At Lourdes, Gypsies Remember Auschwitz Victims

LOURDES, France, AUG. 25, 2005 ( The 49th pilgrimage of gypsy communities to Lourdes remembered victims, especially their own, who died in the Nazi-run Auschwitz-Birkenau camps.

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Last Sunday, after a Mass in the Basilica of St. Pius X, thousands of gypsies, together with the authorities of Lourdes, placed a bouquet of flowers, in the shape of the letter “z” — gypsy is “Zigeuner” in German — at the monument of the fallen in World War II.

“Z” was also the tattoo that the Nazis engraved on gypsies’ arms when they arrived in the camps. The 60th anniversary of the liberation of these camps is being marked this year.

Tens of thousands of gypsies were persecuted by Nazism; 20,000 were killed in Auschwitz alone.

During the pilgrimage to the Lourdes Grotto, before the image of the Virgin Mary, the gypsies prayed for an end to racial discrimination.

Some 7,000 gypsies arrived in Lourdes in some 1,100 caravans. The pilgrimage ended Wednesday.

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