Recognition, official texts
The Holocaust was recognised under the term “Holocaust”; on the contrary, the terms “Porrajmos” or “Samudaripen” are “not recognised and not acceptable”.
The official texts referring to the recognition of Roma Genocide are:
- the official statement of Mr. Pal Csaky (Deputy Prime Minister for Minorities in Slovakia) including excuse for Genocide of the Roma in Slovakia (Zvolen, 10.04.2006) and
- the statement of Prime Minister Robert Fico from May 2007. There is no law provision against the denial of the Holocaust.
In the Slovak Republic, the Roma and Sinti genocide is officially commemorated on 2 August. (See OSCE report “Holocaust Memorial Days: An overview of remembrance and education in the OSCE region”, page 95).
The Slovak Republic observes 9th September as the Memorial Day for Victims of the Holocaust and Racial Violence. The date 9th September was chosen because it is the anniversary of the day in 1941 when the Slovak Government introduced 290 repressive laws (the so-called “Jewish Codex”) that initiated the process of the deportations of Jews, resulting in the killing of over 70,000 Slovak Jews. The Memorial Day honours victims of the Holocaust and racial violence. The day was established as a commemoration day by the Slovak Parliament on 31st October 2000.
Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)
Dubnica nad Váhom was the site of one of the largest civil engineering projects in Slovakia: the construction of a gigantic dam on the River Váh. From 1942 to 1944 Roma were used for slave labour there. When all the workers were discharged, the Roma were moved with their families to a detention camp. Many of the 700 inmates of that camp were killed during the ﬁnal days of the war.
Numerous commemorative activities are held every year to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, including conferences, seminars and lectures on the Holocaust, racial violence and antiSemitism. Wreath laying ceremonies are held at the Holocaust Memorial under the auspices of the President of the Slovak Republic.
A monument and a documentation centre in the town of Nemecká, not far from Banská Bystrica, commemorate those killed in the aftermath of the suppression of the Slovak National Uprising. Klára Pataki designed a monument to commemorate victims of the mass murder that happened in 1944. A memorial centre on the Slovak National Uprising and the mass murder following its suppression was opened in 1962. The memorial site has been administered by the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica since 2002. During the suppression of the Uprising 205 Jews, Sinti and Roma were killed by the Hlinka Guard and SS-Einsatzgruppen members.
A monument in Kremnička, in the district of Banská Bystrica, which was incorporated into the town in 1970, commemorates the resistance fighters and civilians who were murdered in the aftermath of the suppression of the Slovak National Uprising. Approximately 5,300 people fell victim to the retaliation carried out by German and Slovak units, including 1,000 Jews and many Roma.
There are also memorial plaques or monuments paying tribute to Roma killed during the WWII in Banská Bystrica, Lutila, Nemecká, Hanušovce nad Topľou, Zvolen, Slatina, Dubnica nad Váhom set up within the framework of “Ma bisteren!” Project in 2005. In 2006, new monuments were erected in Dunajska Streda and Čata upon the initiative of the local Roma people.
There are two remembrance places in Čata and in Dunajská Streda, which opened in 2006.
Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue
There is no specialised institution, commission or research centre dealing with the issue of the Roma Genocide. There are two NGOs that deal with this issue but are not strictly specialised, “Milan Šimeček Foundation” and “In Minorita” Civic Association.
Milan Šimeček Foundation Nadácia Milana Šimečku
811 03 Bratislava
Telephone/Fax: +421 2 544 335 52
831 04 Bratislava
Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)
In the Slovak Republic, the Commemoration Day of the Roma Genocide is the 2 August.
In 2005, the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic initiated formation of a working group that shared the preparation of “Ma bisteren!” project. The “Slovak National Museum” and civil association “In Minorita” became the executors of the project. The objective was to realise several memorials set directly at the places of suffering and killing of Roma during the WWII and to encourage a discussion on the topic in Slovak society.
