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Historical Amnesia: The Romani Holocaust

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Our consciousness of holocaust is seared by the stark images of freight cars transporting Jewish women, children and men to the death camps of Belsen, Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Dachau. Wizened faces peering out of barbed fences and piles of bodies heaped near the infamous furnaces of the death camps offer humankind a rare glimpse into the nature of evil symbolised by the Nazi era. In popular cinema, such as Schindler’s List and The Pianist, the holocaust is represented as the tragedy befalling the Jewish people.

The dominant narrative of the holocaust by historians and scholars of the Nazi era is imbued with the sense of the exceptional and unique suffering of the Jewish race. As Daniel Goldhagen observes:

The Germans’ treatment of Jews – who were seen as the secular incarnation of the devil – was so horrific that it can hardly be compared to that of other peoples. No matter what the purpose, organisation, general practices of the given camp were, Jews, structurally in the same situation as other prisoners, were always made to suffer the most – a fact regularly noted by survivors of the camp world, Jews and non-Jews alike.

Were Jews the Only Victims?

While the neo-Nazi factions and historians such as David Irving have alleged that the genocide of the Jews never took place, earning the well deserved criticism of being anti-Semitic holocaust deniers, there is growing dissent among liberal scholars such as Norman Finkelstein that other holocausts have been suppressed in favour of the dominant discourse of Jewish suffering as being “the only Holocaust”. “Were Jews the only victims of The Holocaust”, asks Finkelstein polemically, “or did others who perished because of Nazi persecution also count as victims?”

An unbiased version of the holocaust should tell humankind the systematic liquidation of communists, the Romanies and handicapped people. As Henry Friedlander, a respected historian and a former Auschwitz inmate, notes: “Alongside Jews, the Nazis murdered the European Gypsies. Defined as a ‘dark skinned’ racial group, Gypsy men, women, and children could not escape their fate as victims of Nazi genocide”. As Finkelstein points out, “The Nazis systematically murdered as many as a half-million Gypsies, with proportional losses roughly equal to the Jewish genocide”. Another eminent holocaust historian, Raul Hilberg has also argued that like the Jews, the ‘gypsies’ also fell as victims to the cold blooded ‘genocidal’ assault of the Nazis.

Unlike the careful documentation of the Jewish holocaust and the widespread publicity given to it, the Romani genocide was marginalised and consigned to the footnotes of history. In fact, as Guenther Lewy argues,

Because there was no intent to kill all Romanies, and because policies against them were not motivated by Nazi race theory, their treatment cannot be compared with that of the Jews and therefore they do not qualify for inclusion in the Holocaust – in sum because their treatment did not constitute a genocide and it was not motivated by a policy based on Nazi race theory.

Steven Katz in his research paper concludes: “The only defensible conclusion, the only adequate encompassing judgment…is that in comparison to the ruthless, monolithic, metapolitical, ‘genocidal’ design of Nazism vis-à-vis Jews, nothing similar…existed in the case of the Gypsies…In the end, it was only Jews and the Jews alone who were the victims of a total ‘genocidal’ onslaught in both intent and practice at the hands of the Nazi murderers”.

But a careful review of the genocide of the Romanies bears an eerie similarity to the genocide of the Jewish people in Nazi Germany.

Persecution of the Romanies

As early as 19th century Germany, a conference was held on ‘The Gypsy Filth’ (Der Zigeunerunrat) and plans were made to round up the Romanies throughout the German-controlled territories. Long before the Nazi takeover they were social outcasts and they were perceived as foreign, strange and culturally inferior. They were widely seen as criminals. In the 1920s the Romanies were singled out as Lebensunwertes Leben or “lives unworthy of life”. A pseudo-scientific study by psychiatrist Karl Binding and magistrate Alfred Hoche titled Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwerten Lebens paved the way for Hitler to liquidate the Romanies as being genetically worthless.

During the 1920s the police in Bavaria and later on, in Prussia, established special offices to keep them in surveillance. They were photographed and fingerprinted as common criminals. With the Nazi takeover of Germany the Romanies were persecuted as being racially inferior. The anti-“Gypsy” laws, already in force from the Middle Ages, were used by the Nazis to oppress the Romanies. Notes Ian Hancock: “During the 1920s, the legal oppression of the Romanies in Germany intensified despite the official statutes of the Weimar Republic that said all its citizens were equal. In 1920 they were forbidden to enter public parks and public baths; in 1925 a conference on ‘The Gypsy Question’ was held which resulted in the creation of laws requiring unemployed Romanies to be sent to work camps ‘for reasons of public security’, and for all Romanies to be registered with the police”.

On September 15, 1935, “Gypsies” became subject to the Nuremberg laws for the protection of blood and honour, which forbade intermarriage or sexual intercourse between Aryan and non-Aryan peoples. Criteria for classification as a Romani were twice as strict as those later applied to Jews: if two of a person’s eight greatgrandparents were even part-Romani, that person had too much Romani ancestry to be allowed, later, to live.

