Ceauşescu’s Master Race and his Romani “Robot work Force”

Ian Hancock


Over 80,000 Children still languish in Romanian orphanages. This tragedy has received extensive media coverage since the early 1990s, and the compassion of the world has turned toward them. While documentation issued by various human rights groups1, and a small number of press reports2 have acknowledged the fact that in the majority of these state institutions as many as 80% of the infants are Romanies (“Gypsies”), this has still not made an impact upon the mainstream American media.

Equally deserving of attention is the fact that while the overall population of the children so incarcerated is of both Romani and non-Romani origin, their respective presence in those institutions today is the result of two very different policies. Ceauşescu had specific plans for the Romanies, which were grimly reminiscent of the centuries of Romani slavery in his country, not fully abolished until 1864. He also brought techniques of genetic engineering—based specifically on the race policies of Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany—into the 1980s, forty years after the Holocaust in which the Romanies were selected alongside the Jews for complete extermination in the Final Solution3.

Not one of the current affairs oriented television programs such as Turning Point, 60 Minutes, 20/20 and others have even mentioned this blatantly racist situation, even though all of them have broadcast feature programs about these children. If eighty percent of those in the orphanages were of specifically Hungarian, or German, or Armenian descent, for example, this would without question be cause for instant outrage and investigation at the highest level. But those children are Romanies, and we can only conclude therefore that they do not merit concern. Ironically, some of those same programs have not hesitated to broadcast investigative reports on crimes committed by Romanies.

Romanies in Romanian state institutions

The distinction between Romanies and non-Romanies has been particularly apparent in the treatment of the children in those state institutions; theirs is perhaps the most tragic aspect of the Romani situation in Romania. While news of the existence of extraordinarily large numbers of children in Romanian orphanages began to reach the West in 1990, the fact that most of them are Romanies is still not generally known. Although Romani Romanians (Rroma) constitute only between 10% and 20% of the national population, they make up as much as 80% of the children in many of these homes. Some are orphans, but others have been voluntarily placed in foster homes and orphanages by their parents, who maintain that they believe their children’s chances for survival in an increasingly hostile society would be greater in a state institution than in the Romani community, which is under increasing attack. In a number of these establishments, especially as one travels further east in Romania, the children are given minimal routine care, and receive no physical attention, sometimes being left bound in urine-soaked sheets on the ground all day or tightly handcuffed to their beds. Many have open sores because of this, and the arms and legs of others have become deformed. Incidents of AIDS, hepatitis, and more recently cholera, have been reported, the result of unsanitary equipment and blood transfusions. Because of a lack of human love and contact during their first years of life, a frightening number of the children have underdeveloped motor and communication skills; some are unable to speak or walk or feel normal human emotions. Some are filled with an excruciating rage that they don’t understand and cannot control.

The human rights organization Terre des Hommes in Den Haag reports that the annual death rate in some of these homes is between 50% and 65%. The policy of the Romanian government is to withhold the children from being available for adoption for a period of six months after they are born, ostensibly to allow their own parents, or other Romanian citizens, to have first access to them. But white Romanians don’t adopt Romani children, and if their parents are living, they too seldom change their minds about removing them from the institutions. Thus in their first six months of life, according to the figures issued by Terre des Hommes, between 25% and 32% of the Romani babies perish because they are not made accessible to those wishing to adopt them.

Such children are classified as “irrecuperable” or “irrecoverable” by the government, and no attempt is made to sustain them; a film entitled Romania’s death camps was broadcast nationally in July, 1991 showing the mass graves where their bodies were dumped, not even in boxes, after they had been allowed to die. According to that report, irrecuperables were sent to Riu Sadului (near Sibiu), “one of 170 isolated ‘forbidden zones.’ No visitors were allowed inside; one mile up the road is a mass grave, four football fields long. Dutch humanitarian Hans Hunink [working with Terre des Hommes] discovered the mass grave last winter. Hunink believes that most of the dead are children.”4

