National Socialism and Gypsies in Austria

National Socialism and Gypsies in Austria

National Socialism and Gypsies in Austria

National Socialism and Gypsies in Austria


Originally published in German, Erika Thurner's NATIONAL SOCIALISM AND GYPSIES IN AUSTRIA is the ground-breaking study of Nazi policy toward Gypsies during the Third Reich. The recent upsurge of anti-Gypsy violence in Austria illustrates both the horror of the treatment of Gypsy tribes and the timeliness of this volume. Illustrated.


Historians must be grateful for Erika Thurner's detailed and meticulous work on the fate of Gypsies [Roma and Sinti] in Austria. So little is known of the Roma and Sinti, and so much needs to be learned, that this volume is a most welcome contribution. Indeed, similar studies should be conducted for each of the German-occupied territories where Roma and Sinti were persecuted.

If Jews were at the center of the Nazi inferno, Roma and Sinti were their neighbors. Their fate closely parallels what happened to the Jews. We must understand the parallels--and also the divergences.

Throughout Nazi rule, Jews were the major Nazi target, but not the only one. Political dissidents--ommunists, socialists and liberals alike--and trade unionists were persecuted because of their politics. Dissenting clergy were arrested when they spoke out against the regime. German (and later Austrian) male homosexuals were arrested and their institutions destroyed because of their sexual practices; there is no evidence that lesbians were systematically persecuted. Jehovah's Witnesses were repressed and incarcerated because they would not register for the draft or utter the words "Heil Hitler"; they were offered the choice to convert and thus go free or to remain in the camps. Most remained faithful.

Beginning in 1939, mentally retarded, physically handicapped, and emotionally disturbed Germans were deemed unsuitable raw material for breeding the "master race"; they too were gassed by the Nazis.

Thus, some groups were victimized for what they did, others for what they refused to do, and still others for who they were. In the Nazi mind-set, the world was divided into a series of lesser races by color, ethnicity, culture, and national identity. Blacks and Slavs were special objects of Nazi contempt.

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