BIAS HISTORY: THE HOLOCAUST

The world has changed, but sadly evil ideologies still exist in global society.

[Interview]


76 years on from the Holocaust racism is on the rise again, not only in Germany, but across the rest of the world. It may have been assumed by many, that the world has learnt an invaluable lesson since the atrocities that were committed. Sadly, according to Rita Prigmore, a Sinti Holocaust survivor, this isn’t the case.

Recalling from her personal experience and courageous work as an Sinti activist, she tells me that, “the racists are everywhere, in every country, in every city, in every street, it will never stop […] like where I live in a nice neighbourhood, and just over the left a lot of people found out that I’m a Gypsy, a Zigeuner, they don’t say hello anymore […] so you can see racism has always been here and it is on the rise, so it will never stop, believe me it will never, never stop.”

In society today, in particular, through British education we are led to believe that a kind hand was extended to all victims to help them recover from the trauma that they went through in the Holocaust. In actual fact, post-war Roma people found no restitution.

After the war the FDR publicly claimed that persecution against Roma and Sinti people before 1943, was not carried out on racial grounds. With no acknowledgement that Roma and Sinti people were victims at the hands of the Nazis, the harmful racial profiling omitted during Hitler’s reign was upheld by everyday citizens in Germany, and across Europe.


COMPENSATION

Consequently, Roma were prevented from receiving any monetary compensation for the crimes committed against them; more importantly it stole away their chance of recognition as equals. Rather, they continued to be seen as the enemy instead of the victims.

Violence and hate still exists today because of this continued racism against Roma. The lack of education specifically teaching Roma and Sinti experiences during the Holocaust, has left a gaping hole in history which desperately needs to be filled. Prigmore says, “You should always take it by the core, we say, where it started and see that it is not happening again, but it’s happened, and still happens today.” She goes on to say, “some people think its cool.” Her words express the importance of spreading awareness around this area of history.

She also tells me that she’s is in the process of writing two books, each filled with her own experiences and information she has collected during the many years of her hard work; one with the working title of ‘Auschwitz is sleeping’.


The Mackayan and its team would like to give special thanks and great respect to Rita for her time given to this article.


‘She expresses her fear around the development of technology; her trauma still lives within her as she now feels there would be no way for someone to hide if they came looking for them’

Memorial to Jan Karski. A well known resistance fighter. Photo: Arcaion

This will be a great asset to the scarce area of literature, which accounts what happened to Roma people during the Holocaust.

She also tells me that “You can’t fight a country, you know, I always see people talk bad about this country, this country, but it’s not the country, it’s the people who live in it, you know you can’t say Germany is this, Germany is this, I said “no”, it’s the people who are in there in the government who make the laws and the rules, they are the ones to be accounted for.”

Rita Prigmore was born in 1943, as a twin, her mother was forced to hand over her children to the Nazis, and sadly her twin died after being helplessly experimented on under the terrifying hands of a doctor named Heide, close friends with Mengele who became known as ‘the Angel of Death’. 

Fortunately, Prigmore survived and she has spent her adulthood travelling across Europe, working with organisations, such as The Holocaust Museum, to raise awareness about her story and to assiduously battle the continued existence of racism.

Survivors of the Holocaust have tirelessly made it their mission to try and address the hatred that still exists in the world towards minority groups, and make the world a better place for their children, “We have to carry this load, you know, and try protect our younger people, and that’s why I’m happy my family are in America, and I will eventually go over there too, to stay with my grandchildren and my family. I’ve always been separated fighting here in racism, fighting for us, with us, and its kinder hard, you know […] I’m tired.”

Living in fear is still a part of life for some Roma and Sinti people living in Germany, who are scared of verbal or physical abuse. It was clear from talking to Rita that “the fear of a second Holocaust is always here.”

She expresses her fear around the development of technology; her trauma still lives within her as she now feels there would be no way for someone to hide if they came looking for them, “there’s not really a lot we can do, you know, because look at the computer they know everything now, more than before, they know where you live and what you do, you know, it just like knowing everything all they have to do at night is knock on the door and take you out.”

A dark shadow has been cast over Roma and Sinti victims who suffered, now an ongoing prejudice persists for a new generation of people today. Prigmore tells me of the constant judgement she faces because of her Sinti identity, and with a catch in her voice tells me, “it’s never going to end”.


MACKAYAN: BIAS HISTORY. THE HOLOCAUST

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