ROMA SENIORS CONFERENCE

On the 18th 19th and 20th August in Jurmala, Latvia the first conference of Roma seniors took place.The aim of the conference was to show the international community that there are still people alive who witnessed the events of the Second World War, to assemble a live archive of testimonies for the future generations. Important also was to inform the seniors of the initiatives in place in the EU in terms of the support, programmes of aid and compensations. Most of the seniors did not receive any compensation and any official apology. It oi our hope that the live video and audio archive assembled will serve as a reminder to all of the dark times of our history and the atrocities committed by the National Socialism regimes. The aim of the event was  also the meeting between Roma youth and living witnesses as part of Roma seniors’ conference.

The day of remembrance of Roma victims of Second World War  is set for the  2nd of August. On this day in the concentration camp of Auschwitz 3000 Roma were exterminated and burned.Overall, during the Second World War, according to existing archives, about 2 million of Roma nationals were exterminated.

International Romani Union has introduced a term for the Roma Holocaust - Samudaripen. A special talk was given by Dr. Marcel Cortiadi (France). Mr. Velko Kaitazi - a member of parliament of Croatia has given the talk about the Roma Holocaust in Croatia. A member of parliament of Kosovo -  Mr. Kujtim Pacaku, talked about the similar events in Yugoslavia. Mr. Stankijevitch, the Head of Parliament of IRU delivered a talk about the concentration camps in Poland.   

At the first conference of Roma seniors  participated  seniors from Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden, Poland.

The President of IRU,. Dr. Rudevich delivered a talk about the Roma Holocaust in Latvia, the research accomplished one year ago in Latvia, which proved documentary the fact of 8000 Roma victims. The exposition about the event in Latvia was presented  for all. Also, Dr. Rudevic informed the assembly of the new programme established by the EVZ Foundation, Berlin - "Lacho Dives" (A Good Day in Romanesque).

A programme was discussed and a decision has been approved to create a join application to  EU Commission from the occupied countries - Russia, Belarus and Baltic states, in partnership with Red Cross.

A survey has been conducted between all the participating seniors to establish the priorities in future aid programming. The seniors were given lists with topics to to choose from: clothes, food packages, hygienic necessities, electrical appliances, rehabilitation, medical assistance, daily expenditure materials  or anything else.

The representative of Red Cross and Crescent delivered a presentation of a joint project, uniting branches of Red Cross in the countries in question and  NGO's affiliated with IRU, based on the existing infrastructure and resources.

This new initiative can bring the humanitarian efforts to aid this fragile segment of population to a new operating level of efficiency due to the collaboration of Roma NGO’s and Red Cross.

Each evening the seniors and the guests were taken to enjoy the Roma World Festival - a new and exciting creative venture, uniting Roma artists from more than 16 countries and running in Latvia, Jurmala for the second time, in partnership with MEZZO TV.

The results of the conferences exceeded expectations, constructive ideas were discussed, and the invaluable information gathered.

International Romani Union thanks all the supporting bodies in making sure the programme and the conference will take place.

Video testimonies

The living witnesses were gathered to give their accounts of the atrocities of the Second World War and National Socialist regimes. Video interviews were recorded throughout the three days of the Roma World Festival in Dzintari, Jurmala, of which all of the living witnesses were made honorary guests. Some extracts from the film are available for viewing on this page. Interview times varied from 15 minutes to half an hour, here we demonstrate just about a minute and a half.

Remembrance seminars on Roma Holocaust

Remembrance seminars on Roma Holocaust were held in Tallinn and Vilnius:

Tallinn,Estonia, from  12/09/2016 to 14/09/2016

Vilnius,Lithunaia, from 6/10/2016 to 8/10/2016

Video interviews with the survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust were shown to the attendees.

Extract from the presentation by Prof. Marcel Cortiade (France):

The Nazi Genocide of the Roms or Samudaripen: its impact after the WWII

by Marcel Courthiade

IRU Commissioner for language and linguistic rights

Professor of Romani studies at INALCO Paris-City Sorbonne


“ After so many years of war and fascism, which killed some 60 million people because of a sick dream that had found enough blind people to follow it, came the year 1945, which ended the acute phase of the disease. Alas, this disease, namely fascism, did not disappear then completely. The key event of the end of the war took place on April 16, when the Soviet army launched its attack on Berlin. The 20 of that month, under mighty Soviet pressure, Adolph Hitler, for the last time, celebrated his birthday. That very night, many officials of the SS began to sneak away and hide. On May 29, Hitler married his mistress, Eva Braun, and the next day both committed suicide in the Führerblockhaus : Hitler with a bullet and Braun with poison (cyanide). On May the first, Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda and his right arm, commits suicide. On May 7, General Helmut Weidling hands over to the Soviets the capitulation letter of Berlin. The final form of capitulation will be signed at Reims on May 7 and in Berlin on May 8, 1945.


One might think that for the Roms, it was the end of a dreadful nightmare. Alas, history still reserved them new tragedies. Those among them who had survived have kept deep in their marrow all the inhuman sufferings they had been through as well in the concentration camps as outside the camps in what might be called "normal life". For years they kept these sufferings, gnawing inside them like an insect that can not die. The number tattooed on their arm is indeed painful but the pain is much crueler in their heart and soul. Many of them remained without family, without children – all killed, while others, who had been sterilized, could not have any descendants. The age-old brotherhood that had existed among Roms had been severed due to the fact that many of them, who were the links that connected this vast network, had disappeared without a trace. There were in addition two countries where, after the Liberation, governments did not release the Rroms out of the camps until 1946: Poland and France, who kept them locked up with prostitutes and drunkards.


A) The Samudaripen – an underexplored subject in history, ethics and Law


The genocide of the Roms is really a huge subject which until today is not fully explored. Some elements are known from various documents and testimonies of Roms and gaʒe, but we can say that there are at least ninety percent for further research and possibly discovery. One is entitled to wonder why this continental tragedy remained silent for so long and why it is to date so scarcely present in public life. In most countries, there is not even a mention in school books of history. One may count the documentary movies devoted to it on the fingers of one hand, and most of them are of a very limited distribution. Why such an omission? Is it in fact oblivion? How to interpret this silence? “

Тhe main presentation text is available for viewing via this link: Roma Holocaust - Samudaripen

EUROPE FOR CITIZENS It is our duty to remember…

PARTNERS

Roma Culture Centre - Latvia

Euroopa Romade Foorum Eestis  -   Estonia

Sare Roma - Lithuania

Recording of the video interviews with living witnesses and victims of  National Socialism for the video archive of Roma Museum of Riga

Dissemination of the project results: distribution of the project results in movie material

The materials were shown to 220 persons at the conferences on Samudaripen (Holocaust) in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and now are making part of the Exhibition at Roma Culture Museum in Riga. The video materials were also sent to our partners in Estonia and Lithuania, as well as Roma NGO’s in Poland and Sweden for demonstration during conferences, celebrations, including Roma International day and Holocaust remembrance ceremonies. Estimated combined audience reach in Roma communities in these 4 countries is more than 10000 people. The general audience including non Roma is much higher.The work of the dissemination is ongoing as the materials are made available for more parties and the total reach is increasing each month. We aim to continue with the recording of more materials from other countries whilst the survivors are still alive.   

Final Report of the Programme