As the German Empire began to expand, from 1938, more and more stringent measures were taken against the Roma in Germany and the territories they occupied, such as deportation, detention and continuous murder.
The number of victims has been the subject of controversial debate between historians and minority activists. According to the first estimate, the number of Roma victims of Nazi persecution was estimated at 500,000, but this figure has not been confirmed by any scientific research. To date, specific historical records have been made of 50,000 victims in areas occupied by Reich and Germany and another 50,000 victims in the country, which have been verified by fascist governments. Due to the lack of available information and archives, the number of Roma victims can be estimated at around 250,000.
The fierce persecution of the Nazis and other fascists in the first half of the 20th century is rooted in three strange features of European thought and politics. A complex blend of traditional «anti-Gypsy» social prejudices – such as the idea that «Gypsies» are carriers of dangerous diseases and prone to child theft – has been widely accepted in Europe. At the beginning of the 20th century, this confused form of racism was combined, leading to the conclusion that so-called «anti-social behavior» was inherited by certain population groups. The third key feature of the persecution mechanisms is that introduced by the Nazis in 1933 after their takeover of power, the so-called «pre-emptive fight against crime».
This allowed the authority to arbitrate who is considered dangerous and who was found to be dangerous, arrested or imprisoned. The situation has only worsened for the Gypsies, since on November 23, 1940, a Gypsy camp was set up in the former castle building in Lanckenbach. This camp was run by the Vienna police and the costs were shared between the district administration and the and the police. These Roma lived in the castle stables and on various farms where they knew they were being used for forced labor in accordance with their physical condition. The number of integrated persons is between 200 and 900, about one third of whom are children. By November 1, 1941, the number of prisoners had reached 2,335, and this number had increased until the ghettos began to be ghettoized, followed by the devastating death camp. The hygiene environment and nutrition were incredibly bad. Many died from infections and hunger.
On October 1, 1941, Heinrich Himmler ordered the deportation and ghettoization of 5007, but most of all, the Austrian Roma to the Lodz ghetto («Litzmannstadt»). Again, the costs of deportation were shared between the Berlin Security Office and the Regional Social Welfare Administrations. Before they were deported, they assessed who was able to work. According to the text read, all families were deported, of which 2,689 were children, more than half of the deportees. Again, epidemics have erupted and already in the first weeks, 613 people have been paying for their lives. Epidemics have erupted and already in the first weeks, 613 people have been paying for their lives. The surviving Roma were transferred from December 1941 to January 1942 to the Chelmno destruction camp, where they died in gasification.
Personally, I am of Roma origin. From both father and mother. My whole life I had to overcome prejudice and oppression by other people. However, the fact that the Roma are being treated so ruthlessly is a great sadness. Regardless of which minority group you are in, why do you deserve this kind of treatment? This is not the most depressing of all, but the fact that the rest of society have let this happen, they have allowed themselves to be manipulated.
What has happened in the past means a lot to me, that we know what needs to be changed and I think that this knowledge will bring a sense of togetherness because we have a common past.
This article has been written by our ESC volunteer Orbán.