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Germany

Third Generation Sinti and Roma Visit Auschwitz

Sinti and Roma Holocaust survivors and their grandchildren are visiting the former death camp in Auschwitz this week as part of an educational trip designed to raise historical awareness among the younger generation.

Train tracks leading to the entrance of Auschwitz-Birkenau

The young people will be shown around Auschwitz-Birkenau by survivors

It's the first time that young and old have jointly taken part in an organized event of this kind in Germany. Thirty-five Holocaust survivors and 20 young people aged between 16 and 30 will be travelling Poland.

Together, young and old will remember Aug. 2, 1944 -- the date on which the SS killed the last remaining 2,900 Sinti and Roma in Auschwitz. This is the anniversary on which the community commemorates their Holocaust dead.

Survivors will also give the participants personal guided tours around the camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau during the five-day trip, which has been organized by the Documentation and Cultural Center of German Sinti and Roma in Heidelberg and the Federation for Democracy and Tolerance (BfDT).

Linking the present and the past

Silhouettes against Arbeit macht frei (work liberates) ironwork of gate.

Over 1,000 Sinti and Roma were also detained in Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin

"We wanted to give the younger generation the opportunity to connect with history," said Romani Rose, chairman of the Sinti and Roma's Central Council.

The Heidelberg center's Andreas Pflock stressed the importance of the personal dimension.

"The Holocaust survivors will pass on their own experiences," he said. "With many of the older generation who actually experienced Auschwitz beginning to pass away, we didn't want these experiences to be lost.

"It is important for the younger generation to know what their family members had to go through because it affects their perception of their own history. It is also an important foundation for their future," he added.

Pflock said the trip would also include a meeting with members of the Polish Sinti and Roma, involving discussions about their current political work.

About half a million Sinti and Roma are estimated to have been murdered during the Nazi regime. Some 70,000 to 80,000 members of the minority live in Germany today.

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