Roma Holocaust: remembering forgotten crimes
The genocide of 500,000 Sinti and Roma in World War II was commemorated in several European countries on Sunday. On 2 August 1944 the last 4,300 people belonging to the so-called "Gypsy Camp" group at Auschwitz died in the gas chambers. This element of the Holocaust has been given little attention in the culture of remembrance in the Czech Republic and Slovakia despite their relatively large Roma populations, commentators complain.
Jogging the Czechs' memories
Seznam Zprávy welcomes the fact that Roma flags flew over Czech town halls on the weekend:
“The surprise of some passersby at the flags isn't surprising. Hardly anything has been taught here in schools about the Holocaust against the Jews - let alone that against the Roma. Unfortunately, not much has changed. During the Second World War, the Czech countries lost 90 percent of their Roma population - almost 6,000 women, children and men. In total more than 20,000 Roma and Sinti died in Auschwitz, and the total number of victims across Europe is estimated at half a million. That's why Roma flags flew over the town halls, and why the names of the victims were read out on Sunday evening on Peace Square in Prague.”
Discrimination endures to this day
Pravda argues that raising awareness of the Roma Holocaust among the Slovakian minorities is important:
“Although the Nazis killed a third of the Roma living in Europe, only a few people in Slovakia are aware of their fate. Unfortunately, the fundamental rights and freedoms of people who are in some way different are still being violated today. ... President Čaputová aptly expressed this at the commemoration: 'We will only build a tolerant society if we understand how easy and extremely dangerous it is to dehumanise a minority on the basis of differences, and to use prejudice to justify verbal and physical violence in the most extreme form, and even genocide.'”