United Kingdom

1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

Since 2001, the United Kingdom observes 27th January as Holocaust Memorial Day. It is a day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and all subsequent genocides. More specifically, Holocaust Memorial Day aims to recognise that the Holocaust was a tragically defining episode of the twentieth century, a crisis for European civilization and a universal catastrophe for humanity as well as to provide a national mark of respect for all victims of Nazi persecution and demonstrate understanding with all those who still suffer its consequences.

All events place the commemoration of the Holocaust and all victims of Nazi persecution (including the Roma) at their centre, with speeches by survivors, leading politicians and other dignitaries, including the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom. It was reported that the memorial event also commemorates the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The national event is attended by a Cabinet Minister, together with senior civil servants and officials from across Government. There is a similar level of representation at the national events in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The United Kingdom has not established a memorial day dedicated to the Roma and Sinti Genocide.

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

The Holocaust Memorial in Hyde Park, London, was the first public memorial in Great Britain dedicated to victims of the Holocaust. It lies to the east of the Serpentine Lake, in The Dell, an open-air area within the park. Since its unveiling in 1983 remembrance services have taken place at the memorial every year. It is inscribed in both English and Hebrew with the words "For these I weep. Streams of tears flow from my eyes because of the destruction of my people" which is a quotation from the Book of Lamentations.

The memorial is primarily dedicated to Jewish victims but it serves as the gathering place for Roma victims’ commemoration as well.

There were no concentration or internment camps for Roma people nor mass murders against them in the UK during World War II. So there are no other monuments nor remembrance places in the UK.

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

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is a standing organization which provides information and advice to teachers, journalists and the interested public. They organise the National Memorial Day each year and list events, resources, PowerPoint presentations, films and regular news up-dates. Their homepage includes Roma and Sinti as victims of the Holocaust.

PO Box 61074
London SE1P 5BX
UK
Telephone: 0845 838 1883
E-mail: enquiries@hmd.org.uk

The Centre for Holocaust Education of the Institute of Education of the University College of London dispenses courses and other events linked to the teaching of the Holocaust. It also provides teachers with help and guidelines regarding the teaching of the Holocaust. It provides teacher resources on the history of the Roma Genocide. In May 2014, the Institute of Education held an expert meeting with IHRA on the Genocide of the Roma in which were presented all projects addressing the Genocide of the Roma (summarized in the report).

The Wiener Library for the Study of Holocaust and Genocide is the biggest library on the Holocaust and has an important collection of resources on the Genocide of the Roma.

The UK is home to Europe’s largest Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, London. The exhibition attracts thousands of visitors each year, many of whom are school students who engage in educational programs. The Imperial War Museums’ website dedicates one of its section to the Holocaust, providing general information, visual resources and testimonies. Although there is no particular focus on the Genocide of the Roma, they are mentioned as being part of the victims.

The National Holocaust Centre and Museum provides a range of facilities for people of all backgrounds to explore the history and implications of the Holocaust. There are two permanent exhibitions – The Holocaust Exhibition, suitable for secondary school children and adults and The Journey, a text free and tactile exhibition built with younger children in mind. The centre hosts survivors on a daily basis that visitors can meet. The Holocaust exhibition presents the general history of the Holocaust, therefore including the fate of Roma and Sinti. The Centre is also a remembrance site: the “Memorial gardens” gather several sculptures and monuments to honour all the victims of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, none specifically commemorates the Roma.

During June 2015 which is the Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month in the UK, the National Centre has displayed an exhibition on “The Nazi Regime Targeted Groups: Gypsies”.

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced during the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz that Britain will have a new National Memorial and world-class Learning Centre using the latest digital technology to commemorate and educate about the Holocaust. The Commission, which has been chaired by Mick Davis and included the Chief Rabbi, Helena Bonham Carter, Natasha Kaplinsky, Sir Peter Bazalgette and cross-party representation from Rt Hon Ed Balls, Rt Hon Simon Hughes and Rt Hon Michael Gove, has today recommended:

  • A striking and prominent new National Memorial should be built in central London to make a bold statement about the importance Britain places on preserving the memory of the Holocaust and stand as a permanent affirmation of the values of British society
  • A world-class Learning Centre should sit alongside the memorial. This should be a must-see destination using the latest technology to engage and inspire vast numbers of visitors. It would also be responsible for developing a physical campus and online hub bringing together a network of the existing Holocaust organisations across the UK and supporting them in driving a renewed national effort to advance Holocaust education across the country
  • An endowment fund to secure the long-term future of Holocaust education – including the new Learning Centre and projects across the country
  • An urgent programme to record and preserve the testimony of British Holocaust survivors and liberators.

