Speaking at the former concentration camp in Hodonín by Kunštát (Czech Republic) this past Sunday to dozens of people paying their respects to the victims of the Romani Holocaust there, activist Karel Holomek warned in his remarks against the constant division of society into “us” and “them”. In his view, it is a good thing that the Czechs are starting to administer Romani matters.
“This is exactly what we need. We must get rid of the obsession with ‘our’ victims here and ‘your’ victims over there,” Holomek said. Video of his remarks (in Czech only) can be seen at http://www.romea.cz/cz/zpravodajstvi/domaci/karel-holomek-zbavme-se-obsese-ze-tyto-obeti-jsou-nase-a-tamhle-vase.
Цыганский Холокост (Romani Holocaust) — Russian language Broadcast
Цыганский Холокост—тема прямого эфира на Израильском радиo “РЭКА”
Live broadcast on Israeli radio “REKA”
Romani prisoners line up for roll call in the Dachau concentration camp. Germany, June 20, 1938.
Please, take a moment to remember our brothers and sisters who were killed in their thousands during WWII.
We have not forgotten you, brothers and sisters.
Please take a moment to light a candle and remember them.
Here is a link to an online candle-light site. Please, it only takes a minute out of your day:
The Czech Police have launched the prosecution of the well-known activist Jan Šinágl, charging him with the crime of denying, approving and justifying genocide. Officers said the defendant has published two articles on his website in which he “brutally denied the crimes committed by the Nazis against the Czech nation on the territory of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during the period after Reinhard Heydrich became Reichsprotektor in 1941 and in the aftermath of his assassination”.
Police say Šinágl, who is a member of the board of the Sudeten German Countrymen’s Association in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia (Sudetoněmecké krajanské sdružení v Čechách, na Moravě a ve Slezsku) denied the Nazi crimes in those two articles. The author says he is innocent. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.
Last year, Šinágl published the texts on his website, entitled “Press Release: Prague Municipal Court versus the Sudeten German Association of the Czech Republic” (“Tisková zpráva: MS Praha versus Sudetoněmecké sdružení v České republice”) and “Seven Days… and Farewell to the Sudetenland” (“7 dní ….. a sbohem Sudety”). According to the decision to initiate criminal prosecution, those are the texts in which Šinágl denied the Nazi crimes.
In the articles, Šinágl says the assassination of Heydrich was carried out against the will of the domestic resistance and that “hundreds if not thousands” of people were found in Prague who were ready to turn in the assassins. He also claims that the number of victims of Heydrich’s government were only a fraction of the victims of the “postwar genocide” and that Heydrich’s rule “cannot be compared to the way in which the communists governed during the 1950s”. Police also say Šinágl claims that during the Nazi massacre of Lidice 172 people were killed, all of them male, and that the massacre took place in “wartime”. Police say the total number of victims massacred was actually 340.
Šinágl, according to the decision to file charges, has told police that his texts cite other authors and include links to online documents. He says the number of victims of the Lidice massacre that he has referenced relates to a specific event within a specific timeframe. Šinágl also claims that he wrote the articles because he merely wanted to draw attention to other crimes and wrongs. He believes that the victims of crimes committed by Czechs are not much discussed and are often minimized. He also said that he did not intend “to spark sympathy for fascist movements, the policy of Nazi Germany or its representatives among readers of the articles”.
This past March, Šinágl published an interview with one of the leading right-wing extremists in the Czech Republic, Patrik Vondrák, in which he helped Vondrák legitimize his opinions and positions. Several years ago, Šinágl joined neo-Nazis and other Holocaust deniers demonstrating in front of the German Embassy in Prague in support of Holocuast denier Ernst Zündel, who had been arrested in Germany. Many other figures came to shout the neo-Nazis down, including two 90-year-old women who had survived the Nazi concentration camps. Šinágl was there on the side of the neo-Nazis, from whom he borrowed a megaphone to rebuke the democratic counter-protesters for allegedly not being democrats because they were interrupting neo-Nazi speeches.
Political scientist Bohumil Doležal has stood up for Šinágl in the Czech daily Lidové noviny over his most recent scandal. Doležal believes Šinágl’s texts do not deny the crimes of German Nazism and that police have initiated his prosecution because his opinions are nonconformist. “The charging of Mr Šinágl is an attempt at the exact opposite of a free discussion,” Doležal said. The criminal charges against Šinágl were initially filed by a former deputy to the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly, Bohuslav Hubálek, the singer Helena Vondráčková, and her husband, Martin Michal.
Excerpts from one of Šinágl’s articles:
“It is not well known that after the assassination of Heydrich (which was carried out against the will of the domestic resistance) a wave of nationwide opposition to the assassination rose up. In the eyes of the average Czech person, the assassins then had the same image as the Mašín brothers have today, i.e., the image of someone who irresponsibly disturbs a comfortable collaboration and confronts us with a difficult, uncomfortable moral dilemma. Hundreds if not thousands of people could be found in Prague at the time who were ready to turn the assassins in, and the reward of two million for assistance in tracking down the murderers was eventually divided into so many portions that the need later developed to invent a ‘main’ traitor, Karel Čurda, in order to cover up that fact.