There are a number of reasons why the racial identity of the majority of the Romanian orphans has not been better publicized. The greatest demand among prospective adoptive parents in the United States is for white babies, which are not readily available in American orphanages. A report circulated by Touch Romania in Summer, 1991, stated that “[t]he great interest in Romanian adoption, fueled in part by the media, centers around the fact that the vast majority of the children in question are Caucasian.” The Romani children, classified as non-Caucasian, in fact constitute the majority, but advertising this, it has been suggested, would adversely affect business for the adoption agencies. It is also the case that journalists reporting on the situation often approach it without any prior knowledge of Romanian population demographics, or of the history and identity of the Romanies, and so make no special concession to the racial aspects of the Romanian situation. It is also certainly true that Romani children have not always been made available for adoption by the Romanian authorities themselves. They are either kept out of the sight of visitors to the homes, or those visitors are dissuaded from adopting them. A Mexican American couple from Amarillo, Texas, told the Romani Union that when they asked for a Romani child specifically because its complexion more closely matched their own, they were refused, and asked why they would waste the opportunity to grow up in America “on a Gypsy.” Kathleen Hunt also reported the same attitude from a staff member at the state institution at PloieÕti, which she visited in January, 1991:

Half an hour later. Or. Luiza Popescu strides in ...When [she is told that a visitor] is looking for abandoned babies, she snickers that most of those children are from the “baby machines,” or Romanies. “How could Americans be willing to adopt Romanies?,” the doctor asks, voicing the prejudice many ethnic Romanians harbor. “The genetics is what matters from the beginning,” she declares with a sweep of the hand. “Ha! Such a child will certainly steal.”5

Reasons for the Romanian situation

The Romani children in the Romanian institutions are the result of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s plan to create a superior “Dacian” people by selective breeding and population engineering. Ceauşescu’s fascination with Hitler’s racial policies is no secret; “In the early 1970s, when Ceauşescu learned that Romania had over 600,000 emigres abroad, he became very interested in Hitler’s Fifth Column. That was not too surprising, as Ceauşescu had always studied Hitler’s ‘charisma,’ and had repeatedly analysed the original Nazi films of Hitler’s speeches . . . In almost every speech, he recalls the Romanian people’s origins in proud Roman and Dacian warriors, just as Hitler harped on the Aryans. . .”6.

Because he took pains to conceal his actions, however, and little documentation to substantiate them has so far come to light, the means by which he tried to accomplish his aims are only now being pieced together. The establishment of his “death camp” orphanages apparently pre-dated his open fascination with Hitler by some years:

Ceauşescu started the camps as early as 1965. there had been years of planning. When Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp, was discovered in January 1945, Nicolae Ceauşescu was 27 years old. Like the Nazis, Ceauşescu advocated racial purity. Years later, he would express his concern for, quote,“the new human type we intend to mold in our society.” Ceauşescu had Romania’s history books rewritten. He argued that the true Romanians were descended from Dacians, far more advanced than what he called the other “aboriginal” races . . . “superior even to ancient Rome.” Ceauşescu wanted a huge robot work force.7

His intention was to breed on the one hand large numbers of “pure” Romanians and on the other, those who were to make up his “robot work force,” the status Romanies had endured as slaves for 550 years8. In both cases, like the ancient Spartans, the weak were allowed to die, since they were of no use to either population. Women, married or not, were encouraged to have many children; they were rewarded publicly for having five or more, and birth control was made illegal. Romanian officials maintain that Romanies were not therefore discriminated against, since this policy affected them equally9. The difference, however, lay in what was destined for each group. Because of the state of the Romanian economy, and the execution of Ceauşescu in December, 1989, this bizarre plan was never to materialize, but it has left a legacy in the surplus children who languish in the Romanian orphanages and whose bodies fill the mass graves reported by Terre des Hommes. That Romanies are treated as subhuman in modem Romania, where the very word Úigan (“Romani,” but synonymous with “slave” in the Romanian language), is the result of centuries of persecution rooted in Romanian history.


1. ‘See Theodore Zang et al., eds.. Destroying Ethnic Identity: The Persecution of Romanies in Romania (New York: Helsinki Watch (Human Rights Watch), 1991), Veronika L. Szente, Sudden Rage at Dawn: Violence Against Roma in Romania (Budapest: European Roma Rights Center, Country Reports Series No. 2, 1996), Prospects for Roma in a New Europe, Helsinki Committee of the Romani Union Special Report, Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Moscow, 1991 and Ian Hancock, “Rapport au Comite Americain des Droits de 1’Homme sur la Situation des Roma en Roumanie,” Etudes Tsiganes, 3:12-14 (1991).

