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Roma Genocide Remembrance Day

On the night of August 2, 1944, Nazis murdered 2,897 men, women and children from the so-called gypsy family camp of Auschwitz II-Birkenau. They were the last remaining deportees in the camp. Altogether some 500,000 Roma and Sinti fell victim to the National Socialist policy of extermination in Europe. August 2 marks the culmination of this killing and is dedicated to the memory of the genocide. Associations, initiatives and politics commemorate the victims on this date and call for continued efforts to counter discrimination and violence against Roma and Sinti in Europe today.

The International Tracing Service (ITS) holds numerous documents testifying to the fate of the persecuted and murdered Roma and Sinti. On the basis of these documents, the service provides information to survivors, relatives of the victims and researchers. The holdings also include documents of the ITS’s Child Search Branch. The Child Search Branch files archived in Bad Arolsen provide information about the fates of thousands of minors and bear witness to many families’ desperate efforts to locate their missing children.

The documents pertaining to Ferdinand Wagner are a case in point. After liberation, he set out in search of his sons Aloisius and Josef. The Nazis had persecuted the Wagner family as “gypsy half-breeds”. Whereas Ferdinand and his two sons survived the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp, his brother Carl and the latter’s son as well as other relatives died in the Nazi murder campaigns.

The files of the Child Search Branch represent valuable cultural memory. They are among the original documents of the ITS archive, which in 2013 was awarded the status “Memory of the World” by the UNESCO. In July 2017, Kulturstaatsministerin Monika Grütters granted the ITS special funds to guarantee their preservation. These additional funds will be applied towards deacidifying and restoring Child Search Branch files of the years 1947 to 1950.