoli, in cooperation with the association Sucar Drom and the Federazione Rom e Sinti Insieme. It collects data and produces materials and information for the general public. It has created a virtual Museum of the Porrajmos. It is funded by EACEA’s Europe for citizens programme 2012-2013. The “MEMORS” project focuses on the aims of action 4, thus trying to preserve or recover the memory of the mass deportation of Sinti and Roma, as well as their presence in the Italian concentration camps. In order to do so, besides holding commemorative events, it begins by publishing all the existing documents online so that they can be accessed by a larger number of people. This way, it intends to spread the information both in the “new places of memory” and among the Roma and Sinti population, making them an active part of its initiatives. Furthermore, the project allows the creation of a network among the various actors of the civil society that deal with this issue in different ways: private research institutes, associations of victims of persecution, associations that promote memory.

“Roma Identity” is a campaign aimed at raising awareness on Roma culture and identity. It has been led by NGO Ricerca e Cooperazione and carried out by several NGOs and public organisations from Spain, Italy and Romania. It is funded by EU programme. Their website displays a glossary “Roma e Sinti glossary from A to Z” which defines “Porrajmos”. RomaIdentity has published an article on the Roma Genocide in which Maura de Bernart is interviewed. She is a professor of sociology at the University of Bologna and coordinator of ECOSMEG.

NGO Forum Campani Rom from Napoli has contributed to the draft resolution presented and voted by the European Parliament on 15th April 2015 urging the EU and its Member States to recognize 2 August as Roma Holocaust Remembrance day.

Project "Roma e Sinti in Italia e nel Mondo: Giving Memory a future"
The projet is led under the command of the USC Shoah Foundation. On 21st April 2015 Milena Santerini, professor and Member of Parliament who helped create the resource, presented it at the Council of Europe. Other speakers at the seminar were Santino Spinelli, professor of Romani language and culture at University of Chieti; author Ellie Keen; Ramon Flores, a young Roma activist; and Ulrich Bunjes, special representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for Roma Issues. The idea of the project is to transfer the methods of teaching the Jewish experience of the Holocaust that have resulted in greater awareness of discrimination and exclusion to the Roma/Sinti, or “Gypsy,” persecution during the Holocaust, which is much less known. The Italian Ministry of Education recently passed a decree to make Giving Memory a Future available to all teachers and create an annual contest for students about the Roma Genocide also using the resource.

There are some laboratories and courses in the universities of Florence, Verona and Trieste related to the Roma Genocide.

ECOSMEG – European Cosmopolitanism and Sites of Memory through Generations is an initiative led by the University of Bologna: it is a historical research project based on five sites of remembrance, including places in Italy, in Croatia and in Albania. It aims at highlighting and documenting minor sites of remembrance of Shoah and the Second World War. Yet it is not specifically targeted at Roam victims.

 Resources

 Educational material

Fontana, L., "Rethinking School Trips to Auschwitz. A Case Study of Italian Memorial Trains: Deterioration of Holocaust Pedagogy?" in “The Holocaust Ethos in the 21st Century: Dilemmas and Challenges”, Ariel University of Samaria, 2011.

Italy - Rome, Istituto Pitigliani, December 2014, The International School for Holocaust Studies - Seminars for European Graduates

 Information material

Bernadac, Ch. (1980). L'Olocausto dimenticato: il massacro degli Zingari. Ginevra: Edizioni Ferni. [Original in French]

Rosenberg, O. (2000). La lente focale: gli zingari nell'Olocausto. Venezia: Marsilio. [Original in German]

Novels:

Mehr, M. (2006). Labambina. Milano: Effigie. [Original in German]

Mehr, M. (2001). Il Marchio. Ferrara: Luciana Tufani Editrice. [Original in German]

Ramati, A. (1986). E i violini cessarono di suonare. Milano: Dall'Oglio. [Original in English]

Mehr, M. (1995). Silviasilviosilvana. Rep. di San Marino: AIEP. Published in San Marino, in Italian. [Original in German]

Poetry:

Innocenzi, F. et Opera nomadi Milano (2007). Versi dal silenzo. Roma: Progetto cultura. [It is a collection of poems written by different authors]

Mehr, M. (2006). Notizie dall'esilio. Milano: Effigie. [Text in Italian, German and Romani. Original in German and Romani] [Read one poem in Italian]

Expositions/exhibitions:

Porrajmos. Altre tracce sul sentiero per Auschwitz – exposition edited by the Istituto di Cultura Sinta – Mantova - via Tazzoli n. 14, 46100 Mantova, tel. 0376 360643 - sucardrom.blogspot.com

L'estraneo tra noi. La figura dello zingaro nell’immaginario italiano – exposition edited by Mauro Raspanti – Scuola di Pace di Bologna - via Lombardia, 36 - 40139 Bologna. Tel. 051 491953

 Scientific publications

Asséo, H. (1999). “Le sort des Tsiganes en Europe sous le régime nazi”, Revue d’histoire de la Shoah, 167, pp. 8-19.

Bernadac, Ch. (1980). L'Olocausto dimenticato: il massacro degli Zingari. Ginevra: Edizioni Ferni. [Original in French]

Boursier, G. (1995). “Lo sterminio degli zingari durante la seconda guerra mondiale”, Studi storici, 2.

