Commemoration of the Genocides of Sinti and Roma

Lifestyle & TravelCulture ♦ Published: August 2, 2022; 16:58 ♦ (Vindobona)

In Europe, the Nazis slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Sinti and Roma people. Prominent Austrian politicians, like Alexander Van der Bellen and Michael Ludwig, attended the commemoration of the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day. The OSCE also declared the importance of this day and commemorated the victims.

Monument to the Memory of the Holocaust of the Roma and Sinti in the site of German Nazi crimes during the second world war, Borzęcin, Brzesko County, Poland. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons, Jakub Hałun, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen remembered the hundreds of thousands of Sinti and Roma who were killed by the Nazis in Europe.

"Half a million Sinti and Roma were victims of the greatest crime in human history. For a long time, their fate was suppressed, concealed, forgotten," Van der Bellen wrote today on Twitter. They and their descendants must make their efforts to have their culture and their suffering during the Nazi era recognized, the federal president continued. "We cannot undo the past. But we can shape the present to make the world a better place in a sustainable way."

Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) said via Twitter, "In light of the genocide of European Roma and Sinti during the Nazi era and today's Day of Remembrance, it is a moral obligation to show solidarity with Europe's largest ethnic minority and to stand up against antiziganism."

OSCE and Roma Holocaust Memorial Day

This day is also significant for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Roma and Sinti are still affected by discrimination today. That is why the OSCE advocates for the rights of Roma and wants to strengthen human rights in particularly affected areas.

Matteo Mecacci, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said on Roma Genocide Remembrance Day that it is "unacceptable that Roma and Sinti communities are continuing to suffer so desperately from intolerance, systemic racism and discrimination wherever they live.” Mecacci, therefore, reiterated the importance of learning from the past to combat prejudice, bias, and racism against Roma and Sinti today.

ODIHR and the Council of Europe have launched a joint Roma Genocide website that provides knowledge and information for governments, public institutions, universities, schools, and civil society organizations.

Roma Holocaust Memorial Day

The European Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma, also known as the European Holocaust Memorial Day for Roma, commemorates the victims of the Porajmos, the genocide of European Sinti and Roma during the Nazi era, on August 2 each year. The total number of victims of the genocide is estimated at 220,000 to 500,000.

Unfortunately, to date, there has been no national implementation of the European Holocaust Memorial Day on August 2 in Austria, stressed Olga Voglauer (Greens), according to ORF. National days of remembrance are a worthy and important part of the culture of remembrance. According to Voglauer, this goes hand in hand with the recognition and condemnation of Porajmos, the genocide of the European Roma during the time of National Socialism.