OPINION

Historical Amnesia: The Romani Holocaust

September 05, 2006
C R Sridhar

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-ą-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.

Sridhar is a Koshy's regular, a Tinto Brass fan, and a cynical Bangalorean
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Historical Amnesia: The Romani Holocaust

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#1
Lakshmikanth
URL
September 5, 2006
01:01 AM

WOW! I wanted someone to write about the Romany Holocaust.

Shows how bloody racists people are. Selective description of horror... that indeed hurts me to the deepest... this and for other reasons.. i hate the ignorant white man and his hypocracy

I totally agree to this analysis.



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


could not agree more...

wish i had written this article!

#2
Aaman
URL
September 5, 2006
01:03 AM

The Romani were likely Indians who immigrated to Europe, it should be remembered.

Great article, Sridhar, thanks and welcome

#3
Lakshmikanth
URL
September 5, 2006
01:27 AM

Aaman,
Romani's are Indians! Infact Subhash Kak has a wonderful article about them.. and Ian Hankock (who btw is a Romany himself) has written extensively on the heart wrenching accounts of torture and isolation those men, women and children suffered at the hands of white clowns.

Here is Subhash Kak's link!

#4
Lakshmikanth
URL
September 5, 2006
01:28 AM

also it seems in Northern Spain.. Desi people often get mistaken for Romanis and face extreme racism... the Macacas that we are!

#5
Anil
URL
September 5, 2006
02:20 AM

@lakshmi: I am not so sure. I have trekked in Northern Spain extensively. Never faced any racism. But then from what I have read the Romanis were from the Bhojpuri stock and I am a South Indian. May be I was not white enough to be considered as one of the Roma people!

@Sridhar: Great article. I was once at the Holocaust memorial museum at Auschwitz. The pain and suffering these people had to go through cannot be described in words. You will have to see for yourself to believe it.

Considering the suffering they had to go through, it is astonishing to see the indifference of the media and general public towards the Roma people.

After the World War II successive European and Former Soviet Governments either neglected or persecuted the Romanis. In fact several countries barred them entering their traditional stopping places. Even though they have been travelling around in Europe for centuries, they are often looked upon as illegal immigrants by some authorities. Even today they are looked up on as thieves and crooks.

But the Roma people are not entirely without blame either. They have rejected successive offers of assimilation and unfortunately a not so small part of the community is still involved in criminal activities. For example a significant portion of thefts reported in places such as Florence are committed by Roma people/other Gypsies.

#6
Mayank Austen Soofi
URL
September 5, 2006
03:01 AM

Besides Jews and gypsies, Nazis also targetted homosexuals and suspected homosexuals. The pink triangle was the badge that was used to identify male prisoners in concentration camps who were sent there because of their homosexuality. Yellow tringles were for Jews.

However, the fact that other groups too were targetted, doesn't lessen the pain and anguish of the Jewery.

#7
Apollo
URL
September 5, 2006
06:54 AM

very well written article sridhar. It is indeed so very tragic.people who mistakenly think that Hitler was some kinda "great german nationalist" leader should really once pay a visit to those camps to see the reality for themselves.

mayank i think we can understand ur hurt feelings :).

#8
Mayank Austen Soofi
URL
September 5, 2006
07:01 AM

Apollo, aren't these your hurt feelings, too? Are you not hurt by the gruesome torture done by Herr Hitler to homosexuals, jews and gypsies? I'm indeed grieved by such terrible cruelties inflicted on our fellow human beings. I'm sure its the same with you, too. It is all a regrettable episode of our common past. I wish it would never be visited again.

#9
Apollo
URL
September 5, 2006
07:56 AM

Ofcourse Mayank, Is there any doubt abt that? Even though i don't like Homosexuals/lesbians i definitely do not condone their persecution. I fully empathise with all the victims of that beast.

