Topics of coins
75th Anniversary of the Romani and Sinti Genocide
In the history of the Romani, the Second World
War was a tragic period during which the German
Nazis and their allies committed genocide
on them – as they did with the Jews. This was
a racially motivated attempt at exterminating
the whole nation. The extermination was carried
out in a systematic manner by the Third
Reich between 1943–1944, according to
the decree by Heinrich Himmler from December
1942 on the “final solution to the Gypsy
question”. Mass executions had also taken place
earlier, which was associated with the German
occupation troops marching into the conquered
territories. It is estimated that in this
period in Europe some 500 thousand Romani
were murdered, which probably accounted for
about 50 per cent of their pre-war population.
Operations based on a top-down plan were
conducted in various places – in mass extermination
camps, among others. The KL
II – Birkenau concentration camp
operated a Romani family camp (“Zigeunerlager”)
in the years 1943–1944. More than
23 thousand Romani and Sinti from various
European countries had been imprisoned in
the camp. On the night of 2 August 1944,
the Romani camp was liquidated, and the prisoners
were murdered in gas chambers.
Today, at the former KL Auschwitz II - Brikenau, at the site of the Romani camp there is a statue in memory of the extermination of European Romani. For over a quarter of a century, every year on 2 August international events have been held here to commemorate this tragedy. In 1996, during an international conference organised in Oświęcin, Romani leaders from 10 European countries and the United States established the 2nd of August as the International Roma Genocide Remembrance Day. The Roma and Sinti Genocide Day celebrations are also observed in Poland, pursuant to a resolution of the Polish Sejm of 2011.
The coin commemorates the tragic events of the night of 2 August 1944. The reverse of the coin features an image of a survivor of the genocide, Marianna Paczkowska (1925–2010), modelled on a preserved photograph. She was deported with her family in March 1944 to “Zigeunerlager” at the KL Auschwitz II – Birkenau (she was registered as Paczkowski Marie, camp number 10042). Being able to work, she was transferred to the KL Ravensbrueck, and from there to the subcamp Wolkenburg. On the night of 2 August 1944, her family was murdered in a gas chamber.
The obverse of the coin features the inscription: Likwidacja “Zigeunerlager” KL Auschwitz- Birkenau (Liquidation of Zigeunerlager KL Auschwitz-Birkenau) 02.08.1944 and images of barbed wire.