Porrajmos – Report of a Meeting organised by the Salisbury Justice and Peace Group
The murder by the Nazis of between a quarter and a third of all the gypsies of Europe during the Second World War is an atrocity which is little known today. While the Jewish Holocaust is well documented, the Roma and Sinti ‘Porrajmos’ (the word means the ‘devouring’ or ‘destruction’) is documented only in the records of the Nazis themselves. Estimates of the number of gypsies murdered vary between 220,000 and 500,000, with the final destruction of all the remaining gypsies in Auschwitz-Birkenau taking place on the night of 2nd-3rd August 1944.
Salisbury Justice and Peace Group held a commemorative meeting on 28th January, as a contribution to Holocaust Memorial Day. This centred round a film entitled ‘Porrajmos’, made by gypsies themselves, with support and help from the Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council. This was planned as an ecumenical event, and was attended by members of other churches, in addition to the Catholic community. The event was the brainchild of Anita Pheby, who chaired it, with an opening presentation by the Reverend Jonathan Herbert, the Anglican chaplain to the gypsies of the Diocese of Salisbury. The film was then shown, followed by a lively discussion, in particular of the implications it had for us in 2019, and of the need for tolerance, understanding and love for this beleaguered community, which still today experiences much discrimination and denial of human rights in many parts of Europe. The meeting ended with concluding remarks by the Reverend John Detain, a deacon in the Salisbury Catholic parishes, and prayers by the Reverend Jonathan Herbert.