Scrapbookpages Blog

August 6, 2015

Persecuted Gypsies get no respect

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 11:00 am

A news article, which you can read in full here, begins with this headline:

Current plight of Gypsies highlighted as Europe commemorates the Roma Holocaust

The news article begins with this quote:

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Europe’s top human right official has drawn attention to the abuses and discrimination faced by the Roma minority as Europe commemorated the tens of thousands of Gypsies killed during World War II.

The European Parliament has designated Aug. 2 as Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, remembering the approximately 220,000 Roma killed by Nazi Germany and its allies.

The exact number of Gypsies killed in the Holocaust is unknown. Numbers vary, from 220,00, estimated by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, to an estimated 500,000.

It is important to know that the Gypsies were not rounded up by the Nazis and put into camps solely because they were Gypsies.  No, they were sent to camps under the category of “work shy” because they were wandering around, not employed, with no visible means of support.  In other words, the Gypsies were out traveling around, and gyping the hard-working German people, instead of working for a living. In Nazi Germany, everyone was required to have a job and a  permanent address.

In the 1938 Nazi action against the work-shy, there were 4,500 vagrants and urban campers rounded up and sent to the concentration camps where they were forced to work against their will.

There is no memorial, in any of the former camps, for the work-shy, other than the one in Buchenwald for the Gypsies who were arrested because they were unemployed and did not have a permanent address.

The Auschwitz Gypsy Camp was created in 1942 when all Roma and Sinti, with the exception of those belonging to two tribes considered to be “pure Gypsies” of the original Indo-Germanic people, were rounded up and transported to a “family camp” in Birkenau, the Auschwitz II camp. The pure Gypsies were settled in the district of Ödenburg on Lake Neusiedler.

According to Lucie Adelsberger in her book, Auschwitz: A Factual Report, there was a total of 20,943 Gypsies registered in Auschwitz in 1943 and 7,000 had died by September 1943.

The first Gypsies to be killed were sent to Belzec, the first “death camp.”

A group of Gypsies wait to be gassed at the Belzec death camp

The photo above shows a  group of Gypsies waiting to be gassed at Belzec, the first death camp.

The gassing of the Gypsies began at the Belzec death camp in 1942.

Why do the Gypsies [Roma] get no respect? For the answer, start by reading an article at

The following quote, about the gassing of the Gypsies, is from the web site of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

They (the Gypsies) were killed by gassing or died from starvation, exhaustion from hard labor, and disease (including typhus, smallpox, and the rare, leprosy-like condition called Noma.) Others, including many children, died as the result of cruel medical experiments performed by Dr. Josef Mengele and other SS physicians. The Gypsy camp was liquidated on the night of August 2-3, 1944, when 2,897 Sinti and Roma men, women, and children were killed in the gas chamber. Some 1,400 surviving men and women were transferred to Buchenwald and Ravensbrück concentration camps for forced labor.

According to a guidebook sold by the Auschwitz Museum in Poland, there were 20,943 Roma (Gypsies) who were gassed in the Krema V gas chamber; their bodies were burned in the pits adjacent to Krema V.

According to Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant of Auschwitz,  Heinrich Himmler inspected the Gypsy camp on his visit to Auschwitz in July 1942.

Hoess wrote the following in his autobiography entitled Death Dealer:

Himmler inspected everything thoroughly. He saw the over-crowded barracks, the inadequate hygienic conditions, the overflowing infirmaries and the sick in the isolation ward. […] Himmler saw everything in detail, as it really was. Then he ordered me to gas them [the Gypsies]. Those who were still able to work were to be selected, just as with the Jews.

In his date book, Heinrich Himmler noted that, on his visit to Auschwitz in July 1942, he had inspected the main camp, the farm at Auschwitz and the Monowitz factories, where photographs were taken of him. He did not mention that he had visited Birkenau, the Auschwitz II camp.

Danuta Czech wrote in her book entitled Kalendarium that 1,408 Gypsies, who were able to work, were transferred to the main Auschwitz camp and housed in Blocks 10 and 11 on May 23, 1944. They were later sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where there is a memorial sculpture in commemoration of the Roma.

