203The harrowing, and often unheard, story of the gypsy holocaust during the Second World War will be told at an exhibition to raise awareness of the atrocities.

Durham County Council is hosting the Gypsy, Roma Traveller Service’s display entitled ‘Porrajmos – Through the Eyes of Children’.

It tells the widely unknown story of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of gypsies at the hands of the Nazis during the Second World War.

The Porrajmos, translated as ‘the devouring’, is the term used to describe the genocide of Europe’s Roma and Sinti (gypsy) population between 1934 and 1945.

Up to 500,000 Roma and Sinti were killed or died as a result of starvation or disease and many more were imprisoned in forced labour camps and subjected to forced sterilisation and medical experimentation.

However, despite the atrocities the story remains largely unknown.

The free exhibition, which will be held weekdays between 19 and 29 January from 9am until 4pm in the Durham Room at County Hall in Durham City to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January, aims to change that.

It will include a short educational documentary produced by the Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council/Devon Learning and Development Partnership as well as additional information about the genocide.

The aim is to play a part in helping to ensure that lessons are learned from the past in terms of exclusion, discrimination, racism and hatred of other religions, beliefs or ways of life.

The Porrajmos exhibition is part of the Safer Communities Awareness event and staff from the Safer Communities team will be on hand to provide information about wider community safety issues and support to those who need advice or assistance.

Cllr Joy Allen, Cabinet member for safer communities, Durham County Council, said: “This important exhibition will tell the story of the Romany victims of Nazi persecution.

“We hope the event goes some way towards promoting community cohesion and encouraging visitors to reflect on the impact of unchecked discrimination and racial hatred.

“There will also be an opportunity to find out more about wider community safety initiatives and access advice and support from partners.”

A separate exhibition organised by the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller Education Service is being held at Durham Cathedral from 25-29 January during opening times and will be staffed on 27 January.

It is being hosted by pupils from The Hermitage School in the Chapel of Nine Altars and will explain the genocide to other secondary school students from the area. There will also be a speech by holocaust survivor Zdenka Fantlova.