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The Roma: a Minority in Europe

 | 
Roni Stauber
, 
Raphael Vago

Nazi and postwar policy against Roma and Sinti in Austria

Erika Thurner

Texte intégral

INTRODUCTION

  • 1 The term ‘Roma’ as a self-descriptive name is used as a general term for all the various groups: R (...)

1In postwar Austria there was minimal interest in the fate of the Roma.1 Not only was research regarding the Gypsy genocide taboo, but for years attempts on the part of individuals and institutions to uncover and publish Nazi crimes against the Roma and Sinti were ignored and/or boycotted both socially and politically. The social marginality of this group and the lack of interest by the majority of society complemented each other. Even established historians showed only limited interest in the special treatment/exclusion of social outsiders. Thus, the study of the Roma/Sinti remained a minor theme. Even today awareness in Austria of the Nazi policy of genocide of the Roma and Sinti is slight.

  • 2 The first unbiased study in German was conducted by a member of the Austrian resistance movement, (...)
  • 3 “The primitive Gypsy ways will never undermine or endanger the German people as a whole like Jewis (...)
  • 4 There are no exact figures. In early research results we estimated that less than half, and later, (...)

2Despite this neglect, important facts and findings have been available in published form for more than two decades.2 Austrian Roma were affected by the racial theories and measures of the Nazi rulers similarly to the Jews. These two minorities—Jews and Roma—had little in common until the Nazi period. As a result of the National Socialist policies of persecution and extermination their destinies became interlocked. This meant that both groups were subjected to discrimination, expulsion, isolation, abrogation of rights, imprisonment, forced labor, sterilization, experimentation and extermination. The persecution of the two groups was carried out with the same radical intensity and cruelty, but the Jewish genocide received top priority in planning and execution because of the different social status and image of the Jews (as the eternal foe in Nazi ideology), as well as their larger numbers. The social position and economic situation, as well as the smaller numbers, of the Roma were not considered a threat to German culture;3 hence, in Nazi ideology the Roma and Sinti were perceived as a ‘secondary problem’ and not a dangerous race like the Jews. Nevertheless, the Nazi period ended for the majority of the Austrian Roma in a ‘final solution.’ They were murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau or other extermination camps. The horrifying result: fewer than one-third of Austrian ‘Gypsies’ survived the Nazi Holocaust.4

  • 5 See Hans Buchheim, “Die Zigeunerdeportation vom Mai 1940,” in Gutachten des Instituts für Zeitgesc (...)
  • 6 From 1937 on, it was called Eugenic and Criminal Biological Research Station.
  • 7 See Thurner, “Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Österreich,” p. 18; 1998 edition, p. 12.

3The theoretical basis for this persecution was the Nuremberg racial laws, which became operative in Austria as well as in Germany as of March 1938. The “racially unworthy, criminal and anti-social Gypsies” caused classification problems for the Nazis since in theory they should have counted as Aryans because of their Indian origin. Thus the Roma were at first included in the larger circle of ‘asocial’ persons. This was only a temporary solution, for it has been proven beyond doubt that the Roma were already suffering discrimination for racial reasons, even if the scheme of extensive racial persecution had not yet been worked out in its final form.5 In 1936 a permanent Eugenic and Population Biological Research Station under Dr. Robert Ritter was established in Berlin;6 its task was to produce a scientific basis for further measures and to draft a ‘Gypsy law.’ This law, formulated in 1939, was never made public, but the Gypsy question and persecution continued throughout the Nazi era, under SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler as overall chief of police.7

4This chapter analyzes Nazi policy toward the Roma in Austria and discusses postwar attitudes toward Roma survivors and their descendants as a continuity of Austrian Gypsy policy.

PERSECUTION AND CONCENTRATION ON AUSTRIAN TERRITORY

  • 8 Walter Dostal, “Die Zigeuner in Österreich,” in Archiv für Völkerkunde, Bd. X (Vienna, 1955), pp. (...)

5At the start of World War II, 11,000 Roma and Sinti lived in the territory of present-day Austria. Nearly 8,000 Roma (Ungrika-Roma) inhabited the southeastern part, the Burgenland (part of western Hungary before 1921, with a Roma population that constituted 2.5 to 3 percent of the population). There they had lived nomadically, or in a settled or partially settled state, some of them for more than 300 years. However, giving up the nomadic way was a far cry from integration or assimilation. In Austria, as elsewhere, the dominant policy was the traditional one of trying simultaneously to make Roma settle and to drive them away. Therefore, the Roma settlements were seldom in the villages themselves but on the fringes, and often well outside the village boundaries. Until 1938, other groups, including 3,000 Sinti and Lovara, had dwelled for three to five generations in Austria, predominantly as nomads, making a living from their traditional occupations.8

  • 9 Tobias Portschy, “Die Zigeunerfrage. Denkschrift des Burgenländischen Landeshauptmannes,” Eisensta (...)

