The Nazi genocide of Jews, Gypsies, and others, particularly in the period following 1941.
   When the National Socialist Party came to power in Germany in 1933, it inherited laws against nomadism already in operation. From the beginning, the Nazis considered the Romanies and Sinti- whether nomads or sedentary-as non-Aryans. Together with the Jews, they were classed as alien and considered a danger to the German race. Already by 1935 they had been deprived of citizenship and given the second-class status of "nationals." In the same year, the Law for the Protection of German Blood made marriages between Gypsies and other Germans illegal. There was no place in the image of Germany under the New Order for a group of people who traveled around the country freely, worked as craftsmen, and sold their wares from door to door.
   A quasi-scientific research program was set up in Berlin under the leadership of Robert Ritter. Later this program was carried out at the Race Hygiene and Population Biology Research Center. The researchers had to accept the historical and linguistic fact that the Romany and Sinti peoples were of Indian origin and therefore should count as Aryan, but they claimed that on the route to Europe they had intermarried with other races and as a "mixed race" had no place in Nazi Germany. Allegations were made against the whole race in pamphlets and articles.
   Internment camps were set up on the outskirts of towns in Germany, and both caravan- and house-dwelling Gypsies were sent there. Discipline was strict and the internees were allowed out only to work. In 1938 several hundred Gypsy men were deported to Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps as "people who have shown that they do not wish to fit into society" under the Decree against Crime of the previous year.
   Heinrich Himmler, who became police chief in 1936, was particularly interested in the Gypsies and led the campaign against them. In 1938 he signed the Decree for Fighting the Gypsy Menace under which Ritter's Research Center was linked with an established Gypsy Police Office and the new combined institution was put under the direct control of police headquarters in Berlin. The first task of this institution was to classify all nomads by their ethnic origin. To be classed as a "Gypsy of mixed race," it was sufficient to have two great-grandparents who were considered to have been Gypsies, which meant that part-Gypsies were considered to be a greater danger than part-Jews: In general, a person with one Jewish grandparent was not affected in the Nazi anti-Jewish legislation whereas one-eighth "Gypsy blood" was considered strong enough to outweigh seven-eighths of German blood.
   Alongside the program of registration and classification, new laws were imposed on the Romanies and Sinti. Any children who were of foreign nationality were excluded from school; the German Gypsies could also be excluded if they represented a "moral danger" to their classmates. The race scientists discussed what should happen next. Eva Justin proposed sterilization except for those "with pure Gypsy blood," while Ritter himself wanted to put an end to the whole race by sterilization of those with at least one-eighth Gypsy blood. In fact, a law of 1933 had already been used to carry out this operation on individual Sinti and Romanies.
   In the end, the Nazi leaders decided in 1940 that deportation was the means to clear Germany of Gypsies. Adolf Eichmann was responsible for the transporting of Gypsies alongside the Jews. In a first operation 2,800 were sent to Poland and housed in Jewish ghettoes or hutted camps.
   In 1941, however, the Nazi leaders had carried out an experiment with Zyklon B gas at Auschwitz where they had murdered 250 sick prisoners and 600 Russian prisoners-of-war in underground cells. The discovery of this cheap and rapid method of mass murder led to a change in the treatment of the Jews. Deportation was replaced by death, and in 1942 Himmler decided that the same "final solution" should be applied to the Gypsies.
   On 16 December 1942 he signed an order condemning all the German and Austrian Gypsies to imprisonment in Auschwitz, and in February 1943 the police began rounding up the Romanies and Sinti. Within the first few months, 10,000 persons had been transported to the camp. Children were taken out of orphanages and Germans were asked to inform the police of any Gypsies living in houses that might have been missed. We are not yet in a position to say how many German Gypsies remained outside the camps. They can be numbered in the hundreds and lived under strict police control.
   When Austria was annexed to Germany in 1938, it was announced that the Gypsies there would be treated like those in Germany. Two years later a camp was opened in Lackenbach just for the Austrian Romanies and Sinti. The western part of Czechoslovakia was also annexed, but many Romanies succeeded in escaping across the border to the puppet state of Slovakia. Two internment camps were opened in 1942 in the German-controlled provinces of Bohemia and Moravia. The majority of the nomads were immediately locked up in the new camps, and later several hundred of them were sent to Auschwitz from the camps when they were closed-together with the sedentary Gypsies. Only a handful of the Czech Gypsies survived the occupation.
   The Romany population in eastern Europe was mainly sedentary and integrated into the life of town and village. Many had been to school and had regular work. They had cultural and sports clubs and had begun to develop Romani as a literary language. Nevertheless, the German troops carried out the same policies of murder against these populations as against the nomads.
   The Romanies who lived in Poland were crammed into the Jewish quarters of towns and villages. The Germans forced the Jews to give up their houses and move in with other families, and then the Romanies were allocated the empty houses. In addition, a transport of 5,000 Sinti and Romanies were brought from Germany and Austria and housed in the Jewish Lodz Ghetto. An epidemic of typhus broke out, but no medical help was provided. In the first two months, 600 died. When spring arrived, the survivors were taken to Chelmno and gassed.
   The task of murdering the Romanies in the occupied areas of the Soviet Union was allocated to Einsatzgruppen, which were given their orders soon after the invasion. Their instructions were to eliminate "racially undesirable elements," and most of their reports mention the killing of Gypsies. In all, they murdered more than 20,000 Romanies.
   After the rapid capture of Yugoslavia in 1941, Serbia came under German military rule and the Romanies were compelled to wear a yellow armband with the word "Gypsy" on it. Trams and buses bore the notice "No Jews or Gypsies." A new tactic was used to kill the Romanies. They were shot as hostages for German soldiers who had been killed by the partisans. In Kragujevac, soldiers with machine guns executed 200 Romanies, alongside many Serbians, in revenge for the death of 10 German soldiers. These executions were carried out by regular soldiers of the German Army. After so many of the men had been shot, the occupying forces were faced with the problem of a large number of women and children with no breadwinners. A solution was easily found. Mobile gas vans were brought from Germany, and women and children were loaded into these vans, taken to the forests, gassed, and buried. Their possessions were sent to Germany to be distributed by charitable organizations to the civilian population.
   In most of the countries that came under German rule, the alternative was often between death on the spot and a journey without food or water to a concentration camp. Nearly all the larger camps had their section for Romanies: Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Natzweiler, Neuengamme, Ravensbrück, Sachsenhausen, and others. From 1943 on, the camps were merely waiting rooms for the journey to death by gas or shooting. Chelmno, Sobibor, and Treblinka were names that meant immediate death on arrival. From all the camps where Romanies and Sinti were held, the best records available are for Auschwitz, where Jewish prisoners kept secret notes.
   It is also known that Romanies and Sinti were used in the camps for experiments with typhus, salt water, and smallpox, but perhaps the most horrifying were the attempts to find new quick methods of sterilization. These were to be used on all the races considered inferior so that they could be used as a workforce while preventing the birth of a new generation.
   As Soviet and Allied troops advanced in 1944, the last tragic phase began in the life of the concentration camps. The remaining prisoners were evacuated on foot in the direction of Austria and Germany. Anyone who could not keep up during these marches was shot.
   During the Hitler period, the Romanies and Sinti of Europe suffered a terrible blow from which they have not yet fully recovered. Some estimates of deaths are as high as 500,000. It should not be forgotten that this figure does not give the whole extent of the persecution of the many thousands more who suffered internment or other repressive measures.
   See also Reparations.

Historical dictionary of the Gypsies . .

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