& current status: Part 1
Roma are also known as Gypsies, Rom, Rroma, Romani, etc.
There are believed to be about 12 million Roma scattered throughout the world,
with the vast majority living in Europe. It is
impossible to estimate the total population with accuracy since many governments do not
record Roma in their census figures. Also, many Roma conceal their ethnic origin out of
fear of discrimination.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe describe the Roma as "the
poorest, least healthy, least educated and most discriminated sector of...society."
Persecution of the Roma in the 20th century:
They have suffered severe persecution in ancient
times, and this has continued to the present day:
During the 1920's, in the Weimar Republic in Germany, the Roma were seriously
were forbidden to use parks or public baths. Roma were required to register with the police.
Many were sent to work camps "for reasons of public security."
Nazis took power in the early 1930s, the Roma were further persecuted under the "Nuremberg Law for
the Protection of German Blood and Honor" In 1937, Heinrich Himmler issued a
decree "The Struggle Against the Gypsy Plague," which increased police
monitoring of the Roma.
During the Nazi Holocaust, they were declared to be "subhuman". In
1941-JUL, the Einsatzkommandos were instructed to "kill all Jews, Gypsies and
mental patients." A few months later, Himmler ordered that all Roma be deported
to Auschwitz-Birkenau for extermination.
Sybil Milton, a former Senior Historian of the US
Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates that 500,000 Roma and Sinti persons were executed
during the Nazi Holocaust.
This number is supported by the Romas and Sinti Center in Heidelberg.
2 The Roma refer to this
genocide as the "O Porrajamos" -- literally "The Great Devouring."
There are about 5,000 Roma survivors of the Nazi concentration camps who
are still living.
Because of continuing discrimination, they did not share in any of the hundreds of millions of dollars given to other survivors
of the Holocaust.
Persecution of the Roma continues in the 21st century:
The hatred, discrimination, oppression, and physical attacks directed at the Roma within the formerly Communist
governments of eastern Europe have intensified in recent years. Roma are heavily
discriminated against in matters of education, employment, health care, and social
services. They are a prime target of neo-Nazis and skinheads. Often the governments have
done little to guarantee them even the most basic of human rights. If the
governments tried to treat them as equal citizens, there would probably be a backlash from the
rest of the public.
Amnesty International issued a report in 2007 titled: "Europe: Discrimination
against Roma." It states in part:
"The Roma population is the poorest and one of the fastest growing in the
region, living predominantly on the margins of society. Roma are one of the
largest ethnic minority groups in Europe."
"The Roma community suffers massive discrimination in access to housing,
employment and education. In some countries they are prevented from obtaining
citizenship and personal documents required for social insurance, health care
and other benefits. Roma are often victims of police ill-treatment and their
complaints are seldom investigated. Frequently Romani children are
unjustifiably placed in 'special' schools where curtailed curricula limit
their possibilities for fulfilling their potential. Romani children and women
are among the communities most vulnerable to traffickers."
"Roma were often the victims of torture or other ill-treatment by law
enforcement officers across the region. Roma were also often victims of racist
attacks during which they were not adequately protected by the police. The
authorities in many countries failed to fulfil [sic] their domestic and
international obligations towards the Roma community." 4
examples of hatred, discrimination, and oppression in various countries is listed below:
This continues in Part 2
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Tom Giles, "Gypsies: Tramps and Thieves?", School of International
& Public Affairs. An article at:
"Sinti & Roma," Pamphlet by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,
Ian Hancoc, "Roma: Genocide of [sic] in the Holocaust". A brief excerpt
appears in: http://www.geocities.com/Paris/5121/genocide.htm
"Europe: Discrimination against Roma," Amnesty International,"
Copyright © 1998 to 2009 by
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1998-JUL
Latest update: 2009-AUG-29
Author: B.A. Robinson