Educational course on the Holocaust of the Roma

Educational course on the Holocaust of the Roma

August 2nd was the European Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma. On the occasion of the 79th anniversary of this tragic and significant event for the Roma community, the Foundation Towards Dialogue, together with the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, organized an educational course on the extermination of the Roma. 

During the course, participants learned about the history of the Roma community in Europe, with a special focus on their life in Poland. The main goal of the educational meetings was to bring the subject of the Holocaust of the Roma during World War II closer to the participants and to reflect on why it is an event that is hardly present in the public space, yet so important. The FwSD shared its experience on how to build active attitudes towards commemorating tragic events and anniversaries referring to the history of Roma communities. Workshops were held in Warsaw, Łódź and Oświęcim – places important not only for the history of the Roma people, but also related to their contemporary life.

Participants and participants of the course shared with us their opinions about the course, as well as their reflections on the commemoration of the Roma Holocaust. Below are some of them, which very well describe the event and the intentions behind the organization of the workshop. 

“The course showed me how falsified our perceptions of Roma communities are. True visibility of this group and their experiences is an opportunity to make our world a better place to live in for everyone. 

Education is always the key to domesticating false perceptions. Particularly important in this context is remembering the Holocaust of the Roma and Sinti. Racism must be named and recognized, only then can it be opposed.” – Justyna Radominska, Polish Educational Society High School in Minsk Mazowiecki

“The topics of the Roma Holocaust are basically non-existent in the public space, and have been a niche in historical discourse for decades. Shared meetings, dialogue and discussion are dropping the curtain of stereotypes and stigmatization.” – Łukasz Gładysz, participant of the course

“Every nation should be remembered equally – and for years the history of the Roma extermination was forgotten. The memory of these events should be restored to make people realize how huge a tragedy it was. The majority society should be especially attentive to the injustice and discrimination against minorities in their country. ” – Natalia Różanska, POLIN

“I can’t be sure when I will find myself on the side of the excluded, for whatever reason. You don’t know it either. You need to remind yourself and others what resentment, hatred and division leads to.” – Elżbieta Kiziukiewicz, participant of the course

“Participating in the lectures and discussions, seeing the exhibitions and museum displays was a unique experience for me, thanks to which I better understand the contemporary situation of the Roma. I believe that the subjectivity of the Roma minority should be respected and its participation in the cultural development of the Polish state should be appreciated.” – Małgorzata Koroś, Center for Education Development

It is extremely important that we not only remember, but also educate ourselves and others about the recent history of the Roma and Sinti communities. Increasing our knowledge on this subject allows us to better understand the tragedy that affected these communities, and gives us a chance to build a better tomorrow – one that is based on compassion and respect for all, regardless of their ethnic or cultural background.

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