Roma who perished in WW2 genocide remembered

PANČEVO -- Wreaths were laid at the Stratište memorial near Pančevo on Monday to commemorate international remembrance day of WW2 genocide against Roma.

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

The commemoration ceremony was attended by Serbian Minister of Health Slavica Đukić-Dejanović, who underlined that the genocide against the Roma people in World War II was one of the most tragic episodes of this armed conflict which, as she said, must not be forgotten.

The lessons and messages we can draw from historical memory can be turned into a single sentence - crimes must not be forgotten, they must not be repeated ever again in any place, Đukić-Dejanović said.

Aside for the health minister, the wreaths were also laid by Pančevo Mayor Pavle Radanov and Živojin Mitrović, representative of the National Council of the Roma National Minority.

Radanov said that on December 16, 1942, Gestapo Commander Heinrich Himmler ordered that Roma people from all Nazi-occupied countries should be deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Poland, where 20,000 of them were put to death.

By the end of the war, a total of 1.2 million Roma were killed.

"The genocide against the Roma was somewhat overshadowed by the collective memory due to the limited number of preserved historical sources, archives, testimonies and photographs. This is why it is our obligation to the victims to preserve the memory of their suffering and to fight against any mode of exclusiveness and discrimination," Radanov said.

He said that in the Decade of Roma Inclusion, Pancevo has adopted the second strategy for the social integration of the Roma and action plans for its realization.

"The local self-government is trying to encourage employment of Roma through various programs and to stimulate their children to complete their schooling because we believe that education is the right path to end poverty," Radanov said.

Representative of the National Council of the Roma ethnic minority Živojin Mitrović said that the suffering of Roma was often forgotten, and called on Serbian citizens to show the sacrifice was not made in vain.

"Let us try and remember all those who gave their life for this cause and let us promise that their sacrifice and pains were not in vain, that they will never be forgotten, and let us show to everyone, both the neighbors and the international community, that being different is a virtue and not a flaw," Mitrović said.

The ceremony to mark the international remembrance day of the Roma people genocide in World War II was attended by the victims' descendants, representatives of the Roma ethnic minority and the diplomatic corps.