Estimated Gypsy population: 32,500 (mainly Jenisch). Between 1418 and 1422 Gypsies came to Basel, Bern, and Zurich as pilgrims with letters of recommendation. They were given food and wine and then escorted out of the towns. In 1471, however, the Parliament of the Swiss Confederation, meeting in Lucerne, expelled Gypsies from the land. In 1510 the penalty of hanging was introduced for any Gypsies found in Switzerland. This edict was repeated six times in the years up to 1530. Nevertheless, in 1532, a company of 300 Gypsies appeared on the outskirts of Geneva. It evidently took some years before all the Gypsies were finally expelled, as is indicated by a decree in Graubünden in 1571 ordering any Gypsies who were captured to be sent to be galley slaves (one wonders whose galleys these would be). During the following centuries, very few Romanies came to Switzerland, and as late as the middle of the 20th century they were still being turned back at the borders-even Romanies in cars intending to pass through the country in transit. The second World Romany Congress was, nonetheless, held in Geneva.
   For many years no Romanies lived in Switzerland, and there are very few even today. However, Switzerland has a large population of indigenous Jenisch nomads and seminomads. Early in the 20th century, the authorities began to take away the children of Jenisch families and bringing them up in orphanages or giving them to Swiss foster parents. Often the children were told their parents were dead and vice versa. When news of this program became public, there was great indignation. Many of the children who were taken away- now grown up-have rediscovered their Jenisch identity. An organization known as Scharotl (Caravan) published a magazine of the same name.
   Radgenossenschaft der Landstrasse, established in 1975, is the umbrella organization of the Jenisch. The foundation Naschet Jenis-che (est. 1986) and the association Children of the Highway (Kinder der Landstrasse; est. 1986) promote the rehabilitation of victims of the coercive measures, while the Travelling Gypsy Center (est. 1984) and the foundation A Future for Swiss Travelers (Zukunft für Schweizer Fahrende; est. 1997) are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Jenisch culture. The Mission Tzigane is also engaged in furthering and protecting the rights of the Travelers.

Historical dictionary of the Gypsies . .

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