Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma

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The Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma was established in Heidelberg, Germany in the early 1990s. The institution is the beneficiary of special funds from the German Federal Government and the land of Baden-Württemberg. After years of conversion and extension work, the building complex was ceremonially opened to the public on 16 March 1997. It is now home to the world's first permanent exhibition on the genocide perpetrated upon the Sinti and Roma by the Nazis.[1]

Description[edit]

Alongside its function as a museum for contemporary history and a site for commemorating the past, the Centre also provides a setting for encounters and dialogue. A significant part of its public relations work is devoted to human rights. As a forum for other minorities, too, the Centre seeks to lend its voice to all those who have suffered discrimination and racist violence. In view of the persecution of the Roma and Sinti under National Socialism, the Centre feels an obligation to provide a forum for critical debate on pressing socio-political issues.[2]

One of the Centre's tasks is to document the 600-year history of the Sinti and Roma in Germany, but its main focus remains the acts of genocide perpetrated by the National Socialists: acts that were repressed from public consciousness for several decades. Hence, ever since it was founded, the Centre has attached priority to interviewing surviving Holocaust victims and preserving their memories on tape and video. In addition to carrying out extensive archive research at home and abroad, the Centre's staff also systematically gathers personal testimonies from survivors and their relatives. Old family photographs are of particular interest in this respect.[3]

Another part of the Centre's work is to present the cultural contributions of the Sinti and Roma minority in the fields of literature, the fine arts and music, thus helping to break down stereotypes. To this end, the Centre arranges conferences and seminars in conjunction with experts from Germany and other countries. Every spring and autumn, it runs a programme of public events that includes lectures, exhibitions, films, concerts and excursions.

European Civil Rights Prize of the Sinti and Roma[edit]

The European Civil Rights Prize of the Sinti and Roma, which was endowed by the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation and brought into being on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma in November 2007, has been awarded for the first time in December 2008. The prize supports political and social efforts for the lasting protection of people affected by discrimination, in order to enable them to live an independent life. The prize honours individuals, groups or institutions primarily from the majority, who face up to the historical responsibility and have been exemplary in calling for an improvement in the human rights situation of the Sinti and Roma.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Documentation and Cultural Centre Homepage
  2. ^ Documentation and Cultural Centre Homepage, see “Veranstaltungen”
  3. ^ Documentation and Cultural Centre Homepage, see “Zentrum”
  4. ^ European Civil Rights Prize Homepage

External links[edit]