The selection of the Gypsies for the gas chamber took two years, according to Commandant Rudolf Hoess. Regarding the liquidation of the Gypsy Family Camp on August 2, 1944, Hoess wrote the following:

By August 1944 there were only about four thousand Gypsies left and these had to go into the gas chambers. Until that time they did not know what fate was in store for them. Only as they were marched barrack after barrack to Crematory 1 [one] did they figure out what was going on.

When Hoess wrote that the Gypsies were marched to Crematory 1, he was undoubtedly referring to Krema II, which was a short distance from the Gypsy camp. Crematory 1, or Krema I in German, was in the main Auschwitz camp, three kilometers from Birkenau. By August 1944, Krema I was no longer in operation as a gas chamber. [Hoess made many mistakes in his memoir, indicating that he might have suffered head injuries when he was almost beaten to death by the British, to force him to confess to the gassing of the Jews.]

Both the USHMM and the Auschwitz Museum say that the number of Gypsies gassed on August 2, 1942 was 2,897, not “four thousand” as Hoess stated.

Regarding the gassing of the Gypsies, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, who was allegedly a prisoner at Auschwitz,  wrote the following:

Annihilation time had come for the 4,500 inhabitants of the Gypsy Camp. The measures taken were the same as those taken for the liquidation of the Czech Camp. All the barracks were quarantined. SS guards, leading their police dogs, invaded the Gypsy quarters and chased the inhabitants outside, where they were made to line up. Rations of bread and salami were distributed. The gypsies were made to believe that they were being shipped to another camp, and they swallowed the story. A very easy and efficacious way of calming their fears. No one thought of the crematoriums, for then why would rations of food have been distributed?

This strategy on the part of the SS was dictated neither by pity nor a regard for those condemned to death, but merely by their desire to expedite a large group of people, without any unnecessary incidents or delays, to the gas chambers, guarded by a relatively small patrol. The strategy worked to perfection. Everything went off as planned. Throughout the night the chimneys of number one and two crematoriums sent flames roaring skyward, so that the entire camp was lighted with a sinister glow.

If Dr. Nyiszli’s story is correct, the method of calming the fears of the Gypsies amounted to a tremendous waste of bread and salami. Or was the “salami” actually what Americans call Thuringer, a type of smoked, semi-dry German sausage similar to our summer sausage? It is doubtful that the Nazis imported salami for the Auschwitz prisoners.

Note that Dr. Nyiszli, who worked in the “crematoriums” performing autopsies for Dr. Josef Mengele, referred to “number one and two crematoriums” but he obviously meant Krema II and Krema III at Birkenau, not Krema I, which was at the main camp.

In April 1997, a Memorial to the Romany and Sinti victims of the Nazis was built at the Buchenwald Memorial Site, on the spot where the Block 47 barracks once stood.

The memorial to the Gypsies is shown in the photograph below. This was the first memorial, to be put up, in recognition of the suffering of the Romany and Sinti under the Nazi regime.

Memorial to the Gypsy victims of the Nazis at the former Buchenwald camp

Memorial to the Gypsy victims of the Nazis at the former Buchenwald camp

In the foreground of the photo above is an inscription which begins “In memory of Sinti and Romany..”

Each of the upright stones in the memorial shown in the background of the photo above has the name of another Nazi concentration camp where the Roma were sent.

In the far background in the photo above is the gate house on the left and the camp canteen on the right.

The following quote is from the Buchenwald camp guidebook:

The racist persecution of the Sinti in Germany had already started under the cover of the Aktion Abreitsscheu Reich (i.e. during an action against “work-shy” people in Germany) carried out in 1938. Approximately 700 people called Burgenland Gypsies were deported to Buchenwald by way of the Dachau camp about one year later, i.e. in September 1939. They were put in Blocks 14 and 15. Many of them were driven to death in the quarry and in the excavation and stone-carrier parties. Hundreds of people belonging to the Romany Gypsies were provisionally put in Block 47 as the SS deported the survivors of the mass extermination of this people from the dissolved Auschwitz Gypsy Camp to the camps in Germany. Two hundred young Sinti and Romany Gypsies who were unfit for work were still sent back from Buchenwald into the gas chambers of Auschwitz in September 1944. Only a few survived among those who had to crush stones and dig tunnels in external working parties.