Remembering the Roma Holocaust: Fostering Unity! 

The era we live in has changed its moral compass and is notably based on universal human rights; it has marked the 2nd of August as a painful reminder of the Roma Holocaust. The perpetual persecution and massive extermination of the Roma population by Nazis should remain a pained cry of society that must never forget the horrors of our past. Despite the moral changes, selective racial empathy flourishes in today’s society. Therefore, the memory of the Roma Holocaust goes beyond mere remembrance – it paves the way for common identity and interconnectedness. 

Looking at the Roma Holocaust through the lens of emotions and feelings fosters interconnectedness and creates a common conscious identity in our society. By examining the historical injustices, we strive for a more comprehensive understanding of human behaviour to build inclusive policies. In this article, we will look back at the Roma Holocaust, draw comparisons to the current challenges that the Roma community is experiencing, and explore the possibilities for moving forward and making progress by strengthening common identity.

The Roma Holocaust prevails as an abandoned memory in our history, preceded by many other crimes committed against the Roma. Throughout the centuries, Roma were subjected to persecution, discrimination, and extermination alongside other targeted groups. The Nazis tore families apart, destroyed homes, and shattered lives in their attempt to wipe out our culture, identity, and existence. On August 2, 1944, the remaining 2,897 Roma prisoners in Auschwitz-Birkenau were killed. This date is remembered by the Roma community as a symbol of great suffering and loss. Unfortunately, World War II and the Holocaust are not the end of the persecution of our people. Until now, Roma communities across Europe suffer antigypsyism, prejudice, and marginalization. 

Emotions play a crucial role in fostering unity

Human beings belong to various social groups in which they associate with each other based on common beliefs and identities. Emotions are extremely important for groups because they are at the heart of how communities understand and feel about things or situations. (Hutchinson and Bleiker, 2014). Moreover, emotions connected to shared memories and history, particularly those that are shaped around strong emotional experiences, could be institutionalized at the state level in the form of laws or resolutions (Mercer, 2010, 2014; Sasley 2011; cited in Hutchinson & Bleiker, 2014). 

Genocide or crimes against humanity evoke specific emotions that may become a political matter by reaching various audiences. Genocide, slavery or war hold the same effect: dead or injured bodies connect physical and emotional spheres with culture, memory and history. The linking pattern between the past and the present, between the individual and collective emotions, is through representation. Representation can happen through various means such as music, images, gesture, speech, sounds, etc. However, predominantly, if the representation is used by individuals, politicians, etc. (carrier groups) it is leading to evoking particular emotions which tend to unite society. The major tool reaching the vast majority is mass media. Carrier groups are efficiently using the mass media by depicting horrendous events like terrorist attacks or any crimes, which cultivates certain emotions about how the audience will collectively feel about it. These processes through which emotions are manifested, shape identities, attitudes and behaviours of communities (Abu-Lughod and Lutz 1990, 13–16; Scheff 1990; Lutz 1988, cited in Hutchison & Bleiker, 2014). 

Hence, to be raising our voices on the 2nd of August and bringing to the table the real stories that lie behind the walls of concentration camps is not solely about remembering the abhorrent atrocity. It reveals more: it is about resilience and about the unity we can foster by upholding strong and unwavering feelings for our heroes that experienced the Nazi regime. 

Reconciliation and Truth Committees: Pathways to Healing

In the pursuit of justice and healing, reconciliation and truth committees have played vital roles in addressing historical injustices and promoting reconciliation. The CHACHIPEN project offered valuable insights into how truth committees can contribute to the recognition of the Roma Holocaust and facilitate healing and reconciliation within the Roma community. With the JEKHIPE project, we aim to continue to overcome the barriers that prevent justice and equality for Roma people. By addressing the issues Roma people face daily, JEKHIPE will work on different levels, including research, advocacy, and building alliances with various stakeholders. It tries to challenge the current approach to antigypsyism and proposes ways to hold national governments accountable. The foundation of the program is based on the findings of the “Chachipen” project, which aims to address antigypsyism in Europe and pave the way for a Truth and Reconciliation process.

Reconciliation and truth committees provide platforms for truth-telling, acknowledging past atrocities, and working towards accountability and reparations. By acknowledging the suffering endured during the Roma Holocaust, truth committees become essential tools in the pursuit of justice, healing, and reconciliation. 

Towards the Future: 

By commemorating the Roma Holocaust on the 2nd of August, we are honouring the memory of victims and survivors. This day reminds us of the importance of confronting historical injustices and working towards justice and equality.

The 2nd of August is an opportunity to increase awareness, foster dialogue, and expand empathy and understanding. By acknowledging the Roma Holocaust alongside other historical injustices, we dedicate ourselves to creating a future where past atrocities are recognized, commemorated and the lessons learned lead us towards a more inclusive world. Together, we commit to building a better future, where the past serves as a guiding light for a brighter tomorrow.

Written by Annamaria Psenkova for ERGO Network


Abu-Lughod, L. & Lutz, C. A.(1990). Introduction: Emotion, discourse, and the politics of everyday life. In Language and the politics of emotion, edited by Lila Abu-Lughod, and Catherine A. Lutz, 1–23. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Fierke, K.M. (2013). Political self-sacrifice: Agency, body and emotion in International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hutchison, E. & Bleiker, R. (2014). Theorizing emotions in world politics. International Theory, 6, pp 491-514 doi:10.1017/S1752971914000232 

Sasley, B. (2011). Theorizing states’ emotions. International Studies Review Vol.13 No.3, pp. 453–76.

Remembering the Roma Holocaust: Fostering Unity!  – ERGO Network

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