6In general, dislike and mistrust of the Roma was so strong in everyday life that when the National Socialists came to power, the Roma merely suffered a culmination of the existing policy of discrimination. All the measures that could be carried out under Nazi rule had already been formulated as ideas, especially in the two central areas of persecution, the Burgenland and Salzburg, where National Socialists soon infiltrated the local administration, rural constabulary and police. Their demands and published proposals to solve the so-called Gypsy problem included, for example, separation and internment in forced labor camps, expulsion from the country, annihilation through sterilization and reducing the ‘Gypsies’ to the same level as the Jews.9

  • 10 “Ordnung in der Zigeunerfrage” (Order re the Gypsy Question), Grenzmark, Burgenland, 4 Aug., 1938; (...)

7In March 1938, near the time of the Anschluss, Austrian National Socialists in the Burgenland initiated the first independent measures of persecution: forbidding children to attend school, prohibiting the playing of music as a profession, banning ‘Gypsies’ from voting, restricting their movements, and notably, subjecting them to forced labor under the surveillance of SS- and SAsquads. These actions were taken even before the setting up of internment camps and before Himmler issued the Circular Decree of December 1938 (demanding regulation of the “Gypsy question according to racial characteristics”) and the Settlement Decree of October 1939.10

  • 11 See Thurner, “Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Österreich,” pp. 40–1: Portschy began a campaign (...)

8It can thus be seen that persecution of the Roma in the Nazi Reich was a process that developed its own momentum and evolved as it went along. Although the general direction was established, the details, timetables, means and finally the degree of intensity and brutality were not planned in advance. The orders from above relating to the ‘Gypsies’ were carried out because ideological discrimination had become deeply embedded in the population over the centuries. From the outset the radical proposals and petitions of Austrian National Socialists (prior to March 1938, ‘illegal Nazis’) influenced the entire Nazi program against the ‘Gypsies’ in Austria, and the Burgenland in particular was ahead of Nazi Germany itself (e.g., in the early exclusion of Roma children from school attendance).11

9Local measures and orders issuing from the center complemented each other. As of 1938–9 individuals and groups of Roma were deported to concentration camps (Dachau, Buchenwald, Mauthausen and Ravensbrück). In June 1939 only Burgenland Roma were affected by Himmler’s “Preventive Measures for Fighting the Gypsy Plague in Burgenland”—the name given to the first large deportation of some 3,000 Roma to the concentration camps of Dachau and Ravensbrück. As of 1938, special forced labor camps and central collection centers were set up. These Zigeuner-Anhaltelager (Gypsy internment or collection camps) existed in Germany as well as in countries occupied by the Nazis. They included the harshly run camps in Austria, which existed in the two main areas of persecution, the Burgenland and Salzburg. In Salzburg the Salzburg-Maxglan camp, for about 300 inmates, was erected in 1938. A total of more than 4,000 prisoners passed through the Burgenland Lackenbach camp, which existed from fall 1940 until March 1945.

  • 12 Ibid., pp. 42–102.

10Both Austrian camps were established as family camps. Daily life there was marked by hard work and a lack of facilities, with personal freedom restricted to the bare minimum. Men, women and children suffered the same horrors and oppression as prisoners in concentration camps: beatings, standing for hours at roll call, food deprivation and slave labor under the harshest conditions.12 They were different from the big concentration camps only in the fact that the Zigeunerlager—set up in preparation for the ‘deportation to the East’—served as transit camps. From there the inmates were shipped to the ghettos, and to concentration and extermination camps—where the majority died in gas vans or gas chambers or as a result of the miserable conditions in the camps.

FINAL DESTINATIONS: GHETTO LODZ/AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

  • 13 Robert Ritter, “Zigeuner und Landfahrer” (Gypsies and Travelers), in Der nichtsesshafte Mensch (No (...)

