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Without Prejudice: The EAFORD International Review of Racial Discrimination  1(2):45-67 (1988)

Uniqueness of the Victims: Gypsies, Jews and the Holocaust

Ian Hancock

In Sydney Schiffer’s 1986 play, The Far Side of Enough,1 the representative of a fictitious international Romani organization offers to give a talk on the Romani (Gypsy) holocaust* at an equally fictitious Jewish holocaust memorial center, but is told that while such a talk would be possible, even welcome, the wording would first need to be changed. The rabbi explains that “we believe the Nazis singled us out for extermination in a way that justifies our applying the term ‘The Holocaust’ to us and us alone . . . I would feel honored to have you speak, if you would only agree to substitute the term ‘Genocide’.” The Romani becomes angry, and the discussion after his departure centers on how any trouble he could make might be “neutralized,” since his having “wandered into the precincts of the Jewish establishment.” Someone else says, “let the Gypsy speak. We’ll ask our friends in the media to bury it—so deep no one will notice.” We are left wondering at the end of the play whether the address is ever given.

In some respects, this fictitious account mirrors rather uncannily the situation as it actually exists. During this writer’s term as special advisor to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council (USHMC) its former director, Richard Krieger, advised that an argument could be made for treating the holocaust as a uniquely Jewish event, although reasons for such an argument were not spelled out.

After meeting with Krieger in Washington, a review of USHMC correspondence and publications was in order to see whether the word “holocaust” had, in fact, ever been used in connection with Romani victims of Nazism. It had not—not even on the program for the Romani Day of Remembrance, which took place on 16 September 1986, separated by some months from the Jewish Days of Remembrance earlier in the year (Gypsies were left out altogether in the 1987 and 1988 Days of Remembrance.)

The U.S. Government Printing Office lists the booklet, In Memory of the Gypsy Victims of Nazi Genocide, produced following the 1986 Day of Remembrance under the Library of Congress subject heading “Holocaust: Jewish,”2 and the February 1988 USHMC circular announcing its National Writing Contest on the holocaust referred to “The six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and the millions of others.” The Council’s 62-page brochure circulated in May 1988, The Campaign for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, on the first page singles out Jewish victims by saying that only “[one people, the Jewish people, were killed because they were Jews.”3 Of course, only Gypsies were killed because they were Gypsies, too; but this fact remains unstated and, by implication, is not a part of holocaust history. Evidently, requests that this perspective be modified continue to fall on deaf ears. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council had been created in response to pressure from Jewish organizations which had the Jewish tragedy firmly in mind. No one had thought about the Gypsies; no one was ready for them.

At first, this writer’s reaction was academic; no answer was anywhere to be found as to why the holocaust was being interpreted as only Jewish, but the question seemed to be closely connected with the use of the word “unique,” which appears repeatedly in the Council’s literature. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “holocaust” in English has meant since 1671 the “complete consumation by fire ... of a large number of persons,” and “unique” means “one and only; single, sole, solitary.” A number of personal inquiries have been made over the past year to various individuals on the Council as to the justification for the continued reference to the Jewish experience in the holocaust as “unique,” but so far without success.

American language specialist William Safire again raised the issue of the “uniqueness of Jewish suffering,” preferring the Hebrew word shoah to “holocaust,” since the latter “has been used to encompass more than the murder of Jews. From the casualties in our Civil War . . . to the wholesale murder of [G]ypsies in World War II.”4 Claude Lanzmann similarly rejected “holocaust” in favor of shoah, arguing that the former suggests “sacrifice” or “burnt offering,” rather than “fearful catastrophe.” For Romanies, the holocaust was the baro porrajmos, or “great devouring” of the people, a fearful catastrophe by whatever name. Then again the editor of Midstream wrote in a letter on 8 February 1988, after reading an earlier draft of this essay, to say he believed that the Jewish tragedy was unique, because the treatment of Gypsies was “merely an afterthought, a social prophylaxis” on the Nazis’ part.

It then occurred to this writer that perhaps his posing such questions, after all, simply affirmed former USHMC Acting Director Micah Naftalin’s perception of Gypsies as “naive.” The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council was established in 1980 to honor the memory of the victims of the holocaust, but if the holocaust can be kept, in Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel’s words, as “an essentially Jewish event,” and its Romani victims merely as the targets of genocide (or even just wartime “casualties,” as referred to in the first issue of the Council’s Museum Newsletter),5 then by its self-created definition, the Holocaust Memorial Council was never meant for non-Jewish victims, since non-Jewish victims were not a part of the holocaust specifically, and the memorial museum would be under no obligation to involve, more than as a courtesy, other victims. Elie Wiesel made it clear that, while the Council sought “no omission” of non-Jewish victims, it would countenance “no equation” either.6

Edward Alexander writes at length of a “worldwide campaign of misrepresentation of the holocaust” by not treating it as a uniquely Jewish event, in an article in Midstream, significantly entitled “Stealing the Holocaust” in the same issue of that magazine.7 Yehuda Bauer refers to “a certain paradoxical envy on the part of non-Jewish groups directed at the Jewish experience of the Holocaust . . . [which] would seem to be an unconscious reflection of anti-Semitic attitudes.”8 From the Romani point of view, of course, such an assumption is unthinkable.

The Struggle for History

For some time, a growing number of activists have been attempting to bring the situation of the Romani people in Hitler’s Germany to the attention of historians and, in particular, holocaust-related organizations in the United States and Europe. Sadly, activity in this area is causing discomfort in some Jewish quarters. There seems to have been a tightening of the ranks, as though admitting that another population fared as badly somehow diminishes the magnitude or exclusiveness of the fate of the Jewish victims. As already indicated, persistent efforts have been made to find out why, but no plainly spelled-out or morally justifiable responses have so far come forth.

The persistence of this attitude is cause for deep concern. What constitutes “uniqueness” here? Is it a matter of who was victimized earliest? Or the extent of the agonies endured? Or numbers lost? It seems quite tasteless to engage in a one-upmanship of suffering or, in this case, to quote numbers. After all, Gypsies lost the same, or perhaps an even higher percentage of their overall population; but presenting the facts of the Romani holocaust before the public does not qualify as oneupmanship, nor should it be interpreted as confrontational. These are facts that have been hidden for the past forty years. If they can be disproved, this can only be cause for gladness; if the gloomy details can be shown to be fiction, then it means that the Romani people were mercifully spared the fate endured by their Jewish brothers and sisters. But if they can be shown to be factual, then they must be acknowledged fully, without resentment or rancor.

Revisionists are to be denounced for obfuscating history, for writing out or denying the episodes they want forgotten. When facts of history are not even given the chance to find their place in our chronicles, when events are minimized or allowed to fall through the cracks and become lost in time, this is as unacceptable as rewriting history. Either way, the record is concealed; no lesson is learned.

