The London Roma Sinti Holocaust memorial will go ahead at 12 noon on 2 August at the Hyde Park Holocaust Memorial, say the Gypsy Council.
The event is held every year to remember the Roma and Sinti murdered by the Nazi German state during the Holocaust. August 2nd is symbolic to this because on that night in 1944, the ‘Gypsy camp’ or ‘Zigeunerlager’ – part of the sprawling Auschwitz death camp complex – was liquidated by the German guards and the 4,000 – 4,500 Roma and Sinti inhabitants where taken to the gas chambers.
Grattan Puxon, Gypsy Council, says that Gypsies, Roma, Travellers and supporters must “remember the dead and fight for the living.”
The Gypsy Council has also helped to organise a protest outside The Imperial War Museum which will start at 10am on the same day as the Memorial.
“The protest is to raise awareness about the “inadequate coverage of the genocide and misrepresentation of Romani girl Settela Steinbach as part of a Jewish transport to Auschwitz,” says Grattan Puxon.
“The focus of the day will be as much on the genocide as on rising anti-Gypsy racism today,” he said.
“The campaign goes forward to obtain respect for the dead through representation on the government’s Holocaust Commission, the planned Holocaust Memorial next to Parliament, and at the inadequate exhibition at the Imperial War Museum.”
The Gypsy Council is concerned that the Romani girl Settela Steinbach is wrongly featured as part of Jewish transport to Auschwitz in May 1944. Historical investigations have in fact shown that she was a Romani girl who died at the Zigeunerlager at the end of July that year, along with several thousand other Roma who had earlier resisted the SS in the biggest camp uprising.
An organisation called ‘The Roma Nation Movement’ has created a Facebook event page for August 2nd, 2016.
Phien O’Reachtigan, Co-Chair of the Gypsy Council, said that Roma representation on the Holocaust Commission was vital.
"The Gypsy Council has been endeavouring to get Roma representation onto the Holocaust commission within the UK,” he said.
“At the moment there seems to be no real appetite by those who have the final say in the matter to accommodate that goal. The Gypsy Council have put forward to the commission two members to sit within this commission. Both Gypsy Council delegates have had close relatives who suffered in the camps during the Holocaust.”
“The Gypsy Council each year hold a memorial service on the 2nd August in Hyde Park at the Holocaust Memorial Stone. It is very important that people attend this to send the message to the powers that be that the Roma victims are not to be forgotten or overlooked when the Holocaust is concerned. If the people do not attend in ever increasing numbers and thus raise their voice they will not be heard above the noise of indifference from the establishment and society at large."
Grattan Puxon says that the memorial ceremony will be followed by “practical” action.
“The practical follow up to this Commemoration will be a meeting with the new Government, talk over problems, propose self-help solutions and seek a way forward for present and future generations,” he said.
12 noon Sunday 2 August in the Holocaust Memorial Garden, Hyde Park, London. Nearest tube station is Knightsbridge.