May 16th 2022: Romani Resistance Day

It is 78 years since that epic day when some 6,000 gypsies rebelled in the Auschwitz concentration camp against the SS officers upon learning that they wanted to kill them in the gas chambers that same day.

Archive images of Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II and Josef Höllenreiner and his family.


It is 78 years since that May 16, 1944, when around 6,000 Roma held in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, decided to stand up and oppose resistance with courage and dignity as soon as they learned that the SS had decided to exterminate the Gypsy families camp.


In that sector they were tattooed with their own serial number that began with the letter Z (zigeuner: gypsy) and a brown triangle was placed on them to identify them as asocial prisoners, in a camp plagued by epidemics of typhus, smallpox and dysentery, diseases product of subhuman living conditions.


That day they locked themselves in their barracks, broke into the warehouse where the work tools were kept and armed themselves with picks and shovels, disassembled the litters to make stakes with them and the children picked up stones to defend themselves. They rebelled against the hatred and racism of Nazism to avoid being killed in the gas chambers.


Josef Höllenreiner (in the image on the right), who had been a German soldier before being arrested for his ethnicity, was one of those involved in the riots, with which he ensured the survival of his wife and children (in the image below ).


When the SS officers entered the camp that afternoon to carry out their macabre plan, they found a group of people ready to fight. Nothing similar ever happened in Auschwitz.


That day no rroma was killed. It was the day of the gypsy resistance against Nazi barbarism. A resilience that we honor today, May 16, 2022, on the Romani Resistance Day. For those who fought then and for those of us who continue fighting today every single day.


Gypsy World - Maranatha Federation