Memorial for the Murdered Sinti and Roma
Enlarge image The memorial's half-submerged triangular stone, on which a new flower is placed daily (© Stiftung Denkmal / Marko Priske) During the Nazi regime, 100,000 people pejoratively labeled “gypsies” were tracked down and killed. At the dedication of a memorial to those Sinti and Roma people murdered, Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded listeners to never forget the suffering of the victims.
In addition to the chancellor, German President Joachim Gauck and Norbert Lammert, president of the Bundestag, took part in the solemn dedication of the “Memorial for the European Sinti and Roma Killed Under National Socialism.” Also participating in the monument's christening were Romani Rose, chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, as well as survivors of the genocide and their relatives.
The dutch Holocaust survivor Zoni Weisz spoke on behalf of the survivors. In a moving speech, she recalled the fate of the victims of Nazi racial fanaticism: men, women and children of Sinti or Roma heritage, others of Yenish descent or simply those with roots in nomadic culture.
“Remembrance is part of our democratic self-image”
Chancellor Merkel thanked all the survivors for coming. The monument recognizes a victimized group that receives far too little recognition in the public sphere. Their suffering, as well as the deaths of those millions killed across Europe in crimes committed under the German name, shall never be forgotten.
“Remembrance is part of our democratic self-image,” said Merkel. Through the Holocaust Memorial, situated in the middle of Berlin between the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, that remembrance is on display at Germany's very heart. Beyond a call to remember, it is a warning for future generations to stay alert, protect minorities and take responsibility, according to the chancellor.
An appeal for tolerance and human rights
Culture Minister Bernd Neumann described the monument as an “important building block in Germany's cultural remembrance.” The Senti and Roma genocide is part of Germany's cultural memory, according to Neumann.
However, the memorial is not only about memory. It should simultaneously serve as an appeal for more tolerance and a challenge to counteract discrimination directed toward Sinti and Roma, said Neumann.
Memorial by artist Dani Karavan
The Israeli artist Dani Karavan designed the memorial, which will stand between the Bandenburg Gate and the Reichstag.
Karavan's idea in creating the piece was to construct a place for reflection that would serve as a dignified and fitting tribute to the victims. On the edge of Berlin's Tiergarten park he shaped the form of the monument, whose center frames a round, black fountain. There, on an immersible, triangular stone lies a bloom, plucked fresh daily, which serves as a symbol of sadness and remembrance. A ceaseless violin note accompanies this visual element.
A quote from the poem “Auschwitz,” by the Italian-Roma poet Santino Spinelli, extends around the border of the fountain in English and German. Surrounding the memorial are several chalkboards on which the history of the genocide is recounted, again in English and German.