Recognition, official texts
Norway observes 27th January as Holocaust Memorial Day. The date was officially designated as a memorial day in 2000. The first commemoration took place in 2001.
In Norway, the Roma and Sinti genocide is officially commemorated on 27th January. The Genocide has been recognized since the founding of the Centre for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities in 2001. Several official statements have been made by different governmental parties to condemn the Roma Genocide during WWII. Every 27 January (International Holocaust Remembrance Day), one of the speeches is held by governmental representatives. They all mention the Roma Genocide. In the governmental report (White Paper) about National Minorities in Norway (St. Meld. No. 15 (2000-2001)) the Norwegian hostility towards Roma in the 1920-1930 is discussed. The responsibility of the Norwegian Government, that denied a group of 68 Roma with Norwegian background to come back to Norway in 1934, is highlighted. Several members of this group were later exterminated in concentration camps.
In 2012, the speech of the Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg mentioned Roma victims while officially regretting the participation of Norwegian officials and citizens in the deportation of Holocaust victims. In 2014, representatives of the Norwegian Government, the Jewish community, the Roma community and former political prisoners attended the commemoration.
The Christian-Democrat former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik mentioned Samudaripen (Roma Genocide) in his speech at the Centre for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities in 2005.
A former Parliamentary Secretary, Berit Oskal Eira, made a speech at the opening of the Exhibition “The Holocaust against the Roma and Sinti and present day racism in Europe” at the Centre, on 11 September 2007, when she emphasized how little attention the Roma Genocide had in Norwegian collective consciousness and how important it is to underline this fact to fight racism and anti-Gypsyism today.
There is no law provision against the denial of the Genocide in Norway.
Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)
Of the 772 Jews who were deported from Norway during the war, only 34 survived. Sixty-six Norwegian Roma were also subjected to the Nazi racial extermination policy. By May 1945, only four of them were still alive. They found themselves in liberated Belgium, classified as «stateless Gypsies», and still prohibited from entering Norway by the «Gypsy clause» of 1927.
Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue
The Centre for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities (HL-Senteret) contributes with new research, education and information activities, exhibitions and conferences. It presents a modern exhibition on the Holocaust. Images, sounds, film, items and text documents the genocide on the European Jews, as well as the Nazi State’s mass murder and persecution of other peoples and minorities.
In 2007, it held an exhibition called “The Holocaust against Roma and Sinti. Present day racism in Europe”. The exhibition constituted the background for a conference, held on 14 September 2007. Leading researchers presented different aspects of both the historical and contemporary discrimination and persecution of Roma and Sinti in Europe. The first session was dedicated to the Nazi persecution of Roma and Sinti through European and Scandinavian perspectives.
On 7th September 2013, the Centre held a conference on the “Nazi Genocide of the Roma. Reevaluation and Commemoration” with many Roma Genocide experts from around the world.
Its educational department holds teacher training courses, ranging from basic Holocaust education to specialized courses on themes such as European totalitarianism in the interwar period and the Holocaust in literature. The center also plays an active role in the development of relevant education in Norway and other European countries. Teaching material and web based teaching resources developed by the center are accessed by teachers nationwide through our website. The material covers various themes related to the Holocaust and other genocides. For the time being, these are only available in Norwegian.
Centre for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities
Po. Box 1168 Blindern
N-0318 Oslo, Norway
Telephone: +47 22 84 21 00
Fax: +47 22 84 21 01
The Glomdal Museum (Glomdalsmuseet) is a local museum that presents the cultural history of Østerdalen and Solør (in the South-Eastern part of Norway). This museum has established a permanent exhibition and a website about the Travellers and their history in Norway called “Latjo Drom” Contact person: Mari Møystad, tel.: +47 62 41 90 91).
The Wergeland Centre is a European resource centre for intercultural education, human rights and democratic citizenship established in autumn 2008, in cooperation with the Council of Europe. It was named after the writer Henrik Wergeland (1808-1845), considered as the Norwegian champion for human rights, freedom and tolerance. The centre promotes research, offers training for teachers and teacher-trainers, disseminates information and serves as a hub for networks. Its target-groups are teacher-trainers, teachers, researchers, practitioners, policymakers and others.
Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)
Since 2002, Norway has commemorated the International Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January. In Oslo the annual commemoration takes place at the quayside from where the Norwegian Jews were brutally forced into ships for deportation to Auschwitz and extermination. Members of the Norwegian Government attend and speak at the "Site of Remembrance" a memorial in the shape of empty chairs, created by the British artist Antony Gormley. 27 January is also commemorated at the Falstad Centre close to Trondheim, in Kristiansand and in a number of other towns, schools, museums and memorial sites. Many activities and events take place on that day throughout Norway, and are listed on the dedicated website Holocastdagen.no.
In 2012, the speech of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg mentioned Roma victims while officially regretting the participation of Norwegian officials and citizens in the deportation of Holocaust victims. In 2014, representatives of the Norwegian Government, the Jewish community, the Roma community and former political prisoners attended the commemoration. In the autumn of 2013, HL-senteret (The Norwegian Centre for Holocaust and Minority Studies) was commissioned by the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs to investigate what happened to Norway’s Roma population during World War II. The final report “Å bli dem kvit” (“Getting rid of them”) was presented in February 2015. Members of the Roma population stood behind the initiative.
On 8 April 2015, the International Roma Day, the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg officially apologized to the Norwegian Roma for the racist policy of exclusion that was pursued in the decades before and after World War II, and apologized for “the fatal consequences that this policy had for Norwegian Roma during the Holocaust”.
Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum
There are no specific texts or competence aims directly related to the topic of the Roma Genocide in the National Curriculum. There is, however, a competence aim after year 7 in the Social Science Subject Curriculum, main subject area – History:
The aim of the education is that the pupil shall be able to elaborate which national minorities exist in Norway, and describe the main characteristics of the history and living conditions of these minorities.
There are several competence aims in a number of subjects in primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education with relevance to the topic.
Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks
The Roma Genocide is mentioned in textbooks for pupils in secondary schools. The Roma victims are mentioned as “other victims”. In 2013, The Minister of Education requested a review of textbooks related to the presence of the Holocaust in secondary education textbooks. Norwegian textbooks for schools are not subject to government approval.
Training of teachers and education professionals
The Centre for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities has an educational department which holds teacher training courses, ranging from basic Holocaust education to specialized courses on themes such as European totalitarianism in the interwar period and the Holocaust in literature. The center also plays an active role in the development of relevant education in Norway and other European countries. Teaching material and web based teaching resources developed by the center are accessed by teachers nationwide through our website. The material covers various themes related to the Holocaust and other genocides. For the time being, these are only available in Norwegian.
The University College of Oslo has developed lecture material on the topic of Holocaust, but this specific topic is not integrated in the training of teachers.
Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions
The 27th of January is also commemorated in schools. In addition, there are organized school tours to Auschwitz and other memorial sites on the continent. Annually, several thousands of Norwegian secondary school pupils travel with the organizations White Buses to Auschwitz and Travel for Peace, performing acts of commemoration.
Queen Maud's College of Early Childhood Education (QMC) and “Taternes Landsforening” (National Association for Travellers) carried out the project “Romani-/taterfolket - fra barn til voksen. Tiltak i barnehage og skole” (The Travellers – from child to adult. Measures in kindergarten and school), between years 2003-2009 (project manager: Anne-Mari Larsen), financed by three ministries. Educational materials were published in the autumn of 2008.
Sixty-six Norwegian Roma were among those deported from Belgium between November 1943 and May 1944. While Dika Zikali had died by then, her sons Karl and Oskar Bo Josef were deported and murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Of the other family heads, Karl Modis and Josef Karoli suffered the same fate. At least 21 members of the Modis family, 19 members of the Josef family, and 17 members of the Karoli family were deported to the «Gypsy camp» in Auschwitz-Birkenau. The only Norwegian Roma to survive their time in Auschwitz were Jeanne Galut-Modis, Klara Karoli (née Josef) and brothers Stevo and Milos Karoli. Milos was the only one of these four to return to Norway, though not until 1956 after Norway had repealed the «Gypsy clause». The descendants of the deported Norwegian Roma stood behind the initiative to investigate what had happened to their family members before, during and after World War II. They also requested an official apology and collective compensation for the way they had been treated by Norwegian authorities. On 8 April 2015, International Roma Day, Prime Minister Erna Solberg apologised on behalf of the Norwegian government for «the racist exclusion policy applied in the decades before and after World War II».
Peder Skogaas and Kåre Lilleholt “En for hverandre. Sigøynerne Milos Karoli og Frans Josef forteller”, Gyldendal norsk forlag, 1978.
Svein Dybing and Terje Gammelsrud: Raya. Født med englevakt. 1983.
Solomia Karoli: ”Sigøynerkongens datter”, Aschehoug, 2009.
EEA Grants and Norway Grants support the project “Providing justice for Roma Holocaust victims” in Romania. Despite the fact that Romanian authorities have officially recognised the Roma, alongside the Jews, as victims of the Holocaust in Romania, many Roma survivors are unaware of their rights and have not received any compensation for the horrors they went through. This is one of the reasons why the Community Resource Centre Association is working to identify Roma survivors so that they can receive the compensation they are entitled to. The project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the NGO fund in Romania. The project also includes establishing a database with an overview of Roma Genocide victims in Romania and the creation of an archive with pictures and audio and video testimonials. The project started in April 2014 and ended in November 2014. It received €31 480 from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the NGO fund in Romania.
Bergkvist, J., "Norske romer i nazistenes konsentrasjonsleire” (Norwegian Roma in Nazi Concentration Camps)
Bergkvist, J., Vigardt, K.S., “'En endelig løsning på taterplagen’. Oslo fattigvesen og rasehygiene under 2. verdenskrig” (‘A Final Solution to the Gypsy Menace’: Oslo Poor Relief Fund and Racial Hygiene During the Second World War).
Johansen, J. O. (1989). Sigøynernes holocaust. Oslo: J.W. Cappelen. (The Genocide/Holocaust of the Roma).
Rosvoll, M., Lien, L., Brustad, J.A., Å BLI DEM KVIT Utviklingen av en "sigøynerpolitikk" og utryddelsen av norske rom (Getting rid of them. The development of a “Gypsy policy” and the extermination of Norwegian Roma), 2015, Centre of studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities.
Weiss-Wendt, A., The Nazi Genocide of the Roma: Reassessment and Commemoration, 2013, Berghan Books
The Centre for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities conducts research within the fields of (1) Jewish History and Antisemitism; (2) Religious Minorities; (3) Nazism, Fascism and Occupation Regimes in Europe and (4) Comparative Genocide.
Through the project "What the Documents Tell Us", the Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities (HL-senteret) will present 10 historical documents that were collected during work on preparing the report "Getting Rid of Them: Development of a «Gypsy policy» and extermination of Norwegian Roma".