#10
Mayank Austen Soofi
URL
September 5, 2006
08:10 AM

I think it is not that the death of Romanis was intentionally glossed over in our history notes. It is perhaps due to the purposeful target on Jews and the fact that it was in their namethe death factories were established in the first place that we have come to symbolize Jews as the signature victims of Hitler's terror. Ironically, other victims were there at the wrong time. They were eliminated since it perhaps seemed 'economical' to Nazis to make a 'optimal use' of their gas chambers and concentration camps by killing all the undesirable population of the conquered Europe.

#11
Sujatha
URL
September 5, 2006
08:58 AM

Thanks for this article Sridhar and welcome to DC. Well written and very informative.

#12
Richard Marcus
URL
September 5, 2006
09:08 AM

Mayank,

Nicely done. Far too often the Romanis are left out of everything, dismissed because they are even more different than those who are different. In some ways they are so low on the totem pole that they don't even make it into the pecking order among the persecuted or minorities.

Part of that is because they are usually stateless and exist separatly from eveyone else where they live. Like Jewish people they are very insular, but they even make orthadox Jewish people look like social butterflies with their attitude that everyone who is not gypsy is "unclean"

Of course like Jews over the course of years they have been given little or no reason to trust anyone outside their community, so it works both ways.

There is a wonderful documentary movie available on video called "Latcho Drom" which means "Safe Journey" by Tony Gatlif. It travels from India to France, tracing the migratory route of the gypsy people through the middle east, eastern europe, and into the west. Each stop along the way is represented by the music of the people in that particular place - so you get to hear how the musci has evolved from it's roots in India to the more familliar music of Eastern Europe.

On a side note the novel I've been trying to get published is based on the period in history when the Moorish Ottoman empire was being pushed out of Spain and back across Eastern Europe by the forces of Christianity. Following in the footsteps of the soldiers were the inquisition who were performing their version of ethnic cleansing. Convert or burn was the option given to Jews and gypsies.

It is known that groups of Jews and Gypsies sought shelter together in caves in the hills and lived together for a time before they were either rounded up or able to flee further east with the muslims.

So I've done a what if with those circumstances and created the means for them to have come together and flee from their common enemy.

Anyway that had nothing to do with your wonderfully written piece - it's important that no one is ever forgotten. Mass mureder is mass murder it shouldn't matter whether it's genocide or not, what should matter is that it happened and nobody seems to give a damn.

Richard.

#13
Aaman
URL
September 5, 2006
09:11 AM

Richard, please note this is by Sridhar, and not Mayank:)

#14
anish
URL
September 5, 2006
10:40 AM

I've seen two movies related to the Romani - 'And the violin stopped playing'& 'Gadjo dilo'. Both are quite nice. And there are many websites about the Romani people & their language.

#15
temporal
URL
September 5, 2006
12:46 PM

CRS:


bone-chilling and riveting account...the gypsies are marginalised ...they have no state, and as such no influence, the do not assimilate, am not sure if this can be described as a 'fierce independent streak' ... so in a sense and in no measure they owe it (their present misfortune) to themselves...

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.

"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."


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".


as i said earlier...bone-chilling, riveting and disturbing!

and

welcome to desicritics ...hope to read more from you...btw please fix the url link to your page

#16
Sumanth
URL
September 6, 2006
01:02 AM

What has Indian Govt and Indian Media done for "Romani/Gypsy" people? A look at Romani-English dictionary is enough to understand that they were Indians 1000 year back.

How many Indians know that Gypsies were mainly used as a hegde against invading armies in 10th century?

Today, there are about 4 crore Gypsies in Europe. Why Indian Media/Govt is silent about them? Why there is no mention of Gypsies and their great sacrifices in "history books"?



#17
NCW
September 6, 2006
01:49 AM

coz Indian media is busy covering the hoax dowry cases and crocodile tears of men who swollowed the dowry and never burbed also

#18
Aaman
URL
September 8, 2006
03:38 AM

Sridhar,

This is probably one of the best articles we've ever published - thank you for writing it, and keep it coming!

