A Holocaust Memorial commemoration for the Gypsies took place at 12 noon today at the Hyde Park Holocaust Memorial in London “for the 500,000 Roma who died as victims of the Nazi genocide during the Second World War,” according to this news article. This quote is from the article:
Those attending will wear replicas of the badges worn by death-camp inmates, yellow stars and white triangles embossed with ‘Z’ for Zigeuner. White and yellow flowers will be laid, a black-edged flag lowered and a minute’s silence observed, followed by the singing of the Romani national anthem, which includes the line “The Black Legion murdered them.”
This commemoration is linked with the observance beside the Holocaust Memorial stone in front of the Palais de l’Europe, Council of Europe, which is held by the European Roma and Travellers Forum.
On the night of 2/3 August 1944, the SS carried out the final liquidation of what was known as the Zigeunerlager at the Auschwitz death-camp. Witnesses say the last 3000 inmates, mostly women, children and old men, fought back with their bare hands as they were forced into the lorries taking them to the gas-chambers.
The top row of triangles in the photo above shows all the colors of the badges worn by the prisoners in all the Nazi concentration camps. Red was for Communists, Social Democrats, anarchists, and other “enemies of the state”; green was for German criminals; blue was for foreign forced laborers; brown was for Gypsies; pink was for homosexuals; purple was for Jehovah’s Witnesses and black was for asocials, a catch-all term for vagrants, bums, prostitutes, hobos, perverts, alcoholics who were living on the streets, or anyone who didn’t have a permanent address. The “work-shy,” or those who were arrested because they refused to work, wore a black badge.
Before 1942, Gypsy men wore a black triangle; they were arrested and imprisoned for being asocial because they didn’t have a permanent address, or for being “work-shy” because they were not employed. Every male citizen in Nazi Germany, who was capable of working, was required to take a job and they were not allowed to quit their job without permission. Gypsy women were arrested under the asocial category if they were prostitutes.
The fourth row shows yellow triangles with each of the regular triangle colors placed on the top, forming a six-pointed star. These badges were worn by the Jews and showed their classification as political prisoners, criminals, foreign forced laborers, homosexuals or asocials.
Yesterday, on August 2, 2012, a moment of silence was observed to commemorate Roma (Gypsy) Holocaust Memorial Day, according to this news article in the Slovak Spectator which you can read here. This event was in memory of the date of August 2, 1944 when approximately 2,900 Roma men, women and children were sent to the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau during the night.
Not much is known about the Roma (Gypsies) who were killed by the Nazis. This quote is from the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
Twenty-three thousand German and Austrian Roma (Gypsies) were inmates of Auschwitz, and about 20,000 of these were killed there. Romani (Gypsy) men, women, and children were confined together in a separate camp. On the night of August 2, 1944, a large group of Roma was gassed in the destruction of the “Gypsy family camp.” Nearly 3,000 Roma were murdered, including most of the women and children. Some of the men were sent to forced-labor camps in Germany where many died. Altogether, hundreds of thousands of Roma from all over German-occupied Europe were murdered in camps and by mobile killing squads.
“The Gypsy family camp?” Yes, unlike the other prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Roma men, women and children were allowed to stay together as families until they were killed. The Jews were separated in all the camps, with the men and women in separate barracks, except for the Czech Jewish prisoners who were sent from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz; they were also allowed to live in a family camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
At Auschwitz-Birkenau, a “Gypsy family camp” was set up in wooden barracks in Section BIIe in the Birkenau camp in February 1943. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Gypsy camp was in existence for only seventeen months and most of the Gypsies perished.
The following quote is from the website of the USHMM:
In a decree dated December 16, 1942, Himmler ordered the deportation of Gypsies and part-Gypsies to Auschwitz-Birkenau. At least 23,000 Gypsies were brought there, the first group arriving from Germany in February 1943. Most of the Gypsies at Auschwitz-Birkenau came from Germany or territories annexed to the Reich including Bohemia and Moravia. Police also deported small numbers of Gypsies from Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Norway.
[The two states of Bohemia and Moravia, which are now in the Czech Republic, were part of a German Protectorate from 1938 to 1945; they were not annexed into the Greater German Reich.]
The following quote about the gassing of the Gypsies is from the website of the USHMM:
They (the Gypsies) were killed by gassing or died from starvation, exhaustion from hard labor, and disease (including typhus, smallpox, and the rare, leprosy-like condition called Noma.) Others, including many children, died as the result of cruel medical experiments performed by Dr. Josef Mengele and other SS physicians. The Gypsy camp was liquidated on the night of August 2-3, 1944, when 2,897 Sinti and Roma men, women, and children were killed in the gas chamber. Some 1,400 surviving men and women were transferred to Buchenwald and Ravensbrück concentration camps for forced labor.
