The Roma: A Minority in Europe : Historical, Political and Social Perspectives

The Roma: A Minority in Europe : Historical, Political and Social Perspectives

The Roma: A Minority in Europe : Historical, Political and Social Perspectives

The Roma: A Minority in Europe : Historical, Political and Social Perspectives

Synopsis

A multidisciplinary discussion on the past and present of the Roma.

Excerpt

The genocide of the Roma (Gypsies) at the hands of Nazi Germany and some of its allies, known in Romani as the Porrajmos (catastrophe, very much parallel to the Hebrew term Shoah), has still not been properly and exhaustively researched. Indeed, some historians even deny that it was a genocide. However, if one takes seriously the definition of genocide in the 1948 Convention on the Crime of Genocide, there should be little doubt on that point. The definition speaks of an intent to destroy an ethnic, national or racial group as such, in part or completely. If there is anything one can learn from the historical work done until now (2005), it can be stated as a fact that there was a Nazi intent to annihilate the Gypsies as a separate ethnicity, in part. Nazi allies, such as the Arrow Cross regime in Hungary (the Nyilas), and the Antonescu dictatorship in Romania, as well as the Slovak puppet regime, joined this policy, in the main. Clearly, it was a genocide.

The present volume, the result of a conference held at Tel Aviv University, is yet another important attempt to explore this issue. There is, of course, a continuous effort by some historians, as well as representatives of the Roma themselves, to include their suffering with that of the Jews by using the term Holocaust (together with Porrajmos) in relation to the genocide of the Roma. In my view, this is a basic error: every genocidal act is specific and directed toward a certain group, and throwing them together is a disservice to the memory of the victims. In this case, the Roma were not Jews, and they were not destined to be treated like the Jews. There was a distinction between nomadic and settled Roma, as clearly stated in German documents, although in practice this was not always followed. Nomadic Roma were to be treated like Jews, that is, murdered, while settled Roma were to be dealt with like the local population. One can see this not . . .

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