From the 19th of April until the 3rd of May 2008, the National Council of the Slovak Republic, the Prime Minister Department, the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic, together with the Council of Nongovernmental Roma Communities, Documentation and Culture Centrum of German Sintis and Roma and the Slovak National Museum prepared the international itinerant exhibition “Holocaust of Roma and Sintis and Racism in the Current Europe” and the exhibition “Roma Holocaust in Slovakia during years 1939 – 1945”, in the exhibition rooms of the National Council of Slovak Republic and under the patronage of the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Robert Fico.
The regular meeting of the ITF (Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research) about the Education and Remembrance of Holocaust took place in Prague, from the 2nd until the 5th of December 2007. The Slovak delegation attended with the following members: Mrs. Maria Slugenova - Director of Bilateral and Multilateral Department of the Ministry of the Education of the Slovak Republic and Mrs. Monika Vrzgulova - Head of the Documentation Centre of Holocaust, both members of Education Working Group of ITF. The Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic is advocating for having one more member in ITF Education Working Group.
In minorita civil association and Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica prepared a commemorative event and Ceremony on the occasion of the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day at the premises of reverence hall of the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica on 2nd August 2013, in cooperation with the Institute of Ethnology Slovak Academy of Sciences. A memorial ceremony has been held regularly since 2005, as a reminder of the events of 1944.
The Roma and Sinti Genocide is officially commemorated on 2nd August.
A memorial ceremony has been held in the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica regularly since 2005, as a reminder of the events of 1944.
Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum
The topic is not included in the compulsory school curriculum, neither in the draft of the state educational programs of the subjects as the National History and Geography, History and Civic Education. However it only included in the school curriculum of the subject Roma Culture and Civilization taught as a part of the “Experimental Verifications of the Effectiveness of Curriculum of the subject Roma Culture and Civilization” in primary and secondary schools (agreed by the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic, on the 15th of June, 2004, No. CD-2004-5211/18824-3:097), and in the second year of school, in the topical unit “Roma in the 19th and 20th century”, under the name: “Racial Laws of the Germany, political development in Slovakia and Roma during the years 1938-1945 Holocaust (Porrajmos)”.
Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks
The topic is included in the complementary textbook for primary and secondary schools:
Cangar, J.: People from the Roma Family. Nové Zámky: Crocus 2003, chapter “Unclean Race!” (pp. 51-62);
Pivoň, R.: The Roma History in dates, lexicon of history for the experimental subject Roma Culture and Civilization. Bratislava: Štátny pedagogický ústav, 2007.
Training of teachers and education professionals
The topic is the part of the continuous training of pedagogical employees and the training in terms of the National Plan of Human Rights Education. The topic was also presented in terms of education as a part of the pilot course for the teachers of Roma language, literature, culture and civilization.
The systematic lifelong education of teachers in the area of the Holocaust in Slovakia is achieved from 2000, through the project “The preparation of the secondary school teachers in the area of Holocaust education”, provided under the support of the International Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. Selected secondary school teachers took part to study visits in highly qualified training centres in Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, United States of America and Israel.
The most important output of this project was the education pack “Why are we studying about the Holocaust?” elaborated by Slovak specialists, historians and multiplicators, under the coordination of Egon Gal, the Head of the Institute of Judaism of the Comenius University in Bratislava. The part of the pack was prepared by the Milan Šimeček Foundation from Bratislava. Beside the ITF, the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic, the Council for the compensation of the Holocaust Victims in Slovakia and the Foundation EZRA were also financially involved in this project.
After the participation in the training seminars in Terezín (project «How to teach about the Holocaust»), in 2005, 74 Slovak pedagogical employees of the Methodic Centre, methodic specialists of school departments and primary and secondary schools teachers became the multiplicators about the Holocaust for life long education of teachers.
Yearly, in every methodic-pedagogical centre in Slovakia, there are organized seminars “How to teach about the Holocaust” for other 250 primary and secondary school teachers.
The Documentation Centre for Holocaust, with the cooperation of secondary school teachers, prepared the methodical handbook “Holocaust Education” (working sheets), distributed free of charge, agreed by the State Pedagogical Institute and recommended by the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic for teaching about the Holocaust in schools.
The Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic also bought, for the purpose of lifelong learning of teachers, 400 catalogues of the permanent exhibition “Holocaust of Sintis and Roma” organized in the State Museum of Osviencim, in cooperation with the bulletin Ma bisteren!.
Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions
In 2013, the Slovak Ministry of Education signed an agreement with EDAH, a non-governmental organisation for teacher training activities. In cooperation with other organizations, EDAH actively engages teachers and students in various projects devoted to Holocaust education and commemoration. In cooperation with expert trainers, EDAH also prepares various educational materials for teaching purposes and organises educational events aimed at familiarizing the public with the Holocaust.
ROCEPO - Roma educational centre Presov was established on the basis of the letter of the General Director of the Section for International Cooperation and European Integration, the PHARE Section Director of the Ministry of Education Nr. 499/2001 – 82 of 4 December 2001. The aim of ROCEPO is to respect the needs and conditions of the Roma minority with an emphasis on effective education, information, documentation and advisory services, especially for the teachers at schools with a high concentration of Roma children and pupils.
According to the National Plan of the Human Rights Education for 2005-2014 and to the Action Plan for the Prevention of all Forms of Discrimination, Racism, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism and other Forms of Intolerance for years 2006-2008, the task is presented as solved in connection with the Human Education and the education in the area of Human Rights, Children Rights, prevention of all forms of discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance and racism.
The first initiatives connected with remembrance of the Roma tragedy during the Second World War began in Slovakia at the beginning of the 1990s. The theme was taken up in particular by the Milan Šimeček Foundation - Nadácia Milana Šimečku which recorded testimonies of Slovak Roma in addition to Jewish testimonies under its project "Fates of those who survived" which resulted in a publication "Roma and the Second World War" that was issued in 2006.
In minorita civil association is dedicated to presenting and promoting the culture of national minorities living in Slovakia and to research culture and history of Roma. IN MINORITA participates in educational activities and is the watch dog of public policies and development of Roma participation in public affairs.
In 2005, the Slovak National Museum and the civic association "In Minorita" implemented a project called "Ma bisteren!". The goal of project “Ma bisteren!” - which in Romany means “Let’s Not Forget!” - is to remind the public of the suffering of the Roma during the Second World War. The Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic initiated the formation of a working group that shared the preparation of “Ma bisteren!” Project. This project consists of an educational program for youth with a touring exhibit on the Roma genocide and the unveiling of memorial plaques at sites that are connected with the persecution of Roma. Several memorial plaques have been unveiled until now.
A professional Romani theatre group “Romanthan” produced the play under the title Romano largos (The Gypsy Camp) in 2000 which was performed ever since (page 7).
Elena Lacková received several awards for her commitment with the remembrance of the Genocide of the Roma in her writings. For example, she got the Chatam Sofer Medal in 2001 and the "Rad Ľudovita Štura III. Klasa" Medal in 2001; the latter was presented by the Slovak President Rudolf Schuster.
Lacková, E. (1997). Narodila jsem se pod št'astnou hvězdou. Praha: Triada. [Text in Czech and Romani. There are translations into many languages]
Elena Lacková wrote a play Horiaci cigánsky tábor and several short stories about the Roma Genocide, such as Mŕtvi sa nevracajú / O mule na aven pale, Bieli krkavci, Život vo vetre and Husle s tromi srdcami / Lavuta trine jilenaca. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature has an entry with her name.
The play was written in 1946 and the performances took part - with a huge success - in Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1950. In total, there was 106 performances. Afterwards there have been several premieres: in 1955, in 1972 and in 2000. The latter was played by the prestigious theatre company "Romathan".
ROCEPO - Roma educational centre Presov conducts educational activities and implementation of the applied pedagogical research.
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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: “The Gypsies Of Svinia”. Documentary. Canada. Director: John Paskievich. 95 min.
About the hard living conditions of Roma in Slovakia. There is a commentary about the Holocaust and its role in the present.
2014: “Close to Evil”, biography, Ireland, directed by Gerry Gregg, produced by Praxis Pictures.
Holocaust survivor Tomi, from Slovakia, discovers one of his former jailers - Hilde Lisiewicz, is alive and living in Hamburg. Lisiewicz is a convicted War Criminal. Unexpectedly, Tomi's odyssey ends where his story began, back in his native Merasice.