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Requiem for Auschwitz

Submitted by on 12 Jul 2012 – 11:28

Requiem for AuschwitzBy Natalie Cainaru, Editorial Researcher, Government Gazette


What is Requiem for Auschwitz?

The Requiem for Auschwitz is an elaborate programme consisting of a musical performance, an international conference, a digital exhibition, a film programme with a debate, a culture evening, and a series of collaborative events with Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei, De Nieuwe Kerk, the NOS, the NIOD, the Anne Frank Foundation, the Dutch Sinti and Roma Institute, and the International Gipsy Festival.

The Requiem for Auschwitz commemorates all victims during the Nazi period and emphasizes the significance of victims of the Nazis’ “forgotten genocide”, the Roma and Sinti. The programme particularly focuses on the “forgotten genocide” of approximately 500,000 Roma and Sinti, who are now the largest minority in Europe, because the Roma and Sinti still face heavy, growing discrimination throughout various Central and Eastern European countries even nearly over half a century later.

The Requiem for Auschwitz: Musical Performance

The Requiem for Auschwitz’s musical performance premiered on 3 May 2012 in Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk and performed the next night 4 May 2012 in Tilburg. The NOS recorded the Requiem’s world premiere and broadcasted the performance on 4 May 2012 whilst later showing a documentary regarding the Requiem’s context and background.

Roger Moreno Rathgeb, a Dutch Sinto musician, wrote the Requiem for Auschwitz musical performance. The work is performed by the world’s only professional classical Roma and Sinti orchestra, the Roma und Sinti Philharmoniker from Frankfurt, and is conducted by Riccardo M Sahiti. The performance also consists of a choir chosen from the performance’s location; the Amsterdam Students’ Choir performed for the Amsterdam performance and the Opera choir of Souvenir des Montagnards for Tilburg. During the performance images will be displayed of the loved ones of the victims of Auschwitz; photographs which they took on their journey themselves and which were discovered in their suitcases. In between the different parts of the Requiem, stories written for this special occasion will be narrated about sorrow, reconciliation and hope. The narrators include Huub van der Lubbe, Fedja van Huet and Bram van der Vlugt, amongst others.

Culture Evening: The eve of the Requiem

At the culture evening The eve of the Requiem in World Podium Tilburg on 18 April 2012, Roger Moreno Rathgeb spoke about his work as a musician, his life as a Sinti in Vaals in South Limburg, his visit to Auschwitz, the silence amongst the survivors of the camps and his work with the Requiem for Auschwitz. At the same event, Willem-Marie Speelman of University of Tilburg and Huub van Baar of University of Amsterdam outlined the backgrounds of the “Requiem” phenomenon.

Collaborative event: National Remembrance

This year’s National Remembrance, connected with the Requiem, was organized by a collaborative partner with the Requiem for Auschwitz, the Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei. During the National Remembrance on 4 May 2012, the Dutch Children’s Choir sang at Nieuwe Kerk. The songs performed by the Dutch Children’s Choir were written by Dutch Sinti children, who were present for the gathering.

Collaborative event: Liberation Festivals

On 5 May 2012, several liberation festivals focused special attention on Roma and Sinti music. Namely the liberation festival at Café Noorderlicht on the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam was entirely devoted to Roma and Sinti music.

International Conference: The Roma Between Past and Future

The Roma Between Past and Future, the programme’s international conference, took place on 6 May 2012. The conference focused on a comparison between the current situation of the Roma and Sinti in Europe and what happened to them in the 1830s and 1940s. Zoni Weisz, a spokesperson for the Roma and Sinti, was interviewed and academics from Austria, Hungary and Israel, amongst other countries, gave lectures.

Collaborative Event: Photography Exhibition

Swedish photographer Joakim Eskildsen’s exhibition about the Roma in Europe was hosted at the Nieuwe Kerk from 7 May to 31 May 2012. Between 2000 and 2006, Eskildsen travelled through seven European countries with a writer in order to gain insight into the life of the Roma and their situation. Along with Eskildsen’s exhibition, visitors were also able to view the NOS broadcast of the Requiem and the programme’s digital exhibition, The forgotten genocide of the Roma and Sinti. More information about Joakim Eskildsen’s exhibition can be found at

Film Programme and Debate

In the afternoon of 13 May in De Balie, films were shown about the deprivation of the Roma and Sinti in present-day Europe and about their persecution during the Second World War. In the evening there will be a debate about the mechanisms of exclusion, the question of why this affects the Roma and the absence of a strong Roma lobby.

Collaborative Event: International Gipsy Festival

The sixteenth annual International Gipsy Festival took place at the Interpolis Gardens in Tilburg on Whit weekend 27 and 28 May 2012. More information regarding the International Gipsy festival can be found at

Events still going on: Digital Exhibition and Requiem Performances

Although the above events have already passed, those interested can still take part in viewing the programme’s digital exhibition and additional Requiem for Auschwitz performances.

Digital Exhibition: The forgotten genocide of the Roma and Sinti

In collaboration with the Anne Frank Foundation and the Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei, the programme’s digital exhibition The forgotten genocide of the Roma and Sinti takes visitors on a journey through the life stories of six children from the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, amongst other countries, about the lives of the Roma and Sinti before, during and after the years of Nazi persecution. The exhibition is available online at

Requiem for Auschwitz: Performance Dates and Locations:

1 August 2012 – Cracow

10 October 2012 – Bucharest

24 October 2012 – Frankfurt

4 November 2012 – Prague

6 November 2012 – Budapest

More information about Requiem for Auschwitz performances and ticket sales can be found at