01 August 2009

Some Things Never Change: 1900-1945

1905. Alfred Dillmann's Zigeuner-Buch appears in Germany The introduction maintains that the German people are "suffering" from a "plague" of Roma, that they are "a pest against which society must unflaggingly defend itself," and that they "must be controlled by the police most severely," being "ruthlessly punished" when necessary. The notion of the particular dangers of mixed Romani and white individuals, whom Dillmann considers to constitute almost the entire Roma population, resurfaces in the Nuremburg Laws in 1935.

1906. On February 17th, the Prussian Minister of the Interior issues a directive entitled Die Bekämpfung des Zigeunerunwesens ("Combatting the Gypsy nuisance") which lists bilateral agreements guaranteeing the expulsion of Roma from those countries, with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Russia and Switzerland.

1909. Recommendations coming from a "Gypsy policy conference" in Hungary include the confiscation of their animals and carts, and permanent branding for purposes of identification.

1914. A new law prohibits all further immigration of Roma into Sweden. The law is very efficient and Roma in Sweden are isolated from their relatives in other European countries. The law remains in effect until 1954. Norway and Denmark have similar laws during the same period.

1920. In Germany, psychiatrist Karl Binding and magistrate Alfred Hoche argue for the killing of those who are "Ballastexistenzen," i.e. whose lives are seen merely as ballast, or dead weight, within humanity; this includes Roma. The concept of Lebensunwertesleben, or "lives unworthy (or undeserving) of life," becomes central to Nazi race policy.

1926. The Swiss Pro Juventute Foundation begins, "in keeping with the theories of eugenics and progress," to take children away from Roma without their consent, to change their names, and to put them into foster homes. This program continues until 1973, and is not brought to light until the 1980s.

1928. In Bavaria, an ordinance is approved placing Sinti and Roma under permanent police surveillance. In May, the same law is reissued and reaffirmed. The act is in direct violation of the provisions of the Weimar Constitution.

1933. On May 26th, The Law to Legalize Eugenic Sterilization is introduced by the National Socialists (Nazi Party) in Germany. On July 14th, Hitler's cabinet passes the law against "lives not deserving of life" (Lebensunwertesleben), called The Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring. It orders sterilization for certain categories of people, "specifically Gypsies and most of the Germans of black color" (called the "Rhineland Bastards,") The Law for the Revocation of German Citizenship is implemented against Roma without proof of German birth, as well as "Eastern Jews" (nearly 20 percent of all Jews in Germany in 1933).
In the week of September 18th - 25th, the Reichsminister for the Interior and Propaganda of Germany calls for the apprehension and arrest of Roma and Sinti, according to the "Law Against Habitual Criminals." Many Roma are sent to concentration camps as a result, and made to do penal labor

1934. Sweden passes a law on sterilization, which becomes harsher in 194l. Anyone, including Roma, seen as leading "a socially undesirable life" are to be sterilised. Allthough the law does not explicitly say so, it suggests that Gypsies and "Tattare" (Norwegian "Wanderer") are not socially desirable and thus must be sterilised to keep the Swedish race clean.

From January onwards, Roma in Germany are selected for transfer to camps for processing, which includes sterilization by injection or castration. Over the next three years, these camps will be established at Dachau, Dieselstrasse, Sachsenhausen, Marzahn and Vennhausen.

In July, two laws issued in Nuremburg forbid Germans from marrying "Jews, Negroes and Gypsies."

1935.In May, some five hundred Roma and Sinti are arrested because they are Gypsies, and incarcerated in a camp on Venloerstrasse in Cologne, Germany. This detention center is surrounded by barbed wire and patrolled by armed police.

On September 15th, Roma and Sinti become subject to the restrictions of the National Citizenship Law (the Reichsbürgergesetz) and the Nuremberg Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, which forbids intermarriage or sexual relationships between Aryan and non-Aryan peoples. It states: "A marriage cannot be concluded when the expected result will put the purity of German blood of future generations in danger." A policy statement issued by the Nazi Party reads "In Europe generally, only Jews and Gypsies come under consideration as members of an alien people." Gypsies, Jews and Blacks are considered "racially distinctive" minorities with "alien blood." On September 17th, the National Citizenship Law relegates Jews and Roma to the status of second class citizens, and deprives them of their civil rights.

1936. On March 7th, Gypsies and Jews both have their voting rights taken from them.

On March 20th, "action against the Gypsies" is instituted in Frankfurt am Main, when the City Council votes to put all Roma into an internment camp. The camp, on Dieselstrasse, is selected on September 22nd this year, and arrests and internment begin a year later.

