I know you can’t compare Lety with Terezin

[Lety was a Czech-administered internment camp for Roma in Southern Bohemia during the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia.
The Nazis used a town near Usti nad Labem, Terezin – Theresienstadt in German – as a camp in which to imprison Jews from Czechoslovakia and other countries before deporting them for extermination in Auschwitz
Eva is talking about ARTS OF TOLERANCE, a series of workshops, discussions and performances organized in Terezin by the Stories Exchange Project in September 2000.]
Eva BajgerovaUsti nad Labem
Two months ago Jews and Roma gathered in Terezin. We have a lot in common, mainly our experience in World War II.
But most of the Roma in Bohemia were killed during the War, and there is almost nobody left to tell us the stories. So Jewish experience and advice is very useful to us.
They gave us their experience in Terezin. They also advised us to hold onto our identity, and to let everybody know that we are Roma. We live here, we will always live here, and we are not going to surrender.
But the Jews told us too not to put any gap between us and the majority.
That’s what we spoke about in Terezin.
I think that people are talking and writing about Holocaust more often these days. Not to forget means to talk and discuss the problem, to know that something like that happened.
I know you can’t compare Lety with Terezin.
More Jews died, and Jewish communities have more material: they have gathered more information. What shall we do? We can ask our survivors if there are any left. But most of them are dead.
I know about the situation in Slovakia because my family came from there, but I know absolutely nothing about what it looked like in Bohemia. And I am not sure that my kids will know anything if there aren’t any books about it. And that is what I think: if we had books, publications, films, theater to save the memory, to remember; that could be a basis for talking.
We were at school today. You must have felt too that there is something missing in the educational plan: our history and culture are missing. The Romany culture has been omitted completely. And the question is: how can we pass it on to our children when the educational system gives us no chance to do so? It should get into Czech schools as a part of history lessons about World War II.
[You may also be interested in reading and responding to stories and comments by other participants in ARTS OF TOLERANCE in Terezin last September.
Have a look at the following Stories and Responses, and tell us what you think! And please give us your stories too!
The Broken Mirror
"We Roms opened ourselves up to you.”
“How to do something as good as Terezin with the Romany Holocaust?”
Being a Citizen
“They forced me into the car and took me to the police station.”
“How can Roms have a white tent?”
“Europe should open to Roms who do not want to live in this country.”
“Slavery was like what happened in Terezin, and we’re still wrestling with that legacy.”
The Holocaust
“The only weapon I have is to go around telling my story.”
“Don’t close up!”
“Terezin was much worse than the wall in Maticni Street.”
“It’s very close to us, the past.”
“Does it open up your world?”
“How lucky I am to be doing what I’m doing.”
“To remember well, we have to know a lot more.”
And you might want to have a look at a response to the lack of information on the Romany Holocaust by a Venezuelan writer, Ana Araujo: “It’s more than your right: it’s your duty.”

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