Target: German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Goal: Applaud Germany’s public recognition of Roma Holocaust victims
A new memorial has been created in Berlin to remember Roma—more commonly known as Gypsy— victims of the Holocaust. Roma people are still heavily discriminated against today across Europe, and it is estimated that between 220,000 and 500,000 Roma and related Sinti people were killed in World War II. The dedication of this memorial to such an oft-forgotten group of victims sends an important message that goes beyond German borders: anti-Roma sentiment was wrong in the past, and continues to be wrong in the present. Commend German Chancellor Angela Merkel for this important move on behalf of human dignity.
The memorial, designed by Israeli artist Dani Karavan, is comprised of a simple, circular pool of water, pierced through in the center by a small plinth. Italian poet Santino Spinelli’s “Auschwitz” has been etched into the pool’s rim. The monument has been placed in Tiergarten park, not far from the German parliament building, the Reichstag. At the much delayed unveiling ceremony, Chancellor Merkel stressed the importance of remembering the devastating acts committed during the Holocaust so as to prevent a repeat of history. Perhaps most importantly, she noted the responsibility of every member of society to engage in the act of remembering and avoid a culture of indifference, from which, as she said, contempt for the value of human life begins to grow.
This is a vital lesson regardless of where one stands in history. Germany only officially recognized the genocide of the Roma and Sinti people in 1982. And, despite the Chancellor’s words, the culture of indifference continues today. The German Interior Minister has been accused of discriminating against Roma applying for asylum from Kosovo. And throughout Europe, Roma and Sinti still face exclusion, separation, and cultural annihilation. Yet, Germany’s leader of the Central Council of Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose, expressed hope for the future, saying that the creation of Germany’s memorial sends the message that anti-Roma sentiment was equivalent to anti-Semitism.
Thank Chancellor Angela Merkel for facing the hard truths of the past so as to better serve the people of the present.
Dear Chancellor Angela Merkel,
The recently created memorial for the Roma victims of the Holocaust is an important and timely symbol. Despite 220,000 to 500,000 Roma and Sinti deaths, these victims have often been forgotten in reflections of the Holocaust. Yet, as you noted at the memorial’s unveiling, it is essential for every person everywhere to remember and learn from the tragedies of the past so as to nurture a respect for the people of the present.
Within Germany and across Europe, Roma and Sinti still face discrimination and segregation. This memorial stands as a necessary reminder that anti-Roma sentiment is as wrong and unacceptable as anti-Semitism. Furthermore, it stands as a reminder that any form of hatred or marginalization of people is wrong and unacceptable.
Thank you for your support of this important issue, and I hope that you will continue to work on behalf of society’s marginalized peoples.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Oh-Berlin.com via Flickr