Bucks New University supports Roma Holocaust Memorial Day

3 August 2020

Buckinghamshire New University was proud to support all those remembering the plight of Roma and Sinti communities on Roma Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday 2 August.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Braisby, and Margaret Greenfields, Professor of Social Policy and Community Engagement, recorded a video sharing their views ahead of Sunday's poignant occasion.

Watch the video, above or read the transcripts of Prof Braisby and Prof Greenfields' views below.

Prof Braisby said: "At Bucks New University we recognise the responsibility we all have to play our part in tackling discrimination and we are working hard to develop a 'good practice pledge’ to encourage access to higher education, by bringing together Gypsy, Roma, Traveller (GRT) university graduates, other universities, and education charities.

"Along with Professor Greenfields, I have recorded a video sharing our views ahead of Sunday's poignant occasion You can read the transcripts of our words below."

Prof Nick Braisby:

'I am very proud to record this message in support of all those remembering the plight of Roma and Sinti communities on Roma Holocaust Memorial Day on 2 August 2020.

'As well as six million Jews, and more than ten million other non-combatants, it has been estimated by historians that the Nazis murdered as many as a quarter of a million members of the GRT communities, tens of thousands of homosexuals, so-called mental defectives, Spanish Republicans, Jehova's Witnesses, and of course several million Soviet prisoners of war.

'Between January 1940 and August 1941, more than 70,000 Germans had been killed by gas, among the principal victims being the GRT communities. At the end of 1941 and the beginning of 1942, the gassing of whole communities was continuing day by day at Chelmno, with Roma and Gypsies among the first victims.

'We also know that members of the GRT communities were among those subject to the horrific and so-called 'medical experiments' perpetrated by Mengele at Birkenau. And even towards the end of the War, at Mauthausen, 30,000 people were being murdered, principally Jews and members of the GRT communities.

'These historical analyses compel us to remember the appalling crimes committed against members of the GRT communities as well as to recognise the continuing discrimination and prejudice they face today.

'At Buckinghamshire New University, we recognise the responsibility we all have to play our part in tackling discrimination and we are working hard to develop a pledge for Higher Education institutions to sign up to, in order to dramatically improve the experience of GRT university students. We are proud to have one of the most diverse university communities in the UK and of our tireless work to break down barriers, enabling everyone to benefit from the transformative experience of Higher Education.

'So, I hope in our commemoration of Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, as we recall all those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis, we do so as part of a broader remembrance of the historical and ongoing persecution, prejudice, and discrimination faced by all minority communities.'

Prof Margaret Greenfields:

'I would normally be joining friends and colleagues for the International Roma Holocaust Memorial Day. This year is very different because we can’t be together in person, so I was touched and honoured to be invited to make this short recording and to light a candle in memory of all the Roma people who died.

'As a Jew, I don’t think there was a time when I wasn’t aware of the many other people who were affected by the horrors of the Nazi era. Roma were the only people apart from Jews who were targeted for extermination as a result of ethnicity. This I’ve always known, as well as the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people who were LGBT, Trade Unionists, and people with learning disabilities.

'It is critically important that we stand together as Jews and Roma, and all other communities affected by hate speech, discrimination and racism. That we stand in solidarity, that we say 'never again'; that we remember that we are stronger together, particularly at this time when we are seeing a huge increase in hate speech, hate crime, violence, and the rise of the Far Right.

'To that end, I’m proud to be able to be part of today, and also to light a memorial candle, a traditional Yartzheit candle in memory of all those many many Roma people who suffered and died purely because of their ethnicity. Never Again.'