In 1936 racial studies of the Romanies started under Robert Ritter and his assistant Eva Justin. The Racial Hygiene and Population Biology Research Unit was established to study the link between Romani heredity and crime. Eva Justin conducted research on Romani children. After the conclusion of the study the children were sent to Auschwitz, where most of them were put to death. After the exhaustive interviews were conducted, Ritter concluded in his report,

The Gypsy question can only be solved when the main body of asocial and goodfornothing Gypsy individuals of mixed blood is collected together in large labour camps and kept working there, and when the further breeding of this population is stopped once and for all.

Systematic Genocide of the Romanies

On December 8, 1938 Himmler passed a decree of “Basic Regulations to Resolve the Gypsy Question as Required by the Nature of Race” which formed the basis for the complete annihilation of the Roma. In February 1939, Johannes Behrendt of the Nazi Office of Racial Hygiene circulated a brief in which it was stated that “all Gypsies should be treated as hereditarily sick; the only solution is elimination. The aim should be the elimination without hesitation of this defective population”.

The systematic genocide of the Romanies took place between 1939 and 1945. Some 2,500 Romanies were deported to Poland in 1940 and worked to death. About 5,000 Romanies were deported to Lodz and kept in a ghetto. Those who survived the Lodz ghetto were put to death in the Chelmno extermination camp. Romanies in Germany were sent to the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau (the “Gypsy” family camp) where they were subjected to torture, gruesome medical experimentation under SS captain Josef Mengele. At Auschwitz, Romani prisoners as a measure to denote their inferiority wore a “Z” for Zigeuner (Gypsy) tattooed on their left arm and a black triangle, for “asocial”, was sewn into their clothes. Roma prisoners were also used in inhuman medical experiments at the Ravensbrueck, Natzweiler-Struthof, and Sachsenhausen camps. In Auschwitz 19,000 of the 23,000 Romanies died. In Poland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Yugoslavia and Albania many Romanies were shot or sent to death camps where they were killed. In the Baltic states and German-occupied USSR, Romanies were killed along with Jews and communist leaders by the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units). In France, the deportation of the “Gypsies” started in 1941 from the German-occupied territories and those areas under Vichy control interned some 3,500 Romanies and sent to the death camps operated by the Germans. In 1941 the Wehrmacht shot all the male adult Romani population along with most Jewish adult males as retaliation against the killing of German soldiers by the Serbian Resistance fighters. In Croatia, the Ustasa – the Croatian fascists allied with Germany, slaughtered thousands of Romanies.

Some estimates of the carnage vary from 2,20,000 to 8,00,000. Others place the death toll between 2,50,000 and 10,00,000 Romanies being exterminated during the holocaust. In percentage terms, it puts the Romani as the most affected ethnic group by the Nazi killings. Over 90 per cent of Romani population in Austria and Germany was wiped out by the fascist regimes. According to Simon Wiesenthal in his letter dated December 14, 1984 addressed to Elie Wiesel, “the Gypsies had been murdered [in a proportion] similar to the Jews; about 80 per cent of them in the area of the countries which were occupied by the Nazis”.

Indifference to Romani Plight

The Romani genocide during Nazi rule in Germany remains one of the dark episodes of European history and one least written about or discussed in the European media. The indifference to the Romani holocaust could be attributed to the fact that they were averse to talk about their terrible tragedy, unlike the Jewish victims of the holocaust. As Agnes Daroczi, a Romani activist in Hungary points out: “Ours is an oral culture and there is low contact level among the various Gypsy communities”. “We can assume”, says Julia Hajdu, “that since Roma have not spoken out about their past, the history could not be written. This has a lot to do with the fact that the Roma Holocaust, the Porrajmos, has not been heard of until the last two decades.” The other reason could be that the Romanies were viewed as shiftless vagabonds and common criminals eliciting very little sympathy for their fate. The powerful prejudice of anti-“gypsyism” in Germany in particular and other parts of Europe prevented the Romanies from getting justice.

Post the Second World War, the Federal Republic of Germany decided that all measures taken against the Romani people before 1943 were legitimate policies of the state and not subject to restitution. In 1982 German chancellor Helmut Kohl formally agreed that the Romani people were victims of Nazi genocide. But by a sad twist of irony, most of the survivors had died by then. Today the Romanies are marginalised citizens. “The 2005 annual report of the European Commission on equality and non-discrimination”, adds Valeriu Nicolae, a Romani activist, “writes on its first page that Roma communities face ‘widespread exclusion and discrimination’. Racist political speech and media coverage targeting Roma, which could not be written about any other European citizens, are seen as normal in a Europe ravaged by strong anti-‘Gypsyism'”.

A stony indifference to the plight of Romanies prevails in the US, as there is great resistance to the idea of Romani representation in the US Holocaust Memorial Council. This council was established in 1979 by president Jimmy Carter to be an enduring memorial to all those who perished in Hitler’s Germany. Though as many as 65 individuals are appointed to the council only two Romanies were ever appointed in the last 27 years of its history. One was the Hon. William A. Duna who was the first presidential appointee to the council.

