Countering discrimination by rediscovering historical memory

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail to someone
Print Friendly

During the Nazi-fascist regimes, Roma and Sinti were persecuted, discriminated against and exterminated in concentration camps. In spite of this, anti-Gypsyism did not end with the advent of democracy, also due to the lack of historical knowledge of discrimination and the facts it caused, and some prejudices have survived, making the paths of inclusion of these people difficult.

This is why the Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights, Sucar Drom, Associazione 21 Luglio and the University of Florence have been working for two years on the ‘RemAgainstDisc’ project (Reinforcing historical memory of the Porrajmos to combating discrimination).

The aim of the project was to recover the historical memory of those events, making it accessible through the renovation of the first virtual museum of the Porrajmos and, from this, to create public awareness of the historical matrix of certain prejudices and thus overcome the discrimination that Roma and Sinti still suffer today.

To do this, the project combined activities aimed at the general public and others aimed at specific professional categories that can play a great role in the inclusive path and in overcoming anti-Gypsyism.

The project was funded under the European Commission’s Call CERV-2021-CITIZENS-REM and received a total contribution of €134,785.00.

Work performed and main achievements

The objectives of the project were multiple: first of all to recover the historical memory of the Porrajmos, the extermination of Roma and Sinti which occurred at the hands of the Nazi-Fascist regimes in the last century; through the recovery of this historical memory and of the prejudices and stereotypes that had made discrimination and persecution possible, contribute to building more inclusive societies and greater integration, reaching some specific categories that have an impact on the life path of Roma and Sinti people; lastly, to ensure that the project activities could continue beyond the end of the project and were replicable.

From this point of view, the objectives set have been achieved.

Historical research, conducted by the University of Florence and the Sucar Drom Association, has found materials and stories that have made it possible to reconstruct the period between 1943 and 1945, which was still missing, testifying to how there were deportations of Roma and Sinti towards the Nazi concentration camps. This research was presented at the University of Florence and made available to the scientific community, but not only to it.

The collected materials converged, together with those already present, in the first virtual museum of Porrajmos, which as part of the project underwent a profound revision, both in terms of content and in visual terms, guaranteeing wider navigability. Translated into English it represents an indispensable and fundamental tool for studying this history and building memory. Already several schools, as well as the communities themselves, have used it in their institutional activities, as a tool for information and testimony.

Starting from this historical recovery, three toolkits were created, aimed at social workers, teachers and political decision-makers, categories who, in their respective roles, can have an impact on the lives of Roma and Sinti people. The first two categories, at the level of social and scholastic integration, while political decision-makers can have an impact in overcoming the mega Roma camps, which have been widely used up until now in Italy, and in promoting housing policies that guarantee and encourage the inclusion of these people.

In addition to the creation of these toolkits, a series of meetings were promoted with people belonging to these categories, to disseminate the toolkits, but also build awareness and change paths.

The continuity of the work begun in this project is based precisely on these meetings, even after its end. Further meetings will in fact be promoted, fully falling within the institutional activities of the partner organisations. As regards those with political decision makers, in some cases they have served to promote actions that are continuing and which will lead, this is the objective, to overcoming the greatest number of Roma mega camps over the next few months/years.

Results and impacts

Describe the results of the project (so far) and (actual and expected) impacts (on target groups, change, procedures, capacities, innovation, etc.). For the Final Report, include an overview of the results

The project achieved the following results:

– Renew and expand knowledge and historical memory relating to the extermination of Roma and Sinti during the Nazi-Fascist regimes. This result was achieved through new historical research based on unpublished materials and research in historical archives. Making this new mass of historical materials available to scholars, academics and citizens. During the project, a meeting was also held with representatives of some school publishing houses, in order to present the results of the research to them and suggest the inclusion of specific spaces intended for Porrajmos on texts used in schools. The meeting aroused great interest and the expected impact is that there may be new editions of some school texts that go in this direction.

– Renovate the first virtual museum of Porrajmos, making it a place where this story is told and documents and testimonies are collected. Ensuring broad knowledge of the persecution and extermination of Roma and Sinti, a place of memory for the benefit of communities and citizens, which can also be used in schools when that historical period is studied and on occasions of initiatives that take place every year on January 27th, on the occasion of Remembrance Day.

– Build broader knowledge on Roma and Sinti culture and implement good practices aimed at teachers, social workers and political decision-makers, fundamental professional figures for the inclusion of these people, so that, each in their own field, they can implement actions positive for the prevention of any form of discrimination. This result was achieved through the implementation of toolkits and a series of meetings involving around 200 people. These toolkits will be used to continue the work even after the end of the project so that both the meetings carried out and future ones make the good practices reported effective.

– As regards political decision-makers, starting from the meetings held, participatory paths have been inaugurated in some cities for overcoming the mega Roma camps, which are expected to lead to the closure of some of them and to inclusive housing policies.


The project has therefore achieved results in the short term, opening up the opportunity to continue the work in the medium and long term, with activities that will become part of the institutional interventions of the majority of beneficiaries.