“Vermin – deport” was the response to an article I posted (July 25th 2015) on the Roma Community Fun Day in the Arboretum and Normanton Neighbourhood Group Facebook Page last week. The Nazis referred to Jews as “vermin”! Stage 3 of the Path to Genocide, is the “Dehumanisation” phase when people who are seen as “different” start to lose their human rights and dignity.
The Holocaust during the Second World War is, generally remembered for the killing of 6 million Jews, however many other groups were part of this programme of mass murder including Roma. It is estimated that, of the order of 0.5 million+ ( the range is wide) Roma were exterminated during the 10 year period from the mid-1930s until the end of the war. This is referred to as the Parajmos/Pharrajimos.The condemnation and remembrance of the Holocaust of the Jews is well understood, and uppermost in the minds of most, however the genocide of the Roma is largely forgotten and ignored. The fact that they don’t have a state, or political power base, is central to this global amnesia.
Whilst there has been a rise in anti-semitism in recent years, people are “sprung loaded” to rebuke it promptly; this does not happen with other groups or ethnicities, like Roma. Our pleas for “Never Again” are preserved for the Jews – can we really not see the obvious parallels in our modern day behaviour with our attitude to “migrants”? The “Freudian slip” usage of insect/pest metaphors must be given zero tolerance.
On the 2nd August 1944, in one night, 3000 Roma were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. A small proportion of the total, but a single, significant, “iconic” atrocity. On the 15 April 2015 the European Parliament passed a resolution which declared the 2nd August as “European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day”. A day to remember and recognise the Roma Genocide as a separate and distinguishable death-programme by the Nazis.
Tragically, most did forget the Roma Genocide which is why they continue to be persecuted throughout Eastern Europe on a scale which would never be tolerated if it was being meted out against the Jews. Now, Derby is home to several thousand Roma – all of whom are survivors. Very few people in Derby would be aware of the Roma Genocide – and that is not their fault – it is our education system which promotes a narrow orthodoxy on history. But “Never Again” is relevant to all who have been persecuted in their history, as well as those who are in grave danger of experiencing it for the first time. The concern is not for the Jews – the concern is for those who are stateless, disenfranchised, and who mainstream society has “decided” to marginalise, who somehow, we consider to be, not so important,- people fleeing from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanistan, Libya and anyone else we choose to summarily dismiss as “migrants”….and of course Roma.
I hope that soon, in Derby, when someone posts the word “Vermin” to describe a fellow human being that they are beseiged by contempt and that,individually, and collectively, we can, finally, stamp out this racism against Roma!