The memorial for the Roma Genocide in Berlin: commemoration of young Roma and non-Roma
ternYpe press release: Oct 25, 2012: Almost 70 years after the end of Nazism, the memorial for the murdered Sinti and Roma in Europe was finally inaugurated on October 24. Besides the President of Germany, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded of the fate and suffering of over 500,000 murdered Sinti and Roma, and stressed that “Remembering is part of our democratic self-understanding.” The chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose remembered that the crime against humanity was repressed and ignored for decades. Finally the memory has found a dignified place in central Berlin between the Bundestag and the Brandenburg Gate. Romani Rose recalled, “There is not a single family of Sinti and Roma in Germany, who have not lost immediate family members. It shapes our identity to this day.”
Representatives of ternYpe International Roma Youth Network and its German member organization Amaro Drom e.V. attended the commemoration and inauguration ceremony. Emran Elmazi, Chairman of Amaro Drom, emphasized that the commemoration of the Roma Genocide represents an important task for young people in Europe: “As a youth organization, we want to remember the hundreds of thousands murdered Roma, we want to maintain an active cultural memory and strengthen the critical thinking of young people in the presence in order to stand up against discrimination, exclusion and antigypsyism in our societies.”
Young Roma and non-Roma of ternYpe found their own form of commemoration on the following day: Together with the Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma they organized a small commemoration event with 80 young people to commemorate the victims of the genocide. The young people made it clear in their moving speeches that they will continue a culture of remembrance from the grassroots. Besides the official governmental acts, this constitutes a main pillar of the European culture of remembrance regarding the crimes committed during fascism.
Lyrical and musical contributions gave the ceremony an adequate frame, postcards with wishes were attached to balloons and released into the sky, and the participants lighted candles in memory of the Genocide victims, so it became a memorable experience for all participants. Just one day after the official inauguration, the Roma Genocide memorial became a lively place of a new culture of remembrance.
The young people found clear words directed to the future: They strongly condemned the European politics of separation and walling-off, which in its consequences often affects members of the Roma minority. The latest example is the demand of some German and European politicians to reintroduce visa requirements for Serbian and Macedonian citizens. Georgi Ivanov, representative of Amaro Foro, addressed a strong appeal to politicians: “We demand an end to the racist attacks and agitation against Roma! Roma from the former Yugoslavia should not be excluded from the right to asylum.” The memorial in the Berlin Tiergarten represents the responsibility of politicians to transfer their promises and commitments for the protection of Roma into concrete policies, and to stop discriminatory laws immediately.