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A Crucial Public Space is under Threat – Save the Berlin Memorial

A Crucial Public Space is under Threat – Save the Berlin Memorial

In BESTROM, we are committed to researching and raising public awareness of Romani history. Our work is framed by the knowledge that Romani groups and individuals have often been excluded from public spaces, or that their presence there has been forgotten. A very special public space is now under threat.

The Berlin Memorial to the European Sinti and Roma Murdered under National Socialism is threatened by plans to build a new S-Bahn line underneath or adjacent to it. The plans of Deutsche Bahn initially envisaged closing all or part of the memorial temporarily while the works are going on and restoring it afterwards. Following local and international protests, this plan is being reconsidered, but the outcome of discussions remains uncertain.

The Berlin Memorial is a unique space of remembrance for the Romani victims of the Holocaust – unique in the beauty of its design, in its proximity to both the seat of Germany’s government and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and in its status as a place of public encounter between Romani and non-Romani visitors and activists.

The Berlin Memorial also commands respect as the product of decades of struggle for recognition by Sinti and Roma themselves. Embodying the disappointments and hopes of two generations of victims, it is more than just a tourist site. In the words of Mario Franz, Chairman of the Lower Saxony Association of German Sinti:

The plan to damage or destroy the memorial will re-open the half-healed wounds left by the persecution and murder of hundreds of thousands of Sinti and Roma and feels like a slap in the face to all the survivors … A memorial like the one in Berlin is seen by Sinti and Roma as a grave marker and place of remembrance for hundreds of thousands of their family members, burnt and buried without names by the Nazis. It is not just something to stare at.

We express our solidarity with the demand that the memorial must remain in place and intact – “by any means necessary”.


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