In 1998, President Clinton appointed Ian Hancock, the leading Romani activist and scholar, to the council. Hancock has been instrumental in asking for recognition for the Romanies in the US. A professor at the University of Texas, he teaches Romani studies. He is also director of the International Romani Archives and Documentation Centre. When his appointment to the council lapsed no attempt was made to fill up the vacancy by George Bush when he became the president of the US. Today no Romani is represented on the US Holocaust Memorial Council. Their holocaust does not have the dignity of a memorial.

Hegel once said: “what history teaches us is that men have never learned anything from it”. One lesson we must learn from the Porrajmos (the devouring), as the Romanies described their fate at the hands of the Nazis, is that there is one holocaust as the ashes of the Romanies mingled with the others in the ovens of the death camps. We lose our humanity when we arrogate to ourselves the exclusivity of suffering while diminishing the suffering of others.

Historically, this creates the unacceptable categories of worthy sufferers and less worthy sufferers. As Finkelstein comments on the Jewish Holocaust: “the claims of Holocaust uniqueness are intellectually barren and morally discreditable, yet they persist. The question is, why? In the first place, unique suffering confers unique entitlement”. “The unique evil of the Holocaust”, according to Jacob Neusner, “not only sets Jews apart from others, but also gives Jews a claim upon those others”.

By the act of denying or ignoring other holocausts, we rob history of its meaning and commit the folly of not learning from it.

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About Socrates

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    What happened to our people was terrible. What happened to the Roma was worse than terrible. The Roma had no written culture(that I’m aware of), so it is nigh impossible to really estimate their losses.

    It is a scandal that the Roma have been denied a place on the US Holocaust Council. There were always ties between the Roma and Jews in Europe and the snobbishness of those who would deny Roma a rightful seat on such a council is one of the reasons that I’ve said many times that it is long past time to move on from the death camps and the memory of victimhood.

    But a word of caution. Just as it is dangerous for Jews to worship victimhood, it is dangerous for Roma to. It is done to excess by Jews in America, and if done to excess by Roma, it will distract them from the business of rebuilding their culture with a sense of pride, and making sure there is something in writing (or some other kind of media) so the rest of the world knows who they are.

  • SFC SKI

    Good point made in the article and in Ruvy’s comments, especially re victimhood. Not to be glib, but is it more important that we spend time recognizing Romani victims of NAzi camps, or Armenians killed by the Turks, or should we be putting more effort into recognizing that these genocidal campaigns are not merely historical, but still occur today? Should the effort be putinto looking at the past, or at contfronting the present where it might save some future victims?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    In the instance of the Roma, I think it is important to do research to try to find out more of what happened, so that this awful episode in their history can be fit into the rest of their history, and they can have a sense of closure, rather than denial and discrimination.

    But confronting genocides (I do not mean the propagandistic claim that 5 people killed on a a beach constitutes genocide) today is something that military forces have to confront and end – by killing those committing the genocide. That takes political will.

  • Dean

    Recent Genocides:

    Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-61 and 1966-69) 49,000,000 (“great leap forward” and “cultural revolution”)

    Jozef Stalin (USSR, 1934-39) 13,000,000 (the purges)

    Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1939-1945) 12,000,000 (concentration camps and civilians WWII)

    Hideki Tojo (Japan, 1941-44) 5,000,000 (civilians WWII)

    Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-79) 1,700,000

    Kim Il Sung (North Korea, 1948-94) 1.6 million (purges and concentration camps)

    Menghistu (Ethiopia, 1975-78) 1,500,000

    Ismail Enver (Turkey, 1915) 1,200,000 Armenians

    Yakubu Gowon (Biafra, 1967-1970) 1,000,000

    Leonid Brezhnev (Afghanistan, 1979-1982) 900,000

    Jean Kambanda (Rwanda, 1994) 800,000

    Suharto (East Timor, 1976-98) 600,000

    Saddam Hussein (Iran 1980-1990 and Kurdistan 1987-88) 600,000

    Yahya Khan (Pakistan, 1971) vs Bangladesh 500,000 Savimbi (Angola, 1975-2002) 400,000

    Mullah Omar – Taliban (Afghanistan, 1986-2001) 400,000

    Idi Amin (Uganda, 1969-1979) 300,000

    Benito Mussolini (Ethiopia, 1936; Yugoslavia, WWII) 300,000

    Yugoslavia, WWII) 300,000

    Mobutu Sese Seko (Zaire, 1965-97) ?

    Charles Taylor (Liberia, 1989-1996) 220,000

    Foday Sankoh (Sierra Leone, 1991-2000) 200,000

    Slobodan Milosevic (Yugoslavia, 1992-96) 180,000

    Michel Micombero (Burundi, 1972) 150,000

    Hassan Turabi (Sudan, 1989-1999) 100,000

    Jean-Bedel Bokassa (Centrafrica, 1966-79) ?

