Merkel opens 'forgotten Holocaust' memorial
CHANCELLOR ANGELA Merkel has opened a new memorial in Berlin to the estimated 500,000 Sinti and Roma murdered by the Nazis in what one survivor dubbed the “forgotten Holocaust”.
Six decades after the crimes the memorial – a circular pool with a central plinth holding a single flower – was opened to the public in a copse opposite the Reichstag.
“This memorial acknowledges a group of victims who have gone unacknowledged for far too long,” said Dr Merkel at the opening ceremony.
“We cannot reverse what happened but we can bring remembrance of it into the very centre of our society.”
The monument, designed by Israeli artist Dani Karavan, is the third memorial to victims of Nazi persecution in Berlin’s city centre.
The first was the 2005 memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, a sprawling field of concrete pillars adjacent to the Brandenburg Gate. Three years later, directly opposite, came a memorial to the homosexuals persecuted and murdered in the Third Reich.
Like with Jews, the Nazis dubbed Sinti and Roma as racially inferior humans and launched what SS head Heinrich Himmler in 1938 dubbed a “final solution of the Gypsy question”.
“Sadly this is coming too late for many survivors of the Nazi terror,” said Zoni Weisz (75) at yesterday’s ceremony. He slipped away from a deportation that transported his family to their deaths. “The world knows very little about the suffering of the Sinti and Roma,” he said. “I hope that this memorial to what I describe as the forgotten Holocaust will help it to earn the remembrance it deserves.”
The road to yesterday’s memorial was a long one for Germany’s Sinti and Roma community, which dates back six centuries. They were first recognised as a Nazi victim group in 1982. The current memorial design was approved in 2008, but arguments over the design and workmanship caused long delays.
“We didn’t want a monumental memorial, but one where every visitor can inform themselves about the fate of our minority from 1933 to 1945,” said Romani Rose, head of the Central Council of Sinti and Roma in Germany, who lost 13 relatives.
“It is important to raise awareness because Roma and Sinti are the victims of exclusion once again.”
The Roma community hopes to raise awareness by attracting visitors to the daily ceremony replacing the flower on the plinth.