Krystyna Gil (née Ciuroń) was born on November 5th, 1938, in Szczurowa, a village of several thousand residents in southern Poland (Małopolska Province). Szczurowa was the home of some 100 Bergitka Roma, who have lived here for generations.
On July 3rd, 1943, the Nazis murdered almost the entire community – 93 persons. Only a few Roma survived the massacre, including the then 4-years old Krystyna and her grandmother.
The Szczurowa slaughter is by no means an isolated case. In Poland, there are 180 cities in villages with confirmed mass executions of the Roma, sometimes alongside Jews. In 1965, the local community acted to erect a statue at the burial site of the victims; it is believed to be the first remembrance symbol of the Roma extermination. After some time, it became a Roma pilgrimage site (the International Roma Caravan of Memory, since 1996), and Krystyna Gil – a symbolic massacre survivor. She features in many interviews and documentaries, and her photo is included in the permanent exhibition on the Roma Holocaust n the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum (Barrack XIII).
In 1995, she became the representative of the Kraków branch of the Association of the Polish Roma. In 2000, she initiated the first association of Roma women in Poland, the Association of the Roma Women in Kraków; she is the association’s chairwoman.