The Netherlands

1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

The Netherlands has observed a day of remembrance on 4th May since the end of World War II. The day, called the Remembrance of the Dead, commemorates all civilians and soldiers who died in the Netherlands and elsewhere since the outbreak of World War II, including both in conflict situations and during peacekeeping operations. This includes the victims of the Holocaust. Until 1961, the day only commemorated the Dutch victims of World War II. Since 1961, victims of other military conflicts and of all nationalities are also remembered on this day. The Netherlands also observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27th January by remembering the victims of the Holocaust on the last Sunday of the month.

Recognition and official texts:

  • 'Wiedergutmachung', since the fifties: few Roma benefited from it.
  • Since the sixties, there are legislative provisions and implementation, referring victims of WWII, which include Roma and Sinti: Laws on Pensions and Benefits for physically injured and/or psychologically damaged victims of WWII. Social work to make these benefits accessible and process individual reports. Council of Pensions and Benefits to judge and proceed requests.
  • In 1995: Remembering 50 years after Liberation of the end of WWII, with grants for initiatives of victim groups.
  • In 1999: “Fourth Tranche Gold Pool”, a fund facilitated by the Dutch Government; this is an allocation financed by returned monetary gold (Monetary gold seized by the Nazi Germany, traced by the Allies, returned by the Tripartite Gold Commission). There was a subsequent call for proposals, resulting in projects including approximately ten on Sinti and Roma specifically.
  • In 2000: Decision of the Dutch Government to compensate for formality and imperfections in the rehabilitation of victims of WWII, along with the harsh acceptance of these victims after the end of the war, including Sinti and Roma living at the time in the Netherlands.

Creation of a foundation managing the earmarked Sinti and Roma. Compensation Fund (2001), with individual benefits and project purposes.

Proceeding of requests for individual benefits (until 2006) and project proposals (until 2010). Monitoring by ministries and the Parliament (2000-2010).

1.2 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

In 1979: Creation of the Roma Monument at the Museum Square in Amsterdam, initiated and financed by the civil society (Roma association and the Allies).

In 1983: Creation of Memorial Center Camp Westerbork, with special reference to Sinti and Roma (symbolised by the stoney red ‘flames’) among the other main victim groups (Jews and political prisoners).

Since 1995: official and explicit inclusion (along with the presence of representatives of the Sinti and Roma) in the yearly National Remembrance Days on May 4th and 5th (wreath-laying ceremony at the Dam Square monument in Amsterdam on May 4th; celebration of freedom on May 5th) and at the yearly Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th in Amsterdam (wreath-laying ceremony at Auschwitz monument in the Wertheim Park).

Since 1994 at the former transit camp Westerbork (578 Roma and Sinti were deported to Westerbrock), on May 19th: Sinti Grass Roots organize the Remembrance of ‘Gypsy’-razzias in 18 Dutch municipalities (1944, May 16th) and subsequent deportation of 245 Sinti and Roma to Auschwitz-Birkenau (1944, May 19th; approximately 30 ones survived).

Incidental Sinti and Roma attention during yearly Commemorations at former camps in Amersfoort and Vught.

Creation of local monuments for Sinti and Roma in former 'gypsy'-razzia municipalities.

1.3 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

- National Institute for War Documentation (founded on May 8th 1945): Documentation and scientific research. E.g. Scientific research and publication on ‘The Persecution of the Gypsies in the Netherlands’ (1979, B. Sijes).
- Leiden Institute Scientific Research published ‘And Gypsies so they were called …’ (L. Lucassen, 1991).
- Anne Frank Foundation. Racism and Extremism Monitors (exclusively on Sinti and Roma, 2004 edition ‘Roma and Sinti Monitor racism and the extreme right’).
The Government appointed the Commission Investigation on robbery and loss of possessions of war victims (terminated); report including a paragraph on Sinti and Roma (1997-1998).
- The Government appointed the SOTO-Foundation (1998 - 2001); research program “Return and Reception after WWII”, including the Sinti and Roma case (2001, M. Bossenbroek).
- Other specialized and organizational initiatives working on supporting implementation of official measures: Sinti Grass Roots organization (1989-2003), Lau Mazirel Advocacy Association (1989-1998), FORUM (1998-2010), Compensation Fund Foundation Sinti and Roma (2001-2010), Dutch Institute Sinti and Roma (founded in 2010); Anne Frank Foundation, National Committee for the 4th and 5th May (and local committees).

