Aušvicate hi kher baro

Aušvicate hi kher baro
  • Version 1.0
  • Publication date 15 February 2024

The song ‘Aušvicate hi kher baro’ [There’s a large building in Auschwitz] is probably the best known and most performed Romani song about the genocide of the Roma and Sinti. It is a ‘plaintive song’, created as a collective work of Romani inmates in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp, apparently to the tune of the old Romani folk song ‘Oda kalo čirikloro’ [The Black Bird]. The song did not have a fixed form; it was passed down orally and survived with a variety of lyrics, which relate to the suffering experienced in not only in Auschwitz, but also in other camps (e. g. Dubnica nad Váhom in Slovakia). Variants of the song were recorded after the war in Poland, Moravia and Slovakia. It became a symbol of the Nazi persecution of Roma and Sinti in post-war Europe and is an integral part of commemorative acts. The text describes the inhumane conditions in Auschwitz: hunger, hard work, violence and mass murder in the gas chambers.

The most famous version of the song was performed after the war by Růžena Danielová (1904–1988) from South Moravia. She brought the song from Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she sang it to her fellow inmates of Camp Section BIIe in the evenings together with František Daniel (1902–unknown), a blind singer and accordionist from Oslavany (Brno-venkov district). Based on Růžena Danielová’s performance, the ethnomusicologist Dušan Holý (born 1933) transcribed and analysed the song in the book ‘Žalující píseň’ [‘The Plaintive Song’], co-authored by historian Ctibor Nečas (1933–2017), which was published in 1993. The most famous version of the song appears in the documentary ‘Latcho Drom’ directed by Tony Gatlif (born in 1948) and released in 1993, but there are also well known versions by Margita Nová (born 1936) and Barka (Františka) Pelcová.1Cf. [Accessed 20 Febr. 2024].

Another well-known ‘plaintive song’ that testifies to the genocide is ‘Andr´ oda taboris’ [In the Camp], performed by Czech and Slovak Roma. And the traditional Romani love song ‘Čhajori romaňi’ [Little Roma Girl, also called ‘Gypsy Tears / Tears of the Roma’] apparently had a verse added by Slovak Roma during World War II that reflects the painful experiences of that time.



Michal Schuster: Aušvicate hi kher baro, in: Enzyklopädie des NS-Völkermordes an den Sinti und Roma in Europa. Hg. von Karola Fings, Forschungsstelle Antiziganismus an der Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg 15. Februar 2024. -