Regarding the liquidation of the Gypsy Family Camp on August 2, 1944, Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoess wrote the following in his memoir:
By August 1944 there were only about four thousand Gypsies left and these had to go into the gas chambers. Until that time they did not know what fate was in store for them. Only as they were marched barrack after barrack to Crematory 1 did they figure out what was going on.
When Hoess wrote that the Gypsies were marched to Crematory 1, he was undoubtedly referring to Krema II, which was a short distance from the Gypsy camp. Crematory 1, or Krema I in German, was in the main Auschwitz camp, three kilometers from Birkenau. By August 1944, Krema I was no longer in operation as a gas chamber.
Both the USHMM and the Auschwitz Museum say that the number of Gypsies gassed on August 2, 1942 was 2,897, not “four thousand” as Hoess stated. However, according to Dr. Milklos Nyiszli, the number of 4,000 given by Hoess might actually be closer to the correct number of Gypsies who were gassed.
Regarding the gassing of the Gypsies, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli wrote the following in his memoir:
Annihilation time had come for the 4,500 inhabitants of the Gypsy Camp. The measures taken were the same as those taken for the liquidation of the Czech Camp. All the barracks were quarantined. SS guards, leading their police dogs, invaded the Gypsy quarters and chased the inhabitants outside, where they were made to line up. Rations of bread and salami were distributed.The gypsies were made to believe that they were being shipped to another camp, and they swallowed the story. A very easy and efficacious way of calming their fears. No one thought of the crematoriums, for then why would rations of food have been distributed?
This strategy on the part of the SS was dictated neither by pity nor a regard for those condemned to death, but merely by their desire to expedite a large group of people, without any unnecessary incidents or delays, to the gas chambers, guarded by a relatively small patrol. The strategy worked to perfection. Everything went off as planned. Throughout the night the chimneys of number one and two crematoriums sent flames roaring skyward, so that the entire camp was lighted with a sinister glow.
Crematorium No. 1 (Krema I) was in the main camp and Crematorium No. 2 (Krema II) was at Birkenau.
This was not the only occasion when Gypsies were gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
In May 1943, Dr. Josef Mengele arrived in Auschwitz and was assigned to take care of the medical needs of the Gypsy camp. Dr. Mengele is well known as the man who selected the prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau for gassing.
The following quote is from the book Mengele, the Complete Story:
Within days after his arrival, while Auschwitz was in the throes of one of its many typhoid epidemics, Mengele established a reputation for radical and ruthless efficiency. The nearby marshland made clean water difficult to obtain and posed a constant threat from mosquitoes. (Mengele himself contracted malaria in June 1943.) Other SS doctors had failed in their efforts to curb typhus in the close quarters of the camp barracks. Mengele’s solution to the problem was set out in one of the seventy-eight indictments drawn up in 1981 by the West German Prosecutor’s Office, when the authorities thought he was still alive. In terms of detailed evidence, this arrest warrant is the most damning and complete document that was ever compiled against him. According to the warrant, on May 25, 1943, “Mengele sent 507 Gypsies and 528 Gypsy women suspected of typhus to the gas chamber.” It also charged that on “May 25 or 26 he spared those Gypsies who were German while he sent approximately 600 others to be gassed.
So Dr. Mengele’s solution to the typhus epidemic was to send all the Gypsies, who were suspected of having typhus, to the gas chamber? To which kind of “gas chamber” did he send the Gypsies who were suspected of having typhus? A homicidal gas chamber or a disinfection gas chamber? And why did he spare the German Gypsies? Were the German Gypsies cleaner and less likely to have lice?
At all the Nazi camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau, there was a building that had a “Gaskammer,” where clothing was disinfected with Zyklon-B, while the prisoners took a shower before putting on clean clothes that had been disinfected. The photo below shows a building at Auschwitz-Birkenau where clothing was disinfected with Zyklon-B.
When the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was in operation, the road that went past this building continued on, past the Krema II gas chamber, then through a gate and out of the camp. That section of the road is now covered by the International Monument. The disinfection building was not open to visitors when I visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in 2005. You can read more about this building on my website here.
In the foreground of the photo above, you can see where the train tracks ended. On the left side, but not shown, was the main camp road which went past the disinfection building and past Krema II. The International Monument was built on top of that road, so that visitors can no longer see that the main camp road continued on, outside the camp, when the camp was in operation.
Could it be possible that the 2,897 Gypsies were taken to the Gaskammer building to be disinfected, and then taken out of the camp on the road that is now covered by the International Monument? Keep in mind that the Nazis did not record the names, nor the number, of the prisoners who were gassed. So how is it known that exactly 2,897 Gypsies were gassed on the night of August 2, 1944? And what happened to all that bread and salami?
Don’t jump to conclusions and report me to the Thought Police! I am not denying that the Gypsies were gassed. I’m just speculating that they might have taken a shower in the disinfection building and left the camp on the main camp road during the night, wearing clean, disinfected clothing.
Why are there so many Gypsies begging for money in every country of Europe now, if 500,000 Gypsies were killed during World War II?