1.4 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

Within the framework of the Compensation Fund of WWII Victims ideas on forming a centre for Sinti and Roma were thoroughly discussed and researched. This lead to the foundation of the Dutch Institute for Sinti and Roma in 2010, which is based in Den Bosch. This centre aims to permanently improve the position of Roma and Sinti in the Dutch society. It will do so e.g. by offering best practices and practical aid to municipalities, carrying out various projects (mainly focused on education and employability), being a documentation and information centre and acting as an intermediate between all parties involved, including government.

A virtual exhibition “The Forgotten Genocide”:

The Dutch initiative, a website about WWII history. is an initiative of partner organizations dedicated to world war II history, led by the Dutch organisation Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei (under Prime Minister's command and receiving institutional grant). The website has a section dedicated to Sinti and Roma.

Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei is also leading a virtual exhibition on the “Forgotten Genocide” of roma and sinti. The exhibition was created on the occasion of the Requiem for Auschwitz which premiered in Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk (new church) on 3 May 2012. It is supported by IHRA and EVZ (Remembrance, Responsibility and Future)

2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

Schools in the Netherlands are compelled to teach about WWII in primary and secondary education (since the children are ten years old). Teachers have freedom in choosing methods and content of their lessons. Samudaripen is usually a part of their lessons on WWII / Holocaust.

Material for their lessons can mostly be found on internet, especially through the site that leads to reliable sources and was made by the Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei on request of the government.

Information can also be found on

Teachers can take their pupils to a former campsite or a museum. E.g. in the Memorial Center Camp Westerbork the history of Sinti and Roma is explicit.

Shools may have adopted a local memorial (project ‘Adopt a Monument’), which also commemorates Sinti and Roma, and built a lesson around it.

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

A presentation for secondary schools and university history or Romani Studies courses : Dr Adrian Marsh, The Mechanics of Marginalisation; the Gypsies and genocide, 1900–2011 (O Baro Porrajmos) The history of Anna Maria “Settela” Steinbach

A book for young pupils (12+): Inez van Loon, Mijn zusje (My little sister), 2015 It tells the story of a Sinti Girl Perla who fled with her ​​family from Germany to the Netherlands. There Perla's sister was born. But also in the Netherlands, they were not safe.

The 2010 national booklet for the preparation of the Commemoration Day May 4th, which was offered to the schools, contains an example of Sinti and Roma' point of view.

Information in textbooks is often limited.

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

Anne Frank house offers a "Teachers portal".

Educational material: Karen Polak, Teaching about the genocide of the Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust: chances and challenges in Europe today, Intercultural Education, 24:1-2, 79-92, 2013

In November 2012 and November 2013, Anne Frank House organised in cooperation with (Austria) and the Museum of Romani Culture (Czech Republic), the International Conference on teaching material on the Roma Genocide, to develop and promote teaching materials on the Genocide of the Roma, and in particular to further the implementation of the teaching materials "The Fate of the European Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust". Teaching materials are available on their website.

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

They are incidental and ad hoc activities on Sinti and Roma: a primary school adopted the Roma Monument of Amsterdam for the Commemoration on 4th May.

The exhibition “Forgotten Genocide” was promoted by Anne Frank House in its annual report 2012 on Holocaust education, reminding the importance of teaching this aspect of the Holocaust.

2.5 Remembrance day

The special days for yearly commemorations, including Sinti and Roma, are: January 27th (Auschwitz liberation), May 4th (victims of all wars, especially WWII), May 5th (Liberty Day). There are also local commemorations, e.g. on May 16th (the Razzia) and/or May 19th (Deportation to Auschwitz)

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

Education in general is in the portfolio of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports has the remembrance of WWII in its portfolio (Department Victims and Remembrance WWII).

