A woman with short dark hear wearing a white top leans out of a window, smiling
Margarete Kraus, a Czech Roma who survived imprisonment in Auschwitz.
Reimar Gilsenbach.

Today we remember the persecution and genocide of Roma and Sinti communities at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. We mourn the loss of up to 500,000 people who were murdered or died of starvation or disease in concentration camps. We remember the many more imprisoned, enslaved, and forced into sterilisation and medical experiments.

It was on this day, 2 August 1944, that 2,897 Roma and Sinti were massacred in the Auschwitz gas chambers, and it is on this same today in 2021 that we stand together and refuse to forget the past, as we refuse to ignore the demands of the present. As laws which marginalise Gypsies and Travellers and stigmatise migrants and asylum seekers make their way through the UK Parliament, we refuse to forget what can arise from the stoking of hatred, fear, and division.

A typed eyewitness account of atrocities committed at Auschwitz
A report by Dr Max Benjamin of the liquidation of the Gypsy Camp in Auschwitz, 2 August 1944.
Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.
A typed eyewitness testimony detailing experiences of the Holocaust
An eyewitness account by Hermine Horvath, a Roma woman from Austria. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

In response to these horrors was born the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which aimed to guarantee safety for those on the margins and to ensure a life founded on principles of fairness and equality. It is our responsibility to continue to safeguard these values today in protecting the rights of Romani, Gypsies, Travellers, and refugees.

As organisations that remember Jews who were dispossessed of citizenship, denied access to work and education and targeted by centuries of race discrimination, we refuse to forget. As believers in social justice and bearers of the legacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we refuse to forget. As human beings, worthy of dignity, love, tolerance, and respect, we refuse to forget.

Today we stand together with our Romani, Gypsy, and Traveller friends. As one we mourn their loss and hope for a reality which dignifies us all.


Suggested further reading

For more related sources, try a search for any of the following keywords in The Wiener Holocaust Library’s Collections Catalogue: Sinti and Roma; Racial persecution; Concentration camps; Holocaust; Memory.