Project Stone Tears is an international project focused on developing strategies as well as providing educational and meaningful substance for three remembrance days honouring the victims of the Holocaust and Porrajmos (Genocide of the Roma), while promoting and encouraging such activities both in Slovenia and in neighbouring countries.
Unfortunately, even seven decades after the end of the Second World War we still do not have a perfect and totally clear picture about its victims. With various research projects, programmes of Holocaust and also recently the Genocide of the Roma commemorations and with education about both forms of genocide, numerous organizations and individuals have endeavoured to spread knowledge of this dark episode in European and world history that interfered with the fundamental values of our civilization and especially fatally marked European post-war society. To learn about the Holocaust, to get to know its leverages, understand them and deliberate their consequences means at the same time to preserve the memory of its victims and develop a sensibility for all forms of genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and massive human rights violation, especially among young generations.
The Stone Tears project was designed in 2014 by the Center of Jewish Cultural Heritage Synagogue Maribor in cooperation with partnering organizations. It is a multi-year international programme that was developed with the aim to promote the importance and increase awareness and political support of Holocaust Memorial Days in society, while indirectly addressing the issues of increased presence of xenophobia, anti-Semitism and racism in contemporary society. Within project’s framework, strategies for a permanent commemoration of three remembrance days are being developed (27 January, 26 April, 2 August), whereat we offer numerous suggestions for the creation of thematic programmes like documentary exhibitions, lectures, round tables, scientific meetings, audio-visual tools, memorial and other cultural events and on the basis of a presentation of selected examples of good practice, encourage other research, educational and cultural institutions and creators to actively shape Holocaust and the Genocide of the Roma remembrance and educational programmes about both forms of genocide.
27 January: The International Holocaust Remembrance Day
The International Holocaust Remembrance Day is officially a national commemoration day in Slovenia since 2008, whereat the first conceptual frameworks for its commemoration have been developed within the Shoah – Let Us Remember project (supported by IHRA between 2011 and 2014). On this day, each year, numerous commemoration and educational programmes take place throughout Slovenia. However, in the scope of the Stone Tears project we are designing a conceptual framework of the commemoration that will include broadening of the geographical scope of commemorative activities, as well as deepening and strengthening of their educational effects. The resulting conceptual framework will therefore serve as a working tool for the present and future organizers of commemorative activities, while stressing the importance of such events for the socio-cultural life.
26 April: The Slovenian Victims of the Holocaust Remembrance Day
This is one of the most important dates for Jewish history in Slovenia as well as for the present day Slovenian Jewish population, since on this day in 1944 mass arrests of Jews in Murska Sobota and Lendava occurred. In the nights to come, most of them were transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp: only 65 Jews from Prekmurje survived the deportations and subsequent internment. Since most of the Slovenian Jews before WWII lived in Prekmurje, this date symbolically marks the near end of Jewry in Slovenia, who had not yet recovered from this demographic tragedy. Within the project Stone Tears we therefore strive to establish grounds for commemorating this tragic day in Slovenia officially by developing strategies for its nationwide annual remembrance.
2 August: The International Genocide of the Roma Remembrance Day
Between 1939 and 1945, the Nazis killed almost 500 thousand Roma, according to recent estimations approximately 600 thousand or even up to one million and a half. Notwithstanding, they are still waiting for complete acknowledgement of the suffering that the Nazi regime caused to them. Within the Stone Tears project we are thus focusing on developing strategies to raise public historical awareness of this topic as well as to encourage national recognition of these historical facts and their inclusion in the school curicula. Moreover, a special emphasis is put on the historical research on the topic of the Porrajmos in order to present the complexity of the subject and stress the devastating results of the historical event on the Roma population, both in Slovenia and in other, especially neighbouring countries. One of the most mass killings of the Roma and Sinti during WWII occurred in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on the eve of the 2 August 1944, when the Nazis abolished the “Zigeunerlager” (“Gypsy camp”) and in one single night killed several thousand Sinti and Roma in gas chambers. In memory of this cruel event is in individual countries the 2 August marked as International Genocide of the Roma Remembrance Day. In Slovenia such public commemorative event was organized for the first time in 2014 in the scope of the Stone Tears project.
Conceptual Framework for Remembrance and Learning about the Holocaust and Genocide of the Roma
The project Stone Tears was designed by the Center of Jewish Cultural Heritage Synagogue Maribor. Project partners are Frekvenca, the social-cultural association of restless and active members, Terne Roma – Young Roma Society, Dr. Štiftar Foundation, Artikel-VII-Kulturverein für Steiermark – Pavelhaus, and Institut für jüdische Geschichte Österreichs.
During 2014–2016, the project is supported by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA; Grant No. 2014-419). The Center of Jewish Cultural Heritage Synagogue Maribor programmes are financed by the Municipality of Maribor.
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