Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Some Photos from Poland (More Coming Soon!)

 Dik I Na Bistar - Roma Genocide Remembrance Initiative is put on every year by a number of Roma organizations around Europe. The Initiative was formed for two primary reasons. The first was to bring together Roma and non-Roma to discuss the current situation of Sinti and Roma in Europe as well as issues of "anti-gypsism." Secondly, the Initiative brings together young people to reflect on the Roma Genocide during World War II. For this reason, the conference is held every year to coincide with the anniversary of the liquidation of the Zigeunerlager in Auschwitz-Birkenau on August 2-3, 1944. I took this picture at the opening ceremony of the conference in Blonia Park (Krakow, Poland). There were over a 1,000 participants this year coming from virtually every European country as well as the United States. Canada, and Israel.
 After the official opening ceremony ended, several people took to the stage to sing, dance, and play instruments. The Roma have a rich, centuries-old musical tradition in Europe, and many people exhibited this during the conference. There wasn't a single night where I didn't hear a guitar or an accordion outside my window. 

For two days the conference hosted a series of workshops for the participants. Although I spent most of my time helping out at the Documentation Center's workshop on the German Roma Civil Rights Movement, I did get a chance to attend a flamenco dance workshop one morning. Flamenco proved to be extremely difficult, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The woman in black pictured in this photo was our instructor. At the end of the workshop, she gave us an impromptu performance, which was exceptional. She was originally accompanied only by a guitarist, but some participants who knew the lyrics to a number of flamenco songs eventually provided vocals.

I believe these posters were made by the No Hate Speech Movement, a pan-European organization of young people who advocate for tolerance and respect.

On the first day of the conference, I met a man who told me that visiting Auschwitz changes the way you see the world. He couldn't have been more correct. Travelling to Auschwitz on August 2nd to commemorate the liquidation of the gypsy camp was an indescribable experience that I will never forget. The bouquet in this photo was placed in the gypsy camp during the remembrance ceremony. It is reminder of the men, women, and children who died in concentration camps and unmarked killing fields during the Holocaust. 

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