Forgotten History


–This photo was taken from the USHMM gallery and has no known photographer. This was taken before The Weimar Republic and there is an officer in the back ground whom appears to be harassing the men.

These tribal people have been leading nomadic lifestyles since their origin up until the 1960s. They traveled in caravans called Kumpania where around 20 individual families would travel as one group. The Roma people tended to keep to themselves and forbade the learning of reading and writing as one of the women, Papuzsa, shared in her telling of her life as growing up in the Roma lifestyle. Within these smaller groups, arranged marriage was a way of life along with the traditions of the original Roma people. These people were known to be very musical and artistic as many of the stories I read discussed elaborate works of poetry, singing, and theatre. For centuries, Sinti and Roma were scorned and persecuted in Europe. Zigeuner, the German word for Gypsy, derives from a Greek root meaning “untouchable.” In the Balkan principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, Gypsies were slaves bought and sold by monasteries and large estate holders (boyars) until 1864, when the newly formed nation of Romania emancipated them. The Roma people placed all importance on the preservation of their history and tradition and would ostracize any of their members who did not comply with those values. It is due to their strict way of life and thinking that the Roma did not support the government and rejected most of their proposals. The Nazis scorned view of the world saw these people as a threat to their “perfected Aryan race” and aimed to rid them out of Nazi controlled territory. These people were simply trying to live their lives in peace and because they were not what The Nazis saw as “perfected” they became a target.