Romani organizations have not had a great deal of success so far in redressing this omission of their history. This is perhaps understandable, just as it is understandable that the holocaust should be seen to be “essentially Jewish”; the world has been hearing about the Jewish tragedy for forty years, and a vast amount of research has been undertaken by Jewish scholars on the shoah. For the Romanies, no such body of scholarship, and only a handful of Romani scholars, exists, and research on the Romani holocaust is in its infancy. When scholars have approached the subject, invariably it has been from the perspective of their own interests; emphasis is necessarily upon the areas of greatest concern to them. When Yehuda Bauer wrote that the Nazi policy against the Gypsies was “more apparent than real,” and that Gypsies were “the victims more of a campaign against so-called ‘asocials’ than against the Gypsy people as such,” and that “not to realize that the Jewish situation was unique, is to mystify history,”9 it is not assumed by this author that he was deliberately diluting the facts. However, it seems that very little effort was spent on his part to research or to understand the Romani situation.

In her book addressing the holocaust and historians, the late Lucy Dawidowicz devoted just two paragraphs to the fate of Romani prisoners, admitting that “Gypsies and their offspring were to be treated as Jews, that is, murdered,” but still goes on to say on the same page that “the fate of the Jews under National Socialism was unique.”10 Gerald L. Posner and John Ware’s Mengele: The Complete Story (1986) does not even list Gypsies in its index, although Romanies, and especially Romani twins, were Joseph Mengele’s obsession. Some descriptions of medical experiments in the book, such as that on page 37, actually describe children that we know to have been Romanies, but they are not identified as such.11

It is to such books that others go for the “history,” the “complete story” of the holocaust. The California State Board of Education obviously did so when it compiled its Model Curriculum for Human Rights and Genocide for use in the schools in that state. While Jews were listed as an example of the victims of genocide in the holocaust, ‘Gypsies’ were relegated only to a category of “people who have suffered from totalitarian policies.”!12 The same document lists the United Nations’ five criteria defining genocide, the last two of which (sterilization and the permanent removal of children from their families) are still actively in effect against Gypsies in parts of Europe today.13 This California curriculum will ensure that school children statewide will receive only a partial account of what happened in the holocaust. A recently published book by R. Conrad Klein, aimed at the same audience and published by The Children’s Press, similarly glosses over the Romani situation, which receives just two fleeting and uninformative mentions in the entire volume.14

All this is not to say that these one-sided accounts are deliberate. It is merely that, until now, few historians have given much thought to the Romani case, or have been disposed to pursue it. Very little concern has been expressed at all and, as one French doctor remarked after the war, “everyone despises Gypsies, so why exercise restraint? Who will avenge them? Who will complain? Who will bear witness?”15

The Roots of Discrimination

Prejudice has much to do with the treatment of Gypsies today and the negligible attention given them in holocaust literature. In December 1986, the Holocaust Memorial Council proposed the formation of a committee on anti-Semitism; but no similar proposal was made to form a group to combat anti-Gypsyism. Because they can usually get away with it, the news media and popular literature exploit the Romani situation. The word “Gypsy” is used generically, so that it has come to mean “confidence trickster.” However, the same reporters and writers are careful to avoid using, for, example, “Mafia” and “Italians” interchangeably. In the past year, the North American public has been exposed to an increasing number of “special reports” on “Gypsy crime,” in which Romanies are treated as a monolithic whole dedicated to bilking the non-Romani public. The point is not made that the conviction rate for theft within the Romani population is no higher than the national average, and for major offenses, such as rape or murder, it is significantly lower. No acknowledgment is given to historical circumstances which have brought those Romanies—just a few generations removed from five hundred years of slavery in eastern Europe, and some refugees from eastern Europe whom the post-holocaust situation still affects forty years later—to their present situation. And too seldom is attention given to the thousands of law-abiding and concerned Romani citizens in skilled and professional occupations, but who are citizens fearful of speaking up, lest they, too, be tarred with the same bigoted media brush.

Although the popular conception holds that the Romanies are a wandering people with mysterious origins, it has been known for over two centuries that their roots are in India, and only a tiny fraction of the world’s twelve million or so Romanies are truly nomadic. Romanies came into Europe at the beginning of the Middle Ages, swept across the Bosphorus from the Byzantine Empire on the crest of the Islamic tide, and were persecuted by the Turks because they were not Muslims. Their ancestors had left India perhaps three centuries earlier, possibly as a result of the Indo-Persian wars. One contemporary theory holds that these first migrants consisted of Rajput horsemen who, with their camp followers, moved further and further across Persia sometime in the early eleventh century, either as contingents or prisoners of war of the Seljuks. Certainly, the Romani language and the culture, Romanija, point to this period of Indian history.

On arrival in the Balkans, the Romanies met a confused social order resulting from the Crusades, which had caused a serious depletion of manpower and had created an urgent demand for weaponry and labor. Romanies, who among other things had been metal workers in Byzantium, filled these needs. By the mid-1300s, so necessary had they become to the Moldavian and Wallachian economy that legislation was adopted to make them the property of the state. This was the beginning of the five hundred years of slavery, not fully abolished until 1864. After emancipation, thousands of the liberated slaves fled from southeastern Europe, many reaching the Americas. Most Romanies in North and South America are descended from this population.

As legislation concerning the Romanies grew more stringent in the fifteenth century Balkans, large numbers moved north and west into the rest of Europe. Here, however, they were perceived to be part of the Islamic expansion that had occupied Spain, parts of France, and eastern and southern Europe, and they were vigorously repulsed. Even today, in a number of European languages, including Dutch, German and Swedish, words for Romani are “Tatar” and “Heiden” (i.e., heathen). Their strange appearance, language and customs were too alien to the Europeans. Strict laws were brought into effect, first banishing Romanies into neighboring lands, then requiring them to be put to death if caught. Many of these laws are still in effect and have served as precedents for treatment of the Romanies in the American legal system. Romani Americans are the only ethnic minority in the United States today who face laws restricting them as a people, and who are periodically subjected to those laws.

With the European colonial expansion overseas, western European nations found a useful dumping ground for their Romani populations. From the early 1500s, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, England and Scotland all shipped Romanies off to the Americas, and even to West Africa and India, their original homeland, to labor in the colonies. British Romanies were well represented working alongside Africans in the early Virginia and Barbados plantations.

