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A history of a terrible tragedy in the second world war holocaust

We discussed issues of origin, education, culture and their place in the eyes of the white Hungarian majority. As a child, growing up in a Hungarian family, the word Roma existed only as the name of a city in central Italy. The peoples collectively known as Roma were known in my household as gypsies. They were dirty, they were criminals, and they were not to be associated with in any way, shape, or form.

They were bad from birth. Stories of young gypsies who would corner you in broad daylight to steal your money and your coat are common among children, whether or not they were true, and were not forgotten by adulthood.

The majority wanted to assimilate them somehow into their culture, but did not want them as their own neighbors. The Jewish problem was to be solved by forcing Jews to wear yellow stars on all clothing, then herding them into ghettos, and finally moving them to concentration camps, where they were killed immediately or worked to death.

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The Nazis felt this solution to be the only way of saving the Aryan race from being tainted by Jewish blood. Roma were also forced to wear symbols on their clothing, then moved into the newly evacuated ghettos from where they were taken into concentration camps and either killed or worked to death. Jews were defined as anyone who: After 1938, however, a person could be considered having too much Gypsy blood in them if two of their eight great-grandparents were even part-Roma.

Of course, no claim can be made that their experiences were the same, but similarities can often be found. Arguments among scholars about the uniqueness of the Holocaust are widespread, ranging from those who feel the Holocaust was specifically Jewish, to those who feel that all victims equally played a part. In this paper, I will first introduce some quotes from certain scholars who feel that Roma should not be recognized equally with Jews as victims of the Holocaust. I would then like to look at the experience of Roma in the Holocaust, beginning with laws and decrees passed against them, and ending with their struggle for recognition today.

Hopefully, this will end in a basic understanding of what role the Holocaust had for Roma and why they, too, were equally victimized during the Holocaust.

One of the best known Jewish survivors of the Holocaust is Elie Wiesel. His many books dealing with life in and after the concentration camps are required reading for many high school students.

  1. The nomadic Roma lead very different lives from the Europeans of the time and did not care to assimilate themselves into that way of life.
  2. An Account of Gypsy Slavery and Persecution, for both of them note this book in their works cited.
  3. The last trace of civilization had vanished around and inside us.

In 1979, after his appointment to chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, he wrote a report to the president in which he said While Gypsies were killed throughout Europe, Nazi plans for their extermination were never completed nor fully implemented. However, Nazi plans for the annihilation of European Jews were not only completed but thoroughly implemented.

You will find that he did not fulfill that responsibility because he focuses only on the importance of the Jewish aspect of the Holocaust.

Other scholars have written similar statements, acknowledging the fact that Roma were victims, but emphasizing that they were not a central focus of the Holocaust.

Most of the non-Jewish people would not have been killed because the killing machinery would not have been put into operation. Others were drawn in -- with horrific results -- but the key object and common thread was always the Jews.

Holocaust survivors’ 70 years of trauma: ‘I could cry nonstop, even now’

He goes on to say that "[t]he term 'holocaust' was coined to describe the uniquely Jewish aspect of the Final Solution. It is also important to note that when capitalized, Holocaust refers specifically to the mass murders perpetrated by Nazis during World War II.

When not capitalized, it can be used to describe any mass slaughter. Though McFee expects us to assume he is speaking of the Holocaust during World War II, he does not make the distinction between capitalized and non-capitalized holocaust in his quote, thus misleading us. Because there was no intent to kill all Romanies, and because policies against them were not motivated by Nazi race theory, their treatment cannot be compared with that of the Jews and therefore they do not qualify for inclusion in the Holocaust-in sum because their treatment did not constitute a genocide and it was not motivated by a policy based on Nazi race theory.

You will notice some very peculiar commonalities. Roma Experience Laws against Roma had been passed almost since the day they arrived in Europe. In the very beginning, rumor spread that they were a band of Christian Egyptians fleeing persecution, thus coining the term Gypsies from the word Egyptians. However, as a darker skinned people who did not lead the settled lifestyle of peasants already in the area, they were immediately suspect. Other countries, such as Romania, France, and Spain, later pass laws calling for the resettlement and murder of Roma.

Churchill and the Holocaust

People throughout Europe had become settled into their own towns, intermingling with neighbors and setting up a social order based upon a fixed way of life. Roma, being a nomadic group, could not fit this way of life. The differences in religious and cultural practices led to rumors of them being magicians or vampires, which in turn led to their ostracization. Being culturally unacceptable did not matter to most Roma.

The nomadic Roma lead very different lives from the Europeans of the time and did not care to assimilate themselves into that way of life. They were most comfortable carrying on the practices and the ways of life of their ancestors. However, being economically unaccepted was another matter. Because people were constantly suspicious of these wandering peoples, they could not form the business relationships which would give them a way of making a living or a trading base.

