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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– While Europe remembers the outbreak of World War I, commemorations have been held in Hungary and Poland for what often has been called the “forgotten Holocaust”: the murder of hundreds of thousands of gypsies, or Roma people, during World War II.
Trains brought them as cattle to Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Perhaps some prayers rose from the chimneys above gas chambers where many Roma were killed.
Roma have been singing about the despair inmates felt, how a black bird went into their heart, and how they told Jesus they were hungry and wanted to kill.
And, at Auschwitz-Birkenau, more than 1,000 Roma from 25 countries recalled over the weekend the 70th anniversary of the night that symbolized Nazi Germany’s attempt to destroy Roma.
On August 2, 1944, nearly 3,000 Roma and Sinti were gassed. Many Roma arrived in death camps from Hungary.
That’s why the Catholic Sant’Egidio community held an ecumenical commemoration of the Roma Holocaust in Budapest. Hungarian President János Áder asked Hungarians, however, not to forget Hungary’s responsibility .
He said that “although the deportations and segregation were ordered by Hitler’s Third Reich, we cannot go away without saying that Hungarians carried them out.”
At least hundreds of thousands of Roma children, women and men were killed across German-occupied Europe.
Even decades later, Roma have been killed in Hungary and other countries by extremists. Reasons enough for Roma to express despair.