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

Pieter Hovens (social anthropology)
L. Lucassen (historian)
Wim Willems (historian)
Paul Öfner (social anthropologist)
Marcia Rooker (law)
Peter Jorna (social anthropologist, policy advisor)

4 Initiatives of the civil society

4.1 Relevant projects having a real impact on the people and/or the wide public

In November 2012 and November 2013, Anne Frank House organised in cooperation with (Austria) and the Museum of Romani Culture (Czech Republic), the International Conference on teaching material on the Roma Genocide. There were three target groups represented at the meetings: educational experts working at institutes related to the history of the Holocaust and/or the Roma genocide, teacher trainers that are working at universities or teacher training colleges, and educational authorities. The expertise of these different groups of experts contributed significantly to the development of the teaching material and of the implementation process. The project aimed to create a network of educators and policy makers from across Europe to generally support teaching about the genocide of the Roma in the institutions and countries that are part of the project, and in particular to further the implementation of the teaching materials "The Fate of the European Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust".

The Project Requiem for Auschwitz: It was organised by the partners the International Gipsy Festival and the Alfa Foundation. Requiem for Auschwitz is a musical monument for all the victims of Nazi Terror. It is a shared moment for representatives of the Jewish, Roma, Sinti and other victim groups in the light of recent developments in Europe. It is a living proof of the power of culture against discrimination and exclusion. This event is based on the composition Requiem for Auschwitz (2009) by the self-educated Dutch Sinto musician Roger ‘Moreno’ Rathgeb. It was performed by the Roma- und Sinti Philharmoniker from Frankfurt am Main, conducted by Rom conductor Riccardo M Sahiti. Performances are accompanied by special exhibitions, debates, a conference and a film and documentary program. The Requiem premiered on 3 May 2012 at the ‘Nieuwe Kerk’, a famous church in the heart of Amsterdam. The following day a TV-registration of the concert was broadcasted nationwide, along with a documentary about the forgotten genocide. After the premiere the Requiem travelled through Europe, visiting partner cities Tilburg (NL), Prague, Budapest, Frankfurt, Cracow and Berlin. In each country the Requiem was performed by the Roma- und Sinti philharmoniker, a local choir and 4 soloists. On 30 October 2013 the Requiem was officially concluded with the ‘Final Chord’, attended by the Dutch former queen princess Beatrix and 450 high school students (age 12-18). Therefore Final Chord was not just conclusion of the Requiem for Auschwitz, but also the starting point of an education project called ‘Requiem for Auschwitz at School’. For the school project conductor Roger ‘Moreno’ Rathgeb visits schools and teaches young students (age 14-25) about the Requiem for Auschwitz and the forgotten genocide.

5 Point of view of the Roma community - including survivors' testimonies

Camp survivor Weinberg Wyvern observed: "It was a strange group that was brought into camp. They were not Jews, but Gypsies (...). They were housed in two empty barracks which were located next to the punishment barracks. The barracks were just next to the barbed wire fence of the camp (...) We were told to guard the Gypsies overnight (...) So there we were with a large torch at the ready. The Gypsies had the impression that they were going to a German camp. Occasionally the women would come up to us and ask what was going to happen to them. These were questions to which we could give no answer."

The testimony of Zoni Weisz can be read on the website

The testimony of Settela Steinbach can be read online.

Her story is also the subject of a presentation for secondary schools and university history or Romani Studies courses: Dr Adrian Marsh The Mechanics of Marginalisation; the Gypsies and genocide, 1900–2011 (O Baro Porrajmos) "The history of Anna Maria “Settela” Steinbach"

Settela (Anna Maria) Steinbach (1934 - Auschwitz 1944) On 19 May, 245 Sinti and Roma people who were held in Westerbork were deported to Auschwitz. For a long time, Settela, 'the girl between the train wagon doors' was thought to be Jewish. In 1995, a journalist discovered that she was 'the child of Steinbach' when he showed the photograph to a Sinti survivor of Auschwitz. The transport arrived in Auschwitz on 21 May. The Sinti and Roma from this transport were placed in a separate Gypsy Camp. On 31 July 1944, Settela Steinbach was murdered in the gas chamber. A still from the Westerbork film made by the German Jewish photographer, Breslauer, by order of camp commander Gemmeker, NIOD Collection, Amsterdam.