Tag Archives: Porrajmos

Berlin monument to the Sinti and Roma of Europe murdered by the Nazis is endangered

Mahnmal_für_Sinti_und_Roma_2012-10-26_01

Denkmal für die im Nationalsozialismus ermordeten Sinti und Roma Europas

© Rolf Krahl / CC BY 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)“

Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) plans to partially block or even relocate the “Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of  National Socialism” in  Berlin’s  Tiergarten Park. According to the current plans of Deutsche Bahn AG, “one of the most important future projects of the Berlin railway network” (quote from German Rail statement) is to be built here near the Reichstag building: a new City-S-Bahn line as an additional north-south link for the main station. Not only Sinti and Roma, but also German Jews and other groups to whom the memory of Shoa and Porrajmos is important will resist.

On the web portal http://www.change.org, a petition is currently running as the first sign of a hopefully broadly supported protest against the railway plans that jeopardize the hard-won memorial inaugurated in 2012 (https://www.change.org/p/deutsche-bahn-ag-das-mahnmal-der-ermordeten-sinti-roma-bleibt) . The managers of Deutsche Bahn seem to have a short memory. When configuring the S-Bahn line, which is to divide after undercrossing the Spree river in order to bypass the Reichstag on the right and left, they simply overlooked the memorial on the south side of the Reichstag building. If their plans go through, the western S-Bahn line will run exactly across the location of the memorial. As one hears from discussions of the Memorial Foundation and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma with German Rail representatives, the latter were very surprised that someone might be against simply dismantling the memorial and moving it elsewhere. They remembered even less the fact that the German railways benefited quite well from the deportations of the Sinti, Roma, Jews and other victims’ groups to the Nazi extermination camps. And that this might give rise to a historical responsibility for the railways today. For comparison only, the Dutch railway company has long since agreed to make reparations for complicity in Nazi deportations from the Netherlands.

The threat to the monument, which is an important place of remembrance for many victims’ relatives, cannot be treated as just a matter for the Gypsies. It concerns all those who care about the German culture of remembrance and the fight against forgetting as well as against the resurgent right-wing radicalism.


Despite Corona we remember: 75 years ago today, Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora were liberated.

On April 11, 1945, the Buchenwald concentration camp and the Mittelbau-Dora forced labor camp were liberated by prisoners and U.S. soldiers. Nearly 80 000 people had been murdered in these two Nazi death facilities  by means of torture, forced starvation and pseudo-medical experiments. Soviet prisoners of war were shot. The concentration camp was located in the immediate vicinity of the “Dichter- und Denkerstadt” Weimar. Buchenwald remains a symbol of the Nazi reign of terror brought forth by the nation of Goethe and Schiller. But Buchenwald is also remembered for the prisoners’ resistance, both secret and open, against the SS.

image

11 April 1945, armed prisoners arresting SS men in the vicinity of the liberated camp. (Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation)


Exhibition at Nienburg, North Germany, City Hall on 26 January: The Yellow Star

Der gelbe Stern


Let us remember 16 May

16 May is Romani Resistance Day. We, Rom, Sinti, Jews and Gadje/Gojim can make it a meaningful day, if we remember it together. To remember the Shoa/Porajmos may be an impulse to start a healing process leading to a society with less racism. To promote this, I am sharing the following text from Jenny Carol’s blog.

It seems that  genocide denial and racism are communicating vessels. An ethnic group whose genocide is denied continues to be targeted with racism. Conversely, the recognition of genocide can start a healing process in society that can help it overcome racism. The Romani Holocaust, called the “porajmos” (destruction) in Romanes, is a part of history that is not only forgotten today, it is even denied. It should not be.


We do not know much about this aspect of the Holocaust. Some forgotten parts of the Romani Holocaust really deserve commemoration, however. Romani people did not always play the role of passive victims during that era.
What happened on 16 May 1944? In the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, section BIIe was called the “Gypsy Camp” (Zigeuner-Lager). Some of the Romani people transported into the hell of Auschwitz by the Nazis were not gassed immediately upon arrival, but were placed in the Zigeuner-Lager. BIIe was a “mixed” camp, which meant children, men and women were imprisoned there together. The Romani prisoners were forced into slave labor, observed and subjected to medical tests, and tortured. Auschwitz-“Doctor” Josef Mengele of the SS, a sadistic psychopath known as the “Angel of Death”, chose Romani individuals, most of them children, to subject them to perverse experiments. During the night of 2 August and the early morning of 3 August 1944, all of the remaining prisoners of the camp, without exception, were murdered in the gas chambers. Because of this well-known part of official history, 2 August is remembered as Romani Holocaust Day. But the Nazis had actually wanted to close BIIe and murder its Romani prisoners in the gas chambers earlier than that, on 16 May 1944. At the time there were more than 6 000 Romani prisoners there.

On 15 May 1944, the underground resistance movement in the camp warned the Roma of what the Nazis were planning. 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. The children collected rocks. When the SS guards entered the camp in the late afternoon to take the Roma to the gas chambers, they began to fight for their lives. The Roma fought to the death. Children, men, and women all fought. Auschwitz had never experienced anything like it before and would not experience it again. There were losses on both sides.


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. On 23 May 1944, they 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 them all to death in gas chamber V, although the Roma fought back on that dark night as well.

You can find more information about 16 May 1944 and Romani resistance against the Holcoaust May 16 Romani Resistanceon the following websites:

http://2august.eu/the-roma-genocide/16-may-romani-resistence-day/

http://www.romareact.org/


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