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Even though the Gypsies in prewar Germany consisted of a very limited per capita population they received massive amounts of attention from the Regime and were left ripe for further marginalization and destruction.
Though they made up less than 0.1% of the German population (between 20,000 and 30,000), Gypsies, like Jews, received disproportionate attention from the authorities as the various agencies of the state sought to transform Germany into a racially pure society. Between 1934 and the outbreak of World War II, a series of laws and regulations created a web of restrictions that set Gypsies apart and severely restricted their ability, individually and collectively, to survive. In July 1934, a decree forbade intermarriage between Germans and Gypsies. 4 the same year, the law permitting the deportation of aliens was extended to foreign Gypsies. 5 in September 1935, the Nuremberg Laws declared the Gypsies "an alien People" 6 and restricted all sexual contact between Aryans and non-Aryans. 7 During the summer Olympics of 1936, hundreds of Gypsy men in Bavaria were arrested by the police under Gestapo supervision and shipped off to the Dachau concentration camp outside Munich where they were sterilized. 8
The crux of the Nazi plan included a near complete dehumanization of several populations, all of whom should receive recognition, if not retribution for the treatment they received. Though the "problem" had largely been dealt with, as the relatively small group of Roma living in prewar Germany had been contained, and surgically altered, the acts of total hatred did not end, when the war began but continued to the end of the Nazi occupation of conquered lands in Europe.
In order to buttress the Gypsy classification as "an alien people," the government and its pseudo-intellectual racists shored up its antiGypsy ideology in 1937. The Ministry of Interior's Dr. Hans Globke introduced the general theory of "foreign" blood running exclusively through Gypsy and Jewish veins, while Dr. Robert Krber linked Gypsies and Jews to their foreign, Asiatic roots. According to Dr. Emil Brandis, this made them an "alien" element in the midst of a Nordic (Aryan) population.
The Nazis paraded a whole group of supposedly leaned men as experts on the problems facing the German Arians and codified centuries of hatred and distrust of the Roma, who were now officially considered, hated foreign spies, in need of destruction. Though the German stand was largely considered secular, explaining the emphasis on racial issues rather than moral/ethical/religious ones, as had been employed in the past to subjugate peoples in Europe, they used the old more traditional brand of hatred as a weapon against the Roma, calling out old ideas of the Roma as feared and hated spies and disease carrying "anti-nationalists" rather than anti-Christians.
With this ideological foundation, Nazi anti-Gypsy thought linked up historic prejudices toward Gypsies that saw them as unclean and antisocial.
These policies were based on age-old discriminatory practices and attitudes that predated the Nazi assumption of power in January 1933. Soon after the Gypsies arrived on German territory in the fifteenth century, they were met by violent, negative reactions. 12 Over the next 100 years, both Protestants and Catholics expressed their disapproval of the continued Gypsy presence, and felt that the Gypsies threatened the spiritual values of Christian society, were a security threat to the various German states, and affected the physical health of the general population. Increasingly, Gypsies were characterized and caricatured as non-Christians, as foreign spies, as bearers of fatal diseases, and accused of uncivilized practices such as cannibalism.
These historical and trumped up charges where deep seated in the minds of everyday people, most of whom had no real interactions with such a small portion of the population, and because of this old and unfounded dislike those who were not targeted were separated from the atrocities of the genocide and therefore tolerated it largely without protest.
Even after the war the standard societal reaction to the Roma was a massive campaign to integrate them into larger society, through rapid plans for education and settlement. Though this ideal is a far cry better than the genocide of the Nazi regime the result is still a kind of genocide in that the compulsory education of the children, through force, often ends with an ethnic dilution as children become separated from adults in ideology and begin to remove themselves from their own culture.
Additionally, the services afforded the Roma, in most countries continue to be substandard and separate from the education for the general population, and despite this lacking in any curriculum that would include the Roma in history and language. (the cause of dilution) the diverse, rather than homogenous, population of the Roma continues to be marginalized and afflicted with poverty and misunderstanding even today. In some places even suffering through a system of apartheid, where the comparative living conditions of the majority far outshine those of the Roma and separation is enforced through both de facto as well as de jure policies and standards.
It could be argued, rather successfully that the continued relative isolation and discrimination of the Roma may in part be the almost complete lack of social and academic recognition of their suffering under the Nazi regime and those who persecuted them before it. Some would even go as far as to say that the Nazi belief system, based in historical discrimination continues to this day.
In the thirties and during the Nazi period, "scientific" writings justifying racial theories predominated over anthropological studies. These kinds of [Gypsy] studies found expression in crime and race studies. They served as the handmaiden to the executive branch. So-called Gypsy specialists put themselves and their biologically and racially motivated studies in the service of the persecutors. This resulted in a whole array of fascist publications that were nearly identical in terminology and message.
Gypsy studies, Gypsy scholarship, and Gypsiology are concepts that emerged after 1945, that is to say, surfaced once again at that time. The majority of the Gypsy scholarship, which was scientifically and socially sanctioned, seamlessly appropriated and continued the Third Reich ideologies. As a result, these scholars insisted on a perpetuation of the outmoded, decidedly prejudicial, Gypsy image.
Even though it can be said that anti-Semitic philosophy still abounds in the literature and standards of many countries the popular movement that affords the Jewish peoples a certain level of respect and greater understanding has largely curbed the extent of the "official" hatred. Not to belittle their continued marginalization or diaspora, but the improvement in view is present not only because of the recognition of their plight through history but because of the popular movement of reconciliation, present since the post war period.
This is not true of the Roma, despite the works of some well meaning historians, sociologist and even humanitarian workers. The Roma have not only been largely ignored by history but continue to be judged based on the earlier deep seated prejudices and misjudgments used by the Nazis to strengthen their rights to annihilate them.
Even if the Nazi period was condemned as a time of injustice, trivialization of fascist Gypsy persecution abounded. At times, this [trivialization] went so far that the work of Nazi race theorists, who had provided the theoretical basis for the persecutions, was defended. These publications attempted exclusively to prove the racial inferiority, asocial attitudes, and criminal tendencies of this outsider group. Based on evidence of criminal activity, the internment of the Gypsies was to be justified within the framework of "crime prevention."
The Nazi period has been publicly denounced by nearly every well thinking individual, both lay and professional and yet those "others" still continue to be persecuted and dehumanized by the majority cultures and even the "official" writings of the academics and the laws of nations of many countries in Europe.
The issues of peaceful or tense coexistence between minority and majority groups in Eastern European societies and the revival of nationalism, chauvinism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination against Gypsies have returned as a dimension of public affairs. These insidious problems slowly poison public life by affecting the way people relate, cohabitate, and communicate with each other. Little heed was paid to these issues while the euphoria over the death of socialism lasted, but the various symptoms have multiplied since then, on the political scene and among the general public.
Without a name and a face the marginalization will surely continue, especially as the fear and hatred for the Nazi death machine begins to fade in the memories of new generations. The general historical movement of the WWII/holocaust, for further study and understanding, has an almost universal theme, "we must never forget." Yet, it seems we have forgotten some. It seems that the continued omission of certain facts and realities of the holocaust and racial hatred in general have left the Roma with not only a sense of dehumanizing cultural receptions but legal and social segregation that must be addressed before…[continue]
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