Gypsies: Roma and Sinti

Question

Thank you for your offer to provide information about the Nazi holocaust and its period.

A college professor friend once told me that many millions of gypsies were also exterminated by the Nazis. He has since passed away and I have found other sources hard to come by. Some people I know are questioning both the number of gypsies that suffered and if they were even targeted systematically.

Your short essay states that they were indeed one of three groups systematically targeted for extermination.

Would you be able to give me some numbers? And sources (online perhaps) for further information?

Many thanks in advance!

Yale F. Edeiken answers:

Thank you for this question.

The gypsies (properly the Roma and Sinta) were, indeed, targets of the genocide perpetrated by Hitler. As there were fewer Roma and Sinta not as many were murdered as with other groups. The best estimates are that approximately 250,000 Roma and Sinta were murdered by the Third Reich.

One of the major differences between the Roma and Sinta and other groups targeted for extermination was that the philosophical view of the Third Reich changed over time. At first the Roma and Sinta were considered "aryans" and the proposed "solution" was "re-education." This changed in about 1939 when the objective changed to extermination. Even at this point, there were differences between "settled" Roma and Sinta (treated as nationals of their country) and nomadic Roma and Sinta (immediate extermination).

There are brief but good explanations of how this policy developed in:

Robert N. Proctor Racial Hygiene: Medicine Under the Nazis Harvard University Press; 1988

Martin Gilbert The Holocaust Henry Holt; 1985

Yale F. Edeiken
for The Holocaust History Project

Harry W. Mazal answers:

I am one of the persons in The Holocaust History Project who responds to questions from its readers. It also possible that you will receive responses from other members of the Project.

The plight of the Gypsies under the Nazis is fairly well documented. One of the better sites on this subject in the Internet is:

http://www.geocities.com/Paris/5121/holcaust.htm

The homepage of this particular site:

http://www.geocities.com/Paris/5121/patrin.htm

also offers interesting details about these misunderstood people.

If you require more information please do not hesitate to ask.

Yours sincerely,

Harry W. Mazal OBE

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