Legacies of the Roma Genocide in Europe since 1945

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Sch of Histories, Lanuages and Cultures

Abstract

This research network explores the legacies of the Roma genocide in Europe since 1945, with a focus on working closely with Roma NGOs to investigate the long-term consequences of persecution among Roma communities. Roma are the largest transnational European minority, but Roma history is neglected in studies of postwar Europe. At least 130,000 Roma and Sinti lost their lives as a direct result of racial policies implemented by Germany, its allies, and other European states between 1933 and 1945. Yet far too little is known about the impact of mass murder and persecution of 'Gypsies' within Romani families after the war was over, and across ensuing generations.

Our research will integrate Roma into larger historical debates about the legacies of genocide in postwar Europe. We will thereby advance a timely research agenda for future scholarship on the history and politics of Roma in contemporary Europe. We will also explore the relationship between current discrimination and genocidal histories. We will thus be in a unique position both to challenge current policy debates that frame Roma as a European 'problem' and to inform initiatives for public education on the genocide.

The network brings together historians, policy makers, community groups and the general public to explore the social, economic, and political consequences of the Roma genocide for individuals, families, social movements and states from 1945 until the present day. Comparative and transnational in scope, our research community will include participants from eastern and western Europe, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, and the US. This will enable us to explore the postwar history of Roma in the communist East as well as the democratic West and the authoritarian regimes of southern Europe. Both academic and policy objectives depend on co-production of research with Roma communities, foregrounding them as historical subjects and providing them with an opportunity to reflect on and contribute to the production of historical narratives that concern them. Through a series of four workshops, we will create an international network of researchers, a website, database of researchers, three public events, a collected volume of essays, and pathways to future research collaborations.

The first workshop (to be held in Liverpool) will ask participants to reflect on conceptual approaches to studying genocide and its legacies in relation to the history of Roma and Sinti. The second workshop (Manchester) will ask how memories of genocide have been shaped by continuities in state policy (such as education, welfare and policing), as well as in international organizations in fields such as migration and restitution. The third workshop (Prague) explores the impact of genocide within Romani families, drawing on ethnographic, cultural, and activist perspectives on memory, trauma and identity. The final workshop (Liverpool) will bring together contributors to the collected volume for a focused discussion of their papers.

Public engagement is a core part of the network, and is shaped by our collaboration with Roma NGOs - the Roma Voices of Manchester community interest company, the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, Czech Republic, and the European Roma and Travellers Forum - as well as the Romani Studies department at Charles University, Prague and the MigRom project at the University of Manchester. Our public events will speak to interested members of the public, as well as activists and interest groups.

The contemporary relevance of this topic presents an exciting opportunity for dialogue with advocacy groups and policy makers, including international organizations such as the Council of Europe and European Commission, and the new Roma-led European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture. To this end, we will produce an open access, online briefing paper to disseminate our findings to a broad audience.

Planned Impact

The project will be in a unique position to instigate a change in public and official understanding of the Romani minority and its perception of its own history and identity, through a novel and innovative partnership between specialist researchers, cultural activists and members of the Romani community. It will have a long lasting impact beyond the academic community as it will help empower members of the Roma community to reflect and communicate their experiences and view of historical memory, and it will create opportunities for them actively to engage state and public agencies in such reflection, ultimately supporting a shift from the perception of Roma as an 'emerging' community toward a perception as a 'resilient' community at local, national and international levels. Thus the non-academic beneficiaries of the network will include policy makers, the wider community in Britain and Europe, and Roma communities themselves. To achieve these outcomes, we will:-