#19
Ashok Banker
URL
September 8, 2006
03:49 AM

Sridhar, I have to weight in with Aaman, this is the best article I've read yet on DC. Excellent reportage, well-structured, informative, insightful, analytical, and well-balanced despite the extreme nature of the events covered.

Yes, Romani gypsies are indeed descended from Indian 'banjaras' out of Bhojpur and other parts of Rajasthan who migrated northwards through Europe, although over the centuries (and no doubt due to the climate of northern Europe) they turned much 'whiter' than their predecessors. That really has nothing to do with the pogrom against them, but it is highly ironic that the Nazis singled them out for being 'non-Aryans' whereas it's quite likely that they, like so many of us in India today, were probably more genuinely descendents of the real Aryas of ancient India than the so-called 'Aryans' of Nazi Germany!

Please do write more articles like this. This is journalism at its best, and an epitome of the power of aggregate blogsites such as Desi Critics. Well done!

#20
a pissed off guy
September 8, 2006
04:15 AM

STOP CALLING THEM ROMANI'S!!!!THEY ARE CALLED GYPSIES FOR PETE'S SAKE.You do realise they have nothing in common with the romanian people right? So why are they called romani's?And quite frankly do any of you know true gypsies?They are not to be trusted.They are MOSTLY a dirty people who eat out of other people's garbage and are breeding out of control.Those who actually have money you can be sure they didn't earn it thru hard work.I'm not a rasist guy by nature but trust me Hittler knew what he was doing to the gypsies.

#21
Aaman
URL
September 8, 2006
04:35 AM

Ignoring your pathetic racism, which we will not edit, precisely because it is pathetic, some education is in order.

The English term Gypsy (or Gipsy), originates from the Greek word Aigyptoi, modern Greek gyphtoi, in the erroneous belief that the Roma originated in Egypt, This ethnonym is not used by the Roma to describe themselves, and is often considered pejorative. There is no direct connection between the name Roma (ethnicity) and the city of Rome, ancient Rome, Romania, the Romanian people or the Romanian language.

#22
Anil Menon
URL
September 8, 2006
07:11 AM

Sridhar: Thanks for a very informative article.

I think the difference was that, unlike the Jews, the Romani never were a vocal minority. At the end of her wonderful book, Bury me standing Isabel Fonseca concludes that:


"They were good at everything-- more enterprising and energetic, more imaginative and more good-humored, than most of the people around them-- when they got the chance. They were good at everything. Everything except representing themselves."

Fonseca, in her second chapter ("Hindupen"), reports that the first Romany Congress in 1971 was partly financed by the Indian govt. And:

"...At the 1978 Congress, in Geneva, the Indian theme was already becoming somewhat theatrical: one of Mrs. Gandhi's ambassadors arrived with pocketfuls of symbolic Indian salt and symbolic Indian earth; and ever since (albeit only from one or two corners) there have been cries for the reunification of "Indian World Citizens" and Amaro Baro Them, Our Big Land, or ancestral homeland."

The Indian connection may be a relatively minor one. It's likely some Dom from Rajasthan and parts of the Deccan did migrate and inter-marry with the floating population already extant in Europe. The Dom share a lot of similarities. They too are nomads, tinkerers, musicians, and clan-structured.

#23
Heh...
September 8, 2006
10:39 AM

I see no problem in exterminating gipsyes. As some people have said before; Hitler did some good things aswell.

#24
balaji
September 8, 2006
01:10 PM

oh how true. without him we wd not know how horrible human beings can be, could we?

#25
a pissed off guy
September 8, 2006
01:47 PM

thanks for clearing that up but while you may be right that still doesn't stop people from confusing romani for romanian.while refering to my so-called racism ,please come and live next to a family of gypsyes for a few days and then we'll talk about who's right(oh and not the type of civilised gypsyes by the way).I DON'T HATE them , I just don't like'em very much(with good reason).maybe you should look on the web a bit more reality regarding them. sadly all I have to do is look out the window :(

#26
Aaman
URL
September 8, 2006
01:50 PM

That's still no reason to wish them dead - how would you like it if your entire family and everyone you knew was euthanized because you were not yellow or brown or black or sneezed too often or wore plaid pants or drank Castle beer or ....

