Lodz marks international Roma and Sinti Genocide Remembrance Day

Lodz in central Poland on Monday marked the International Roma and Sinti Genocide Remembrance Day in the city's World War Two Jewish ghetto, better known as the Litzmannstadt Ghetto. Over 5,000 city's inhabitants were killed by the Germans.

The observances were attended by, among others, members of the Roma community, representatives of the Jewish community, local authorities and the Austrian consulate. The participants gathered at Kuznia Roma, the last surviving building of the former "Gypsy camp" in the area where the Litzmannstadt Ghetto was located during World War II.

Representatives of the Lodz authorities observed that the memory of "Porajmos", the mass extermination of the Gypsy community by the Germans during World War II, should be a warning to modern generations.

"Even though 75 years have passed since the (German) occupation, we must continue to remember that tragedy as a warning for future generations so that something so monstrous could never happen again," Lodz Vice-Mayor, Malgorzata Moskwa-Wodnicka said.

The Germans opened the Litzmannstadt Ghetto in February 1940 as the second-biggest Jewish ghetto in Poland after Warsaw. An estimated 45,000 people, mainly Jewish intellectuals from Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria and Luxembourg were relocated there. In the years 1941-1942, some 5,000 Roma and Sinti were brought to the ghetto. Later they were transported to the Kulmhof camp in Chelmno nad Nerem (Kulmhof an der Nehr in German) in west-central Poland, where all of them were murdered. According to sources, only 7,000-13,000 of the ghetto's 220,000 inhabitants survived.

Roma and Sinti Genocide Remembrance Day observed on August 2, marks the liquidation of the "Gypsy family camp" (Zigeunerlager) located at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi German death camp. Around 2,897 children, women and men were murdered there in the gas chambers on the night of August 2/3, 1944.