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World War II

Buchenwald memorial gives names to Sinti and Roma victims

Two hundred stones, hand-painted with the names of Sinti and Roma, have been laid along the old railway track from the World War II Buchenwald concentration camp. They were sent on to their deaths at Auschwitz in 1944.

On September 25, 1944, the Buchenwald concentration camp delivered its first train full of prisoners to the extermination camp at Auschwitz. Two hundred young Sinti and Roma prisoners, deemed unsuitable for forced labor by the Nazis, were on board. At this late stage in the war, Adolf Hilter's regime began ordering the transportation of Jewish, sick and weak prisoners to from Buchenwald to Auschwitz.

As of Sunday, 200 stones with the victims' names hand-painted in various colors line the old site of the railway line.

The head of the Central Council for German Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose, said at the unveiling that the display would serve as a symbol against extinction and anonymity. More than 300 young people from summer camps in 30 countries have painted the names of the victims onto the stones ready for the unveiling. In parallel, a website with biographies of the dead - www.gedenksteine-buchenwaldbahn.de - was published.

Romani Rose speaks at the unveiling of the monument near Buchenwald. (Photo via Candy Welz/dpa)

Romani Rose said the display would give the dead an identity as individuals, not just as a group of victims

The memorial stones project was due for expansion, and should eventually honor all of the roughly 2,000 children and young people who either died at Buchenwald or were sent on to their deaths elsewhere. Work on the memorial project along the old railway line began in 2007.

The Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar and Erfurt was opened in July 1937. Almost 240,000 people were incarcerated there before it was liberated in April 1945. It was later used as an internment camp in the Soviet sector of occupied postwar Germany.

msh/kms (dpa, epd)

DW.DE