    Richard Nixon (Vietnam, 1969-1974) 70,000 (vietnamese civilians)

    Efrain Rios Montt (Guatemala, 1982-83) 70,000

    Papa Doc Duvalier (Haiti, 1957-71) 60,000

    Hissene Habre (Chad, 1982-1990) 40,000

    Chiang Kai-shek (Taiwan, 1947) 30,000 (popular uprising)

    Vladimir Ilich Lenin (USSR, 1917-20) 30,000 (dissidents executed)

    Francisco Franco (Spain) 30,000 (dissidents executed after the civil war)

    Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam, 1963-1968) 30,000

    Hafez Al-Assad (Syria, 1980-2000) 25,000

    Khomeini (Iran, 1979-89) 20,000

    Guy Mollet (France, 1956-1957) 10,000 (war in Algeria)

    Paul Koroma (Sierra Leone, 1997) 6,000

    Osama Bin Laden (worldwide, 1993-2001) 3,500

    Augusto Pinochet (Chile, 1973) 3,000

    Rafael Videla (Argentina, 1976-83) 3,000

    Al Zarqawi (Iraq, 2004-06) 2,000

    The above is a tentative list of modern dictators (and assorted mass murderers) and the estimated number of people killed by their orders (excluding armies they were formally at war with). In Stalin’s and Mao’s cases, one has to decide how to consider the millions who died indirectly because of their political decisions. The Chinese cultural revolution caused the death of 30 million people (source: the current Chinese government), but many died of hunger. Stalin is responsible for the death of 17 million Russians, but only half a million were killed by his order. Khomeini sent children to die in the war against Iraq, but it was a war, so they are not counted here. The worst genocide of recent times was committed by many Hutus, not just by their leader. Needless to say, I make a big distinction between killing soldiers and killing civilians. The US killed three million people in Vietnam, but the vast majority were either regulars of North Vietnam or Vietcong. I don’t count those as victims of atrocity. When American presidents decided to bomb the rice fields in North Vietnam, knowing that they would only kill women and children, those are counted as genocide.

    Source — Piero Scaruffi

  • Dean

    Israel didn’t make the above list, but according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, between September 30, 2000, and August 18, 2006, Israel has been responsible for the deaths of 4,171 people in the Palestinian territories. Another 26,499 were wounded.

  • Freddy Lejeune

    It is erroneous to spread the false impression that the mass murder of romas is ignored. I was at the opening ogf the US Holocaust memorial museum and therewere a number of Roma representatives. one sitting right next tome, in fact, during the torrential downpour back in the Spring of l993. Regarding that fellow Finkelstein, the less written about him is the better. Finkelstein has become the poster child of the Neo-Nazis due to his advocacy against Israel and false allegations against the Holocaust . A son of Holocaust Survivors, mr. Kinkelstein whom I have exchanged corresponded with, is a distrubed person struggling with his own self in figuring his own identity. Others who have had contacts with him, have also submitted similar impressions of him. He may be called “liberal”but to me his behaviour is more like a “fascist.”Then , of courseextremes meet these days,.whereby anything anti-American is quickly endorsed by the so-called”leftists”who no longer have father Jo Stalin to moan about.

  • http://www.nationalvanguard.com/ Richard Brodie

    In the instance of the Roma, I think it is important to do research to try to find out more of what happened

    Then why is it considered a crime to do research to try and find out what really happened in the instance of the Nazi detention facilities? Unfortunately historians who try to do this, and who come up with results that are at odds with the officially sanctioned Holocaust Story, will serve serious prison time in most European countries. The Romani holocaust can be examined and questioned, but not the Jewish holocaust.

    There is a 4 hour documentary on the Jewish holocaust, divided into separately downloadable short episodes, at:

    zamphir.litek.ws

    I recommend you start with Episode 11: Treblinka Burial Space. The official story is that 700,000 Jews were buried there in four pits. The problem is that it would take 21 pits, so that the maximum possible body count was more like 120,000.

    Again, there are political prisoners serving long prison terms all over Europe on “holocasut denial” charges, not for denying that any Jews died under the Nazis, but for simply investigating that historical episode, and coming to conclusions regarding its magnitude that contradict the Zionist promulgated version. And the United States has refused to offer asylum to these persecutees.

  • Martin Lav

    Back to the numbers game I see. The bigger the numbers, the more attention. I think the Gypsi’s are smart not to “document” their history and I think Ruvy’s suggestion to do so is a veiled insult to their culture as well as a suggestion that his is and is therefore superior.
    That’s only my opinion and maybe I’m reading far too much into it, but nonetheless I do agree with the premise that victimization should not be the goal. I think it is well understood by most people that the Gypsies were massacred by the Nazi’s and persecuted wherever they went. I know little about them, but it is my understanding they originate from Palestine and should probably create a settlement their and claim that as their homeland and then they can make movies about the plight of their people to fund their nation. That would be my suggestion.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roma_Holocaust/ Valery Novoselsky

    Welcome to the source of on-line information on Romani Holocaust!

