Obituary for Raymond Gurême

One week after having celebrated with us the Romani Resistance, our hero Raymond Gurême passed away on Sunday, 24 May 2020, at the age of 94. We will continue our fight for justice in his spirit. 

TernYpe Roma Youth Network and everybody involved in the Dikh he na bister network mourns the death of this outstanding personality of the Sinti and Roma civil rights movement in Europe.

On multiple occasions he accompanied us Sinti and Roma to Krakow and Auschwitz on the occasion of the European Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma. In his speech during the commemoration ceremony at Auschwitz-Birkenau on 2 August 2016, he called, as so often, especially young people to a common fight against antigypsyism and violence:

“My testimony is for young people. Don’t leave your future to the hands of bloody fools! You must resist. You must resist the discrimination, racism, violent evictions to which the Roma and Travellers are falling victim across all of Europe. We, the old ones have lit the flame. Now, it is up to young people to feed it, make it grow, and so that we become stronger.  Young people, stand up! Stay standing, and never fall to your knees!”

Raymond Gurême

We will honour his testimony to us. Raymond didn’t want us to cry, we want us to resist! Rest in peace Raymond, we will always stand up as you did and as you wanted us to!

His life

Raymond Gurême was born into a French Manouches family in 1925. Since the age of two, Raymond has performed as an acrobat or clown in the family’s own traveling circus.  In October 1940, the entire family was arrested by French gendarmes when the German occupying forces ordered the forced settlement of all Manouches. One month later, the Gurêmes were sent to the Linas-Montlhéry internment camp. Although Raymond managed to escape in the summer of 1941, the rest of his family was deported to Muslane and Montreuil-Bellay, one of the largest concentration camps for so-called non-residents in France. He worked on farms and kept returning to Linas and later to Montreuil-Bellay to smuggle food into the camps. In August 1943 he was arrested again and deported to a labour camp in Heddernheim, Hesse, where he had to recover bodies after bomb attacks. On one occasion he was brutally beaten up by a Nazi and lost sight in one eye. In the end Raymond escaped again with the help of a French railway worker who hid him in a train and drove him back to France. Only in 1950 he managed to reunite with his family. After the war they received neither financial nor moral support. In the face of increasing antigypsyism and racism in France and throughout Europe, Raymond Gurême has been involved in Holocaust remembrance work with young people and in civil rights work, especially in the last ten years. His story was published in the work “Interdit aux nomades” (Nomads banned) by Isabelle Ligner.

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