1. Include Roma community members in the co-design of our research network from the outset, as well as in the evaluation and contextualisation of our research insights. Our network includes the Roma Voices of Manchester community group as a full partner, which will participate in the design of our conceptual approach (Workshop 1), contribute to the assessment and contextualisation of research insights (Workshops 2 and 3), and disseminate research results to policy bodies, schools, and the general public (through three free public events with local authorities, educators, and cultural activists, an online briefing paper, and a video report summarising impressions from the Network posted on the project website).
2. Provide Roma community members with an opportunity to reflect on our network's research questions and findings. Roma Voices of Manchester members will organise focus groups with Roma communities during the first phase of the project, and our network workshops and public events (Manchester and Liverpool) will facilitate encounters between community members, local authorities, cultural activists, educators and the media.
3. By providing training and experience in research co-design and co-production, we will create the conditions for sustainable empowerment of Roma community members, particularly the capacity and opportunity to participate in academic discourses and government initiatives about Romani history and memory.
4. Build on partnerships with the MigRom project (Manchester) and the Romani Studies Department at Charles University (Prague) and create new links with the Roma Voices of Manchester community group, local authorities and schools in Greater Manchester and Merseyside, the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, Czech Republic, and the new European Roma Institute in Berlin.
5. Use the project website hosted by the University of Liverpool to engage non-specialist audiences, using social media and email lists to build an audience for the site. We will draw on existing links with MigRom, the European Academic Network on Romani Studies, and the European Roma and Travellers Forum, to generate audiences for the project website.
6. Run three free public events in Liverpool and Manchester, in cooperation with Liverpool's International Slavery Museum, the coordinator of the Federation of International Human Rights Museums. The ISM has a strong track record in organizing public engagement events in partnership with the University. Live tweeting of this event, with a dedicated hashtag, as well as podcasts on the project website, will extend its reach beyond the audience in Liverpool.
7. Evaluate events through attendance figures, audience questionnaires and monitoring of social media, e.g. the network's Twitter feed. Website usage will be monitored throughout the project, with particular attention to those outputs aimed at a general audience. We will seek feedback from our partners through tried-and-tested mechanisms such as wrap-up meetings.

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
AH/P007260/1 01/06/2017 30/09/2019 £36,179
AH/P007260/2 Transfer AH/P007260/1 01/10/2019 31/07/2020 £12,087
 
Description Through the research funded by this grant, we are developing new ways of exploring the postwar history of European Roma, with a focus on the legacies of the Romani genocide. At our first workshop, held at the University of Liverpool in July 2017, we assembled an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars to explore sources and methodologies. From the perspective of historians, linguists, anthropologists, and scholars of Romani culture, we discussed the sources that we use in our own work. These included photographs, pretrial interviews, oral history interviews with survivors, and trial records. The presence of Romani community workers at this workshop enabled an exchange of views and approaches between academics and educators about the use of these sources in scholarship and teaching, as well as community work outside the university. At our second conference, held in Prague in September 2017, we explored the postwar legacies of the Roma genocide through the prism of family history. This was a groundbreaking conference hosted by the Czech Academy of Sciences that attracted a large audience of Czech and international scholars, bringing historians into dialogue with scholars working in the field of Romani Studies, and with Romani activists. An evening event at the Václav Havel Library in central Prague brought together Czech and German survivors of the genocide for a discussion about questions of memory, family identity and continuing discrimination against Roma, which was attended by a large public audience.
Our third conference was held in Paris, and we were fortunate to be able to organise this event in cooperation with the EHESS, hosted by the Musee Nationale d'Histoire de l'Immigration and La Maison Rouge. This conference explored the production and circulation of knowledge about the wartime genocide of Roma in postwar Europe, the ways in which these cognitive frameworks have shaped institutional and legal practices, and the individuals and communities (Roma and non-Roma) whose personal histories intersected with - and shaped - these transformations of knowledge and institutions since 1945. A broad range of papers explored this question with reference to case studies across Europe. The conference was also timed to coincide with the opening of a major photographic exhibition about Roma in Europe since the mid-nineteenth century.
Our final conference was held at the Wiener Holocaust Library in London in November 2019. This event explored the ways in which historical narratives have been employed to communicate and commemorate the history and legacies of the Romani genocide to a variety of audiences. We were particularly interested in contributions that looked beyond academic histories to include community or family history, oral history, public history, presentations of the history in educational settings, digital and spatial histories, and the arts and visual media. A free public lecture by Prof. Ari Joskowicz (Vanderbilt University) entitled "Recording Romani Lives: The Use and Abuse of History for the Marginalized" attracted a large audience and provoked a lively discussion on the ethics of creating archives and using testimony to write the history of marginalized groups in the digital age. Our final conference was timed to coincide with the opening of the Wiener Holocaust Library's exhibition on "Forgotten Victims: The Nazi Genocide of Roma and Sinti" which for the first time used the library's archival collections to illuminate the "forgotten Holocaust" of Roma and Sinti during World War II.
What our research has revealed is the diverse ways in which Roma survivors responded to the legacies of genocide and persecution after World War II in both the communist East and the liberal democratic West. We are delighted that Routledge has offered us a contract to publish an edited volume of papers that were presented at the conferences, and will represent the first attempt to write a social history of Romani communities' responses to the legacies of genocide in postwar Europe.
Exploitation Route Our findings will be of interest to a range of audiences, including academic historians and scholars in other disciplines, but also community workers and policy makers who are involved with Romani communities in local or national contexts.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description Our research network has supported new activities in the field of Romani Holocaust education in the Czech Republic, and will also contribute to similar activities in the UK. Through the framework for international cooperation created by our research network, the project Co-I, Professor Eve Rosenhaft, a historian of Germany, forged a new partnership with historians and Romani Studies scholars in the Czech Republic. This enabled Prof. Rosenhaft to cooperate with the Romani Studies Seminar at Charles University (our AHRC Research Network project partner) to organise a public debate involving Czech and German survivors of the Roma Holocaust at the Vaclav Havel Library in central Prague. This was a free public event that took place in the framework of our AHRC research network conference on 'Tracing the Legacies of the Romani Genocide: Families as Transmitters of Experience and Memory' in September 2017. The AHRC research network made a financial contribution to this event as part of our public engagement agenda. The cooperation with our AHRC research network partners in the Czech Republic also enabled Prof. Rosenhaft to display an exhibition relating to German Sinti victims at public venues in the Czech Republic, including the Charles University. The visitor questionnaires demonstrated that Czech audiences found the display of material relating to German Sinti to be informative and important. At the same time, the PI is working with a Roma Community Development Worker at the Granby Toxteth Development Trust in central Liverpool to develop a public engagement agenda that will communicate the findings of our network to Romani communities (mainly from Romania) in the city. Our final workshop in November 2019 at the Wiener Holocaust Library in London featured a free public evening lecture that was well-attended, as well as debates between academics and practitioners on the ethics, politics, and pedagogical debates about teaching or creating exhibitions or guidebooks on the history of the Roma Holocaust. In 2018-19, Professor Rosenhaft has been a Visiting Professor at Sogang University, Seoul, and has brought her photographic exhibition there to display to audiences in South Korea and Taiwan. Professor Rosenhaft was awarded a University of Liverpool Research Impact Award in 2019 for her work on this exhibition.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Advising Imperial War Museum on new Holocaust Galleries
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description BEYOND STEREOTYPES: CULTURAL EXCHANGES AND THE ROMANI CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN PUBLIC SPACES (BESTROM)
Amount € 729,847 (EUR)
Organisation Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country European Union (EU)
Start 05/2019 
End 05/2021
 