2. See Dan Pavel, “Romania’s hidden victims,” New Republic, March 4th, 1991, pp. 12-13, Kathleen Hunt, “Romania’s lost children,” The New York Times Magazine, June 24th, 1990, pp. 28-36, Ruth Sorelle, “Born to be forgotten,” The Houston Chronicle Special Report, April 28th, 1996, Toby Sonneman, “Romania’s forgotten children” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 30th, 1991, pp. A9-A10, the same author’s “Romania’s Romani children,” Lies of Our Times, June, 1991, pp. 16-17, and her “Romanies in eastern Europe: Why we should care,” Humanistic Judaism, July, 1991, pp. 47-49.

3. See Ian Hancock, “Responses to the Porrajmos: The Romani Holocaust,” in Alan Rosenbaum (ed.). Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives on Comparative Genocide, Boulder: The Westview Press, 1996, pp. 39-64.

4. Mark Jones, “Romania’s death camps,” on NBC’s cable network program The Real Story, broadcast on Cable News Network on Sunday, July 28th, 1991.

5. Kathleen Hunt, “The Romanian baby bazaar,” The New York Times Magazine, March 24th, 1991, pp. 24-29, on p. 26.

6. Ion Mihai Pacepa, Red Horizons, Washington: Regnery Gateway, 1991, p. 281. See also Edward Behr, Kiss the Hand You Cannot Bite, New York: Villard Books, 1991, especially Chapter 2, pp. 29-48.

7. Mark Jones, op. cit.

8. Ian Hancock, The Pariah Syndrome: An Account of Romani Slavery and Persecution, Ann Arbor: Karoma Publishers, 1987. For the Asian origins of the Romani people, see the introductory chapter in the same author,s A Handbook of Vlax Romani, Columbus: Slavica Publishers, 1995.

9. Its application, however, did not match this claim, since Romani mothers received no such recognition.


1. A letter to the British press

The Guardian, Saturday October 26 1996


Romani myths

YOUR article (Dreams of the despised, October 16) is accompanied by photographs allegedly representing Romanian gypsies as examples of society’s scapegoats, “much like the Jews were in the past”. The association between the fate of Jews and gypsies in the past “all across Eastern Europe” and Romania seems to be at least far-fetched, if one remembers that Romania was the one Eastern European country which did not perpetrate any crimes against either ethnic group.

Ion Pascu
Charge d’Affaires
Embassy of Romania
4 Palace Green
London W84QD.

2. An e-mail received on Monday, November 9th 1998

Please forward this message to Dr. Ian Hancock, the linguistic expert at the University of Texas at Austin:

To Dr. Ian Hancock,

I just happen to read the article “Born to be Forgotten” and I came across your statements: “Ceauşescu was consumed with the idea of creating a perfect Romanian race.” “The impure children in the orphanage were to be a robot work force” and “Ceauşescu was copying Hitler.”

I must say that these assertations are outrageous, and so revolting! We all agree that Ceauşescu was a despotic dictator but you are using this to put the gypsies on a different spot! During Ceauşescu’s regime, gypsies had more freedom than anyone else: they were crossing the borders as they pleased, reaching the western European countries where they were robbing and stealing, making an awful reputation for Romania (they were saying that they are Romanians).

Gypsies were doing nothing (and they still are) but multiplying like rats, robbing and stealing and committing murders. What do you expect, of course that 80% makes the orphanage kids in Romania and nobody wants them!

Dr. Hancock, if you are representing the gypsies before United Nations maybe you should try to come up with some kind of gypsies foundations in helping them learn about education: educate them about contraceptives first of all, so we can stop having so many gypsy kids all over the streets of Romania and orphanages. But the truth is that gypsies will always be gypsies—the dirt of any nation that will never change and everybody will avoid! It’s outrageous to assert such things as you did in this article! Besides Ceauşescu was far from “copying Hitler”! He did commit lots of crimes but this was not something on his agenda! By reading your statements I can only come to two conclusions: You’re either totally misinformed about the history of gypsies or you are a gypsy yourself and wants to fabricate a new name for gypsies!