As many as a half million Romani people were killed by the Nazis, according to one estimate. A new database tells the story of that genocide and its impact on individual lives. (…) Hundreds of thousands of Roma people, once derisively referred to with the slur Gypsies, were killed by the Nazis. Malíková was one of the few who survived to tell her story. It was recorded in May 1991 and is now featured in “Testimonies of Roma and Sinti,” a new database devoted to the Romani genocide of World War II. Made public to coincide with the commemoration of the mass murder of thousands of Roma in Auschwitz, on Aug. 2, 1944, the database is intended to heighten public awareness of the suffering of the Romani people, also known as Roma and Sinti, who represent Europe’s largest ethnic minority. It is being operated by the Prague Forum for Romani Histories at the Institute for Contemporary History, part of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The Nazis labeled the Roma as “racially inferior.” They were rounded up, often alongside Jews, but their Holocaust has long been described as “a silenced, forgotten, unnoticed, hidden or muted history,” said Angela Kocze, chair of the Romani Studies program at Central European University in Budapest. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates that 250,000 to 500,000 Roma and Sinti died at the hands of the Nazi regime, a number that is highly inexact because so little data has been collected about their population either before or after the war, said the museum’s expert on Romani genocide, Krista Hegburg. (…) “Roma and Sinti were imprisoned and murdered on the basis of race, on racial grounds,” Čapková said. But the Nazis often said it “was because of alleged criminal activities, or alleged refusal to work.” German authorities and their collaborators systematically destroyed Roma communities and persecuted Roma in much in the same way they targeted Jews, and both often ended up in the same ghettos and concentration camps. (…) The Roma and Sinti testimonies database currently includes 115 stories recounted by survivors, most of whom once lived in the former Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Čapková said the goal was to double that number by next year. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates there were one million to 1.5 million Roma living in prewar Europe — half in Eastern Europe — before widespread Nazi persecution, deportation and killings began in 1939.

via nytimes: An Effort to Focus on Long Overlooked Roma Suffering in the Holocaust

Categories: holocaust