#27
a pissed off guy
September 8, 2006
03:49 PM

I never said I wished them all dead.I even dated a gypsy girl once.this isn't about skin color or all the other rasist bull of the past.the reason I don't like them is because 90% of all gypsyes I've ever come know are cheats and will stab you in the back at first opportunity.yes there are those who deserve credit and I will take my hat off to them any day of the week.but it sickens me to see a young boy beaten for his money or clothes in the street and nobody has the courage to step in because,if you mess with one you mess with the entire clan.you've never seen them in action. cops can barely contain them.it's sad...really sad.it's sad that people like this exist and what's worse is that they teach their children to act the same.oh how I wish you won't ever have to see any of the above.

#28
'nglezu
September 8, 2006
04:06 PM

True, true. Most gypsies must be kicked out of the country. Or radically gathered, registered, and put through very strict educational programs. That's the main problem with them. Lack of education, respect and curtesy towards the other citizens, lack of the most basic sense of ethics and morals, and hygiene.

#29
temporal
URL
September 8, 2006
04:26 PM

and since they are spread all over who pays for their rehab....er.....education.....er....re-education?

eureka!

why UN! we can have UNFRDP (United Nation's Fund for Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons)

if there was such a Fund -- imagine the peoples it could have helped...the displaced eastern europoeans during the second WW (ok there is a logical flaw here - see if you can catch it), the former communists, socialists, nationalists, idi amin and papa doc duvalier and shah of iran's entourage, and just about every tin pot dictator and freedom fighter in exile...

but

who'd pay that is the 64 mil query

#30
Ruvy in Jerusalem
September 11, 2006
01:24 PM

Just noticed this due to Aaman's e-mail to me a number of days ago. This is an excellent article, and I said as much on Blogcritics, where it also appeared.

Just a point so that everybody understands this. The Nazi view of Jews were that they were a "Gegenrasse" - a race that went against mankind, and therefore had to be exterminated as a contaminant. The Nazis argued that there could not be two chosen peoples, one Aryan and one Jewsish, that one had to go.

The Nazi view of the Roma was prcisely that of that fellow who styles himself a "pissed off guy," or "'nglezu." He wrote, "Most gypsies must be kicked out of the country. Or radically gathered, registered, and put through very strict educational programs. That's the main problem with them. Lack of education, respect and curtesy towards the other citizens, lack of the most basic sense of ethics and morals, and hygiene."

If, instead of attempting to "retrain" "habitual criminals" (what other conclusion can you draw from this comment?), you kill them, you have a summary of Nazi policy.

One cannot just write in "Roma" in place of "Jew" to understand what went on in Europe in terms of hatred of the Romany. This is a gross distortion of the facts.

#31
Rosamelia
September 12, 2006
01:48 PM

I've only recently learned of my family's gypsy ancestry and I'm very interested in knowing more about the Romani culture and history. This article is very informative. Thank you Sridhar.

#32
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
03:27 AM

#31 Thank you Rosamelia for your email. I strongly felt that the Romanies who were slaughtered by the Nazis should not not lie in unmarked graves.Their suffering should be recorded in History and they must have the dignity of a memorial.

#33
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
03:32 AM

#1lakshmikanth #2Aaman

Glad you liked the piece,

#34
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
04:19 AM

#5 Anil
Thanks.The object of the article was to drive home the point that no one has the monopoly of suffering and other holocausts deserve our concern.This is so poignantly true of marginalised people like the Romanies who are treated as third class genocide victims.

#35
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
05:09 AM

#6 Mayank

So true Mayank that Gay people were also killed in the death camps.But the point is by recording the holocausts of other groups does not lessen the suffering of the Jews.The controversial point is that can any group claim unique suffering? And by claiming unique entitlement do we shut out other holocausts from the pages of History?