Description Eve Rosenhaft Co-I on Beyond Stereotypes: Cultural Exchanges and the Romani Contribution to European Public Spaces (BESTROM)
Amount € 1,000,000 (EUR)
Organisation Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country European Union (EU)
Start 05/2019 
End 05/2021
 
Description Exhibition on the National Socialist persecution of Sinti and Roma
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation Liverpool City Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 05/2019
 
Description Exhibition on the National Socialist persecution of Sinti and Roma
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation German History Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Germany
Start 10/2018 
End 05/2019
 
Description German Foreign Ministry
Amount € 10,329 (EUR)
Organisation Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
Sector Public
Country Germany
Start 01/2018 
End 05/2018
 
Description German History Society
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation German History Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Germany
Start 01/2018 
End 05/2018
 
Description German-Czech Future Fund
Amount 109,000 Kč (CZK)
Organisation German-Czech Future Fund 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Czech Republic
Start 06/2017 
End 10/2017
 
Description HK+ Visiting Professorship at Sogang University as part of the research project 'Mnemonic Solidarity'
Amount ₩42,000,000 (KRW)
Organisation National Research Foundation of Korea 
Sector Academic/University
Country Korea, Republic of
Start 09/2018 
End 10/2019
 
Description Heinrich Böll Stiftung Sachsen Anhalt
Amount € 2,000 (EUR)
Organisation Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Sachsen-Anhalt 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Germany
Start 01/2018 
End 05/2018
 
Description Roma Respekt (Berlin)
Amount € 2,000 (EUR)
Organisation Respekt 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Germany
Start 01/2018 
End 05/2018
 