Boursier, G. (1999). “Gypsies in Italy during the Fascist dictatorship and the Second World War”. In: Kenrick, D. (ed.). The Gypsies During the Second World War. Vol. 2. In the Shadow of the Swastika. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press, pp. 13-36.

Boursier, G. et al. (1996). Zigeuner: lo sterminio dimenticato. Roma: Sinnos.

Bravi, L. (2002). Altre Tracce sul Sentiero per Auschwitz. Il genocidio dei Rom sotto il Terzo Reich. Roma: CISU (Centro d’Informazione e Stampa Universitaria).

Bravi, L. (2006). “Lo sterminio degli zingari”. In: Chiappano, A. and Minazzi, F. (eds.). Il paradigma nazista dell’annientamento. La Shoah e gli altri stermini. Firenze: Giuntina, pp. 109-122.

Bravi, L. (2007). Rom e non-zingari. Vicende storiche e pratiche rieducative sotto la dittatura fascista. Roma: CISU.

Bravi, L. (2009). "Il paradigma di Auschwitz nella storia dei rom e dei sinti". Dans: Tra inclusione ed esclusione. Una storia sociele dell"educazione dei rom e dei sinti in Italia. Milano: Edizioni Unicopli, pp. 25-50.

Bravi, L. and Sigona, N. (2006). “Educazione e rieducazione nei campi per ‘nomadi’: una storia”, Studi Emigrazione, 164, pp. 857-874.

Ficowski, J., Condannati allo sterminio, "Quaderni Zingari”, n. 42.

Fings, K. et al. (1998). Dalla "ricerca razziale" ai campi nazisti 1: gli zingari nella seconda guerra mondiale. Roma: Centro Studi Zingari, Anicia.

Giannini, G. (2005). Il giorno della memoria: per non dimenti-care. Roma: Edizioni associate.

Impagliazzo, M. (ed.) (2008). Il caso zingari. Milano: Leonardo international.

Kenrick, D. and Puxon, G. (1975). Il destino degli zingari. Milano: Rizzoli. [Original in English]

Lewy, G. (2002). La persecuzione nazista degli zingari. Torino: G. Einudi.

Masserini, A. (1990). Storia dei nomadi: la persecuzione degli zingari nel XX secolo. Padova: Edizioni GB.

Monchieri, L. (1982). Ragazzi del lager. Brescia: Scuola.

Müller-Hill, B. (1989). Scienza di morte: l'eliminazione degli Ebrei, degli Zigani e dei malati di mente 1933-1945. Pisa: Editrice. [Original in German]

Osella,C., "Rom e Sinti. Il genocidio dimenticato'', quaderni della Fondazione Migrantes Tao editrice, 2013.

Rosenberg, O. (2000). La lente focale: gli zingari nell'Olocausto. Venezia: Marsilio. [Original in German]

Carlo Spartaco Capogreco, I campi del duce. L’internamento civile nell’Italia fascista (1940-1943), Einaudi, Torino 2004.

Paola Trevisan, “Gypsies” in Fascist Italy: from expelled foreigners to dangerous Italians, in “Social History”, XLII (2017), n. 3, pp. 342-364.

Paola Trevisan, The persecution of Rom and Sinti in Fascist Italy, in “Trauma and memory”, 6 (2018), n. 3, https://www.eupsycho.com/index.php/TM/article/view/205.

 Multimedia material

Music:

In 2007 Fabio Turchetti sang the poem "Non c'era mare", written by Mariella Mehr.
 

Film

1992: “I Rom (I popoli che scompaiono)” (The Roma – The people who disappear)
Documentary. Italy. Director: Mario Gianni. 23 min.
About the history, culture and political situation of the Roma in Czechoslovakia. There are some commentaries about the Nazi ideology and racial plans.

1998: \"Lo sterminio dei popoli zingari\" (The extermination of the Roma)
Documentary. Italy. Director: Andrea Segre. 40 min.
About the extermination of the Roma people.

2002: \"Romani Rat / La notte dei Rom” (\"Romani Rat / The Night of the Romany”)
Documentary. Italy. Director: Maurizio Orlandi. Languages: Italian, Polish, Romani. 60 min.
A Roma Musician from Kosovo, a Polish photographer, and a social worker from an Italian camp for Travellers go on a trip to different villages and countries in Europe in order to find witnesses of the Porrajmos.

2004: “Porrajmos. La persecuzione e lo sterminio nazifascista dei Rom e dei Sinti” (“Porrajmos. The persecution and extermination of the Roma and Sinti population by the Nazis”). Audio documentary. Italy. Director: Andrea Giuseppini. 2 CDs. 90 min.
About some Roma survivors, some of them Italian, their experiences in concentration camps and the opinion of some experts.

2006: “A forza di essere vento. Lo sterminio nazista degli Zingari” (Because of being mobile. The Nazi extermination of the Roma). Documentary. Italy. Several directors. Producer: Editrice A. 2 DVDs.
About the Nazi extermination of the Roma, the concentration camps and the forced labour. 
 

Website:

The testimony audio of two survived to the persecution of the Rom in Italy

The website zerozerojazz offers information in Italian about Ferenc Snétberger's concert "In memory of my people" (“In Memoria della Mia Gente”) and the CD For my people.

osservazione.org

sucardrom.blogspot.com

radioparole.it

An audio documentary about genocide of Rom and Sinti