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Exhibit Commemorates Gypsy Victims

August 2, 2001

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ An exhibit documenting Nazi persecution of Gypsies opened at the Auschwitz death camp museum Thursday, 57 years after Nazis killed the camp’s last 3,000 Gypsy inmates.

Representatives of Gypsies, or Roma, from aross Europe joined Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an Auschwitz survivor, for a wreath-laying ceremony at a monument in the former camp’s Gypsy section.

Nazis killed more than 1 million people at Auschwitz-Birkenau from 1940 to 1945. The vast majority were Jewish, but there were also Poles, Gypsies, Russians, and others.

About 23,000 Gypsy names are in the former camp’s register. At least 22,000 of them are believed to have died at the camp between 1940 and 1944. An unknown number were brought by railway and immediately sent to death in gas chambers, museum spokesman Jaroslaw Mensfeld said.

On Aug. 2, 1944, Nazis killed the last 3,000 Gypsy inmates in Birkenau, mostly women, children and elderly people.

An exhibition in Auschwitz’s red-brick Barrack No. 13 documents Nazi persecution of Gypsies in Germany and across Nazi-occupied Europe. It includes pictures, descriptions and a Nazi-made film from a Gypsy orphanage in Germany. All the children were later taken to Auschwitz.

The exhibition also includes four of the museum’s seven watercolor portraits of Gypsy inmates by prisoner Dina Gottliebova. She made the paintings on the orders of Dr. Josef Mengele, notorious for his medical experiments on prisoners.

Gottliebova, 78, living in Santa Cruz, Calif., wants the paintings back, but the museum has refused.

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