Around 4,300 people of Roma and Sinti ethnicity were murdered at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex on the night of August 2, 1944. In 2015 the EU parliament resolved to make this day the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day in memory of the approximately 500,000 Roma and Sinti murdered in Europe.
World War II and its genocide of the Roma did great harm to the Roma living in Lithuania and left agony in its wake for the Roma community. In 1942 Nazi-occupied Lithuania undertook mass arrests of Roma, and the arrestees were taken to concentration and labor camps in France and Germany. About 1,000 Roma were deported from Lithuania, most of whom returned to Lithuania after the war. Roma were murdered in Lithuania. The majority were shot in Pravieniškės, but they were also murdered en masse outside Švenčionys in the Šalčininkai region in southeast Lithuania. Near Vilnius in the Kirtimai village a caravan of Roma was liquidated, although the exact number murdered is not known. About 500 Roma were murdered during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania, about one in three. The Nazis murdered Roma families they encountered travelling, but didn’t report how many they killed, so the figure of 500 could be significantly larger.
The Roma Community Center marks August 2 annually. Below is the story told by Anastazija Jablonskienė-Bagdonavičiūtė’s daughter Elžbieta. She was the only survivor from her family, she was away when the Nazis came for them. She hid during the war and survived. Anastazija had 18 children.