Heydrich knew how to handle the Czechs. Immediately after taking office he abolished inequality in food rationing, and through other measures he managed to win the hearts of the average, slightly cowardly and very conformist Czech, who understood that if he would conscientiously work for the Reich, the Reich would take care of him and he would want for nothing, but that if he caused trouble, an evil fate awaited him. Heydrich was so certain of his policy that he could even afford to travel around the Protectorate in an open automobile without bodyguards, which would have been unthinkable anywhere else in occupied Europe. The Protectorate, in short, was a little paradise on earth. Heydrich’s policy worked, and that is the problem the Czechs have with him to this day. For the rest, if we completely objectively compare the Reichsprotektor with the heads of state who followed him, we must acknowledge in all fairness that Heydrich definitely does not come out as the worst among them. The number of the victims of his government is just a fraction of the victims of the postwar genocide and cannot be compared to the way in which the communists governed during the 1950s. This raises the question of whether a law should not be passed honoring Heydrich’s services, or whether at least a commemorative gathering at the site of the assassination should be held in the same numbers as those who met at the grave of the criminal and mass murderer Klement Gottwald this year?”
ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
By Roberto Malini - La Voix des Rroms
On May 16th, 1944 four thousand Roma imprisoned in the “zigeunerlager” in Auschwitz decided to stand up to their murderers who according to programme had come to get them to lead them to the gas chambers.
The most powerful and well-organized machine of oppression and death of all time found itself before human beings reduced to a pitiful state – swarms of children all skin and bone and barefoot women and men. It wasn’t only the men who decided not to bow their heads to these butchers in uniform; the scrawny hands of children and women picked up stones, bricks, iron rods and rudimentary blades and all together the Roma of Auschwitz cried “No! We will not give you our children to force through your chimneys. Your doctors have tortured so many of them already while experimenting their monstrous science. The children’s screams rose high into the air, higher than the dense smoke issueing from the crematoriums, higher than our prayers. You will not wipe out our families after you have already taken away the precious gifts of freedom and dignity. We will not leave to your grasping hands, to your wicked hearts and your inhuman hatred the beauty of our lives, the sanctity of the love that unites our families in a poor yet proud people”.
The mothers held their younger children tightly to their chests as they fought; the young children defended the “zigeunerlager” until they were covered in blood, looking like the spirits of revenge in legends; dark-skinned arms brandished primitive weapons with tireless energy, until the SS retreated, astonished at the sight of their heroism, their superhuman courage as they faced the bullets and bayonets with their bare skin.
The SS retreated, taking with them many German corpses. Only on August 2nd, 1944 were the Nazis able to dispose of the “zigeunerlager” - after they’d left the Roma imprisoned in the “death factory” close to death by reducing their food ration to a minimum. 2,897 Roma heroes were assassinated in the gas chambers of Birkenau on one night alone.
Today, May 16th, 2008, we are faced with the heirs of Hitler’s butchers. The instigators of this new genocide are the men and women we see every day in the newspapers and on TV, smiling, full of themselves, fresh from face lifts and make-up sessions, their sneering mouths full of words that sound like “Legality”, “Justice”, “Safety”, but which really mean “Persecution”, “Racism” and “Death”. We see them every day and they no longer wear party colours because they are united by hatred. They have no respect for anything: either for human life, or human rights, for the universal laws or the new Europe that speaks out against prejudice. They have encouraged violent acts and pogroms all over Italy, deceiving the Italian people with racist lies and fomenting xenophobic violence. We who still see the light of human rights won’t be able to stop them, we who are all Roma now, we who want to be Roma because we want to be just, we will not be able to stop them if we do not decide right now to inherit the pride of the Auschwitz gypsies - if we do not decide to line up at the side of the persecuted families, and defy the authorities who no longer represent anything, the uniforms that no longer represent anything, the high-ranking state officials who have betrayed all values, who have no right to express themselves in the name of a people, of a civilization, of a humanity that – among so much horror – wrote up a text that was a commitment to build a better future for everyone: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I’ve thought about this a great deal recently, but a new friend has prompted me to write this here.
All the news reports I see—so many from Europe—all pointing at the Roma as such an inconvenience. There is talk of internment camps, ghettos, “removal”, there are renewed evictions to “container settlements”. There is massive pressure in regions of Europe such as France, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia, to find an “answer” to the “Roma problem”.
All words we’ve heard before, decades ago.
Phrases like “rising aversion to Roma” plaster the newspapers and send shivers down my spine.
But, no one is listening.
In the US they post headlines about “gypsy thieves” who swing through your precious suburban tranquility in the spring and rip off old grandmas. They write articles about bands and clothing lines simultaneously painting us as thieves and vagabonds, as well as romanticized fairyesque beings who don’t really exist.
Our language is fading out.
Our customs are fading out.
WE are fading out…
but apparently not fast enough. Not fast enough for the politicians in Europe who don’t want to deal with us. Recently two men luckily were freed, they faced jail time for simply trying to protect Roma human rights in Italy. In Serbia families have been shipped from a slum into a “container settlement”. It is literally what it sounds like—old shipping containers where Roma are now forced to live.
There are slums on trash dumps, toxic dumps, next to factories, in areas heavily polluted with heavy metals.
… and no one cares. No one helps us. They let us rot—in hopes that what? We will die without direct intervention. France suggested perhaps they should create internment camps (sound familiar?)
It scares me. I am literally terrified when I think of this and what are we all doing about it?
We sit and fight over who is more of a true Roma, who follows Romanipen stronger, who wears traditional clothes, who does this or that, who has lighter-skin or darker-skin, who is American or who is EU. Seriously? What about our brothers and sisters who are living in fear and bad health situations, who have to beg for food, who have no access to education or health care…
What are we doing? Arguing on the internet about little privileged hipsters who just don’t even care? Why are we wasting our time on these people? We need to be focusing on challenging the mainstream shit like the shows on TLC or other misrepresentation.
Tumblr is not enough.
We need to take this much bigger.
Or, perhaps, there will be a nevo baro Porajmos.
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