  • http://www.geocities.com/~Patrin/history.htm Valery Novoselsky

    Martin, Roma people are from India, not from the Middle East. Read the article on geocities

  • http://www.geocities.com/~Patrin/history.htm Valery Novoselsky

    Richard, in contrary to the Jews the main problem of the Roma was not the death in gas chambers, but the death by shootings performed by nazis and their supporters in all possible places. The majority of such killings was not documented and well-known figure of 500 thousands is only about those Roma, who were killed or died in concentration camps. And in such countries like Poland, Hungary and Soviet Union Roma were the victims of nazis even before the Jews. Read more on geocities

  • Martin Lav

    Interesting website Valery, thanks for providing!
    Living in a small suburban town of Washington State I can remember as a child when the “gypsies” came driving down the street in their pickup truck to sell picnic tables and benches that they made by hand and sold in the neighborhood. I also have a very vivid memory of my elders telling me to put my bike in the basement and not leave it in the front yard. While this may be a misconception and totally racist, I do have that memory and although I have had no contact or experience with these people since, I find it interesting that rightly or wrongly these people were looked upon in this way. Since I doubt there were many Romani people wandering around small town Washington State I don’t think my elders had much contact with them, however, they sure had their impressions, which they passed on to me. While this is probably a racist view, I was wondering if you had another take?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “As Agnes Daroczi, a Romani activist in Hungary points out: ‘Ours is an oral culture and there is low contact level among the various Gypsy communities’. ‘We can assume’, says Julia Hajdu, ‘that since Roma have not spoken out about their past, the history could not be written. This has a lot to do with the fact that the Roma Holocaust, the Porrajmos, has not been heard of until the last two decades.'”

    For centuries, the Oral Tradition of my people was just that – ORAL!!. Only after the destruction of Yudaya by the Romans did this change. And it changed perecisely because the scholars and priests who kept it were afraid that the Romans would kill them and eliminate it altogether. What happened to the Roma in WWII is analogous to what happened to my people 2,000 years ago. What you see in this article and in the on-line sites mentioned in other comments is an attempt to preserve that history that the Nazis had nearly destroyed in the death camps that murdered so many.

    Martin, I quoted the author above. This lack opf written records was something I did not even know until I read the article. Yes, I knew that Roma wandered, but I did not know that no written records existed. This meant that many who had the records in their heads, histories told around campfires in the Roma encampments or in homes where the Roma lived, were all destroyed. This is why I wrote that what happened to the Roma was worse than terrible.

    Where is the insult here – veiled or otherwise?

  • Martin Lav

    I don’t see how one can create worldwide attention without also creating a sense of victimization. But then I guess if the numerous hollywood movies already documenting the atrocities of the Nazi’s towards the Jews, were re-edited to show these same atrocities of Gypsies, then would that help or hurt?

  • http://www.nationalvanguard.com/ Richard Brodie

    To endure any real nation needs two things: blood and soil, i.e racial homogeniety and a bounded geographical space. These people chose their own fate. They are to be admired for their racial cohesion, but failing the effort to establish themselves in some homeland that they could call their own, their demise and the ultimate disappearance of their culture was assured.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Hmm, where have we seen this “blood and soil” theory before? Will we next be hearing from Richard about his need for Lebensraum?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Richard,

    Unless I really read this wrong, this article is not an extinct race or culture, but one that has been severely injured due to the murders in the death camps in WWII.

    Martin,

    Merely editing a story about Jews being killed to say Roma will not get you their story. In fact, it will distort it in a number of ways.

    Let’s look at the author’s article:

    “During the 1920s the police in Bavaria and later on, in Prussia, established special offices to keep them in surveillance. They were photographed and fingerprinted as common criminals. With the Nazi takeover of Germany the Romanies were persecuted as being racially inferior. The anti-“Gypsy” laws, already in force from the Middle Ages, were used by the Nazis to oppress the Romanies. Notes Ian Hancock: “During the 1920s, the legal oppression of the Romanies in Germany intensified despite the official statutes of the Weimar Republic that said all its citizens were equal. In 1920 they were forbidden to enter public parks and public baths; in 1925 a conference on ‘The Gypsy Question’ was held which resulted in the creation of laws requiring unemployed Romanies to be sent to work camps ‘for reasons of public security’, and for all Romanies to be registered with the police”.

    On September 15, 1935, “Gypsies” became subject to the Nuremberg laws for the protection of blood and honour, which forbade intermarriage or sexual intercourse between Aryan and non-Aryan peoples. Criteria for classification as a Romani were twice as strict as those later applied to Jews: if two of a person’s eight greatgrandparents were even part-Romani, that person had too much Romani ancestry to be allowed, later, to live.

    In 1936 racial studies of the Romanies started under Robert Ritter and his assistant Eva Justin. The Racial Hygiene and Population Biology Research Unit was established to study the link between Romani heredity and crime. Eva Justin conducted research on Romani children. After the conclusion of the study the children were sent to Auschwitz, where most of them were put to death. After the exhaustive interviews were conducted, Ritter concluded in his report,

    The Gypsy question can only be solved when the main body of asocial and goodfornothing Gypsy individuals of mixed blood is collected together in large labour camps and kept working there, and when the further breeding of this population is stopped once and for all.”

