On the occasion of the 70th anniversary the Roma Holocaust and the 5th anniversary of the murder of a Hungarian Roma woman in Kisléta, an ecumenical church service was held in Budapest on 4 August, organised by the Sant’Egidio Community. Acting in his role as Reformed Church pastor, the event was also attended by Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog.

Mr. Balog said that “pain and grief fill our hearts, as man turns against man once again in this world. Hungarians turns against Hungarians and Hungarians attack the Roma”. He prayed for strength to provide consolation and to address, teach and educate those who have not yet understood that whole groups of people cannot be held responsible for the actions of individuals.” “It is important that the surviving victims find strength and see that they are able to control their own destiny”, he added.

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In his sermon, Auxiliary Bishop of the Esztergom–Budapest Archdiocese János Székely apologised to both Roma and Jewish people because 70 years ago so few Hungarians had stood by the persecuted. With relation to the two dictatorships that emerged in the 20th century, he issued a warning, stating that “when man proclaims himself Übermensch and Savior, he soon becomes subhuman”.

At the commemorative service, a message was read from Éva Faludi, who was a witness to the extermination of the Roma while a prisoner at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1944. “We must speak relentlessly about the past, as this is the only way to avoid its recurrence”, she wrote.

The commemoration was attended by former President of the Republic László Sólyom, Minister of State for Social Affairs and Inclusion Károly Czibere, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Hungary Maria Assunta Accili and Deputy Mayor of Budapest Tamás Szentes.

According to the resolution issued by the Gypsy World Federation, the night of 2 August 1944, on which more than three thousand people of Roma ethnicity were exterminated by SS soldiers in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, has been commemorated in several countries since 1972. 23 thousand out of the five hundred thousand Gypsies murdered by the Nazis met their deaths in Auschwitz, many of them the victims of medical experiments.

((MTI, Ministry of Human Resources))