On Holocaust Memorial Day: remember, as well, the Roma and Sinti

January 27, 2013 at 7:57 am (anti-fascism, Anti-Racism, anti-semitism, genocide, Guest post, humanism, Pink Prosecco, travellers)

Guest post by Pink Prosecco

Estimates for the number of Roma and Sinti victims of the Holocaust vary widely. Some put the figure as ‘low’ as 220,000 (roughly the population of Norwich) whereas others believe over a million were killed. This online exhibition focuses on some of the Roma and Sinti children who became victims, or survivors, of the Holocaust.

Recently a memorial to the Roma, designed by the Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan, has been unveiled in Berlin. This project has been subject to many delays, and involved several complex and sensitive decisions:


‘Another of Karavan’s proposals – to use Avraham Shlonsky’s poem “The Vow” – was also rejected, to Karavan’s disgruntlement. “This is a poem that vows to remember – and to forget nothing,” he says. He relates that when Romani Rose heard it for the first time, “His hair stood on edge.” However, when he discovered, two weeks after that, that the poem was already quoted at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the idea was abandoned.

The alternative proposed by the gypsies was a poem by a young poet from the community, Santino Spinelli. However, the poem was about Auschwitz specifically, and Karavan was concerned the memorial would become identified with the death camp and not with the gypsy genocide. The compromise was that the poem would be inscribed on a the floor of the pool, without the word Auschwitz, and with the remark: “Dedicated to [remembering] all the camps where gypsies were murdered.”’

Given the rhetoric and violence against the Roma in some European countries, one would hope that greater awareness of their experiences in the Holocaust – or ‘Porrajmos’ – might encourage people to think twice before demonizing a whole group. But the example of David Ward – who seems to think it’s ‘the Jews’ who needed to take lessons from the Holocaust – demonstrates that a fluent knowledge of historical facts doesn’t always go hand in hand with self-reflection.


  1. Mike Killingworth said,

    I believe Ward has apologised for the use of those two words. A pity you had to lower the tone of the post by mentioning him at all.

    • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      Given that this is a post about Holocaust Memorial Day and Ward’s idiocy was perpetrated on and about HMD it makes perfect sense to mention him.

      • Mike Killingworth said,

        Roger, I read it as a post about the (continuing) persecution of Roma and other ethnic minorities in eastern Europe.

  2. Sensorite said,

    “It would be my greatest sadness to see Zionists (Jews) do to Palestinian Arabs much of what Nazis did to Jews.”
    “If we do not succeed in finding a path of sincere co-operation… with the Arabs, then we will have learned nothing from our 2,000-year-old ordeal and will deserve the fate that will await us.”
    ― Albert Einstein

  3. Sensorite said,

    Anyone who is GENUINELY concerned about anti-semiticism would recognise the need to do something to get Israel to act like a civilised nation. Some people are bound to make the obvious connection between Judaism and Israel although there are, of course, many jews like myself who are opposed to their barbarism.

    • Jimmy Glesga said,

      You seem like a likeable daft Jew. Do stay out of politics.

      • Sensorite said,

        Have you ever thought about trying to make a reasoned case rather than just cheap insults (?), but since ‘you started it’ I’ll return the insult. Do stay out of politics!

  4. Argaman said,

    So you seem to think that the most urgent thing is what *the Jews* should learn from experiencing mass murder. Do you demand the same thing from the Roma and Sinti, or do you think other Europeans need to learn to stop persecuting them? Perhaps gentile Europeans should be using the day to learn about what happened in the Holocaust and use what they learn to keep it from happening again to any group of people in Europe.

    If today is supposed to be about remembering the Holocaust, why are you using this day to beat Jews with the stick of the Holocaust? And no, it does not matter if you are Jewish or not, since Jews are quite capable of antisemitic utterances.

    Please give a citation for the Einstein quotation – it seems all too handy for your rhetorical purpose.

    • Pink Prosecco said,

      Although I don’t, in any case, think one’s whole view of an issue should be changed by what one person (however clever) happened to say – I’ve just looked this up.


      • Sensorite said,

        And did you read the letters which followed the article;

        ‘The first quote you list is indeed from Einstein in his 1938 speech “Our Debt to Zionism”.
        The second quote was not actually written or spoken by Einstein. He was, however, one of the dozens of Jewish intellectuals who signed the open letter which you quoted above. Clearly, this means he agreed with its contents, but I don’t believe it would be correct to call it his quote.’

        Since the ‘quote’ of ‘“It would be my greatest sadness to see Zionists (Jews) do to Palestinian Arabs much of what Nazis did to Jews.” is the first one with relevance to Israel/Palestine, I presume this is the one they are referring to. Btw, does this not bring you sadness?

        Speaking of sadness, although the views of one man of course does not prove an argument, what do you make of this quite recent speech by Gerald Kaufman in the House of Commons?

  5. Argaman said,

    P.S. See my blog for my remarks on David Ward and the misuse of the Holocaust – http://mystical-politics.blogspot.com/2013/01/types-of-antisemitism-they-of-all.html

  6. Jim Denham said,

    Sensorite: Jews and people of Jewish origin are quite capable of talking nonsense on this issue, and indeed, of promulgating antisemitism. The wretched Kaufman is a relatively mild example; the SWP founder Tony Cliff a rather more pernicious specimen, Norman Finkelstein and Iian Pappe well-known recent examples, broadly in the Cliff tradition (on this question, though not other matters) and the antisemitic neo-Nazi Gilad Atzmon probably the nastiest and most extreme recent example.

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