    I’m emphasizing the Nazi point of view here because this determined their treatment of the Roma. Jews were viewed as an evil contaminating race that had to be removed to purify the population stock. Roma were viewed as “mixed bloods” who were asocial and good-for-nothing; they were viewed as criminals, in essence. The two views sound similar, but are not.

  • MAOZ

    Comment #7 inspires me to mention that I just read Deborah Lipstadt’s book History on Trial, about David Irving’s libel suit against her. Fascinating reading; I recommend it to one and all.

  • Heloise

    In my book I called genocide one of the laws of rebirth/humanity. Just like poverty it will always be with us. It cannot be legislated away.

    As for the Nazi holocaust we know that Jewish historians were more vocal about their losses. This is why some dislike the way it is portrayed: 6 million Jews lost. Is that all? No, many other groups were part of this genocide.

    Hitler’s killing machine actually ranks low on the genocide scale. Besides, they will return according to the law of rebirth.

    Heloise

  • Martin Lav

    The gypsies apparently don’t need a homeland to perserve their culture. So I don’t expect them to plant themselves in India somewhere take up arms and claim it to be their own country.
    According to Ruvy, they need to document their history for the record, but it would appear their culture is still intact through their oral passdown.
    Ruvy,
    What the hell is the difference in reasons for genocide? Mixed bloods or evil race, the point is that they didn’t like people or cultures different from them. That’s how most racists operate. They felt the Jews were a threat because _____________ they felt the gypsies were a threat because___________
    Doesn’t really matter does it? They were trying to exterminate them for basically the same reasons, they weren’t like Germans and they were not to be trusted. That same type of thinking exists today and I pointed out in my own honest post #12 that the gypsies either have a unique culture that either implies thievery or does it.
    The germans thought the same of the Jews, because they controlled the money. So in both cases if you can’t join them, beat them.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Romano_Liloro/ Valery Novoselsky

    “These people chose their own fate … failing the effort to establish themselves in some homeland that they could call their own, their demise and the ultimate disappearance of their culture was assured.”

    Richard!

    Neither Roma people, neither our culture disappeared in result of World War Two. And, fortunately, Roma again find their way to get settled in Germany and Austria. This means that minorities that lost the connections with their ancestor`s land can survive during the global conflicts, even while being the objects of genocidal policies.

    2. There is a land that we can claim our own, and it is India. There are already talks on political level of recognizing Roma (20 millions outside of India) an ethnic Indians living abroad. And very soon we would have the judicial right to claim our own land.

    For your additional information: German Roma who fled from Hitler in 30-s, but happened to be in the Soviet Union, were deported to remote places in Siberia and Kazakhstan in 1941 and suffered the same tragic fate (some say genocide) as the majority of Russian Germans. But despite that, they also survived and these days there are 300 Sinti (German Roma) families living in Almaaty (the capital of Kazakhstan). And this is another argument against the racial theories that you promote.

    Read on modern day-to-day Romani life.

  • http://www.ergonetwork.org/antigypsyism.htm Valery Novoselsky

    Like any ideology, anti-Gypsyism can adapt as Roma remain targeted, regardless of the changes they make in their social status, living conditions, and practices, as long as they admit their ethnic roots. Anti-Gypsyism has such contempt for reason, facts, and intellectual debate that it requires little effort to justify its often ideological contradictions and changes, a feature that links it strongly with fascism.

    Read more on my site

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Valery,

    I read with interest the piece you recommended above.

    May I respectfully make this suggestion. If you have a homeland, i.e. India, then you should claim it, and work towards returning to a part of that country where you will not be persecuted for who you are. This is something elemental that you deserve as a human being – a home under your own “fig tree,” so to speak, where none shall make you afraid.

    The issues you face as a people seem to this reader to be very similar to the ones that Jews faced in the 1850’s. You have a large part of your population desiring to deny their heritage so they can “pass” in the society they live in, yet they are faced with the exact kind of stigmata that every Jew over the age of 50 understands…

    I suggest to you that time is not on your side. IMHO, anti-Moslem sentiment in Europe will soon grow and a there will be a fierce xenophobic backlash against any people who are not accepted in the general populace – i.e. the Roma, and Jews…

    The essential types of organizations that built this country – the Jewish Colonization Society sponsored by the Zionist movement a century ago – suggest themselves to me as models. Only, IMHO, you will have to work damned fast. Since you live in Israel, you can always look my e-mail address (go to my bolg-site, listed above), and contact me privately if you wish.

    Reuven

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roma_India/ Novoselsky Valery

    Dear Ruvy,

    I think that you and others in this forum should know that there is an aspiration and sporadic efforts taken by Roma intellectuals in making a strong political and cultural bridge between our folks and India. It has been started in the middle of 70-s and it continues.