#36
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
05:18 AM

#6 Appolo

quite agree. Maybe a stay in the Gestapo torture cell(refurbished) would have a salutary effect on Hitler admirers.

#37
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
05:43 AM

#10 Mayank

There is enough historical evidence to substantiate the point that the Romanies were relegated to third class status. Their shabby treatment in Europe even today and in US especially over the holocaust Memorial council represenation drive home the point that they are viewed as less worthy sufferers.

#38
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
05:45 AM

#11 Sujatha
Thank you for your words of appreciation.

#39
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
05:58 AM

#12 Richard Marcus

Sadly enough even holocaust liquidating the Jews received very little attention initially apart from a handful of books on the subject.After the 1967 war in the middle east when Israel emerged as a formidable fighting force the Holocast as an ideological construct became a force to reckon with.Part of the reason could be that it enmeshed with the security goals of US to protect its oil interests in the volatile middle east region having Israel as its strategic partner.

#40
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
06:10 AM

#15 Temporal

Marginalised people like the Romanies have no influence over state policy and the state is generally indifferent to them. As a result they are excluded from education, health and employment opportunities and appear backward.The whole thing is circular.

#41
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
06:25 AM

#16 Sumanth

Agreed there is very little interest in the mainstream Indian Media about the Romanies. The media is primarily driven by ad revenue and content is generally lousy.An article on the Romanies would not help the readers to shop until they drop dead.

#42
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
06:30 AM

#19 Ashok Banker

Thank you for your comments.

#43
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
06:43 AM

#20 pissed off guy

Romany, Romanies means Gypsies. It is not to be confused with the people of Rumania. The word Gypsy is not used as it conveys racial slur.By the way are you a blond, blue eyed Aryan?

#44
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
06:48 AM

#22 Anil Menon

Glad you found the article informative.

#45
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
06:53 AM

#23 Heh
Agree with you there is little problem in exterminating the Romanies. The problem is who is next?

#46
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
07:08 AM

#24 balaji

How about Stalin, Pinochet,Suharto,and Shah of Iran to name a few.Modern history has a curious tendency of throwing up nasty specimens who top the torture charts.Dont despair the terrible lessons will not stop with Herr Hitler. You will have the benefit of continuing education on man's inhumanity to man as history unfolds itself in the years to come.

#47
cr sridhar
URL
September 19, 2006
07:21 AM

#30 Ruvy

I completely agree with your views on the genocide of the Jewish people. Thank you for your comments.

#48
HoloScholar
November 19, 2006
06:14 PM

For those that might be interested there is a great new Online Holocaust Resource.

Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

maintains a website at:
http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/

#49
Sergey Romanov
URL
November 29, 2006
02:43 PM

H.E.A.R.T. (holocaustresearchproject.org) is an unreliable "education" site. [EDITED - ON REQUEST]

http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/2006/11/heart-as-educational-resource.html

Think twice before using anything from that site.

#50
Sunny Singh
URL
November 29, 2006
06:48 PM

Thank you Sridhar for this piece on a long neglected aspect of history.

I am pitching into this debate, so apologies in advance for the intrusion.

Here goes some interesting information on the gypsy/Roma that I got from a "gitano" historian in Spain:

There is some research emerging that in addition to the "Latcho Drom" wandering theory, the gypsies are the descendants of the thousands of artisans, artists, dancers and musicians that various Turkish invaders carried back with them from India. The theory suggests that these enslaved artists/artisans were then sent off to far flung parts of the empire.

The gypsies do follow certain "Hindu" rituals even though they long ago converted to Christianity or Islam, based on their location. For example, the "gitanos" will use different dishes for the "payos" (non-gypsies). Strangely enough, they will suspend these rules for Indians because we are considered non-"payos".

Aaman, wonderful site. I was directed here by one of your readers. Keep up the wonderful work.

#51
Qalandar
URL
November 30, 2006
01:20 PM

I discovered this site yesterday, lots to read but I've bookmarked this!