In June, the main Nazi institution to deal with Roma, the Racial Hygiene and Criminal Biology and Research Unit (which is Department 13 of the National Ministry of Health) is established . Its expressed purpose is to determine whether the Romani people and the Afro-Europeans are Aryans or sub-humans (Untermenschen). By early 1942, Ritter has documented the genealogy of almost the entire German Roma and Sinti population.

In June and July, several hundred Roma and Sinti are transported to Dachau by order of the Minister of the Interior as "dependents of the Munich Centre for the Fight Against the Gypsy Nuisance." Attempts to escape are punishable by death.

In Bavaria, a deportation decree sends 400 Roma and Sinti to Dachau for forced labor.
Interpol in Vienna establishes the Centre for Combatting the Gypsy Menace, which has grown out of the earlier Bureau of Gypsy Affairs.

In Leipzig, Martin Block publishes his general study of Gypsies, and justifies Nazi racist attitudes by speaking of the "nauseating Gypsy smell," and the "involuntary feeling of mistrust or repulsion one feels in their presence."

1938. On June 12-18, Zigeuneraufrämungswoche, "Gypsy Clean-up Week," is in effect, and hundreds of Roma and Sinti throughout Germany and Austria are rounded up, beaten and imprisoned. This is the third such public action by the German state. Like Kristallnacht ("Crystal Night," or the "Night of Broken Glass" on November 9th this same year) for the Jews, it is a public sanctioning and approval of the official attitude towards members of an "inferior race."

In the USSR, Joseph Stalin bans the Romani language and culture.

1940. The French government opens internment camps for nomads. In Austria, internment camps are built at Maxglan, Slazburg, and Lackenbach.

At Buchenwald, 250 Romani children are used as guinea-pigs to test the Zyklon-B gas crystals.

1941. In Poland, a Gypsy camp is set up in the Jewish ghetto of Lodz for 5.000 inmates.
In Serbia, the German Military Command orders that all Gypsies will be treated as Jews. In November, it further orders the immediate arrest of all Gypsies and Jews, who are to be held as hostages.

All Sinti Gypsy families living in the Volga Republic are deported to Kazakhstan.

In Yugoslavia in October, the German army executes 2.100 Jewish and Gypsy hostages as reprisal for soldiers killed by partisans.

1942. Heinrich Himmler issues the order to deport the Gypsies in Greater Germany to the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. In Poland, all Gypsies from the Lodz ghtetto are transported and gassed at Chelmo.

1943. Nazi leader Himmler orders all Gypsy camps closed, resulting in the liquidation of the Romani prisoners.

1944. Zigeunernacht, literally, Gypsy Night. On August 2, four thousand Roma are gassed and cremated in a single action at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

1933-45. O Porraimos, the Great Devouring. Up to 1,500,000 Sinti and Roma are killed in Europe by the Nazi regime and its puppet states. Determining the percentage or number of Roma who died in the Holocaust is not easy. Much of the Nazi documentation still remains to be analyzed, and many murders were not recorded,

Information in this post is taken from the timeline of Romani history on Patrin


beakerkin said...


This may sound funny, but I had a gypsy in my office the other day. I asked her if she was Roma or Sinti and she did not know what I was talking about. She told me straight out she is a gypsy.

This may sound odd but I was trained that that is a slur and was taken aback when the lovely young woman said it. Similarly American Indians do not like the term Aboriginal Americans or Native Americans.

I guess the PC clowns need to get out of higher ed.

Steve Hayes said...

Bushmen were treated in the same way in southern Africa, though the process was a reversal --the nomadic hunter-gatherers were here first, and the people who lived in settled communities came later. But the result was the same.

Nevin said...

Jams... I went back and forth about what I really wanted to write.... I erased and erased my thoughts over and over again for not coming across as hypocritical.... but I will anyway... so I give up... :)

But the truth is, has anything changed?
Names change... ethnicities change, religions change but actions are the same..

I equate everything to power... the questions is .... if it is part of human nature to be so ruthless, then what can be done to eliminate it... because not all of us are that ruthless..... or would we all be ruthless if we held the same amount of power ?

I hope not.... if that is the case.... what is wrong with the structure we have build that is build upon suppressing and enslaving others for our comfort??

If we look around, that is all we are experiencing.... our comfort for the expense of others...... to this day!

Anonymous said...
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jams o donnell said...

No doubt about it Gypsy is a slur Beakerkin

There is probably not an indigenous population that did not suffer under colonialism. One that springs to mind is the Herero

Nothing changes Nevin, It galls me to think that we humans are locked itno inevitable cycles of horror. Thing is we don't need to,