    You can search the messages posted in yahoo and trace this positive process.

    But I do not see the similarities between the relative success of a Zionist movement in establishing of Jewish statehood and the tendency of Roma patriots to get settled in the ancestor`s land without creating a separate state. I think, these are too different trends.

    In any case, I wish that Roma people would have enough self-awareness to leave Europe to better destinations before new kind of nazis will make their life (and of other ethnicities as well) difficult and impossible again (as it has happened in 40-s).

    Hope that the instinct of self-survival and the internal call to their roots will help the Roma to bridge the gap that still divides them from India!

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roma_Daily_News/ Novoselsky Valery

    Ruvy,

    even so I lived in Israel since 1995, right now I am living in Bulgaria. But I still use my Israeli e-mail address and I may visit your country in December.

    Keep in touch,
    Valery

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Valery,

    You write that “I wish that Roma people would have enough self-awareness to leave Europe to better destinations before new kind of nazis will make their life (and of other ethnicities as well) difficult and impossible again (as it has happened in 40-s).

    Hope that the instinct of self-survival and the internal call to their roots will help the Roma to bridge the gap that still divides them from India!”

    If you are presently in Europe, you may have to help lead your people home. How you pull it off will be up to you. The comments from Ratzinger are just a signal that what you and I both foresee in Europe is on the way…

    Shavua Tov

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roma_India/ Valery Novoselsky

    Ruvy,

    the ones who are pushing for Roma return to India are small in numbers even within the circles of Roma leaders and intellectuals. The majority of our people likes the cultural link, but does not even want to think on more important issue.

    So, what we do right now is:

    1. Raising the self-awareness on mutual heritage of Roma and Indians.
    2. Supporting the creation of professional, political and scientific links between both elites in order to prepare the logistic and economic ground for repatriation.
    3. Always reminding our people, that the exodus to India would be one of the ways to escape the growing European anti-Gypsism.

    But we are still feeling ourselves as Zeev Jabotinski did in 30-s…

    Hope that G-d will help us all!

    Valery

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Valery,

    “But we are still feeling ourselves as Zeev Jabotinski did in 30-s…”

    That was hard for me to read because if it is true, you are headed for the same hell you underwent before…

    It is no surprise that this should be so, it just hurts to see the unwillingness to take a different point of view and try to think outside of the box.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Roma_India/ Valery Novoselsky

    Do not understand me in a wrong way, Ruvy! I am not predicting the future to anyone. I simply describe the feelings of some within our movement. And, of course, the humans can fight for their better fate in this world as our grandparents did during the World War Two!

  • Gunther Neumann

    Att.: C R Sridhar

    Dear Mr. Sridhar,

    I have read your article on the Romani Holocaust. Therein, you mentioned Sunil Murthy. He was a good friend of mine in Bangkok in 1989, and I have since lost track of him. Would you be so nice to send me has (e-mail) address?

    Thanking you very much in advance,

    sincerely yours

    Gunther Neumann

  • chica

    why should u care

  • chica

    why should i care???

  • chica

    what do u people think of me???
    im bord out of my mind!!!
    who wants to hang out wit me???
    &hearts:

  • Beznik Horvath

    RE:Martin Lav. Lol your comment made me laugh, a good idea. The truth is Romani are originally from India. A lot of our culture originates from there. Spanish Roma brought the Sitar from India to Spain which was the inspiration for the guitar. Anyways I think part of why the Roma holocaust has been covered over is that the Zionist machine needs the myth of exclusivity to build support for stealing land. I don’t see why the Palestinians have to suffer over this. Why didn’t the Jews take a chunk of Germany that would have made more sense. Roma didn’t get their own country, in most of Europe they can’t even get an apartment. They get sent to “special” schools irregardless of their intelligence and then people wonder why most Roma can’t read or write. That said there are some Roma who are authors professors scientists political leaders soldiers, many fought with distinction in WW2 in official armies and as partisans. Now Romani in Kosovo have had their land stolen by Albanian nationalist thugs who proudly trace thier lineage back to the Albanian NAZI puppet government with the help of NATO which was primarily the USA but also included German troops. Though there are still anti Semetics and Neo NAZis the majority of people in the US and Europe no longer have a hatred of Jews, often they are actually given more respect because they are Jewish, so people are more willing to accept the Jewish holocaust because progress has been made in ending Antisemitism while very little progress has been made against Antigypsyism. Living in the United States in a family that has pretty much assimilated 70 years after the Holocaust i am totally not negatively effected by it. I care about it sure as the famous quote on the marker at Auschwitz says “never forget” but when I meet Jewish Americans who want to wave the holocaust around it almost makes me laugh. You kinda want to say try being black for a day and see what its like to get pulled over by the cops for no reason. Though I think Roma in America have avoided a lot of discrimination by being wisely invisible the stereotypes are still there a big house with a big and pretty wealthy and successful Roma family was searched for no good reason the cops found money and jewelry stashed everywhere and assumed it was stolen. It is a part of Gypsy culture to not trust banks and keep wealth in cash or Jewelry. My great grandpa was a sucessful businessman who walked around with 100 dollar bills, losing a baby tooth at his house was a good thing. Don’t get me wrong there are bigots who hate Jews but in the United States they are on the fringe they are not in power. Our government is quite pro Israel. i found some scary parallels between concentration camps and the conditions Palestinians are subjected to in Gaza what some people call the worlds greatest prison. Though its less extreme I also see a lot of parallels between Hitler using Jews Gypsies Homosexuals as scapegoats and the strong prejudice and fear of Muslims in America that has been used as a tool to promote endless wars which in turn are great ways to supress civil liberties. An interesting thought to close out on. Palestinians are Semitic so anti Palestinian is Antisemitic

