20 Dec 2008

Berlin builds memorial to Roma victims of Nazis

10:04 pm on 20 December 2008

Work has finally begun in Berlin on a long-delayed memorial to the Roma and Sinti people killed by the Nazis in the Second World War.

Roma and Sinti people are commonly called gypsies, but the word is rejected as defamatory by the Central Council of Sinti and Roma, who objected to its proposed use as part of the memorial's inscription.

The council also wanted to use a quote comparing their suffering to that of the Jews, but the German government took a different view.

In the end, after many years of controversy, it was agreed to use text from the poem Auschwitz by Italian poet Santino Spirelli.

The German government is putting up the money and the city of Berlin has provided land close to the Reichstag parliament building for the memorial, which will be in the form of a circular well containing dark water.

Up to half a million Roma and Sinti are estimated to have been murdered, robbed or exploited as slaves by the Nazis.