11The systematic physical extermination of Roma from Austria began with five transports to the Jewish ghetto in Lodz. Between December 1941 and March 1942 a total of 5,007 Roma and Sinti were assembled in Austria and deported to Lodz. All died in the gas vans of Chelmno or as a result of the wretched conditions in the ghetto. The next step can be seen as the final stage of the ‘final solution’ for the Roma from Austria: Heinrich Himmler’s infamous Auschwitz Decree of December 1942. In the instructions issued in January 1943 it was noted that all ‘Gypsy half-breeds’ (Mischlinge) and Rom-Zigeuner, as well as Gypsies from the Balkans, were to be sent to concentration camps “regardless of the degree of mixture.” (In 1939, 8,500 so-called Rom-Zigeuner (meaning Austrian ‘Burgenland-Rom’ or ‘Ungrika-Roma’) had been classified as zigeunerisches Mischlingslumpenproletariat with an extremely high degree of mixture.13) The destination was the Gypsy family camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau established especially to receive them.

  • 14 Hefte von Auschwitz (Auschwitz Journals), Museum of Auschwitz (Krakow, 1966); compare also: “Geden (...)
  • 15 Ibid.; compare also: “Widerstand und Verfolgung im Burgenland,” Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreic (...)

12For the majority of European Roma who were deported to Auschwitz- Birkenau, the family camp for Gypsies was in fact their final destination. As of March 1943, more than 20,000 Roma from 11 European countries streamed into this camp14. As part of this campaign, some 2,900 Roma and Sinti from Austria arrived at the family camp in ten transports. In addition to victims who until then had lived outside the camps (in hiding or not yet recognized as Gypsies), prisoners from the Salzburg camp as well as from the Lackenbach camp were shipped to Auschwitz.15

  • 16 Testimonies of ‘Gypsy’ prisoners and prisoners (Ärzte, Arztschreiber—Ella Lingens, Hermann Langbei (...)

13Horrific conditions in the Gypsy camp of Birkenau Section BIIe awaited those who were deported. The situation in the 32 barracks even surpassed the misery that was the general state of affairs in the rest of the camp. Several concentration camp memoirs contain accounts by members of other persecuted groups “about the peculiar people whose strange, illustrious colorfulness suddenly vivified the camp.” Others, such as prisoners who performed official functions, were aghast at the miserable conditions to which human beings were being subjected, but especially those that prevailed in the grossly overcrowded barracks. It is not surprising that there was no need to use physical violence: one half of the inmates succumbed to their living conditions—of diseases, epidemics and exhaustion—thus adding to the numbers of victims.16

  • 17 In 1940 in Salzburg prison, the police tried to separate children from their families. The protest (...)

14The Birkenau Gypsy complex was run as a family camp. This type of concentration camp constituted an exception in the National Socialist camp system, which also included forced labor camps for the Gypsies as a group (e.g., Zigeuneranhalte- und Arbeitslager Salzburg, Lackenbach). However, as a family camp it by no means represented a privilege for those confined in it. Rather, it embodied their strategic and goal-oriented considerations. In some cases, such camps also served propaganda purposes, like the section of the Theresienstadt concentration camp prettied up for use as a film set (The Führer Gives the Jews a City). In the case of the Roma and Sinti, this facility resulted from concrete experience—persecution that involved the separation of families and, above all, the removal of children, led to resistance and unrest.17 Thus, this policy ceased, especially when annihilation was imminent. This causal connection, as well as bottlenecks in providing camp uniforms, serves to explain the fact that some Roma were permitted to retain their own clothing.

  • 18 Auschwitz Journals 8 (1965), p. 55; compare also: “Widerstand und Verfolgung im Burgenland,” 251 f (...)

15Actually, the term ‘family camp’ should be relativized in the case of the Roma as well, since most families had already been torn asunder prior to their arrival in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Nearly every family was dispersed among several concentration camps. Even during the death transports, selections on the basis of work capacity were conducted. The inmates were scanned one last time before the Gypsy camp was finally closed in early August 1944. As a result, the barracks population was reduced to 2,897. The lives of these children, women and men were terminated in the gas chamber during the night of 2–3 August 1944.18

AUSCHWITZ DECREE AND EXCEPTIONS

  • 19 Express letter of 29 Jan. 1943, RSHA V A 2 No.59/43g, or Decree of RSHA V A 2 No.48/43g dated 25 J (...)
  • 20 A ruling that granted exemption to socially adjusted individual ‘Gypsies’ with a permanent residen (...)