Centuries of being moved on has perversely led to the literary myth of the “wandering Gypsy.” But the truth is that the Romanies have had little choice. In England today, a number of government reservations have been set up throughout the country which Romanies there may inhabit, but they can be fined or jailed if they stop anywhere in between, traveling from one to another. A consequence of being kept on the move in western Europe (in eastern Europe, Romanies were tied to the land in slavery or serfdom) has been a denial of access to shops and merchants—hence subsistence stealing in order to survive—and a denial of access to churches and schools. Most Romanies today are not literate in any language. This has meant that the literary image has been able to flourish unchecked: no organized rebuttals from the Romani population, no letters to the editor, no literature countering the novelists’ fancies. It has been argued that societies need a population on which to project their fantasies or to serve as scapegoat, and that Romanies have fulfilled this function. It has been argued, also, that societies need a cultural antithesis in order to keep a perspective on their own boundaries. As Kai Erikson said, “one of the surest ways to confirm an identity, for communities as well as for individuals, is to find some way of measuring what one is not.”16 The literary Gypsy challenges the establishment’s perception of honesty, sexual decorum, hygiene, and social responsibility. And while the truth is very different, the ‘Gypsy’ image is perpetuated, nonetheless, for these reasons.

Chronology of Nazi Racism: Romanies and Jews

The persecution of Romanies by the German people stretches back to the Middle Ages, but the seeds of the persecutions in the twentieth century were sown in the 1800s. In the 1830s, German authorities in Nordhausen tried to bring an end to Romani life by forcibly and permanently removing children from their families—a technique employed in this century from the 1920s to the 1970s in Switzerland.17  There were “open seasons” during which Romanies were hunted down and killed for sport in the forests. In the early 1890s, a conference on the “Gypsy scum” (das Zigeunergeschmeiss) was organized in Swabia; in 1899 an information bureau monitoring the movements of Romanies was established in Munich, later to be called the Central Bureau for Combatting the Gypsy Menace. At a policy conference on Romanies held in 1909, it was suggested that they be permanently branded for purposes of identification. During the 1920s, Romanies were being routinely photographed and fingerprinted by special police. Meanwhile, the Weimar constitution of 1918 had reaffirmed the equality of Jewish citizens with other Germans, and according to one source,

[they] enjoyed full civil, political and economic rights. Many German Jews were leaders in their communities and prominent in their professions. Few suffered discrimination and anti-Semitism was even less prevalent in Germany than in the United States at the time.18

For Jews, the coming to power of the Nazis meant the implementation of new and terrifying policies against them. But for Romanies, the new regime meant only the intensification of the measures already in effect; they had been victims of this kind of institutionalized persecution in Germany since the end of the previous century. For Romanies, it was nothing new.

Felice Davis noted that, while Jews were “constitutionally equal to other Germans, Gypsies were treated as second class citizens and were being rounded up.”19   Jeremy Noakes expanded on this:

Long before the Nazis came to power, the Gypsies had been treated as social outcasts. Their foreign appearance, their strange customs and language . . . they were seen as a-social, a source of crime, culturally inferior, a foreign body within the nation. During the 1920s the police, first in Bavaria and then in Prussia, established special offices to keep the Gypsies under constant surveillance. They were photographed and fingerprinted as if they were criminals. With the Nazi takeover, however, a motive was added to the grounds for persecution: their distinct and allegedly inferior racial character.20

In 1933, the very year in which Hitler came to power, a genocidal policy directed specifically at “a-socials”—a category into which Romanies fell at that time—was drawn up. From 1934 on, they were being sent to camps at Dachau, Dieselstrasse, Mahrzan and Vennhausen for sterilization.

A law was introduced on May 26th, 1933, to legalize eugenic sterilization . . . beyond this, the cabinet, headed by Hitler, passed a law on July 14th, 1933, against propagation of lebensunwertes Leben (“lives unworthy of life”), now called the “Law for the prevention of hereditarily diseased offspring,” It ordered sterilization for certain categories of people . . . specifically Gypsies and most of the Germans of black color were targets for sterilization.21

In fact, a recommendation to destroy the Romanies by sinking them in boats at sea was made the year Hitler came to power in 1933, and again in 1937. Also, the sterilization of all Romanies throughout the country had also been recommended, though not implemented, in Norway, in 1933 (at the same time, professor of theology and advisor to the Nazi party Gerhard Kittel had suggested to the Nazis that Jews be given “guest status” in Germany). In 1938, a Nazi party proclamation stated that the Gypsy problem was categorically a matter of race (“mit Bestimmtheit eine Frage der Rasse”)22 and was to be dealt with in that light. In the same year, race hygienist Adolf Wurth wrote that “the Gypsy question that we face today is above all a racial question.”23 Dr. Kurt Ammon declared that the Nazi policy “views the Gypsy problem primarily as a racial one.”24 The following year, Dr. Johannes Behrendt of the Office of Racial Hygiene released a statement asserting that

all Gypsies should be treated as hereditarily sick; the only solution is elimination. The aim should, therefore, be the elimination without hesitation (Aussondern ohne Zögern) of this characteristically defective element in the population.25

According to Jewish historian Miriam Novitch, “[t]he decision to resolve the Jewish and the Gypsy questions was made by Hitler in 1939, and Poland became the tomb for both peoples.”/ Müller-Hill indicates that the decision to exterminate both peoples came two years later.

The racial analysis which Dr. Ritter had made was disconcertingly similar to that which the “race investigators,” such as Günther, had made of the Jews: an oriental racial admixture with an asocial European component.” This explains why Heydrich, who had been encrusted with “the final solution of the Jewish question” on July 31st, 1941, also included the Romanies in his final solution . . . The Einsatzkommandos, who began their work shortly after the assault on the USSR, received the order to kill all Jews, Gypsies and mental patients.27

In an address before the Holocaust Memorial Council’s February 1987 conference on “other” victims, Dr. Erika Thurner of the Institut fur Neuere Geschichte und Zeitgeschichte at the University of Linz gave her own analysis of the historical sequence: “Heinrich Himmler’s infamous Auschwitz decree of December 16th, 1942 can be seen as the final stage of the final solution of the Gypsy question. The decree served as the basis for complete extermination” (emphasis added).28 Dr. Thurner, in fact, challenged the widespread assumption that “the decision to seek a final solution for the Gypsy question came at a later date than that for the Jewish question,” concluding that “the first steps taken to exterminate the Gypsies were indeed initiated prior to this policy decision and that the first gassing operations against Gypsies as taking place as early as late 1941 or early 1942.” Romani holocaust specialist Rebecca Sherer places it even earlier:

It is believed that the official decision to exterminate the Gypsies was made in the Spring of 1941 when the Einsatzgruppen were formed . . . Gypsies were subject to three methods of genocide: sterilizations, deportation and homicide. Mass killing was the most common.29

Under Nazism, only Jews and Romanies (and the few Afro-Europeans) in German society were targeted for annihilation as distinct peoples, on specifically racial grounds. Donald Kenrick and Grattan Puxon quote Nazi party statements from 1935, such as: “In Europe generally, only Jews and Gypsies are of foreign blood,”30 and “apart from the Jews, only the Gypsies came into consideration in Europe as members of an alien people.”31 Kenrick and Puxon believe that “the Romanies were considered as non-Aryans from the beginning of the Nazi period.”32 Already in 1936, the German anti-Romani campaign became transnational in Europe when Interpol established the International Center for Combatting the Gypsy Menace in Vienna.

