you find your relatives names listed in the Auschwitz prisoner list from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, along with brief notes that say
b.1902-01-02 (Ropica Polska), camp serial number:Z-9711, profession:Arbeiterin, category:Z.Pole, remarks:Gest.1944-07-01
where ‘gest’ stands for gestorben, which means ‘died’ …
but really it means murdered.
b.1921-00-00 (Wielopol), camp serial number:Z-9732, profession:Arbeiterin, category:Z.Pole, remarks:Transp.1944-04-15
b.1943-09-25 (Zamoć), camp serial number:Z-9018, category:Z.Pole, remarks:Gest.1944-04-18
and the list goes on and on and it becomes clear why Baba never spoke of her family very much… they were all lost to her. What’s worse is the realization that hardly anyone survived
A total of 20,943 Roma from various German-occupied countries are entered in the The Gypsy camp Record Books. They included 10,849 woman and girls and 10,094 men and boys. Over 10,000 of the people registered in the Books were children and young people aged under 15. Over 370 children were born in the camp; the Books note the death of 350 of them. It is estimated that at least 21,000 of the 23,000 Roma deported to Auschwitz were murdered.
and those not entered in the books were not given a number and were murdered as soon as they arrived, often by the hundreds and thousands, leaving no record of their passing. No brief note of “gestorben”.
Right now, I don’t know how I feel. I know these names from the fragments I heard growing up. I know these people because I see them in my own face…
In January, I will travel to the UN for their annual “Holocaust Memorial Ceremony” and I will carry with me a list of these names and numbers:
along with the names of the other members of my family who were lost.
The UN can pretend we don’t exist all they want. They can shun us for their own political kowtowing and international games all they want.
But they’ll never silence us.