During the Second World War, up to 500,000 Roma were murdered in the Nazi concentration camps – about a third of the Roma people. Like Jews, Roma were registered in special lists and had to carry special identity documents.
One of the survivors was Alfreda Markowska, or Noncia as she was called. When her entire family was murdered by the Nazis, her fight to save Roma and Jewish children began. She wanted to save as many lives as she lost.
Dolly, 24, is searching for her roots
In Sweden, more than 80 years later, Noncia’s relative Dolly Andersen lives. She traveled to Poland to find out more about Alfreda Markowska’s life.
In the town of Stalowa Wola, she met local historian Marek Wiatrowicz.
– Alfreda fought her own war against the Germans and she did that by saving children. She said she found abandoned children on the battlefield, but she could also have found them near railroad tracks, he says.
An estimated fifty Roma and Jewish children were saved by Noncia during World War II.
Awarded for heroism in 2006
Noncia was awarded the Order of Polonia Restituta by then President of Poland Lech Kaczynski in October 2006.
– Never before has a rum been so celebrated officially. It was the first time in the history of Poland that a Romani woman has received such recognition, says Stanislaw Stankiewicz, president of the International Romani Union.
Alfreda “Noncia” Markowska died in January 2021 at the age of 94.
Watch the entire documentary series The Roma Holocaust at SVT Play.