Documenting the Numbers

In assessing the Nazi tragedy, the comparison of numbers has provided a pretext for claims of “uniqueness” of its victims. Selma Steinmetz, for example, relies on this to state the case:

The Gypsies murdered in concentration camps and in mass executions in Poland, Yugoslavia and the USSR, or killed in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, remain in the shadow of the Six Million murdered Jews; in the face of such enormous human suffering, numbers decide.33

Actually, the overall percentage of losses for both Jewish and Romani populations is generally considered to have been about the same. Simon Wiesenthal referred to this in a 1984 letter to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, protesting the omission of Romanies in its program: “The Gypsies had been murdered in a proportion similar to the Jews, about 80% of them in the area of the countries which were occupied by the Nazis.”34 In his 1980 study of the persecution of homosexuals, Heinz Heger poses the rhetorical question: “How many people in Britain and America today are aware that the Gypsies of Europe were rounded up by the Nazis and sent to their death in almost similar proportions to the Jews?”35 Margot Strom and William Parsons also conclude: “The Nazis killed between a fourth and a third of the Gypsies living in Europe, and as many as 70 percent in those areas where Nazi control had been established longest.”36 Wolf in der Maur puts it higher still, citing a 70 percent death rate within Nazi-controlled territories and 50 percent elsewhere in Europe.37 The same figure of 70 percent is also found in a study by G. Von Soest.38

More recent research is beginning to demonstrate that even these estimates may be too low. A study undertaken at the Frankfurt Fachhochschule by Professor Stephen Castles indicates that Romani losses may be as high as one and a half million, nearly three times the next highest estimate;39 a report by Sylvia Puggiole on the persecution of Romanies in contemporary Italy states that “[c]enturies of prejudice culminated in the genocide of more than a million Gypsies in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.”40 Sylvia Sobeck writes of the disposal of “about one million Gypsies in the concentration camps.”41 Wolf in der Maur makes it clear that all current estimates of Romani deaths “... are vague, the real number of victims probably being much higher ... at least one million Gypsies were murdered.”42  He makes the point in the same volume that many of those killed who were listed in the category of “suspicious persons” were very likely, in fact, to have been Romanies.

Dr. Tilman Zülch of the Göttingen-based Gesellschaft für Bedrohte Völker, who has written widely on the Romani holocaust, cites (though also queries) research by one Dr. Mark Munzel of the Frankfurt Ethnologischesmuseum, which suggests that the Romani death toll may actually have been as high as four million.43 In his 1939 report on the Romanies, however, Johannes Behrendt indicated that the total population was only half that: “There are two million throughout Europe and in North America, and in Germany itself 6,000 pure Gypsies living together with 12,000 part Gypsies.”44 If even the one-and-a-half million assessment is accurate, then the total percentage of Romani lives lost far exceeds that of any other targeted group. Today, the Romani population worldwide numbers between six and twelve million (and is commonly estimated at ten million), perhaps six or seven million of whom are in Europe. Whatever those figures were, the point has been made by British holocaust historian Donald Kenrick that “had the war continued, 100% of the Jews and the Gypsies would have been killed, and the holocaust would have extended to the Slavs.”45

The reason for our lack of precise documentation lies in the fact that almost all research on Hitler’s racial policies has focused upon their Jewish, rather than their Romani victims. In addition, while it was primarily the Schutzstaffel that dealt with the disposal of the Jewish prisoners, Romanies were dealt with together with the Jews and others by the Gestapo, whose records have not yet been fully scrutinized. From even a cursory examination of the documents that are now being collected by various holocaust scholars, it is becoming clear that all previous estimates of the number of Romanies murdered are underrepresentations. The Holocaust Memorial Council has made arrangements to obtain copies of Gestapo-related and other documentation from German and Polish sources; and, from an examination of these, more details of the Romani genocide will surely emerge. It has been learned, for instance, that a special camp for the murder of both Romanies and non-Romanies existed at La Risiera di San Sabba, near Udine in northern Italy, and from 1940 began processing transports of Romani victims.46 Erika Thurner of the University of Linz has published a study of the Lackenbach concentration camp in Austria, where thousands of Romanies were sent to die.47 Neither of these camps has received adequate attention in the holocaust literature to date.

In terms of actual materials—paperwork, racist posters and the like, much more was produced, and has survived, which refers to Jews than to Romanies in Nazi-occupied Europe. The Germans did not fear Romanies as they did the Jews. Romanies were more easily identifiable than Jews and, as in modern America, were in some sense “non-people,” characters whose real identity had been distorted by writers of sentimental fiction and thus removed from reality. Eradicating Jews from the fabric of German society meant purging from within; with Romanies, it was often only a matter of locating them throughout the countryside and dispatching them on the spot, methodically and without the fanaticism we associate with the annihilation of the Jews. It is a cruel irony that the German Zigeunerromantik, or preoccupation with the romantic Gypsy image, persisted throughout those years of bitter persecution at the hands of the same people.48

It is this method of murdering of Romanies where they were found that makes it impossible to estimate the numbers lost. Holocaust historian Bernard Streck wrote that:

Attempts to express Romani casualties in terms of numbers cannot do justice to the physical and psychological damage endured by those who survived . . . any numbers we have cannot be verified by means of lists, or card-indexes, or camp files; most of the Gypsies died in eastern and southern Europe, shot by execution troops or fascist gang members. The numbers of those who actually died in the camps have only partially been handed down to us; almost all the files were destroyed when those camps were evacuated.49

Racial Classification

It has been argued that the genocide of the Romanies was socially, not racially motivated. In his 1980 article, Yehuda Bauer states plainly that “[t]he Gypsies were not murdered for racial reasons, but as so-called asocials . . . [nor] was their destruction complete,” repeating his 1978 remark (cited above). This is a commonly raised point; but Romanies were being categorized by race from the very same year that Jews began to be so classified. In any case, as Gisela Bock has made abundantly clear,

“Asociality” had been an important criterion in the sterilization courts . . . race hygiene theory had established the hereditary character of the disease, “asociality” with such efficiency that it had become a central category of racism (emphasis added).51