Often, families would have to steal in order to eat, because nobody would transact with them. This led to a belief that all Roma were thieves, evolving into their 'criminality' being seen as a transmitted genetic disease which could be passed on from generation to generation and also to people near them. During the 1920s, the legal oppression of Romanies in Germany intensified, despite the official statutes of the Weimar Republic that said that all its citizens were equal.

However, with his new appointment as Chancellor, he could mold the laws to fit his own agenda, which included the eradication of anyone non-Aryan or with contrasting political views. In 1937, both Roma and Jews were officially labeled second-class citizens, "depriving them of [all or any of] their civil rights. Roman Mirga was one of the earliest Roma Holocaust survivors who had his story made into a book. This was in 1986, more than 40 years after being liberated.

His story gives us the truth about what it was like to be a prisoner at Auschwitz. One might say he was one of the lucky ones, because his father was a musician favored by the camp authorities. As the musician's son, he and his family were at least kept alive. It is important to note that in many concentration camps Roma families were held together. However, this was not done because Nazi officials felt any kindness toward the families. It was simply more expedient, and caused the guards less problems, to leave families together for processing.

I suddenly heard music. In the distance violins were playing 'The Blue Danube'. It was intended to calm the Jews going inside, soap and towels in their hands, no doubt believing they were taking a bath. Except that it was not a bath-house, but a crematorium. The Gypsy orchestra was there.

  • The Roma also did not have foreign organizations to fight for their rights and to help them re-start their lives;
  • In 1998 President Clinton appointed him to the U;
  • Arguments among scholars about the uniqueness of the Holocaust are widespread, ranging from those who feel the Holocaust was specifically Jewish, to those who feel that all victims equally played a part.

Medical experimentation and sterilization were also a large part of the role of Roma in concentration camps. The best known doctor who led medical experimentation was Dr. Mengele took a particular interest in Roma children. He was a very paradoxical figure, because at times he seemed to be especially fond of the Roma children, but then at any given time he would be terribly cruel to them.

Mengele was also known to kill pairs of twins specifically for the purpose of performing autopsies on their bodies. When the needle broke and the child died, Mengele cut the child open from the neck to the genitals, dissecting the body, and took out the innards to experiment on.

Salt water experiments, in which Roma were either injected with a salt water solution or given nothing more than salt water to drink began in 1944 at Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Dachau. Of the ten subjects, the only two who died were used as a control group and not injected. One of the injected survivors was then killed and dissected for an autopsy. They cut off our hair and everything to be hairless. It was done by women, then a doctor examined us thoroughly they examined, you know, everything.

He was the one who gave an injection to me and to all the others, to everybody. You know, he gave me an injection down there Everything went black I fell off that examining table. They kicked me away, it was time for the next. They gave me an injection like that one in eight months and after that I did not have that monthly thing. When I went to Roma settlements and spoke to the men and women, I learned that the more children one has, the higher status he holds among his fellow Roma.

The Holocaust

Using this assumption, we can understand why sterilization was such a horrible experience especially for young Roma women. Not only would they not be able to bear a child, which is difficult for anyone to accept, but they would be considered lower than their counterparts who had children, or who could still bear children. In sterilization we see not only a physical maiming, but also a psychological scarring with social repercussions. In the beginning of their internment, Roma were supposedly allowed to live as long as they could in the camps, dying only from disease and starvation.

We have to note that many Roma never made it to the camps, but were shot right outside of the cities where they lived, or in the forests, or on the way to the camps. How many Roma were killed before they arrived at camps is impossible to know, mostly because there is no specific documentation about those killings. Other documentation classified them not as Roma, but as criminals or sometimes even as Jews.

Of those that did make it to the camps, it was not until later in the war when they were being gassed in large numbers. The first group of Roma to be gassed occurred in January 1940 as an experiment, which was actually the first gassing using Zyklon-B in Nazi history. Two-hundred and fifty Roma children were used to test the effects of Zyklon-B. Needless to say, the experiment was successful in that it killed all 250 children, and would be used from then on to gas prisoners. Some died after liberation because they ate themselves sick.

The food they received in the concentration camps lacked any nutritional value. They were given very little bread, which was often withheld from them as punishment.

Using modern day treatment of anorexia patients, who are also severely malnourished, we learn that in order to reduce the chances for heart failure, patients must begin with a calorie count as low as 1,500 calories a day. Ilona Raffael remembers when the Russians liberated her: Many of us got sick because people, whose stomach had contracted, ate a lot.

I was clever enough not to eat much food; first I drank a lot of tea. Unfortunately, those that did not know merely added themselves to the death toll. Another terrible situation for Roma upon liberation was their lack of placement. Unlike other survivors who had families waiting for them in the Americas and throughout Europe, Roma often had no one. They had no other country to flee to and usually no family outside of their own tribe.