  • Nar

    To leave Europe for India.. I think Indian culture is specially the cast system wouldn’t work with the Roma. I believe in US they have tried that with African Americans, by giving them a place in Africa. It didn’t work, because they were born in USA and they have more ties to US then Africa, even though that’s where they come from. It’s the same with the Roma.

  • Nar

    Beznik Horvath, thanks for your comment. I couldn’t put it myself any better and I think your have an open mind and view about the world and politics… Keep it up ;)

  • Ruvy

    I thought it might be worthwhile revisiting this article for a brief up-date. Just a few days ago, the French regime raided Gypsy (Roma) encampments and deported some 8,000 people. While the legality of all this is in question, it is crystal clear that Europeans do not like the Roma at all, and still regard them as criminals. The French attitude mirrors that of the Prussians, Bavarians and later the Nazis in Germany, some 80 to 90 years ago. I recently read similar comments of dislike of Roma from an Italian on Desicritics.org, a sister site to this one.

    If you go back to my previous comments here (as Ruvy in Jerusalem), comments suggesting that Roma claim their homeland in India, you can now see why.

  • Ruvy

    To leave Europe for India.. I think Indian culture is specially the caste system wouldn’t work with the Roma….

    As one can see from recent events in France, Europeans do not like Roma. This group expelled from France were sent to Romania. At Desicritics.org, this identical article was published four years ago, and in the comments section, a Romanian made an awful big stink about how he resented the Roma stealing the Romanian name and nationality. That is how he put it. This tells me that Roma are as beloved in Romania as they are in France or Italy.

    India might not be the perfect place for the Roma to seek refuge, but home is home, and being home has a comforting feeling to it. Tolerance is not one of the big points in India. Hindus kill Moslems, Muslims kill Hindus, and generally the stink of blood arising from India’s communal violence is not “a pleasing aroma for Hashem”. But then the Roma have the opportunity to carve out a role for themselves in India by joining the army, becoming “ja’at”, warriors after a fashion, and when others attack their encampments the Roma blowing the garbage away will teach others to leave them in peace.

  • Nar

    India might not be the perfect place for the Roma to seek refuge… indeed. The Roma would go back to an “alien” place where they do not belong at all. If a separate state was given to them, that would be different.. however, that will never happen. Furthermore India is overpopulated, why add more? So everyone can suffer more?.. Without a separate state, what would they do in India? How would they make the living? I’m sure they would be used by European big companies for slave labor just as the Indians are used. It’s very sad what is happening over there because of the cast system.. all because someone translated the scripts wrong.. cast system never meant to happen. I think Gypsies would feel more at home in China then India.. :)

  • Mazo

    You know as an Indian learning about the Roma this article crossed my path but I’m two years too late it appears.
    I want to make one small point here, the Indian caste system for all its infamy across the world is a very, very small part of Indian society today but an important part. The Indian caste system today is more about politics than any actual discrimination in most places and unlike other discriminatory systems in the world –aristocracy, racial discrimination, etc, the caste system was never a system of violence or free labor. Lower castes, including the untouchables were never considered property or slaves, they were considered human beings. Force was not used to force lower castes to work for upper castes and even untouchables were paid wages for their work. While the system was unequal and discriminatory the idea that is was some forced labor or racial purity system is totally untrue. Often it is perpetuated as being akin to these systems to give the Westerners an idea of what it is like but usually, in the rural setting – ALL castes of society lived in a symbiotic existence, a kind of separate but useful system. Modern India however the castes system has morphed into a political tool. Each party tries to use it to show greater representation for the lower castes even when in any Indian city nobody can tell you who is upper or lower caste.
    It is a shame how caste has been misunderstood and the very worst incidents of the caste system have been used to paint the whole thing nation which is far greater than the faults of any one people or religion.
    In India we have Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Zorastrians, Jains etc. All of these groups have no issues with caste and have made a place for themselves inside India. Today, none of them can be seen as “alien” to Indians. India has more than 2 million Tibetans living in India, practicing their faith, preserving their culture and opposing one of the most powerful regimes. Today, they have become citizens and enjoy all the privileges of citizenship and even carry Indian passports. I can’t think of any reason the Roma couldn’t be similarly accommodate in India if the Indian government accepted them.