Former Holocaust Memorial Council director Seymour Siegel, echoing Yehuda Bauer’s sentiments, questioned whether Gypsies really did constitute a distinct racial or ethnic population,52 a particularly insensitive comment, since it was because of their “racial” identity that Romanies were targeted for genocide. That the Romani people do not constitute a “racial” group has, in fact, been used as an argument by the German governments to withhold reparations payments, capitalizing on the fact that Romanies as a people were in no condition after the war to be able to challenge this ruling. Grattan Puxon drew attention to the German position in an article which appeared in 1977:

A circular issued by the Württemberg Ministry of the Interior, early in 1950, said judges hearing restitution claims should bear in mind that “Gypsies had been persecuted under the National Socialist regime not for any racial reason, but because of an asocial and criminal record.” This preposterous ruling excluded from compensation almost the entire Romani population.53

 But the Romanies were a race as far as Hitler was concerned, and most recently have been determined to be such by a team of geneticists whose report appeared in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet:

Analysis of blood groups, haptoglobin phenotypes, and HLA types, establish the Gypsies as a distinct racial group with origins in the Punjab region of India. Also supporting this is the worldwide Gypsy language Romani, which is quite similar to Hindi.54

Writing on the testimonies of Einsatzgruppen commanders, Glenn Infield recounts:

At the U.S. Government War Crimes Tribunal, [SS general Otto] Ohlendorf . . . told [presiding judge Michael A.] Musmanno that he did his duty as best he could at all times. Asked if he killed others than Jews, Ohlendorf admitted he did: gypsies.
“On what basis did you kill gypsies?”
“It is the same as for Jews,” he replied.
“Racial? Blood?”
. . .Ohlendorf shrugged his shoulders. “There was no difference between gypsies and Jews.”55

Logistics of Extermination

Arguments have been made that the Romani situation was less extreme than the Jewish one because some Romanies were to be spared for anthropologists to study later, because Romani families were not broken up in the camps, and because their destruction was (mercifully) not complete. Likewise, the last of these conditions can apply equally to the other victims. Without Romani and Jewish survivors, we would know far less about the Nazi horror than we do. The six thousand or so Karaim (Karaite) Jews, scattered throughout eastern Europe from the Crimea to the Baltic, were able to convince the Nazis to exempt them as targets of genocide, and have survived.56   Jewish families were not broken up either, in some cases, including those transported to Auschwitz from Theresienstadt in September 1943, for example. Miriam Novitch further documents the case of some Jews in Holland who were married to Aryan women, who could escape death on condition that they submit to sterilization.57 Foreign Jews were spared from deportation, but foreign Romanies weren’t.58 As Miriam Novitch emphasizes, even those being kept alive for future study had eventually gone to the ovens, too. In any case, the suggestion to keep some Romanies alive was seen as a whim on Himmler’s part; and under pressure from Goebbels and others, he was persuaded to abandon it in 1943, when his decree went out to have all Romanies throughout Germany, without exception, sent to Auschwitz for liquidation.

The Nuremberg Law for the Protection of Blood and Honor was instituted on 15 September 1935, forbidding intermarriage or sexual intercourse between Aryan and non-Aryan peoples. It affected both Romanies and Jews, though not equally: criteria for identification as a Romani were exactly twice as strict as those applied to Jews. If two of a person’s eight great-grandparents were even part-Romani, that person had too much Romani ancestry later to be allowed to live. The Nuremberg decree, on the other hand, defined a Jew as being minimally a person having one Jewish grandparent; i.e., someone who was of one-quarter Jewish descent.59 If criteria for classifying who was Jewish had also applied to Romanies, some eighteen thousand would have escaped being murdered.

It is manipulative to take arguments out of context, without regard to the time period involved or the changing policies in Nazi Germany. A recent example of this appears in the U.S. Department of Defense pamphlet Guide for Days of Remembrance Observances, which disqualifies Romanies as victims of the holocaust in the statement, “Gypsies, too, were killed throughout Europe, but Gypsies who lived in the same place for two years or more were exempt [from Hitler’s genocidal policies].61 This statement must be interpreted in context; in the spring of 1943, such a recommendation was indeed made by one field commander in a small part of the Nazi-occupied U.S.S.R.;62 Himmler’s ruling, however, which was the one which was instituted, stated that “Nomadic Gypsies and part-Gypsies are to be placed on the same level as Jews, and put into concentration camps,”63 while settled Romanies were to be used as slave labor. This was, in any case, applicable only in Russia and the Baltic territories, where Romani lives lost reached nearly 100 percent by the end of the war, some Baltic Romani peoples, such as the Layenge, having been exterminated completely.

The Aftermath: Dismissing the Romani Case

The Allied victory over the Nazi military in 1945 did not mark the end of the days of suffering for the Romani people. There were Romanies who had left the concentration camps afraid to show themselves publicly until as late as 1947 because prewar anti-Gypsy legislation was still in effect, and those unable to provide documentation of German citizenship were being incarcerated in labor camps. Jews were subject only to Nazi laws, which were abandoned with the fall of the Third Reich. Romanies were subject to Nazi as well as pre-Nazi laws, and the latter remained in effect until well into the 1950s. The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, an advocacy organization for the defense of Romani rights, has evidence that documents compiled by Interpol in the 1930s are still being used against their people in Europe today. In 1985, it came to light that German Romanies are finding it to their advantage to give themselves “Jewish” surnames, in order to find employment, so selective is the compassion for the victims.64 A Time Magazine report made the point:

The downfall of the Third Reich did not halt the devaluation of Gypsy lives. Though West Germany paid nearly $715 million to Israel and various Jewish organizations, Gypsies as a group received nothing . . . West German officials have rejected the efforts of several thousand Gypsy survivors of the war to establish citizenship in the Federal Republic, even though their families have lived in Germany for generations.65

And Kevin Costelloe reported further that:

Seven companies have paid more than 58 million marks ($29 million) to Jewish forced laborers and their families. Oscar Rose [of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, in Heidelberg said that] . . . absolutely none of the Gypsies had been paid so far ... Rose said 700 German Gypsies have notified him of claims for slave labor, but added that the number could rise to 1,000.66

As recently as the 1970s, West German government spokesman Gerold Tandler called Romani demands for war crimes reparations “unreasonable” and “slander[ous],67 while in 1985, Mayor of the City of Darmstadt Günther Metzger told the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma that they had “insulted the honor” of the memory of the holocaust by wishing to be associated with it.68 According to a 1986 account in The Boston Globe, the German Finance Ministry issued a report in that year concluding that “all victims of Nazism have received adequate compensation and that no new legislation is required to extend the circle of beneficiaries,”69 while in late January 1988, the East German government announced that it would begin the reparation process for Jewish, but not Romani, survivors.70

