International Roma Day marked in Poland

Opening an exhibition on the Roma people in Lodz (central Poland) on International Roma Day on Sunday, Polish Prime Ministerial aide Marek Suski read out a letter from PM Mateusz Morawiecki.

"On this day, let us remember the complex - and often very tragic - history of the Roma people, which, fortunately, has become better known owing to the effort of many people. Let us also remember the challenges, which part of this ethnic minority still faces," the PM wrote.

The PM also stressed that the Roma people "have lived on Polish soil for over 600 years" and that this period "is the time of co-existence of our nations."

The exhibition opened by Marek Suski is on show at the Radegast Station, where in the years 1941-1944 the Germans used to bring Jews, Roma and Sinti from all over Europe on their way to the Litzmannstadt Ghetto. Later they were sent to German death camps. Today the Radegast Station is a chapter of the Independence Traditions Museum in Lodz.  

The programe of today's observances also included a Mass, a wreath laying ceremony at a plaque commemorating the Roma camp established in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto in 1941, and a conference. 

Opened by the Germans on February 8, 1940, the Litzmannstadt Ghetto was the first Jewish ghetto in German-occupied Poland and the second largest after Warsaw. 

On April 30, 1940, the ghetto was completely sealed off from the rest of the city, its population then numbering over 160,000. The inhabitants, also including Roma besides Jews, lived in extreme conditions, around 44,000 perishing from disease and starvation before the ghetto's liquidation in August 1944.