Poland’s Roma community publishes first guide to Auschwitz

The Roma Association in Poland has published the first ever guide for visitors to the former German Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, focusing on the genocidal operation directed against the Roma minority. More than 21,000 Roma were killed in Auschwitz.

The guide, entitled "The extermination of European Roma in Auschwitz” includes a historical outline showing the genesis and course of persecution of the Roma, conducted by the German Nazis. It also contains a richly illustrated description of the places in Auschwitz that are most closely connected with the fate of deported Roma prisoners.

The guide, published in Polish, German and English, also describes an average day in the camp and the process of extermination as seen through the eyes of former Roma prisoners.

The Roma were the third largest group of deportees to Auschwitz, after Jews and Poles. They were transported there from fourteen countries of German-occupied Europe.

After arrival, they were usually sent to the so-called Gypsy family camp built at Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

According to Nazi German race theories, the Roma population was to be considered subhuman and it’s estimated that more than half of the Roma population living in Germany, and the areas occupied by it, was killed during the Second World War.

The Roma Association is one of the most numerous groups representing the Roma minority living in Poland. It considers its primary task to be the creation of conditions for the community’s full participation in Poland’s social environment.

According to Poland’s legislation on Ethnic and national minorities as well as regional languages, there are 9 legally recognised national minorities (Belarusians, Ukrainians, Jews, Czechs, Slovaks, Lithuanians, Russians, Germans and Armenians) and 4 ethnic minorities (Roma, Lemkos, Karaites and Tatars).

The Polish Roma community numbers between 20,000 - 30,000 people.