A fact sheet distributed by the Los Angeles Simon Wiesenthal Center, entitled, “Thirty-six Questions Often Asked about the Holocaust,” includes the statement: “The Jews were the only group singled out for total systematic annihilation by the Nazis.” Elie Wiesel defended this claim in an interview by stating that the holocaust was only a “Jewish tragedy” on the grounds that “a decision was made by the German High Command in January 1942 to exterminate the Jews to the last man. The entire Jewish people were condemned to death. No such decision was made to kill any other group in this way, although the Gypsies come closest of all to the Jewish tragedy.”71

In the brochure accompanying the Auschwitz: A Crime Against Mankind exhibition, Yitzchak Mais, director of the museums at Yad Vashem (Jerusalem), wrote:

Denial of the right to live is what singles out the fate of the Jews from all other victims—Gypsies, Poles, Russian prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses—of the Nazi system. The brutal policies carried out against chose and other so-called “enemies” of the Third Reich were clearly inhuman, but nonetheless their fate was different from the fate of the Jews.72

The program for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council’s February 1987 conference, entitled “The Other Victims,” made it clear that, while acknowledgment was being made that many groups were murdered by the Nazis, it has done so “without diminishing the uniqueness of the Jewish tragedy.”73 That word again. Incidentally, no Romanies were invited to participate in the organization of that conference, which included a session on Romani victims. The word “others” is dehumanizing in any case, and it categorizes all victims in terms of being “plus or minus Jewish.”

While there are parties who refuse adamantly even to consider the Romani situation (a number of participants in the Seventh Annual Conference on the Holocaust, held at Millersville University, in April 1988, refused to attend this writer’s presentation), there are others whose excesses lie in the other direction. One hears from a growing number of individual Jews who declare staunchly that, of course, Romanies must not be left out—and nor should homosexuals, Slavs, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the physically disabled or the political dissidents either.

It is in the Romani reaction to this that we come closest to understanding the Jewish position. For us, these groups were not the same, though their liquidation and the justifications for their fate are clearly no less reprehensible. But they were not targeted for genocide on racial grounds, nor did they lose 70 percent or more of their total number.  They weren’t singled out for what they were born.

One fear shared by both Jewish and Romani victims of the holocaust is that including other groups will “generalize” it. The holocaust cannot and must not be generalized. But we must be cautious that too self-centered an interpretation does not turn on itself and provide antagonists with fuel for their hatred. One hears such arguments as “if the holocaust was only directed at the Jews, then the rest of us don’t need to worry for our own safety,” and “if it was only the Jews, maybe they really were being divinely punished for something.” We can dismiss this kind of rhetoric as naive and bigoted.

But what of the argument that insistence on the “uniqueness” of the Jewish tragedy has taught the world that the racial persecution of the Jews was a crime against humanity? Has the world really learned that racial hatred against all humanity is equally destructive and vile? Is society really sensitized to the dangers of its happening again, but to another (or even the same) people next time? One might ask that, if the holocaust were a crime against all mankind, which this writer believes it was, how does that equate with “uniqueness?”

In presenting the above argument, this writer does not intend to be “alarmist,” as a spokeswoman for one holocaust memorial center has charged; the message of the Romani holocaust is no cause for alarm. However, what is alarming is that efforts to trivialize the past have been particularly effective in the Romani case. But there is also hope. This writer addresses Jewish congregations in synagogues and holocaust survivors’ children at Hillel centers, and corresponds with a great many concerned Jewish friends in the United States and abroad; and it can be stated that, on an individual basis, Jewish understanding of the Romani situation is sincere and often passionate. The facts cited above are based on Jewish research—Jewish scholars have in the main been the only ones even to bother about the Romani holocaust. The main issue is not a Jewish-versus-Romani one, and God forbid that it ever should be.

What, then, causes this situation to exist? Why is the word “holocaust” being redefined to exclude non-Jews? It is possible that the consistent, exclusive use of the word “unique” may have a theological basis; the “unique destiny” of the Jewish people is referred to in the Aleinu prayer, for instance, a position discussed in depth by Emil Fackenheim.74 This is the principal argument made in a circular dated 13 May 1988, distributed to Council members by Rabbi Rav A. Soloff of the Beth Sholom Congregation in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. In it, he forcefully cautioned that the holocaust, and by implication the Holocaust Memorial Council, be kept Jewish as they were “intended to be,” and not to allow other human tragedies, “justified and unjustified,” to be equated with the shoah: “Please keep the Holocaust Memorial just that, a memorial to the unique Shoah which consumed six million Jews.” If any leeway were given, he warned, “the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council will be lobbied by Gypsies and Armenians, Native Americans and Palestinians, ad infinitum. Surely that is not what we want.” Yet, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council was established as a secular, federal body and not as a religious or ethnic one, and has the express function of honoring the memory of those who perished in Hitler’s Germany. This exclusivist Jewish position seems, in any case, to conflict with the concept of the separation of church and state as provided by the United States Constitution.

In her address to the Holocaust Memorial Council in March 1987, Erika Thumer observed further that:

Gypsies have generally been forgotten, or been reserved for the footnotes of historical investigation . . . this very position as a fringe social group with negligible social status, is responsible for the fact that, after 1945, the Gypsy holocaust was not acknowledged for so many years, and continues to be neglected to a certain degree to this very day. Ignorance as to the fate of the Sinti and Roma in the Third Reich has made historical reconstruction especially difficult. It has led to further discrimination against Gypsies, and to the refusal to recognize their right to restitution of both a material and an ideal nature.75


It took until May 1987 to get just one Romani American appointed to the Holocaust Memorial Council; The Washington Post reported in 1983 that the composition of the Council made some people “uncomfortable, for it included non-Jews among the victims of the holocaust,”76 though no Romanies were a part of it when that was written. There were African Americans and Armenians, but no Romani American. In 1984, the director of the USHMC at that time, Seymour Siegel, was quoted as saying that Romani efforts to obtain representation on it were “cockamamie,”77 while former acting director Micah Naftalin called the Romanies “naive” in their dealings with the Council.78

The question must be raised why it took over seven years to get even one Romani representative appointed to the Council, when the percentage of Romani losses was the same as, or perhaps even higher than that of the Jews. Why have the Romanies not been invited to participate in the annual Days of Remembrance? And why was the Jewish tragedy unique, when Romani victims experienced exactly the same fate, for exactly the same reasons, and the Romani people are still paying Hitler’s price? If Jews were “ignored” and “abandoned”—themes common in holocaust-related book titles—how much more do such terms apply to the Romani case? There is just one argument which would be morally justifiable, and that would be if it could be proved that statements about the Romani holocaust were false, that it did not happen. There are those, of course, who make this claim about the holocaust in its entirety.