Description Donert collaboration with Prague Forum on Romani Histories (Institute for Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences) 
Organisation Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Department Institute for Contemporary History
Country Czech Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Donert (PI of AHRC Research Network) was invited to become a founding board member of the Prague Forum on Romani Histories, a new initiative established by the Institute for Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic. This collaboration will make a significant contribution to raising the public and scholarly profile of Romani history within the Czech and Central European context, where Roma are frequently marginalised, and debates about the recognition of the Romani Holocaust are highly politicised (until 2017 a pig farm stood on the site of a former WWII concentration camp for Roma in the Czech Republic, and plans for a memorial are still ongoing). Along with cooperation with the Romani Studies Seminar at the Charles University, Prague (foreseen in the Network application), Donert agreed that the first AHRC Network conference ('Tracing the Legacies of the Romani Genocide in Europe since 1945: Families as Transmitters of Experience and Memory') would be hosted at the Villa Lanna (a conference venue owned by the Czech Academy of Sciences) and would also function as a launch event for the Prague Forum. The aim of the Forum is to raise the profile of historical scholarship on Roma in the Czech Republic, to support interdisciplinary research, and to promote collaboration between Romani NGOs, activists, communities, the general public, and scholars. The contribution of the research team towards this collaboration: Donert helped formulate the mission statement of the Prague Forum on Romani Histories, and suggested that the first conference of the AHRC network could be co-hosted by the Forum. This conference made a significant contribution to raising the public and scholarly profile of Romani memories of the genocide in the Czech and Central European context. Typically Romani history is marginalised within mainstream historical scholarship in the Czech Republic. Also, international and transnational perspectives are lacking within Czech scholarship in Romani Studies. Hosting this conference at a prominent venue, and bringing an international network of historians, ethnographers, and anthropologists together with representatives of Romani NGOs and Holocaust survivors, was the first venture of its kind in the Czech Republic. The conference participants included, amongst others, the Director of the Museum of Romani Culture (Brno), the Chair of Romani Studies at Central European University, Budapest, and the Chairman of the Committee for Reparations for Victims of the Romani Holocaust in the Czech Republic. Along with her intellectual input, Donert also helped to support Early Career Researchers in the Czech Republic by inviting Czech PhD students working on Romani history to participate in the conference and to write the conference report.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners made a financial contribution by paying for the expenses of a number of conference participants, including leading historian Professor Tara Zahra (University of Chicago) who spoke at the closing round table, as well as contributing to the costs of dinners, simultaneous interpretation (in order to widen access for Czech participants who did not speak English) and the costs of an associated evening event centred on Professor Eve Rosenhaft's exhibition of German Sinti family histories, and a discussion with Czech and German Roma and Sinti Holocaust survivors. Our partners helped secure co-funding for this event, as well as securing a prominent city centre location for the discussion (the Vaclav Havel library) and the interest of Czech media (the event was covered by Czech TV). Our partners also managed the translation of conference materials into Czech, which further widened access for the Czech scholarly and wider public.
Impact Donert is continuing to collaborate with the Forum as a Board member. Two further workshops are planned for 2018 in Prague, in which Donert and other Board members will collaborate with Early Career and advanced scholars working on Romani histories. A larger conference is planned for 2019, possibly to be held at the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno (with the aim of making academic debates more accessible to Roma communities).
Start Year 2017
 
Description Prof Donert research collaboration with Academy of Sciences of Czech Republic and Charles University Prague 
Organisation Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Country Czech Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Prof Donert acted as an advisor for a major grant proposal which was submitted (and received funding from the Czech Science Foundation) by two of our Czech project partners on the AHRC Legacies of the Roma Genocide project. We coorganised our first international conference in Prague in September 2017, which was a very successful event and helped to increase visibility of Roma history in the Czech context. Prof Donert was named as an external collaborator on the grant proposal and will participate in the conferences that are a regular feature of the project.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners, Dr Katerina Capkova and Dr. Helena Sadilkova, were successful in being awarded 25 million Czech koruna (835,000 GBP) for a ground breaking five year project hosted by the Institute for Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, and the Romani Studies seminar, Charles University, Prague. The project is entitled "Genocide, Postwar Migration, and Social Mobility: Entangled Experiences of Jews and Roma' and runs from 2019-2023. This is a major research project and will be transformative in establishing Roma history as a legitimate field of enquiry in the Czech context, as well as exploring the highly politicised topic of the Roma genocide and its legacies.
Impact The project is just beginning but will result in a number of outputs in the fields of history, anthropology, and Romani Studies.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Article in The Conversation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The PI published an article in The Conversation responding to racist remarks by the Czech President, which threaten progress over Romani rights in the Czech Republic, and highlighted the history of Romani struggles for citizenship in the Czech lands during the twentieth century.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://theconversation.com/anti-roma-stigma-of-czech-president-milos-zeman-threatens-progress-over-...
 
