Welcome!

Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

Holocaust Research Project

Subscribe to Holocaust Research Project: eMailAlertsEmail Alerts
Get Holocaust Research Project via: homepageHomepage mobileMobile rssRSS facebookFacebook twitterTwitter linkedinLinkedIn


Blog Feed Post

The Gypsy Holocaust

Sinti & Roma


The Gypsies

 

 

Illustration of Gypsy fortune tellers in Basel circa 1552

The Sinti and Roma are nomadic peoples found throughout Europe and the United States. Often both groups are referred to as Roma, collectively, they are popularly referred to as Gypsies. It is derived from "Egypt", for it is believed that when the Roma first arrived in Europe their relatively dark skins caused many Europeans to believe that they were natives of Egypt.

 

Linguistic experts compare Gypsy languages to historical languages; they look at words borrowed from other languages and when and where those words originally existed. It is possible to trace Gypsies back to their origin: the Sind area of India (today south central Pakistan -- the mouth of the Indus).

 

Three separate emigrations occurred over the course of about four hundred years, traceable today in three identifiable linguistic populations: the Eastern Gypsy (Domari) in Egypt and the Middle East, the Central Gypsy (Lomavren) in Armenia and eastern Turkey, and the Western Gypsy (Romani) (Romany refers to the people, Romani refers to the language, Rom refers to a man or the people as a whole.

 

The Sinti and Roma are believed to have left India about 1000 A.D. and to have passed through what is now Afghanistan, Persia, Armenia, and Turkey. People recognizable by other Roma as Roma still live as far east as Iran, including some who made the migration to Europe and returned. It is virtually impossible to identify Roma still living in India. By the 14th century, Roma had reached the Balkans and by the 16th century, Scotland and Sweden. Some Roma migrated south through Syria to North Africa.
 

For centuries, Sinti and Roma were scorned and persecuted in Europe. Zigeuner, the German word for Gypsy, derives from a Greek root meaning “untouchable.” In the Balkan principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, Gypsies were slaves bought and sold by monasteries and large estate holders (boyars) until 1864, when the newly formed nation of Romania emancipated them.

Many Sinti and Roma traditionally worked as craftsmen, such as blacksmiths, cobblers, tinkers, horse dealers, and toolmakers. Others were performers such as musicians, circus animal trainers, and dancers. By the 1920s, there was also a small, lower-middle class of shopkeepers and some civil servants, such as Sinti employed in the German postal service. The numbers of truly nomadic Gypsies were on the decline in many places by the early 1900s, although so-called sedentary Gypsies often moved seasonally, depending on their occupations.

 

Gypsies in the late 1870s

In post WWI Germany, persecution of the Sinti and Roma preceded the Nazi regime. Even though Gypsies enjoyed full and equal rights of citizenship under Article 109 of the Weimar Constitution, they were subject to special, discriminatory laws. A Bavarian law of July 16,1926, outlined measures for “Combatting Gypsies,Vagabonds, and the Work Shy” and required the systematic registration of all Sinti and Roma.

The law prohibited Gypsies from “roaming about or camping in bands,” and those “Gypsies unable to prove regular employment” risked being sent to forced labor for up to two years. This law became the national norm in 1929.

 

When Hitler took power in 1933, anti-Gypsy laws remained in effect. Soon the regime introduced other laws affecting Germany’s Sinti and Roma, as the Nazis immediately began to implement their vision of a new Germany — one that placed “Aryans” at the top of the hierarchy of races and ranked Jews, Gypsies, and blacks as racial inferiors.

"Like the Jews, Gypsies were singled out by the Nazis for racial persecution and annihilation. They were 'nonpersons,' of 'foreign blood,' 'labor-shy,' and as such were termed asocial. To a degree, they shared the fate of the Jews in their ghettos, in the extermination camps, before firing squads, as medical guinea pigs, and being injected with lethal substances.
 

The Nuremberg racial laws of September 15, 1935, ("Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor" and "Reich Citizenship Law") did not explicitly mention Gypsies, but in commentaries interpreting these laws, Gypsies were included, along with Jews and "Negroes," as "racially distinctive" minorities with "alien blood." As such, their marriage to "Aryans" was prohibited. Like Jews, Gypsies were also deprived of their civil rights.
 

German police guard Roma who have been rounded up for deportation to Poland

In June 1936, a Central Office to "Combat the Gypsy Nuisance" opened in Munich. This office became the headquarters of a national data bank on Gypsies. Also in June, part of the Ministry of Interior directives for "Combating the Gypsy Nuisance" authorized the Berlin police to conduct raids against Gypsies so that they would not mar the image of the city, host of the summer Olympic games.

 

That July, the police arrested 600 Gypsies and brought them, in 130 caravans, to a new, special Gypsy internment camp (Zigeunerlager) established near a sewage dump and cemetery in the Berlin suburb of Marzahan. The camp had only three water pumps and two toilets; in such overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, contagious diseases flourished.

 

Police and their dogs guarded the camp. Similar Zingeunerlageralso appeared in the 1939s, at the initiative of municipal governments and coordinated by the Council of Cities (reporting to the Ministry of Interior), in Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and other German cities.

 

The children of Sinti and Roma were also victims, interned with their families in the municipal camps and studied and classified by racial scientists. Between 1933 and 1939, authorities took many Sinti and Roma children from their families and brought them to special homes for children as wards of the state.

 

Gypsy schoolchildren who were truant were deemed delinquent and sent to special juvenile schools; those unable to speak German were deemed feeble-minded and sent to “special schools” for the mentally handicapped.

 

Like Jewish children, Gypsy boys and girls also commonly endured the taunts and insults of their classmates, until March 1941 when the regime excluded Gypsies from the public schools.

Heinrich Himmler Memorandum, December 8, 1938:

Experience gained in combating the Gypsy nuisance, and knowledge derived from race-biological research, have shown that the proper method of attacking the Gypsy problem seems to be to treat it as a matter of race. Experience shows that part-Gypsies play the greatest role in Gypsy criminality. On the other hand, it has been shown that efforts to make the Gypsies settle have been unsuccessful, especially in the case of pure Gypsies, on account of their strong compulsion to wander. It has therefore become necessary to distinguish between pure and part-Gypsies in the final solution of the Gypsy question.

 

Read more here: www.holocaustresearchproject.org/holoprelude/romasinti.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

www.HolocaustResearchProject.org

 

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010



Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Holocaust Research Project

The aim of H.E.A.R.T is to inform and educate people about the Holocaust and the extermination programs conducted by the Nazi regime throughout Europe during the Second World War.

H.E.A.R.T research and material is contributed from a group of independent Holocaust researchers who devote their spare time to research for the production of this website and other forms of related publications, such as leaflets and books.

H.E.A.R.T is run by its trustees and directors, who manage the daily administration of the website, review all research materials, fact checking, and addressing any required corrections.

Most materials presented on the H.E.A.R.T website originate in Poland, Germany, the former Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom as well as from private sources in the USA and other countries.

H.E.A.R.T currently accepts no new membership however we do maintain affiliations with educational institutions and private associations that contribute articles, photos, rare documents, etc.

Contributed text and pages will appear on the website as a "Guest Publication" with the author maintaining full copyright to the submitted text however page design and layout is owned by © H.E.A.R.T. All other material presented on this website is subject to H.E.A.R.T copyright however all pages may be used “Freely” providing the source is credited as the following:

"Courtesy of the Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team www.HolocaustResearchProject.org " © H.E.A.R.T www.HolocaustResearchProject.org