The only argument remaining—and, sadly, it is one we do sometimes hear one way or another—is that Romanies were not as valuable in terms of human worth as other victims, and should, therefore, not be accorded the same acknowledgment. This attitude differs little from that which led to the official devaluation of the Romanies’ human worth in Hitler’s Germany, and to the eventual establishment of racial policies leading ultimately to attempted total extermination.

North American Jews have no privy knowledge of the Romani people; they are subject to the same media biases and have the same prejudices.79 Outlook ended its May 1987 editorial, “Gypsies and Jews in the Nazi Holocaust,” with the words: “American Jews need not fear the false Gypsy image any longer. Gypsies, like Jews, have endured a long history of defamation, deportation and destruction. They should stand together and demand equality.”80 But for some, that fear remains. In 1987, the U.S. Romani Anti-Defamation League was threatened with legal action by the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League, if they continued to employ that same phrase in naming themselves. The phrase, “Anti-Defamation League,” is copyrighted. One fears that the same claim would be made for the word “holocaust” if it could. This writer has even been told that Romanies want merely to “get onto the Jewish bandwagon,” to “get in on the act” (two of the things which have actually been told him); but in the light of history, these accusations are callous and unjustified. Jews and Romanies are not opponents, but victims of the same circumstances. Why is it so difficult for them to stand side by side? What the Romanies want least of all is to hitch a ride on Jewish coattails; they must stand independently and be judged by their own history. But they do ask for Jewish moral support. Who else can even come close to understanding what the Romanies are trying to tell the world?

In 1980, the Polish government forcibly deported groups of Romanies by boat, after having confiscated any documents which would have allowed their re-entry into that country.81 At this time, the Czechoslovakian government is maintaining a program of compulsory sterilization of Romani women and taking away their children;82 and in 1984, a city councilor for the City of Bradford, England called for the extermination of Romanies.83  Deportation, sterilization and recommended extermination, not forty years ago, but all within the past decade. For Romanies, the war is far from over.

Postscript (18:x:06)

“The Gypsies come closest of all to the Jewish tragedy.” (Elie Wiesel, Chairman, USHMC)84
“At the center of the tragedy of the Holocaust is the murder of European Jews . . . near that center is the murder of the Romanies.” (Michael Berenbaum, former USHMM Project Director)85.

Since 2002, there has been no Romani member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.


1. Sydney Schiffer. The Far Side of Enough (New York: Unpublished manuscript, privately printed and distributed by playwright [P. 0. Box 1883, New York, NY 10009], 1986).

2. U.S. GPO List of Publications, 24-NLB, Part 2 (Washington: Goverment Printing Office, October 1987), p. 235.

3. United States Holocaust Memorial Council. The Campaign for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington: USHMC,  May 1988), 1.

4. William Safire. “On Language: Long Time No See,” The New York Times Magazine, 20 September 1983.

5. Museum Newsletter (Washington), December 1986, p. 2.

6. The Washington Post, 13 April 1983.

7. Edward Alexander. “Stealing the Holocaust,” Midstream Vol. 26, No. 9 (November 1980), pp. 46-50.

8. Yehuda Bauer. “Whose holocaust?”  Midstream Vol. 26, No. 9 (November 19th): pp. 42-46.

9. Yehuda Bauer. The Holocaust in Historical Perspective (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1978), p. 36.

10. Lucy Dawidowicz. The Holocaust and the Historians (Cambridge, MA; Harvard University Press, 1981), p. 11.

11. Gerald L. Posner and John Ware. Mengele: The Complete Story (New York: Dell, 1986), p. 37.

12. [California] State Board of Education, Francis Laufenberg, President. Model Curriculum for Human Rights and Genocide. Sacramento: State Board of Education, 1998).  p. 5.

13. Ibid. This very practice prompted a petition by eleven members of the U.S. Congress to be sent to the Czechoslovak government through the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.

14. R. Conrad Klein. World at War: The Holocaust (Chicago: The Children’s Press, 1986).

15. Christian Bernadec. L’Holocaust Oublié (Editions France-Empire, 1979),  p. 34.

16. Quoted in Ronald Takaki. Iron Cages: Race and Culture in Nineteenth Century America (New  York: Alfred Knopf, 1979), p. 26.

17. Rieto Pieth. “Switzerland’s secret crusade against the Gypsies,” In These Times, January 1988; also in Ian Hancock.  The Pariah Syndrome (Ann Arbor, MI: Karoma Publishers, 1987), p. 104.

18. The Holocaust: Genocide against the Jews (Hartford, CT: State of Connecticut Department of Education, 1987), p. 3.

19. Felice Davis. “Gypsies and Jews in the Holocaust,” Outlook: Canada’s Progressive Jewish Magazine (May 1987), p. 15.

20. Jeremy Noakes. “Life in the Third Reich,” History Today Vol. 35 (1985), pp. 15-19.

21. Gisela Bock. “Racism and Sexism in Nazi Germany,” Signs Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 400-21; quoted from  pp. 408, 412.

22. Published in the Nazionalsozialistischer Rechtsspiegel 21-11 (1939).

23. Quoted in Joachim S. Hohmann, Zigeuner und Zigeunerwissensschaft (Marburg: Lahn, Guttandin and Hoppe, 1980), p. 201.

24. Ibid., p. 234.

25. Johannes Behrendt. “Die Wahrheit über die Zigeuner,” NS Partei Korrespondenz Vol. 10, p.  iii.

26. Miriam Novitch. Le Génocide des Tziganes sous le Régime Nazi, AMIF Publication No. 164 (Paris: La Comité pour 1’Erection du Monument des Tziganes Assassinés à Auschwitz, 1968), p. 11 [of the English translation by Ian Hancock].

27. Benno Müller-Hill. Murderous Science: Elimination by Scientific Selection of Jews, Gypsies and Others (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 56.

28. Erika Thurner. “Nazi Policy against the Gypsies,” a presentation to U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council conference, “The Other Victims,” Washington, 22-25 February 1987.

29. Rebecca Sherer. “Gypsies in the Holocaust,” Facing History and Ourselves (Summer 1987),  p. 5.

30. Donald Kenrick and Grattan Puxon. The Destiny of Europe’s Gypsies (London: Sussex University Press, 1972), Chapter 4, p. 60.

31. Ibid. Racist categorization of Gypsies persisted even before the advent of Nazi ideology despite the conservatively Aryan affiliation of the Romani language. Some scholars, starting with Richard Pischel in the nineteenth century, have argued for a Dravidian, rather than Indo-Aryan origin for the Gypsy population. See, for instance, Richard Pischel. “The Home of the Gypsies” (English trans.), Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society Vol. 2, Part 4 (1909), pp. 292-320. See also Ian Hancock. “The development of Romani linguistics,” in A. Jazyery and W. Winter, eds. Studies in Honor of Edgar C. Polomé (The Hague: Mouton, 1988).

