the gates of the concentration camps finally opened also for the Roma
Sinti, they had been hit so lastingly at their social structures that
first time in their history they have not been able to recover up until
Families, the most important social points of orientation and the
grids to protect the individual in an enemy society, they had all been
for most of the survivors. What could not be accomplished in centuries
most massive attempts of extermination, the bureaucrats and office
the Nazi regime finally managed: The Roma people had been hit almost
in its structures. The Polish and German Roma were almost completely
exterminated, only a small number remained. Many Sinti returned to
hometowns after the so-called freeing. On September 22nd, 1945,
about four months after the war had ended, the Hamburg
police opened a rather macabre account: “… total number of
living in the greater area of Hamburg
before May 20th, 1940: 1628. 551 of these were resettled to
general gouvernement on May 20th,
1940. 328 were brought to Auschwitz
on March 11th,
1943; 26 were brought to Auschwitz
on April 18th,
1944; 30 moved to somewhere else; 89 were put in a
concentration camp for criminal activities; 111 deceased. In total:
According to this, the total number of Gypsian persons living or being
in the greater area of Hamburg
should be 439 …”
what the Nazis had perfected was kept running – the systematic
surveillance of the Sinti and Roma. Only a practical usage for this
not quite apparent anymore.
this also changed soon:
the central criminal department of Baden Wurttemberg issues
“guidelines for the fight against the Gypsy menace”. These
guidelines should be
of use to the policemen as a temporary aid until the “…
final solution of the
Gypsy problem …” as is stated in the accompanying letter.
The former “Reich Central
Office for the Fight against the Gypsy Menace” is
relocated to Munich
and picks up its old work.
In the same
issues its “new” Gypsy legislation, the travelling folk
laws, based on the old
“Law for the fight against Gypsies and Idlers” from 1926.
like Eichberger, Supp
and many others, who only a short time ago had sent the Gypsies to the
concentration camps, are now made responsible for their further
and are also hired as experts on questions of compensation. Thus, it is
surprising that the so-called compensation practice was experienced as
persecution by the Roma and Sinti. Not one of these office culprits was
held responsible for his part in the genocide of the Roma and Sinti.
the war, the victims and survivors were met with distrust.
Federal Court affirms in
1956 the principal judgement that “their (the Roma and Sinti)
the concentration camps had not been a persecution out of racial
reasons, but a
pre-emptive criminal measure”. A “compensation” and
support for re-integration
was denied to them by the argumentation of the court.
as for the Jewish victims of the Nazi terror, the Holocaust of the Roma
facto legitimised afterwards by this judgement. Up until today, no
government has issued serious reparations for the injustice done to the
the scope of the forced laborers’ compensation, the German
the “International Organisation for Migration” (IOM) with
the handling of the
applications in 2001. The IOM also is the organisation responsible for
enactment of the deportation policy against Roma refugees. This example
shows how the German policy tries to come to terms with its past.
robbed from the Roma and
Sinti were incorporated in the Federal Treasury Department and later in
Federal Republic of Germany.
Ritter, the chief
ideologist of the “final solution of the Gypsy question”
was hired after the
war by the City of Frankfurt
as a public health officer. He died unharmed in 1951, as a pensioner in
head of the Central
Gypsy Office in Berlin,
worked unharmed for the Criminal Police in Ludwigshafen.
Even after his retirement, he was cherished for his “valuable
tips on how to
handle Gypsies”. Of course, he too was an expert for the
authorities. He was never called to account for the deportation of
Gypsies from Berlin
and their fate.
From 1948 on,
a working “Gypsy
bureau” was systematically re-established in Germany.
To make it adaptable to the constitution, it was called
duties were assigned as follows:
of actions to assess a person’s civil status
of the following files:
of personal and family files
with other authorities
of searched “travelling folk”
of caravan camping spots
Central Office of the
Reich for the “fight against the Gypsy menace”, that was
folk bureau” after the war, was kept in business until 1970 as
responsible authority and surveillance institution for Gypsy questions.
this business was
decentralised. Among others, the “travelling folk bureau”
occupied a key position in the “federal fight against the Gypsy
for these intentions of a complete registration of the Sinti and Roma
unrestricted pragmatism endeavouring to compile all possible
the Gypsies. Besides the name and photograph files, so-called
traits files” were kept to record among other things the
numbers that had been tattooed on the lower arms of the Sinti and Roma
thighs for the children) by the Nazis.
contact to this group of persons was subject to registration.
Gimmicks oben unten
forms designed for the control of the travelling folk dealed with
pregnancies, sex and colour of animals brought along, jewelry, car
regular realisation of identification procedures was recommended to
Gypsies identifiable also by photographs and finger prints.
the start of the federal German civil rights work of the Sinti and
authoritative measures began not to refer directly to the group of the
Sinti. Instead, measures were labelled as
of frequently changing place
of residence” and
service of daily apartment
new procedures were part of a well-organised and continuous
“fight against the
Gypsy menace” by the authorities.
the files of the afore mentioned “Report service”,
especially camping groups of
Sinti and Roma were registered by the various federal states of Germany
or their central criminal authorities, respectively.
1981, the federal criminal office maintains a special file system for
Sinti to record all vehicles and their owners.
this information was collected in the so-called “travelling folk
existence, despite authoritative denial, can be proven without doubt
federal states of Hamburg,
Hessia, Baden Wurttemberg
Special laws served the easier enactment of the assignments.
example the Registry Office Decree 103, according to which all
deceases and births of so-called unsettled individuals had to be
regularly to the criminal police. This decree remained until 1985 and
suspended after protests by the Rom and Cinti Union.
“Caravan Law” of Hamburg,
however, is still effective.
is an attitude of principal suspicion on the side of the authorities
the Sinti and Roma and their supposed characteristic of permanent
leading to the belief of an immanent danger of criminal activities that
for police measures. From this results the practice of immediately
controls when Sinti and Roma appear in a district.
police measures enacted by the authorities are considered as a
action. Through disciplining and deterrence, a supposed refraining from
criminal offences shall be caused, but the main target is to make the
Sinti move on.
like identity controls or age checks by public health officers are
means of fighting the Gypsies, according to the responsible
authorities. At the
same time, welfare and social authorities do everything within their
to make residence for groups of Roma difficult if not impossible.
preferred strategies to expel such people are the denial of social
the complication of settlement by not assigning living space to those
Exemplary deterrence measures against individuals are also supposed to
other Sinti and Roma groups to move to a certain region.
way of summarizing, it can be said that the Gypsy persecution in Germany
has been continuously kept up until the present day. Always more or
covered by legislation, according to the Zeitgeist and the political
Furthermore, it can be noted that the so-called “Gypsy
problem” has not been
satisfyingly solved in the eyes of the responsible authorities. The
aim, in any
case, is a solution by causing expulsion. Preferred strategy for
camping groups is a flexible position, informally allowing a
of the groups while at the same time threatening them with forced
the case of violation of the deadline.
executions against individual groups are also supposed to impress other
and Roma. Most of the time, the authorities are afraid that a prolonged
residence or even a settlement of these groups will result in financial
expenses for the municipality.
While the Gypsy
persecution in its
early phase was dictated by irrational and paranoid ideas, the
persecution from the Third Reich up to the present day is carried by a
pseudo-objective, racist argumentation. Similar to the blacks in America,
the centuries-long persecution has left its marks on the Roma and Sinti
missing education, unemployment and an increasing exclusion from all