The Netherlands / Audiospot
During the Second World War, the Sinti and Roma people are persecuted and deported to extermination camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Nazi regime classifies them as an 'inferior race' and locals keep their distance. On the16th of May 1944, a raid is carried out on the Sinti Franz family in Beek. Only three family members return from the concentration camps.
17 September 1944. The first American tank of the Hell on Wheels division rumbles down the steep Adsteeg and charges into Beek. Beek is liberated after being occupied for four years and four months. Ten of the 26 Jewish Beek residents have been deported and will never return. In the shadow of the Holocaust, the Nazis had also taken action against the Roma and Sinti.
In the first years of the war the Dutch government particularly discriminated against the Sinti and Roma, commonly known by the derogatory term ‘’gypsies’’. They were preconceived to be antisocial or criminal by large parts of the population. The Nazis also discriminated against them and classified the Roma and Sinti as a subhuman race that needed to be exterminated.
Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler therefore issued the Auschwitz Erlass in December 1942, ordering all Gypsies to be taken to a special section of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, the Zigeunerlager.
Throughout the Netherlands, during the night of the 16th of May, raids took place on the Roma and Sinti. On the 19th of May, nine members of the Franz Sinti family from Beek were transported along with 236 other the Roma and Sinti from Westerbork to Auschwitz. Among them was Settela Steinbach, a young girl born in Buchten near Sittard.
Of this group, 31 people survived the horrors of the camps. Three of the survivors were members of the Franz family. But genuine liberation was not for them. They had to live with the realisation their family had been massacred. And the pre-war discrimination against people living in caravans hadn’t suddenly gone away.
Green between Maastrichterlaan 31-33, Beek - GPS code N 50 56.319, E 5 47.5
Sint Martinusstraat 12, 6191 TL Beek