Romani are usually excluded whenever the topic of the Holocaust/WW2 comes up, so it’s not all too surprising that the Romani Day of Resistance is very unknown to the majority. But it should be celebrated and embraced since it represents a change in the way Romani culture and identity appear in public space - where a history of resistance replaces a history of oppression:
On 15 May 1944, the underground resistance movement in the Auschwitz, Birkenau concentration camp
warned the Roma that the SS guards were planning to round up the nearly 6,000 Roma and Sinti prisoners and send them to the gas chambers.
On the morning of 16 May, the Romani prisoners did not show up for the usual morning roll call and ceased cooperating with the SS guards.
The Roma barricaded themselves into their shanties. They had broken into an equipment warehouse and armed themselves with hammers, pickaxes and shovels, taking apart the wooden sections of the bunks they slept on to make wooden stakes.
When the SS guards approached the area, they were met with armed resistance from the inmates.
The prisoners forced the guards into retreat, and though some prisoners were shot that night, the act of resistance allowed the Roma and Sinti prisoners to put off execution for several more months.
The SS were in shock because they had completely failed to anticipate this resistance. Concerned they might lose more men and that the uprising might spread to other parts of Auschwitz, they retreated from camp BIIe.
No Roma died in the gas chambers that day. The Nazis subsequently put the prisoners of BIIe on a starvation diet.
Later, on 23 May 1944 the Nazis moved 1,500 of the strongest Romani prisoners to Auschwitz I, many of whom were then sent to Buchenwald concentration camp.
On 25 May 1944, 82 Romani men were transported to the Flossenburg concentration camp and 144 young Romani women were sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Less than 3,000 Romani prisoners remained in the family camp at BIIe, most of them children.
On 2 August 1944, the Nazis gassed all the remaining Romani prisoners to death in gas chamber V, although the Roma fought back on that dark night as well.
In Hungary the 2nd of August was designated in 2005 by the Parliament as “Roma and Sinti Genocide Remembrance Day”, yet most European countries make no or insufficient mention of the Roma victims in their official position regarding the Holocaust.
Roma are still misrepresented by stereotypes that overshadow our culture and real identity and it should be needless to say that Europe should put some effort on making the Roma genocide widely known and recognized, to serve as a counterforce to the increasingly violent rhetoric and action against the Roma because and through them. Yet it does not seem like anything like that will happen any time soon.
& Yes, please reblog this to make at least some of our history known.
Never shall I forget that smoke. … Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget these things, even if I were condemned to live as long as God himself.
Elie Wiesel, Night
All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience, and the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and remember…
Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone, “Deaths-Head Revisited”
When Soviet troops arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp on the 27th of January, 1945, they found roughly 7,500 living prisoners–most of whom were weak, ill, and starving–and hundreds of corpses. Though the camp remained largely in tact, the retreating S.S. had demolished several buildings, including the gas chambers, in an attempt to hide their crimes. Overall, an estimated 1.1 million people were murdered in Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945, making it the most deadly of all the Nazi concentration and extermination camps. The majority of the victims were Jews.
Auschwitz-Birkenau became a museum in 1947, and the UN appointed January 27th as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Seventy years after its liberation, Auschwitz remains the dominant symbol of the Holocaust
Today, January 27th, is the international holocaust memorial day. Today I learned that there are peole who do parkour on the Auschwitz - Birkenau memorial in Berlin, some of them with the title “jumping on dead jews”.
Now, for those of you who don’t know: January 27th is the day the allies broke into the Auschwitz concentration camp and liberated the jewish people who were imprisoned and starved there. The armies also witnessed the dead bodies, piled on the ground, the smaller piles, of glasses and hair, that were forcefully taken from the jewish prisoners. They saw the ovens and the ashes of 1.1 million jews.
As a Jewish girl, I am always so angry of my people’s history. The jewish people has always been chased and threatened, but the holocaust was different. It was an organized, modern, democratically voted genocide, committed by a country towards its own citizens, using technological means and a chain of command.
I am begging you - REMEMBER. Remember the suffering, remember the death, remember the horror. Remember the sacrifices, the war, the fighting. Remember the ones who died and remember the ones who survived. Remember the ones who committed murder and the ones who saved people from being tortured and killed.
Remember, so it will never happen again. To the Jewish people, to the Armenian people, to the Native American people. To anyone.
Remember the past so we could save the future. Please.
It was really scary and sad at the same time, being at the exact spot milions of innocent lives had been taken away. That’s why my parents decided to take me there, to experience the memoir of something so cruel it shouldn’t be forgotten.
My grandfather died two weeks ago. After the funeral, my family sat around my grandmother’s living room, talking about the nice memories we had with him. All of us grandchildren mentioned how he always spoke in different voices when reading, even if it was just the newspaper. We spoke of the stories he used to tell us about his childhood.
«Puoi chiedergli che tipo di campo è? Perché sono qui?»
«Dice che si tratta di un campo di lavoro per… Indesiderati, sgraditi penso…»
«No… Dottori, musicisti, impiegati, contadini, scrittori, sarti ed intellettuali. Gente normale.
Polacchi e zingari.»
“Grido di disperazione ed ammonimento all’umanità sia per sempre questo luogo dove i nazisti uccisero circa un milione e mezzo di uomini, donne e bambini, principalmente ebrei, da vari paesi d’Europa.”
Auschwitz - Birkenau
On October 31st, I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau on a bus from Krakow. In Poland and many other countries throughout Europe, November 1st is a day to remember and honor the dead. I thought it would be appropriate to go around then.
There is no appropriate time.
I do not know how to describe what my experience was like. I have heard stories, seen films, met survivors, and studied what occurred many times. But there is nothing like being there.
I have never felt air so heavy.
I was alone in a group of strangers, and I think this was one of the hardest experiences of all of my travels. We were shown where the prisoners slept, where they ate, where they went to the bathroom. We were shown where the officers slept, where they ate, where they went to the bathroom.
We were shown where the prisoners worked.
We were shown walls and walkways where buckets of unnecessary blood was spilt and has slowly faded away over time.
We were shown mountains of shoes, hair, clothing, and belongings. All stripped away from their owners upon arrival.
By the time we arrived at Birkenau, where many of the prisoners had “lived,” night had fallen and it only made the experience more eerie. In the distance I could faintly see the train tracks fading away, lined by watch towers lightly drawn in shadows against the deep blue sky.
It is one thing to hear stories and read about it. But to see where the most gruesome violence occurred puts it all into perspective.
No- actually nothing can put something like this into perspective. I will never understand. I will never understand how one human could believe what they were doing was okay. How could a human believe another life was not worth theirs? One human, hundreds of humans, thousands of humans, millions of humans believed it was okay.
We say to remember what happened. To never forget. We do not want history to repeat itself.
But this was the hardest part for me. It seems the world has forgotten. Genocides are happening all over, right now - in Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Myanmar, and the Sudan. In sadness, I am sure my list is not comprehensive.
The atrocities during the Holocaust were enormous and very efficiently carried out. They were systematic and they made a gigantic impact in the western world.
And we talk about it.
But what about current genocide. What are we doing about it?
What makes one life worth more than another? (I do not believe anything should).
A young Hungarian Jewish man born with dwarfism sits during selections at Auschwitz-Birkenau to decide which arrivals would be gassed immediately. Although most disabled Jews were put to death, some were selected for experiments by camp physician Dr. Josef Mengele .