The German government and the Central Council of Sinti and Roma have agreed on designs for a memorial. Debate over quotes comparing the genocide of the Jews and of the Sinti and Roma had stalled construction.
Romani Rose: Pleased that plans are progressing
The government will finance the 2 million euro ($2.5 million) memorial, which is to be built between the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin. Federal Culture Secretary Bernd Neumann announced to journalists on Monday that construction would begin quickly, pending agreement from the Social Democrats.
Romani Rose, head of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, said the agreement is an "important step" toward officially recognizing the genocide committed on the minority group. He said he was "very happy" about the agreement.
Debate about a central inscription on the memorial has raged for years, hampering the memorial's construction. Now, the various sides agreed that the memorial, which will be designed by artist Dani Karavan and shaped like a fountain, will not contain an inscription.
Nazis used face masks of Sinti and Roma to "prove racial inferiority"
Instead, the names of the Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz, Treblinka and Buchenwald will be chiseled into the slabs leading up to the memorial. An additional tablet will display the sentence "We commemorate all the Roma who were victims of the systematic genocide in Nazi-occupied Europe."
Schmidt recognized genocide
Information panels will display a chronology of the exclusion, persecution and annihilation of the Sinti and Roma. The murder of hundreds of thousands of Sinti and Roma is considered the second-largest act of genocide carried out by Nazis in Europe, following the killing of millions of Jews.
The final information panel is to contain quotes by former German President Roman Herzog and former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. The Central Council has long insisted that the quote from Herzog be used in which he drew parallels between the annihilation of the Sinti and Roma and the Holocaust of the Jews. Schmidt deemed the killing of the Sinti and Roma genocide in 1982.
Another association of Sinti, called the "Sinti Alliance," has been at odds with the Central Council. The group would like to see other "Gypsy ethnic groups" mentioned as victims of Nazi violence.