32. Kenrick and Puxon, op. cit., p. 60.

33. Selma Steinmetz. Oesterreichs Zigeuner im NS-Staat,  Monographien zur Zeitgeschichte. (Frankfurt: Europa Verlag, 1966).

34. Letter dated 14 December 1984.

35. Heinz Heger. The Men with the Pink Triangle (Boston: Alyson Publications, 1980),  p. 9.

36. Margot Strom and William Parsons. Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior (Brookline, MA: Facing History and Ourselves, 1978),  p. 22.

37. Wolf in der Maur. Die Zigeuner: Wanderer zwischen zwei Welten (Vienna, Munich and Zurich: Verlag Fritz Molden, 1969), p. 168.

38. G. von Soest. Aspekte zur Sozialarbeit mit Zigeunern (Weinheim: Beltz, 1979).

39. Stephen Castles. Here for Good: Western Europe’s New Ethnic Minorities (London: Pluto Press, 1984), p. 197.

40. Sylvia Puggiole. “Swiss Government Apologizes to Gypsies,” a documentary on Gypsies in Europe broadcast on (U.S.) National Public Radio, KUT-FM, Austin TX, 5 December 1987.

41. Sylvia Sobeck. Menschen zwischen Macht und Ohnmacht.

42. Wolf in der Maur, op. cit.

43. Tilrnan Zülch. Referred to in unpublished document, 12 December 1980.

44. Behrendt, op. cit.

45. Donald Kenrick. In personal communication dated 10 May 1988.

46. A thesis dealing with San Sabba and other Italian camps is currently in progress under the direction of Jane Zatta.

47. Kurzgeschichte des nazionalsozialistischen Zigeunerlagers in Lackenbach, 1940 bis 1945 (Eisenstadt: Rotzer Druck, 1984).

48. This will be dealt with in detail by Gabrielle Tymauer in her excellent study, the first book-length work on the Romani holocaust to be published in the United States: The Fate of the Gypsies during the Holocaust (New York: Basic Books, to appear).

49. Bernard Streck, in G. A. Rakelmann, ed. Loseblattsammlung für Unterricht und Bild-ungsarbeit (Freiburg [im Breisgau], 1979).

50. Yehuda Bauer (1980), op. cit.

51. Gisela Bock, op. cit., p. 418.

52. Lloyd Grove. “Lament of the Gypsies: Forty Years after Auschwitz, petitioning for a place,” The Washington Post, 21 July 1984, p. C4.

53. Grattan Puxon. “The Forgotten Victims,” Patterns of Prejudice Vol. 11, Part 2 (1977), pp. 23-28; quoted from p. 24.

54. J. D. Thomas, and others. “Disease, lifestyle and consanguinity in 58 American Gypsies,” The Lancet 8555 (15 August 1977), pp. 377-79.

55. Glenn Infield. Secrets of the SS (New York: Stein and Day, 1982), p. 61.

56. Gabrielle Tymauer, op. cit., p. 10.

57. Miriam Novitch, op. cit., p. 16.

58. Minister of Justice Otto Thierack’s command read: “Foreign Gypsies are not to be treated as foreign, and therefore are to be surrendered.” See Kenrick and Puxon, op. cit., p. 60.

59. Robert Ritter. Die Bestandsaufnahme der Zigeuner (Berlin: Offizielle Gesundheitsdienst, 1941).

60. D. Kenrick and G. Puxon, op. cit., p. 68.

61. Guide for Days of Remembrance Observances (Washington: Department of Defense, 1988), p. 7.

62. Nuremberg  Document  NOKW-2022, March 1943.

63. Nuremberg Document NOKW-2535, 15 November 1943. See also Estonian Governor Heinrich Lohse’s confidential order to the SS which determined that Gypsies “should be treated in the same way as the Jews” in the Baltic. YIVO Letter File for 7 July 1942.

64. J. Marre and H. Charlton. Beats of the Heart (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 196. Passing as Jews in order to find employment is also dealt with in the documentary film on the Romani holocaust, Despised and Forgotten, distributed by EBS Productions, San Francisco, p. CA.

65. “The Nazis’ forgotten victims,” Time Magazine Vol. 114 (19 November 1979),  p. 67.

66. Kevin Costelloe. “Gypsies want reparation for slave labor under the Nazis,” The Minneapolis Star and Tribune 25 March 1986, p. 4A.

67. Elizabeth Pond. “Romanies: Hitler’s other victims,” The Christian Science Monitor, 7 March 1980, p. 17.

68. Simon Wiesenthal. “The Tragedy of the Gypsies,” Bulletin of Information (Vienna) p. 26.

69. Anna Tomforde. “Holocaust victims seek payments: denial of further compensation by West Germany revives debate,” The Boston Globe, 9 January 1988.

70. Don Oberdorfer. “East German Agrees on Reparations for Nazis’ Jewish Victims,” The Washington Post, 26 January 1988.

71. Bob Lundegaard. “Gypsies say their Holocaust story remains untold,” The Minneapolis Star and Tribune, 7 July 1987, p. 1C.

72. Prepared by the United Jewish Appeal, 1987.

73. Pre-conference brochure, “The Other Victims,” 1986.

74. Emil L. Fackelheim. Jewish Return into History (Syracuse: The University Press, 1978).

75. Erika Thumer. “Nazi Policy against the Gypsies,” paper delivered at the international scholars conference, “The Other Victims,” Washington, 22-25 February 1987.

76. The Washington Post, 13 April 1983.

77. Ibid.

78. The Washington Post, 21 July 1984.

79. See Ian Hancock. “Gypsies, Jews and the Holocaust,” Shmate: A Journal of Progressive Jewish Thought 17 (Winter 1987), pp. 8-15.

80. Outlook, op. cit., p. 15.

81. Bogumila Michalewicz. “Another sour note from Poland,” Newsletter of the Gypsy Lore Society 5(3), p. 7.

82. See Insight Magazine, 15 September 1986 and 7 September 1987.

83. Hancock (1987), op. cit., p. 100.

84. In Lundegaard, n. 71, above.

85. In the introduction to Michael Berenbaum, The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust as Told in the United  States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Little, Brown & Co.: Boston, Toronto and London (1993.).

*In compliance with common standards of spelling and style, including The Chicago Manual of Style (Thirteenth Edition, 1982) and Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, the word “holocaust” is spelled lower case, except when capitalized in direct quotation—ed.