Roma lay flowers at Auschwitz gas chamber

Representatives of the Association of Roma in Poland laid flowers on Wednesday at the remains of crematorium V at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in southern Poland.

On the day before International Roma Genocide Remembrance Day, they paid tribute to their murdered ancestors. Association President Roman Kwiatkowski pointed out that 74 years ago, on the night of August 2, 1944, the Germans liquidated the the so-called 'Gypsy Family Camp' at Auschwitz-Birkenau. In all, 2897 Roma men, women and children were put to death in the gas chamber.

The main Remembrance Day anniversary ceremonies will begin on Thursday afternoon on the territory of the former 'gypsy camp' at Birkenau. Among those in attendance will be surviving German Roma Rita Prigmore, Polish Deputy Prime Minister Beata Szydło and EU Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic as well as representatives of the Roma communities of European countries, and diplomats.

The Roma constituted the number-three group by number transported to Auschwitz, after Jews and Poles. They were transported to the death camp from 14 countries, mostly to the gypsy camp. Between February 26, 1943, and July 21, 1944, Germany transported almost 21,000 Roma to the camp.

Around 23,000 Roma were imprisoned in Auschwitz, of which the Germans murdered around 21,000. It is estimated that as a result of persecution and terror in the years of the Third Reich, half the Roma population living in Germany and the countries it occupied were killed.