A meeting of the Joint Government-National Minorities Commission’s Team for Romani Affairs was held in Cracow. On Tuesday its members visited Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Observances of the Day of Remembrance of Romani and Sinti Extermination are events accompanying Poland’s European Union Council Presidency.
‘It is very important that such a day has been established. And its date was by no means coincidental, because it was on 2nd August 1944 that the Gypsy camp at Auschwitz was liquidated,’ stressed Elżbieta Radziszewska, Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment. The Romani Team will also support the Romani minorities’ efforts to establish a European Romani Extermination Remembrance Day.’
The observances were organised at the initiative of the Team for Romani Affairs attached to the Joint Government and National and Ethnic Minorities Commission. They enjoy the support of the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment, the Ministry of Interior and Administration, the Voivod (provincial governor) of Lesser Poland and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The purpose of this initiative is to memorialise the victims and propagate knowledge of the extermination of the Romani people within the context of anti-racist and anti-discriminatory education. ‘Memory of the past helps us all to overcome contemporary problems,’ noted Ms Radziszewska.
In recent years, Romani, including young people and a developing Romani intelligentsia, have been taking an interest in their history. Remembrance of Romani as victims of the Holocaust is an essential element of Romani identity.
Such attitudes are reflected by the project of a International Roma Youth Network TernYpe which links the commemoration of the liquidation of what was known as the Gypsy family camp in the former German concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau with anti-racist and anti-discriminatory education. The project in cooperation with and under the patronage of the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment was carried out for the first time in 2010, and the 2011 event is its second edition.
On 2nd February 2011, a week after observances commemorating the Holocaust, the European Parliament honoured the memory of the Romani Extermination by holding a special debate during the Parliament’s plenary session. In his address, European Parliament Chairman Jerzy Buzek emphasised that several states had official recognised the Romani Holocaust.