Funeral ceremony in Prostyń

April 8 is the International Romani Day. This holiday was officially declared in 1990 at the 4th Congress of the International Roma Union in honour of the first major international meeting of Romani representatives from 25 countries, which took place in April 8, 1971. On April 8, few days ago, a ceremony was also held to commemorate the Roma murdered in Tarnogród (Lubelskie voivodeship). On June 19, 2020, during the renovation and construction works at the market square in Tarnogród, the remains of Romani victims were found. As a result of the exhumation carried out by the Institute of National Remembrance, it was discovered that in the group of murdered there were 22 people: 8 men, 3 women, probably 3 women, 8 children and 2 fetuses. They were murdered by the German gendarmes by gunshots in May 1942.

The funeral ceremonies began at the monument in memory of Roma and Sinti located at the Execution Site near the Treblinka I Penal Labour Camp. The ceremony was attended by Roma community and invited guests.

Roman Chojnacki, President of the Polish Roma Association based in Szczecinek, inaugurating the ceremony, told about the tragic fate of Roma and Sinti during World War II:

“The tragedy of our nation was for many years ignored in all analyzes and reflections on the crimes of genocide committed during the last world war. Only recently the ordeal of Roma and Sinti in occupied Europe has became a more widespread talk.”

Then, Krystyna Pawłowicz, Judge of the Constitutional Tribunal, spoke:

“Let us remember that the blood, death and pain of the Roma are the same as the pain of Jews, Poles and other nations, it hurts the same, but less is said about it.”

After the Holy Mass of the Catholic rite in the parish church in Prostyń, the remains were buried in the nearby cemetery.

According to Romani tradition during the funeral of the deceased, families speak over the graves of their relatives. The identity of those murdered in Tarnogród is unknown. Mieczysław Jodłowski, Pastor of the Pentecostal Church in Nowa Sól, spoke on behalf of the families:

“God has aroused emotions in my heart.  The emotions such strong like I have known them, as if they were my family… I will thank God for not allowing them to be forgotten.”

The ceremony was concluded with the words of Stanisław Stankiewicz, President of the International  Romani Union:

“The wanderers found their place after death.” The ceremony ended with the singing of the Roma anthem.

Photos by P. Maliszewski

11 April 2022