Developments in Romani Holocaust politics
02 April 1998
The International Romani Union (IRU), represented by Dr Donald Kenrick, addressed a conference held in London in early December on the fate and origins of gold seized by German authorities during the second world war. Dr Kenrick’s presentation was aimed at ensuring a just distribution of the considerable sums of money taken from Holocaust victims and recently revealed to be languishing in Swiss bank accounts. Dr Kenrick told the conference that the IRU believes that as many as half a million Roma died during the Holocaust and that it has documented a quarter of a million deaths. He pointed out that although much gold was confiscated from Romani victims, it was unlikely that this would be found in the seized bank accounts, because Roma tended to keep their valuables with them; „All of the victims had what the conference calls ‘non-monetary gold’,” said Dr Kenrick. He presented the conference with documentary evidence of confiscations from Roma and gave a number of examples of common circumstances under which gold and other valuables were seized from Roma, including confiscations by the German occupying army in Poland and France, and by Croatian authorities in the Jasenovac concentration camp. Dr Kenrick suggested that funds be used to provide pensions to survivors who are still living, as well as to establish programs to improve conditions in eastern Europe.
In other developments related to the Romani Holocaust, German Roma activist Romani Rose of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma published an open letter in the German press to Dr Rita Süssmuth, President of the German Parliament, in which he called for a Holocaust memorial at the Reichstag in Berlin for Roma and Sinti murdered during the Holocaust. Also, the international press reported that on Monday, January 12, the German government announced that it was establishing a fund of approximately 200 million German Marks to pay pensions to individual Holocaust survivors. The fund will not, however, provide persons for non-Jewish victims of Nazi persecution, such as Roma or homosexuals.
(Intemational Romani Union, Frankfurter Rundschau, The Guardian, Die Welt)