On Aug. 2, we mark Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, 76 years since the liquidation of the so-called “Zigeunerlager,” the Roma and Sinti camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. We remember the hundreds of thousands of Roma, Sinti and Travelers subject to genocide by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. Between 1935 and 1945 an estimated 220,000 – 1.5 million Roma were persecuted, encamped and ultimately murdered, following classification as “enemies of the race-based state” within the Nuremberg Laws.
Our Jewish values teach us the importance of solidarity; our history informs our understanding of the necessary place remembrance holds in a community’s self-definition in the present. Thus, this day of mourning and commemoration is a reminder of the permanent need for vigilance in preserving the dignity and fundamental rights of all people. It is a shared responsibility – Europe was rebuilt on the ashes of the Holocaust and we must ensure it remains part of our global collective memory as a lasting lesson about hatred left unchecked.
As we mourn the memory of those killed, we also pay tribute to survivors, who bore witness and served as living testimony for us all, nearly eight decades on. Among them, we pay tribute to Raymond Gûreme, French Roma Holocaust survivor, who passed away in May. A symbol of Romani resistance, he leaves behind a young generation empowered by his story of resilience.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org.