Romani mass graves found near Ljubljana

By , 02 Dec 2017, 13:05 PM News
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December 2, 2017

The Commission on Concealed Mass Graves in Slovenia presented its findings on the exhumation of the remains of 53 Romani executed in 1942 by the Partisan Army in a press conference held yesterday.

An examination of the area was carried out in 2015, while archaeologists confirmed the existence of the mass grave in October this year, and the exhumation was finally completed this November.

Seven graves have been found, including three single ones, two double ones and two mass ones. Sa far, 12 remains have been found in the smaller of the two mass graves, and 34 in the bigger one. The remains belonged to men and women of all ages, small children included. Evidence of gunshot wounds and 7.2 and 9 mm cartridges have been found at the site. Various personal objects found alongside the bodies, such as buttons, wallets and combs, suggest that all the deceased were civilians.

The case has been investigated as a crime scene by the police, although so far only in terms of reconstructing the events with the help of written sources and reports from locals. All of the perpetrators identified thus far are already deceased.

Several instances of Romani killings in Slovenia occurred in spring 1942, when the Partisan Army liberated a number of several smaller towns and villages in the Ljubljana basin and pushed the Italian occupying forces army into larger towns. They thus created small pockets of liberated lands, where a single partisan company was allowed to take care of “judicial matters,” which ended with the great Italian August Offensive.

The Commission is certain that dozens more bodies will be found as two more exhumations are planned to take place in 2018, at Sodražica and Horjul.

Persecution of the Romani people has been known in Europe for centuries, with the so called porajmos representing the largest known act of Romani genocide committed by the Third Reich during World War II, when half a million, and according to some estimates one and a half million, Romani died in Nazi camps. In one single evening on August 2, 1944, about 3,000 Sinti and Romani were gassed when Nazis decided to close the so called “Gypsy Camp” in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In a tribute to the international Roma Genocide Remembrance Day, which is on August 2, the Center for Jewish cultural heritage, Synagogue Maribor, organizes a memorial ceremony in an attempt to raise awareness of the Holocaust and Romani genocide each year.

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