of the Roma and Sinti in Germany can only be comprehended if seen in
the light of
German attitudes and behaviour towards these so-called
“Gypsies“. It is
therefore inevitable to describe the historical circumstances of this
particular people to understand their present state of living. Only
constant persecution, one can see the evolution of German modes of
culminating in anti-Gypsyism. It is only alike to anti-Semitism, yet,
latter was finally called into question after 1945. Unlike
has stayed at the core of German treatment of so-called
is still exhibited throughout Europe, especially
Neonazis‘ acts of violence towards settlements of immigrant Roma
seeking refuge. Roma, the largest group of refugees, are faced with
everyday. In most cases, the aggressors are never prosecuted because of
evidence. Investigations are therefore most often simply suspended. The
have stopped reporting about these racially motivated incidents of
years ago; they were integrated into everyday life and seemingly did
enough public attention to be dealt with anymore.
dissolution of states into ethnically homogeneous nations inevitably
an isolation of the Roma as a disturbing minority in otherwise
societies. Often, in this process, Roma are deprived of their
example, the dissolution of the CSSR left over 100,000 Roma in both new
without a nationality. The list can be extended further to include
former Yugoslavia and the
USSR; yet, the
important factor is that the situation of the Roma continues to be
has no legal standing. Especially since the fall of the Iron Curtain,
have been discriminated against, isolated and expelled. To be an alien
own country is an experience Roma have suffered over and over again.
against Roma, discrimination and prejudices from all parts of society,
education, high rates of illiteracy, infant mortality, and unemployment
constitute the sources of the problem, but are symptoms of an obsessive
of majority-based societies. Because - unlike anti-Semitism –
never called into question, it became a part of the cultural codex. An
important indicator for the identity of anti-Gypsyism in modern
societies is exhibited in their language and the degree of negative
connotations to the Roma.
A lack of
enlightenment is a basic part of anti-Gypsyism. Here, Roma are reduced
“being Gypsies”. Roma are neither perceived as individuals
nor integrated, but
simply seen as a group, Gypsies.
about further developments of the Roma people is at this point
in the year 2003, no end of discrimination is anywhere in sight. At a
15 million people in Europe today,
birthrates are doubling the
number of Roma every twenty years. This means that until the year 2050
Czechs, Romanians, Slovenes and Bulgarians will constitute a minority
own countries, if the Roma birthrate is staying at its momentary level.
birth rates are not going to decrease as long as the rate of illiterate
women is not reduced. And such a development is not in sight. In
well as in parts of Western Europe, the Roma
live under similar
conditions as in the Third World. The UN
specifically names Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia und Slovakia concerning
Roma are not dealt with on a European level, which will finally lead to
exponential rise of these problems.
actions is needed, in which Roma are supported for over two
would cost the EU billions, yet it would also lead Europe to an
integration and gain of the knowledge of Roma heritage. First of all,
this would require a shift of thinking, an overcoming of prejudices,
rational dispute with the Roma as equal partners.
organizations representing the Roma have not been accepted in any
worldwide, rendering the Roma as a people without a voice in Europe.
one statistic, every fifth German has anti-Semitic attitudes, while
of the society have prejudices against the Roma.
There are many
common elements in anti-Semitism and anti-Gypsyism. Prejudices against
people can be traced down to the Middle Ages.
a known anti-Semite, recommended Christians to treat Jews “like
women are sterilized in Slovakia. Photo
from Kosovo are forcefully prohibited from leaving Macedonia by the
After the end
of the Cold War and the collapse of communism, prejudices against the
stemming from the Middle Ages were resurfacing throughout the former
store owners are placing brooms as symbols for witchcraft next to their
entrance doors, believing that this will keep “Gypsies“
from entering the
building. In an interview, one woman explained how effective this
Her mother had done so as well in 1939, shortly after the war had
soon after the “Gypsies” had vanished. The sense of this
never been called into question. Instead, the phenomenon spread,
broom has never kept a Roma from entering anywhere. It is a typical
irrational prejudices, which do not have to be effective, but are
psychologically calming for the majority population.
In March 1992, Germany voted
the resolution of the Human Rights Convention of the United Nations for
“protection of the Roma”. Germany argued that
the “Roma are not a minority”.
“Roma in the
Federal Republic of Germany are not a minority. This also holds true
carrying the German citizenship.” – (German Bundestag,
printed matter 12/2367)
In an interview
with the newspaper “taz” in September 1992 in Bremen, the
advisor of mayor
Heck, a member of the Green party, compared the Holocaust of the Roma
vanishing of the dinosaurs and concluded: “We can’t help
everybody who we have
wronged in the past,” and : “The Roma culture is not worth
Mr. Schmidt, a
member of the Senate of Bremen and the German party DVU, commented the
Holocaust of the Roma in a speech given in the Bundestag in July 1990
follows: „It’s sad that not more of them were
killed“. He was put to court for
incitement of the people, but acquitted by following authorities.
Headline in a
newspaper in Baden from August 28th,
1992: “A real plague, these Gypsies”
Since 1986, the
City of Cologne maintains a
so-called Unit for Ethnic Minorities; the sole purpose of this unit is
observation of Roma families. The unit coordinates activities of social
and the immigration bureau concerning Roma, also a unit for taking away
children and a special intervention force of the police.