#52
temporal
URL
November 30, 2006
01:30 PM

qalandar:

would you like to write for desicritics?

#53
Marjolijn Hohberger
URL
May 11, 2007
02:14 AM

Keep up the good work. The problem with representing themselves is obvious, then even the -th generation is not sure it is even wise there may well be an ancestral gut feeling to keep silent about and hide their identity. Which is what actually these days persecuted groups do. Just to diminish suffering and racism reality and history must be diffused, but times are not better there is no feeling of shame on behalf of the white racist dominant populations... People are scared in Europe, there is a missing spirituality, intolerance and stupidity. We need to cooperate to rid of stereotypes and prejudices. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#54
alex
August 14, 2007
11:08 PM

The sad history of gipsy is because they were never part of the feudal system in wich modern europe originates.Feudal system in europe is like japan during the samurai era, only the military and religious nobility has rights, were educated and involved in politic and law.Gipsy had no military or religious eilte and therefor had no rights.Don't be racist and if you feel the need to hate, hate the turk or greek who displaced these ppl and didn't provide for them.

#55
Deepa Krishnan
URL
August 14, 2007
11:43 PM

Very nicely written, Koshy. And of course, there are many other genocides that go unreported. Genocidewatch talks about THE EIGHT STAGES OF GENOCIDE - it's really interesting:
http://www.genocidewatch.org/eightstages.htm

#56
Sonal Panse
URL
August 15, 2007
02:41 PM

Romany situation in North Moravia a year ago -
More women claim unwanted sterilization

#57
PH
URL
August 15, 2007
05:37 PM

Very thorough and informative piece. Really learned a lot, thanks, Sridhar!

#58
Jay
August 16, 2007
02:04 AM

Great piece. Can anyone explain why Indian blogs and online journals are world class while mainstream newspapers like the Times of India are such disgusting vomit? Is it simply a generation thing?

On a different note the world's foremost Holocaust scholar Raul Hillberg, has completely discredited Daniel Goldhagen whom Sridhar quotes. Yet Goldhagen is feted in Germany, a nation that continues to suffer from unimaginable guilt because the Holocaust emanated right from inside its belly. And Finkelstein (himself born of Holocaust survivors) wrote a book to debunk the Goldhagen thesis was sidelined to the remotest corners of US academia before being denied tenure even there. Holocaust scholarship is contentious to say the least!

And what about Armenia? Their genocide by the Turks is an unnoticed tragedy.

#59
Alin Dosoftei
URL
December 23, 2007
01:43 PM

I am really pleased to find this article, well organized and documented, about the amnesia regarding the Holocaust of the Romani people. Indeed, as some readers emphasized in replies, there is no significant Romani public representation to defend our rights and this permitted for some to get rid of the blame and for some others to emphasize the uniqueness of their plight. There are important cultural differences between Roma and local non-Roma, we are very identity-conscious and we don't want to get assimilated, while the local people is not very keen to accept a multicultural society. Thus we still have to find ways for a real communication (because it seems that we should have the initiative, the non-Roma count on their power and are not interested in this).

I see that there replied also some non-Roma from Romania. Paradoxically, although it is the country with the most Romani influence in the local society, where, Roma and non-Roma, we know best each other, Romania is also a champion at anti-Romani violence, every day one may hear such calls for a new Holocaust. This intensified from the beginning of this year when Romania was accepted in EU and subsequently the mass-media in the other countries of this Union, labeled the entire population of Romania as Gypsies. Instead fighting for dismantling the Gypsy unreal imagery, the non-Roma had an ostrich attitude, turning on Roma and blaming them for all the lies from the Western tabloids and (more frightening) venturing again in public the idea of a new Holocaust for solving this "Gypsy problem". Regarding the naming issue, I'd like to remind that Roma are named Roma from the very beginning, while the Romanians had the name "Rumīni" until the 19th century, when they changed it, for image purposes into "Romāni". This inspires me to post here an article about the names of the Romani people, I think there are very necessary some clarifications.