It is reported that Prime Minister Cameron wants the National Memorial to include Roma victims, but the information has to be confirmed.

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

The British Government funds the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) to deliver the United Kingdom’s Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony, which takes place in a different venue each year in London. There are also national events organised by the Scottish and Welsh Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive. The government funds the HMDT to publicise Holocaust Memorial Day. The HMDT develops themes to commemorate the Holocaust each year, which the government promotes. The HMDT also develops teaching resources, including online resources for schools, organizations (including local councils, prisons and religious bodies) and individuals to download in order to help them arrange their own Holocaust Memorial Day event. The Government provides funding, enabling the HMDT to appoint regional support workers, who work with civil society in events in their regions. In, 2014, 2 400 local events commemorating the Holocaust took place, the largest number so far.

There is no specific law in relation to the denial of the Holocaust. However, there are laws preventing the incitement of racial hatred against any particular ethnic or religious minority, but in the past this has not been used to protect Roma and Travellers who regularly receive racist abuse in a number of forms, including the mass media.

2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

In 1991, England was the first European country to make teaching about the Holocaust a mandatory part of the history curriculum in state secondary schools, whilst in 2009 it was the first country to undertake extensive national research into Holocaust teaching and learning.

Teaching about the Holocaust is a compulsory part of the history curriculum in the UK. The principal way in which children will learn about the Holocaust is through the National Curriculum for History. The Department for Children, Schools and Families employed a full-time consultant for a number of years to ensure that the Holocaust, which is the killing of 6 million Jews under the Nazis, was included in the history curriculum. Reference might also be made to the persecution of other groups, including the Roma people at that time. A range of teaching and publicity/information materials have been produced to support the teaching of Holocaust in the National Curriculum. In practice, it is rather hidden and misses information on the Genocide of the Roma to be included in the school curriculum when issues surrounding the Holocaust are being considered.

As part of European and world history, children between the ages of 11 and 14 are expected to be taught “the changing nature of conflict and co-operation between countries and peoples and its lasting impact on national, ethnic, racial, cultural or religious issues, including the nature and impact of the two world wars and the Holocaust, and the role of European and international institutions in resolving conflicts.” However, few schools teach about the Genocide of the Roma in any detail and there are few resources to support its teaching.

Within higher education there is a rich research culture around Holocaust studies. There are a number of highly respected scholars working in UK universities, and students can further their learning about the Holocaust through various courses. For postgraduates there are degrees directly focused on the Holocaust, while a growing number of research students are studying the subject in centres at Royal Holloway, University of London, the University of Southampton and the University of Leicester.

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

Some textbooks include the Genocide of the Roma, yet there is no requirement for schools to use any particular reference book.

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

The government supports the Institute of Education’s Centre for Holocaust Education to help ensure teachers are equipped with the training and resources they need to deliver effective Holocaust education. Since 2011, the Centre has reached 4,770 teachers, including 1,893 initial teacher education students who will begin their careers understanding the significance of teaching about the Holocaust.

The Centre for Holocaust Education of the Institute of Education of the University College of London dispenses courses and other events linked to the teaching of the Holocaust. It also provides teachers with help and guidelines regarding the teaching of the Holocaust. It provides teacher resources on the history of the Roma Genocide. In May 2014, the Institute of Education held an expert meeting with IHRA on the Genocide of the Roma in which were presented all projects addressing the Genocide of the Roma (summarized in the report).

The Holocaust Educational Trust offers a wide range of free initial teacher training and Continuing Professional Development programmes to assist teachers across a range of subjects and age groups. The Trust has also developed the innovative Exploring the Holocaust teaching pack specifically for use in schools in the UK.

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

Outside of formal lessons, tens of thousands of students each year hear the eyewitness testimony of Holocaust survivors through the Trust's Outreach programme. There are also a number of museums and memorial centres which offer opportunities for students to learn more about the Holocaust, whether through school or family visits. They include the Imperial War Museum in London; the Holocaust Centre; the Jewish Museum in London; the Manchester Jewish Museum and The Wiener Library Institute of Contemporary History.

