Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre is honoured this week to host a moving photo exhibition which documents the Nazi persecution of Central German Sinti and Roma between 1930 and 1945.

(LtoR) Gabi Muntean, Pavee Point tours the exhibition “…. Don’t forget the photos, it’s very important….” with German Ambassador Cord Meier-Klodt and Roderic O Gorman, TD and Jenny Liston, Roma Programme, Pavee Point. Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth at the launch of the exhibtion on 25 July 2022 ©Photo by Derek Speirs

“We are hosting this exhibition to commemorate Roma Genocide Memorial Day,” said Gabi Muntean of Pavee Point’s Roma Programme at the launch today. “It is so important to remember the dangers of racism and hatred to ensure history is never repeated.” 

The exhibition shows family photographs of Roma who sadly nearly all later died at the hands of the Nazi regime. They are an intimate insight into their daily lives, at home, work, and play, sustained against a backdrop of ever worsening living conditions.

Attendees at the Launch of the exhibition titled “…. Don’t forget the photos, it’s very important….” The National Socialist Persecution of Central German Sinti and Roma. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

Speaking at the launch Roderic O Gorman TD Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth said: “Don’t forget the photos, it’s very important” is a powerful tribute and effort to personalise our remembrance and to ensure the full enormity and tragic events of the Holocaust are known.

“This display is especially meaningful as for so long the Roma Community were denied this recognition in history. I hope that this exhibition will serve not only as a tribute to all those who lost their lives from the Roma community, but also as a reminder to us all to act in ways that promote tolerance and inclusion and stand against acts or speech of hatred”.

(LtoR) German Ambassador Cord Meier-Klodt; Anastasia Crickley, Chairperson, Pavee Point; Minister Roderic O Gorman, TD; Gabi Muntean, Pavee Point; Lynn Jackson, Director Holocaust Education Ireland; Vanessa Pazskowska, Pavee Point and Monika Pazskowska ©Photo by Derek Speirs

The genocide of Roma people wasn’t formally recognised until 1982 and Roma Genocide Memorial Day was first officially marked in 2009.

German Ambassador Cord Meier-Klodt who also spoke at the launch event said: “The genocide of Sinti and Roma during the Nazi regime has, for a long time, not been given the attention it deserves. So it is high time to focus more on this atrocious chapter of crimes initiated and committed by Nazi Germany.

“Antiziganism, however, had existed long before and still exists today. From this stems a particular responsibility to fight this ongoing plague here and now.”

An estimated 11 million people were murdered during the Second World War because of their nationality, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, religious belief, political affiliation or because they were prisoners of war. 

Speaking at the event Lynn Jackson, Director of Holocaust Education Trust Ireland said: “This meaningful exhibition focuses our minds on the dangers of racism and emphasises the importance of education in countering all forms of hatred wherever and whenever it is manifested.”

The Thormann family in ‘Don’t forget the photos’ .

Today Roma across Europe and in Ireland, continue to be subjected to racially motivated hate crime, violence, persecution, expulsion and discrimination. In recent months, Ukrainian Roma have experienced discriminatory treatment when fleeing the war in Ukraine.

“We must remain vigilant and take appropriate measures against signs of hatred and racism,” said Pavee Point Chairperson Anastasia Crickley.

“We must step up our action against hate speech and incitement to hatred before it is manifested in violence and atrocities,” added Ms. Crickley.

Agnes Stein with her daughter Inge who both perished at the hands of the Nazis in ‘Don’t forget the photos’.

We need to ensure that the next National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy and the National Action Plan Against Racism anti-Traveller and anti-Roma racism in Ireland, and that these policies lead to real change and equality for both communities.” 

The 2nd of August marks Roma Genocide Remembrance Day, which commemorates the Roma people who suffered during the Nazi era.  This date marks the anniversary of the extermination of 3,000 Roma and Sinti in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944.

Johanna Laubinger who survived 3 Nazi camps.

Pavee Point would like to thank Dr Eve Rosenhaft, Professor of German Historical Studies at University of Liverpool and AJZ Dessau for sharing this exhibition with us. We would like to thank Dublin City Council also for funding this important event.