Regarding somebody's reply about the origin of the Roma from Doms mixed with Europeans, I'd like to say that it is no documented source to attest that Roma come from Doms. In Romani, "Rom" means "husband". As for the mixing, this occurred more or less, depending on the Romani caste (there are many Romani castes, each with its own rules), but no Romani caste can be compared to Mestizos or Mulattos, as people with mixed culture. Thus I want to remind that this is an unrealistic vision, the culture matters first. Who would contest the Desiness of Vidya Balan? She played such substantial characters, so involved in the specific features of the Desi society that everyone would laugh at the idea that she is not Desi enough. On the other hand, Norah Jones, although she has a Desi father, she did not grew up in this culture. By emphasizing this thing, one may point to the genetic admixture among the other Desi people. In fact, both the Roma and the Desis that remained in the Subcontinent had some Persian, Turkish and European admixture. What conclusions may draw someone by using this logic? That Roma and other Desis who have some English blood are closer among them and farther from other Roma and Desis? Of course not, the culture matters first. What's the use of having some other blood if someone does not share the other culture? Plus, by stating such descriptions one should clarify what is Desi blood and what is the "other" blood, because the people belonging to the Desi civilization are very diverse. In this sense, I just happen to remember of Prashant Tamang, the winner of Indian Idol 3, with his East Asian features.

#60
Alin Dosoftei
URL
December 23, 2007
02:43 PM

I don't know why exactly I remembered about a German father of Vidya Balan. Now I can't find any source to confirm this. Maybe (but I don't know how), the idea of having a German father transfered in my mind from Diya Mirza to Vidya :)

#61
Vivek Krishan
December 29, 2007
09:44 PM

Message for Sunil Murthy- if you read this get in touch- vivek AT mailworks DOT org. Be good to catch up.

(Editors- sorry for this off topic message but if you know the contact details for Sunil Murthy could you please send me his contact details or forward this message to him? We knew each other in Bangkok in the late 80's and have since lost touch...thanks muchly and congratulations on your very weighty opinion site...)

#62
commonsenseforall77@yahoo.com
December 30, 2007
02:24 AM

Pissedoffguy #27 wrote about the Romani:

"I never said I wished them all dead.I even dated a gypsy girl once."

An all too familiar trope. Goes something like this: "Trust me, I have nothing against them. Indeed some of closest friends are Hindus/Muslims/Christians/Blacks etc. etc...however, most of them are the scum of the earth..."

Good going pissedoff. Have you thought of taking out a patent on the label Romanian and charging all the Romani for infringing your patent. Isn't that the neo-liberal strategy of making money out of anything that moves or does not move??

#63
commonsenseforall77@yahoo.com
December 30, 2007
02:29 AM

Sumanth # 16:

"What has Indian Govt and Indian Media done for "Romani/Gypsy" people? A look at Romani-English dictionary is enough to understand that they were Indians 1000 year back."

Sumanth, the tragedy of the romani people is beyond words. However, sorry to burst your bubble here, but there were no "Indians" as the term is currently understood (ie. a nationality and citizens etc.) a thousand years back. Just like the British government is not responsible for Americans, and the Indian government is not responsible for Malaysians of Indian descent. The reason to be concerned about the fate of the romani people arises out of a concern for basic human rights and revulsion against racism, and not because they were "Indians" or not-Indians in the past. Isn't that plain commonsense??

#64
commonsenseforall77@yahoo.com
December 30, 2007
02:38 AM

Pissed off guy #27 wrote about the Romanļ:

"it's sad that people like this exist and what's worse is that they teach their children to act the same.oh how I wish you won't ever have to see any of the above."

In a perverted way, it's good the folks like you express their views so candidly and without a hint of self-doubt. Others can learn a lot of lessons about anti-racist thinking and practice after reading your regrettable comments about just another version of the human race. Even though what you say flies against plain commonsense, your comments unfortunately are exemplars of how not to think in a global, polycultural world.

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