Memorial for the Sinti and Roma Individuals Deported from Flensburg
A memorial for persecuted Sinti and Roma has been opened on the grounds of the Free Waldorf School in Flensburg. The Gedenkstelle Steinfelder Weg [Steinfelder Weg Memorial] was erected by the Free Waldorf School Flensburg in cooperation with Europa-Universität Flensburg and the association Schleswig-Holsteinischen Landesverband Deutscher Sinti und Roma e.V. [Schleswig-Holstein State Association of German Sinti and Roma]. The memorial, which cost approximately 34,000 euros to erect, was primarily financed by donations. The project patron is Flensburg's former mayor, Simone Lange.
From 1935 to 1940, the Sinti and Roma lived in a barracks camp in Flensburg's southern city near the site of today's Free Waldorf School Flensburg. At least 22 of them died after the 1940 deportation due to the consequences of forced labor, diseases, epidemics, malnutrition, arbitrary violence by the guards, or due to unexplained circumstances. The camp had been long forgotten. In general, there was little public interest in addressing the fate of the Sinti and Roma for a long time.
Dr. Sebastian Lotto-Kusche, since 2017 a research associate at the Research Center for Regional Contemporary History and Public History, undertook the scientific accompaniment of the "Steinfelder Weg Memorial." His research focuses include contemporary history, minority history, the aftermath of National Socialism in the Federal Republic of Germany, and the history of concepts and discourses. In his doctoral thesis, Lotto-Kusche dealt with the recognition of the genocide of the Sinti and Roma during the Nazi period by the Federal Republic of Germany from 1945-1990.
Sebastian Lotto-Kusche is pleased about the initiative of the Free Waldorf School Flensburg to remember the former barracks camp and the deportation of the Flensburg Sinti and Roma. "Finally, the 44 people from Flensburg are remembered in a dignified place, at least half of whom did not survive the deportation in May 1940 to the 'General Government,'" he explains. "The project was a wonderful collaboration between the university and the city community. The opening of the memorial is a significant advancement for Flensburg's culture of remembrance. So far, there is still a lack of a coordinated concept that bundles and aligns the various topics."
Sebastian Lotto-Kusche has summarized his research findings on the still largely unprocessed history of Flensburg's Sinti and Roma, not only during the time of National Socialism but also beyond, in the Grenzfriedensheften [Border Peace Booklets] and the German state organization Beirat für Geschichte, a council dedicated to researching and promoting the history of democracy and Schleswig-Holstein.