Description Interview with Roma Holocaust survivors 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A public debate involving Czech and German Roma Holocaust survivors was held at the Václav Havel Library in Prague as an evening event - which was free and open to the general public - associated with the second conference of our AHRC research network (Tracing the Legacies of the Romani Genocide: Families as Transmitters of Experience and Memory), which was held at the Czech Academy of Sciences. The debate was held to mark the opening of an exhibition of photos of German Sinti survivors of the genocide, which was also displayed at the conference venue. The exhibition and debate were organised by the AHRC Network Co-I Eve Rosenhaft in cooperation with the AHRC project partners - the Romani Studies Seminar, Charles University, Prague, and the Prague Forum for Romani Histories, Institute for Contemporary History, Prague, as well as the Alternatives Jugendzentrum in Dessau. Speakers were: Zdenek Daniel (Jablonec nad Nisou), Jan Hauer (Beroun), Mario Franz (Bad Iburg), Hermann and Else Höllenreiner (Mettenheim), Jirina Somsiová (Olomouc). The discussion was chaired by: Jana Horváthová (Museum of Romani Culture, Brno) and Jana Müller (Alternatives Jugendzentrum, Dessau).
The event was attended by approx 100 people, and was reported on in the Czech media. A video of the event - with English subtitles - has been made available on YouTube, which will further increase its reach.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnO3_-kqzCM&feature=youtu.be
 
Description Public debate on coercive sterilisation of Romani women 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Prof. Donert participated in a public round table about the coercive sterilization of Romani women in socialist and post-socialist Czechoslovakia, along with prominent advocates for Romani women's rights and the founder of an advocacy group representing Romani women. The event was held at the Vaclav Havel Library in Prague, and also recorded; the video is available on YouTube with Czech and English subtitles.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Public exhibition of photographs of German Sinti Holocaust victims and survivors 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact An exhibition of photos of German Sinti Holocaust victims and survivors - curated by the Network Co-I Eve Rosenhaft in cooperation with the Alternatives Jugendzentrum Dessau - was displayed in public spaces at the Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. The opening of the exhibition was connected to the AHRC Network conference on Tracing the Legacies of the Romani Genocide: Families as Transmitters of Experience and Memory. Visitor questionnaires demonstrated a high level of engagement with the exhibition and visitors reported the photos had changed their views on Romani history.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Public showing and panel discussion of documentary film about Romani Holocaust 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A public showing of a documentary film entitled "A Hole in the Head" about the legacies of the Roma Holocaust across Europe, directed by the Slovak director Robert Kirchhoff, was held as a public event at the University of Liverpool in July 2017, to accompany the first workshop of the AHRC network. The film was followed by a panel debate involving members of the international network. The event was attended by members of third sector organisations in Liverpool, as well as postgraduate students and members of the general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Public workshop on Legacies of Romani Genocide at Musee Nationale d'Histoire de l'Immigration / La Maison Rouge, Paris 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We held two of our workshops on Legacies of the Romani Genocide at public venues in Paris, both of which were hosting photographic / artistic exhibitions about Roma history at the time.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Roma community workshop in Liverpool 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 12 members of the Roma community in Liverpool attended a workshop organised by the AHRC Research Network PI in cooperation with Alexandra Bahor, Roma community development worker for the Toxteth-Granby Development Trust, Liverpool. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the aims of our network with members of the Roma community (who are mainly Romanian Roma living in Liverpool) and to discuss plans for public education projects that could disseminate our project findings and lead to co-production of community history projects that would increase the visibility of the Roma community and empower Roma with the knowledge to participate in debates about their own history - and associated policies that concern them. This was a very successful meeting that led to discussions about future plans.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description School workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact School workshop on memory of the Romani genocide organised by Roma community support workers for school-age children of Romani origin in Liverpool.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop on genocide studies at University of Vienna 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact In the framework of her Visiting Professorship in the History of Human Rights and Democracy at the University of Vienna in Spring 2018, the PI held a discussion with postgraduate students about the legacies of the Romani genocide, based on a showing of a recent documentary film, 'A Hole in the Head' (dir. Robert Kirchhoff, 2016). The film launched a discussion about concepts, methods and sources in genocide studies, and provided an opportunity for an international group of graduate students to learn about the findings of the AHRC research network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018