After the liberation from National Socialism, the Holocaust of the Sinti and Roma was suppressed from historical memory and from public remembrance for decades. The newly founded Federal Republic of Germany did not engage with or reappraise this genocide, neither at the political nor at the judicial level. On the contrary, most of the former perpetrators were able to pursue a career in the private sector or at public authorities. The few survivors, who were scarred both physically and mentally by the persecution and the concentration camps they had endured, were denied moral and legal recognition as well as a material compensation by the German state. The genocide was ignored not only in politics, society and academia – even at the historical places of persecution, the memorial and commemorative sites, it took a long time to engage with this crime. This was also true for commemorative events at Auschwitz and other places of extermination.
A fundamental change has taken place in the way the genocide of the Sinti and Roma is remembered today. That is mainly due to the civil rights movement of German Sinti and Roma and the work of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma: In 1982, the Central Council – founded in February of that year – was able to bring about the formal recognition of the genocide by the then Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. The Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma, a specialised body of the Central Council, was founded in 1997. The Centre hosts the permanent exhibition on the dimension of the Holocaust of the Sinti and Roma; this exhibition was the first to show the general public the scale of the genocide perpetrated against the minority. Representatives of the Heidelberg Centre were also appointed to expert committees in order to advise memorials and assist them in the conceptual and content-related aspects of their work. As a result of this close cooperation, the genocide of the Sinti and Roma is now well documented in many exhibitions at many memorial and commemorative sites.
The Memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe Murdered under the National Socialist Regime
The artist Dani Karavan about the memorial
Commemorative trips for Holocaust survivors and their family members
Year after year, the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma invites the Holocaust survivors and their family members to attend the commemorations at the former concentration and extermination camps of Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen. Since many older people cannot afford the journey to the memorial sites, society and politics are called upon to help the victims participate in the commemorations at the former places of their imprisonment.
Commemorative trip of Holocaust survivors to Auschwitz
Education and commemorative trips to Auschwitz for young people
Commemorative trips to Sachsenhausen
Hour of commemoration in the German Bundesrat