The government financially supports the HET to run its “Lessons from Auschwitz” project. The funding provides for two students from every state-funded school and six from College in England to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau. As part of the project, there is preparatory and follow-up work that is carried out with the students, often involving talks with survivors. The students then share their experience with their peers and the community. Since 1999, more than 25 000 students and teachers from across the United Kingdom have participated in this project.

2.5 Remembrance day

The National Holocaust Memorial Day (27TH of January) is recognised each year up and down the country and on most occasions now, the Genocide of the Roma is included.  In general, the focus is on remembering the Holocaust in order to relate this topic to contemporary issues. For example, 2008 HMD has “Stand up to Hatred” as its theme.

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

Holocaust Education Trust
Chief Executive
Karen Pollock MBE
Head of Education Team
Alex Maws
 
Holocaust Educational Trust
BCM Box 7892
London
WC1N 3XX
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7222 6822
Fax: +44 (0)20 7233 0161
 
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
Olivia Marks-Woldman chief executive
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
PO Box 61074
London
SE1 5BX
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7785 7029
E-mail: enquiries@hmd.org.uk

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

Ian Hancock (Romani: Yanko le Redžosko; born 29th August 1942) is a linguist, Romani scholar, and political advocate. He was born and raised in England, and is one of the main contributors in the field of Romani studies. He is director of the Program of Romani Studies and the Romani Archives and Documentation Centre at The University of Texas at Austin. He has represented the Romani people at the United Nations and served as a member of the US Holocaust Memorial Council under President Bill Clinton, who Hancock claims has Romani ancestry.

Donald Kenrick is the author of many books on the experiences of Gypsies (Roma and Sinti) under the Nazi regime including Gypsies under the Swastika (University of Hertfordshire Press, 2009). In 1974 he was the co-author of the first book in the English language about the experiences of Gypsies under the Nazi regime. In this podcast he provides an overview of what the fate of Europe’s Roma and Sinti under the Nazi regime of hatred.

The historian Rainer Schulze is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Essex and the programmer of the University of Essex’s annual Holocaust Memorial Week. During June 2015, the Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month, he reminded the systematic persecution persecution the Roma and Sinti suffered during the period of Nazi rule in Germany and in Nazi-occupied Europe, through a nine-part blog that can be read on the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website

Professor Rainer Schulze
Email: rainer@essex.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1206 873404
4 Initiatives of the civil society

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

On the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on 27 January 2015, the Huffington Post UK published an article on the Forgotten victims, therefore presenting the Roma victims of the Holocaust. The article delivers the testimony of Ceija Stojka, an Austrian Roma survivor.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is the charity that promotes and supports Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD).HMD has taken place in the UK since 2001, with a UK event and over 3,600 local activities taking place on or around 27 January each year. It commemorates all victims of the Holocaust, inlcuding Roma and Sinti. T heir website has a section dedicated to the Porrajmos.

The Gypsy Roma Travellers History Month London (GRTHM) started in Brent in June 2001. It was organised by Rocky Deans Head of the Traveller Education Service. There was also support from the local Irish Traveller community. on their website, they provide information on the Genocide of the Roma.

BBC UK provides a timeline of the persecution of the Roma under Nazi rule.

Romany Collection of Robert Dawson:

Robert Dawson has a private collection of thousands of pictures of Gypsies and other Travellers in history. He has an online gallery, which displays pictures of the “Gypsy Holocaust”. He has gathered over the years a massive collection of Romani photography, with a substantial part on the Holocaust.

He has donated 500 pictures on that topic to the National Holocaust Centre which will be available to view shortly. Some pictures can be shocking. The majority of Bob Dawson's collections are now kept by Reading University and the photographs of the German soldiers with Roma are his most recent acquisition. To get more information, see an article written by Mike Doherty, Travellers’ Times - 22nd October 2013.

Amnesty International UK screened on 29th July 2015 the film “A people uncounted”, about Roma in Auschwitz, their brave and desperate fight against the guards and SS and their almost complete annihilation on 2nd August 1944 in the Porajmos, or Roma Holocaust. The screening was followed by a Q&A with the film’s producer William Billa, alongside two survivors of Porajmos who will tell their story.

On 2nd August 2015, an event was held at noon in front of the Holocaust Memorial in Hyde Park: speeches, songs and poetry were said to commemorate the Genocide of the Roma.

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