The Gypsy Question
1890/1945 - Cronologia dell'olocausto in Germania
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Ian Hancock

1890 Conference organized in Germany on the Zigeunergeschmeiss ("Gypsy scum"). Military empowered to regulate movements of Gypsies.


1899 The Central Office for Fighting the Gypsy Nuisance is established, and documents begin to be collected on Romani history, and on the Gypsy population in Germany. The Bavarian police create a special "Gypsy Affairs Unit" in the same year.

1909 A policy conference on "The Gypsy Question" is held, and the recommendation made that all Gypsies be branded with easy identification.


1920 Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche, introduce the notion of "lives unworthy of life," suggesting that Gypsies should be sterilized and eliminated as a people. This notion, with the same name, is incorporated into Nazi race theory in 1933.

1922 (And throughout the 1920s): All Gypsies in German territories are to be photographed and fingerprinted.

1926 A July 16 law is directed at controlling the "Gypsy plague." This treatment is in direct violation of the terms of the Weimar Constitution.


1927 In Bavaria, special camps are built to incarcerate Gypsies. Eight thousand Gypsies are processed in this way.


1928 All Gypsies are placed under permanent police surveillance. Professor Hans Gunther publishes a document in which he claims that "it was the Gypsies who introduced foreign blood into Europe." More camps are built to contain Gypsies.


1930 Recommendation made that all Gypsies be sterilized.


1933 Nazis introduce a law to legalize eugenic sterilization. This is specifically named as written to control "Gypsies and most of the Germans of black color," these latter the descendants of the unions between African soldiers and Europeans from the period of the 1914-1918 War.


1934 Gypsies are being selected from January onwards for sterilization by injection and castration, and being sent to camps at Dachau, Dieselstrasse, Sachsenhausen and elsewhere. Two laws issued in this year forbid Germans from marrying "Jews, Gypsies and Negroes." 1935 Gypsies become subject to the restriction of the Nuremberg Law for the Protection of Blood and Honor. Marriage with white people is forbidden. Criteria defining who is Gypsy are exactly twice as strict as those defining any other group.


1938 Between June 12th and 18th, Zigeuneraaufraumungswoche ("Gypsy clean-up week") takes place, when hundreds of Gypsies throughout Germany and Austria are arrested, beaten, and imprisoned. Gypsies are first targeted population to be forbidden to attend school. Himmler’s recommendation that certain Roma be kept alive in a compound under the Law for the Protection of Historic Monuments for anthropologists to study, is ridiculed and never implemented. 1939 Nazi party decree states that "the aim of the measures taken by the state must be the racial separation once and for all of the Gypsy race from the German nation, then the prevention of racial mixing." The Office of Racial Hygiene issues a statement saying "All Gypsies should be treated as hereditarily sick; the only solution is elimination. The aim should therefore be the elimination without hesitation of this defective element in the population."


1940 The first mass genocidal action of the Holocaust takes place in January of this year, when 250 Romani children are used as guinea pigs to test the cyanide gas crystal, at the concentration camp at Buchenwald. Employment of any kind is forbidden to Gypsies in this same year.


1941 Gypsies are the first targeted population to be forbidden to serve in the army. Eight hundred Roma are murdered in one action on the night of December 24 in the Crimea. On July 31of this year, Heydrich, "Head of the Reich Main Security Office and leading organizational architect of the Nazi Final Solution," puts the machinery of the Endlosung into operation with his directive to the Einsatzkommandos to "kill all Jews, Gypsies and mental patients." The Holocaust begins.


1944 In the early hours of the August 1, four thousand Roma are gassed and incinerated at Auschwitz-Birkenau in one mass action, remembered by survivors as Zigeunernacht.


1945 By the end of the war, between 70% and 80% of the Romani population had been annihilated by Nazis. No Roma were called to testify at the Nuremberg Trials, and no one came forth to testify on their behalf. No war crimes reparations have been paid to the Roma as a people.


1950 First of many statements over the years to follow, made by the German government, that they owe nothing to the Romani people by way of war crimes reparations.


1992 Germany sells Romani asylum seekers back to Romania for $21 million, and begins shipping them in handcuffs on November 1. Some Roma commit suicide rather than go. The German press agency asks western journalists not to use the word "deportation" in their coverage of this, because that word has "uncomfortable historical associations." This brief chronology was condensed from "Gypsy History in Germany and Neighboring Lands: A Chronology to the Holocaust and Beyond," in Nationalities Papers, 19(3):395-412(1991), a special issue on Gypsies.

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