77 years ago, the Germans created at Auschwitz II-Birkenau Gypsy family camp. The first transport with deported Roma arrived there on February 26, 1943 from Germany. Zigeunerlager existed for 17 months. It existed until August 2, 1944.
About 20,000 lost their lives in Auschwitz. from 23 thousand imprisoned in it Roma and Sinti. This number does not include about 1.7 thousand deportees from Białystok, whom the Germans murdered in gas chambers shortly after their arrival in March 1943. They suspected that they were suffering from typhus.
The Roma and Sinti were harassed in Germany practically from the beginning of the Nazi rule. After the outbreak of war, they decided to remove them from the Reich. They were deported to ghettos for Jews in the General Government. Approximately 5,000 from today’s Austria people went to Łódź. Shortly afterwards they were taken to the Kulmhof extermination center and murdered there.
The first Gypsies arrived in Auschwitz on July 9, 1941. A unit of the German criminal police from Katowice sent nine prisoners, including two Polish Roma.
At the end of 1942, SS leader Heinrich Himmler ordered the arrest of Roma and put them in concentration camps. It was decided that they would end up in Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
On February 26, 1943, a small group of deportees made up of men, women and children arrived from Germany. The SS placed them in an unfinished part of the Birkenau camp, which was given the name Zigeunerlager.
By 21 July 1944, the Germans had imprisoned nearly 21,000 in it. people, including families with children. The camp was hungry and crowded. Hygienic and sanitary conditions were dramatic, which caused epidemics, especially typhus and starvation diarrhea. They resulted in a high number of victims. Children who were dying of hunger and disease were particularly suffering. Some of them became victims of the criminal medical experiments of the SS camp doctor Josef Mengele.
During the existence of the Gypsy camp, a group of prisoners was transferred deep into the Reich and employed in industry. Some of them were used for pseudo-medical experiments. Few were released on condition that they undergo sterilization. There were also sporadic cases of releasing Roma from mixed marriages who received high awards when serving in the German army.
The Germans wanted to eliminate Zigeunerlager for the first time in May 1944. However, the Roma were warned. They armed themselves with knives, shovels and stones. When the SS arrived to take them to the gas chambers, they did not leave the barracks. The surprised Germans gave up, probably in fear of losses. They were also afraid that the spark of resistance would jump to other areas of Birkenau. After this event, about 1.5 thousand were transferred from Zigeunerlager to Auschwitz I. Roma and Sinti. Over 200 young people were directed to other camps.
The next liquidation date was set for August 2. In the afternoon, Roma and Sinti were brought from Auschwitz I to Birkenau. A freight train was waiting for them on the ramp, at the height of the Gypsy camp. They were taken away.
In the evening, after the train left, SS men entered Zigeunerlager. They ordered the Gypsies to leave the barracks and stand in ranks. Victims realized that they would be taken to the gas chambers. They could not resist active anymore, as the majority were old men, the sick, women and children. They were helpless.
At night from 2 to 3 August about 4.3 thousand. prisoners were killed in a gas chamber. Their bodies burned in the pits next to the crematorium.
August 2 is celebrated as the Day of Remembrance on the Extermination of the Roma and Sinti.
Gypsies were the third largest group deported to Auschwitz, after Jews and Poles. Transports came from fourteen countries, including from the Reich, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, the General Government, the occupied territories of the Netherlands, the Soviet Union, Lithuania, Hungary, and even from Norway and Spain.
It is estimated that as a result of the persecution and terror of the Third Reich, half the Gypsy population living in Germany and the occupied areas were killed. (PAP)