Roma people commemorate rebellion at former Auschwitz death camp

Roma people commemorate rebellion at former Auschwitz death camp Stanisław Rozpędzik/PAP

Representatives of the Roma community in Poland paid tribute to the Roma and Sinti people, who 74 years ago rebelled against their oppressors in the Gypsy camp, which was part of the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in southern Poland.

On May 16, 1944, the Germans planned to eliminate the Gypsy camp by murdering its prisoners. At that time, around 6,000 Sinti and Roma people would be sent to the gas chambers.

"We remember May 16 as one of the most heroic events that took place during the Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp's operation," Roman Kwiatkowski, chairman of the Association of Roma in Poland said on Wednesday.

"Sinti and Roma people imprisoned there, in a desperate act of courage, resisted their oppressors, and did not allow the camp to be liquidated and inmates to be killed in the gas chambers," he pointed out.

As he noted, the event which took place 74 years ago is of great importance to his nation. Thanks to the resistance of Roma and Sinti people, many prisoners of Auschwitz managed to save their lives. After the rebellion, the Germans deported about 2,000 strong and healthy people to other camps. Many of them survived the war.

Some 21,000 Roma and Sinti people were murdered by the Nazis in the so-called "Gypsy family camp" (Zigeunerlager) at Auschwitz-Birkenau during World War II. On the night of Aug. 2, 1944, the Germans eventually killed 2,897 Sinti and Roma in gas chambers.