- Hans Weber
- December 4, 2023
Online Database “Svedectvi Romu” Launched on International Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, Preserving the Stories of Roma Survivors During World War II
Prague, [Date] – On International Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, the Czech Academy of Sciences announced the launch of “Svedectvi Romu,” an online database featuring the testimonies of Roma survivors from the Czech and Slovak Republics during World War II. The website aims to shed light on the often neglected experiences of the Roma and Sinti communities during the Holocaust, who continue to feel the consequences of the wartime genocide and persecution even today. Historian Katerina Capkova, the head of the steering committee of the Prague Forum for Roma History, emphasized the importance of bringing attention to the Roma and Sinti Holocaust and hoped that the database would raise awareness about this tragic chapter in history.
The website, which is available in both Czech and English versions, will eventually comprise approximately 250 testimonies. In its current state, the database already includes detailed abstracts of each testimony, an advanced search function, a map display of significant events, annotations to the sources used, and a glossary of terms. Researchers have published available texts as sources, providing personal accounts of war experiences from Roma witnesses under their own names. The testimonials are reproduced exactly as written by the authors, and any uncertainties or doubts are explained in footnotes to ensure accuracy.
The initiative has garnered interest from foreign institutions, including the Holocaust Museum in Washington, and has established cooperation with the Central European University in Vienna. The project’s creators are dedicated to expanding the database with more testimonials, including individual memory books and materials from various magazines, particularly Roma and anti-fascist publications from the Communist era.
The Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, observed on August 2nd, commemorates the night of 2-3 August 1944 when the Nazis liquidated the Roma camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, resulting in the mass murder of over 3,000 prisoners in gas chambers. This atrocity, along with the killings of hundreds of thousands of other Roma and Sinti people in different locations, forms a somber chapter in history that the database seeks to honor and remember.
Looking ahead, the Prague Forum for Roma History plans to expand the website to include testimonies from other areas of Nazi-occupied Europe, and they aspire to develop versions in the Roma and Slovak (or German) languages, contingent on securing adequate financial support for these endeavors.
By providing access to these historical testimonies, “Svedectvi Romu” preserves the voices and memories of Roma survivors, ensuring their stories are not forgotten and contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of European history and the present.
Article by Prague Forum