10th anniversary of the handover of the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe murdered under National Socialism. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked for forgiveness at the ceremony at the memorial in Berlin.
‘On behalf of our country, I ask you for forgiveness – for the immeasurable injustice done to the Roma of Europe by Germans during the National Socialist era, and for the disregard that German Sinti and Roma experienced after the end of the war, including in the Federal Republic. I ask for your forgiveness. Mangau tamen, prosaran man!‘Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier
The Federal President went on to say that the everyday discrimination against Sinti and Roma must stop. To this day, members of the minority often conceal their origin, language and culture for fear of humiliation or harassment. No one in the country should be indifferent to this.
Zoni Weisz demands vigilance
In his speech, Holocaust survivor Zoni Weisz, an 85-year-old Sinto from the Netherlands, urged people to remain vigilant, especially in times when the influence of right-wing politicians is growing. Zoni Weisz lost his entire family in the Nazi genocide.
He called the memorial a monument of hope, as he did during his speech at the opening 10 years ago.
‘We hope that fascism, racism, antisemitism and antigypsyism will not take the form they had in the 1930s. We hope that despite the great differences between cultures and peoples, we can live together in peace, and hope that we will respect each other.‘Zoni Weisz
Romani Rose warns of new agitation
Romani Rose warned against new hostilities against Sinti and Roma. He said there have been many positive developments, ‘yet despite these developments, we must take note that a new nationalism and a new racist thinking are again spreading.‘ Antigypsy and antisemitic agitation again lead to ‘people being made scapegoats and seeing their existence threatened.‘
Attacks on minorities ‘put the entire country to shame,’ he said, in part because ‘these crimes of racial hatred are often excused with failures on the part of the security agencies.’ He rejected calls for a ‘final closure’ to the commemoration of crimes committed during the Holocaust. This would deprive ‘today’s society and future generations in this country of the opportunity to learn lessons from history for all of our futures.’
Roma activist Irina Spataru recalled the still prevalent systematic discrimination against Sinti and Roma in Europe: ‘We experience unequal treatment of Roma refugees from Ukraine and still witness police violence and institutional discrimination. One of the basic prerequisites for combating antigypsyism is the recognition of racial persecution, the recognition that our ancestors had to die just because they were Sinti and Roma.’
The ceremony was musically accompanied by the celebrated guitarist Ferenc Snétberger and musicians from his Snétberger Music Talent Center.