Holocaust: The Third Reich and the Gypsies

 
Left: Romani civilians in Asperg, Germany are rounded up for deportation by German authorities on 22 May 1940. Photo Credit. Left: Two Roma kids, photo taken on 6th April 1944. Photo Credit.
 
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Before Hitler targeted and mass slaughtered the Jews in the Holocaust, the Third Reich first victimized the Gypsies – the Roma and the Sinti – living in Germany and Austria.

Hitler’s obsession with the idea of the Aryan racial purity made him see the Jews as an inferior race that needed to be exterminated. But before the Fuehrer set his sight on the extermination of theEuropean Jewry, he first ordered the research, investigation, round-up, deportation and mass killings of the Gypsies living within Germany and Austria.

Asperg. In a daylight, Roma are being deported. Most of them will go to German death camps. Photo Credit.
Asperg. In daylight, Roma are being deported. Most of them will go to German death camps. Photo Credit.

There were about 35,000 reputed Gypsies – mainly from the Roma and Sinti tribes – living within Germany and Austria in 1938. They were named as such as it was believed they originated from Egypt, in fact they probably originated from modern India.

Social discrimination and ostracism had long plagued the Gypsies even before the rise of the Third Reich. But it was in Hitler’s Germany that their situation became perilous because of the Fuehrer’s obsession with racial purity in Germany.

Romani woman with German police officer and Nazi psychologist Dr. Robert Ritter. Photo Credit.
Romani woman with German police officer and Nazi psychologist Dr. Robert Ritter. Photo Credit.

When Hitler came into a position of power, he commissioned Dr. Robert Ritter, Dr. Sophie Ehrhardt and a nurse named Eva Justin to do an extensive pseudo-scientific investigation on the lineage of both the Roma and Sinti communities. The result of this said research came out in 1940, and the verdict was grim. Ritter concluded that  90% of the Gypsies residing in Germany were of mixed blood, “the products of matings with the German criminal asocial subproletariat”.

In the light of this finding, anyone with a drop of Gypsy blood running in his veins was considered an alien, unfit for the society and susceptible to being criminals and lawbreakers.

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