A Memorial Day for the victims of the Roma Holocaust was held on August 2nd, 2010, at the Roma Holocaust Memorial Monument in Nehru Park, Budapest.
Agnes Daroczi, founder of the Romedia Foundation and vice-president of the Phralipe Independent Roma Association, gave a speech about our personal responsibility towards ourselves, our children, our society and our country.
We came here to remember the liquidation of the separate Roma camp at Auschwitz Birkenau, the day when the last prisoners standing at the family camp, close to three thousand people, were murdered in one single night.
It was August 2nd, 1944 – the last day in the lives of children, women, the elderly and the sick. For the camp’s liquidation had started not on that day, but as soon as May 16th, 1944. The space was needed for the Jews deported from Hungary. But there were still men alive at that time and the Roma resisted. Those who were physically able rose up and fought back, using whatever tools they could find. This is why, remembering them, I wish to speak today about individual courage and personal responsibility. Because this is the basis for taking any type of action: personal responsibility. Those fathers and mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers felt personally responsible for themselves, for their children and for their fellow prisoners. And given the choice, they decided they would rather die fighting, resisting. They stood up, rebelled, protested, and it worked. The fascists gave up. In May, the brave, the insurgents won. Then those who still had some strength were selected and transported to another death camp, while the children, the elderly, the women and the sick were subjected by the fascists to the final extermination which took place on August 2nd, 1944. Let us remember them today.
But let us also remember those brave people who, taking personal responsibility for their actions, were courageous enough to stand up against state sponsored hate and help the persecuted ones. In Domosd, it is such a family who saved Aunt Szali and her family from deportation. In Tuskevar, Laci Votyoli was trying to save his friend Sanyi Lendvai when, in retaliation, the fascists deported them both. Neither of them ever came back. And yes, it was personal responsibility towards Roma prisoners which drove the neighbors of the Ujfeherto camp to bring them bread and cook for them. And yes, we have to talk about personal responsibility in relation to the current situation as well. I have to talk about the victims of irrational hate, about those close to sixty attacks motivated by blind hate which killed six persons in Hungary throughout 2008 and 2009.
But we also have to talk about the personal responsibility of the unprofessional physician, the arrogant fireman and the incompetent police officer who dealt with the double murder case in Tatarszentgyorgy. And let us talk about our own personal responsibility also, should we let all this sink into oblivion so that the authorities can brush the case aside and simply turn their heads away. If civil society representatives, under the leadership of Viktoria Mohacsi, then Member of the European Parliament, had not reacted, the double murder would have entered history as a simple accident. And we cannot forget that had civil society, under the leadership of the Romedia Foundation, not fought for it, we would still not have a memorial there.
The strength of civil society is always the healing kind, for it is about social solidarity, commitment towards the community, about our willingness to share the sorrow and problems of the victims and to take some of the burden off their shoulders. This is precisely what our volunteer friends from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria are doing as we speak. Under the common initiative and implementation of the Phralipe Independent Roma Association and the Zentralrat Deutscher Sinti und Roma, we are, together, renovating the houses of the victims of the Kisleta and Tiszalok murders. This is precisely what our volunteer friends from Germany, Poland and Bulgaria did when, together, we finished building the house of Robert Csorba’s parents in Tatarszentgyorgy.
Yes, we all have a personal responsibility towards the future of this country. It is up to us. This is why it is important to remember, and to remind. To force the hate instigators of the past and the present into retreating and, joining hands, build a communicative, peaceful and strong Hungary."