16At the end of March and beginning of April 1943, most of the Zigeuner- Anhaltelager were closed, following Himmler’s Auschwitz decree. According to instructions from January 1943, “Gypsy half-breeds, Roma and Balkan Gypsies” were moved to the center of persecution and extermination. Special regulations for “socially assimilated and pure Gypsies” intended for the majority of Sinti and Roma were not worth the paper they were written on.19 The Salzburg-Maxglan camp in Austria was completely cleared. Only the Lackenbach camp was kept open until the end of the war. In general, the local authorities saw Himmler’s Auschwitz Decree as their chance to completely rid their respective city or region of ‘Gypsies.’ Only in municipalities or regions where the Roma were needed in the labor force did the camps remain in operation, though with a reduced population. Thus, the rules providing for exceptions and the regulations determining who would be selected were interpreted flexibly in order to be able to adapt them to local ‘constraints.’20

17In Burgenland the Roma were needed as workers. The case of Austria and the Lackenbach camp demonstrates that the labor element played an additional, and sometimes in certain areas, a crucial role. The Roma and Sinti who had been designated as ‘unwilling to work’ by the Nazis were not only to be punished by means of forced labor but also annihilated.

  • 21 Ibid.

18In persecuting Roma, Nazi officials enjoyed a degree of latitude in their administrative spheres. Lower-level bureaucrats could exert direct influence and thereby affect the outcome of life-or-death decisions. Through these decisions some 600 inmates of Lackenbach camp survived. Economic considerations and the needs of industry put a stop to the pointless policy of extermination— at least in the final years of the war. Other exceptions to keep Roma alive based, for example, on racial or social grounds, as outlined in Himmler’s Decree, proved to be empty phrases and saved only a few Austrian Roma from persecution.21

  • 22 Reimar Gilsenbach, “Wie Lolitschai zur Doktorwürde kam. Ein akademisches Kapitel aus dem Völkermor (...)
  • 23 Ibid., pp. 110–16
  • 24 In reality Himmler probably followed only one goal, namely to save a limited number of pure-bred R (...)

19By the spring and summer of 1943, the racial researchers had still not completed their work, though they had produced expert opinions on the racial makeup of individuals in a total of 25,000 cases.22 Most members of Robert Ritter’s staff displayed great zeal, sometimes traveling to forced labor and concentration camps to examine their subjects. These researchers were not just cogs in the machinery of persecution; rather, due to their ‘expert testimony’— based on drawing up genealogies and family trees, blood samples, and measurement of facial features and body parts—they were thoroughly deserving of the designation ‘perpetrators.’23 Nor did it end there: their findings and insights resulted in several of them pursuing impressive postwar careers in their chosen profession. Only rarely did ‘Attestations of Racial Purity’ save the lives of ‘pure Sinti’ (Himmler’s romanticized decision to spare ‘pure Sinti and Lalleri’).24 The vaguely formulated criteria of ‘social adaptation’ allowed for great latitude in interpretation here as well. Behind such decisions lay blind obedience, nationalistic zeal, hair-splitting devotion to detail and even base resentment.

  • 25 See Ref. 4.

20On the whole, the story of the persecution of the Gypsies provides an excellent example of that remarkable mixture of fanaticism and opportunism that made such an essential contribution to the functioning of the system. The extensive apparatus was set in motion with an enormous investment of money and effort. In the case of the Roma, the implementation of persecution measures involved the SS only to a very limited extent; rather, the job was carried out thanks to the ignominious collaboration of government authorities, the police and other law enforcement agencies with the assistance of health, welfare and labor bureaus—in other words, the very organizations that had always been assigned the task of dealing with ‘outsiders.’ They all contributed to the final result—from 200,000 to 500,000 European Roma and Sinti, as well as other human beings persecuted as ‘Gypsies’ were exterminated during the period 1933–45. As noted, fewer than one-third of the 11,000 Austrian Roma and Sinti lived to see the end of the war in the spring of 1945.25 Moreover, even after liberation, survivors and their descendants had to continue struggling for a life of human dignity.

COMMON ‘PERSECUTION GOALS,’ DIVERGENT POSTWAR ATTITUDES

  • 26 Thurner, “Die Roma. Opfer von NS-Verfolgung und Nachkriegsentschädigungspolitik,” in Eleonore Lapp (...)

21German and Austrian National Socialists had joined forces, but the two states went separate ways after the war. With the exception of prominent war criminals who were tried in Nuremberg (Nürnberger Prozess, 1945–6), most of the perpetrators and their accomplices—protected by the political climate and the prevailing atmosphere in their respective homelands and places of asylum— could escape serious charges. Brief de-Nazification followed by social integration became the norm. Although Germany as a state could not escape blame and responsibility for National Socialism, even there convictions and sanctions of perpetrators and collaborators were limited to a few cases. The others did not have to fear severe punishment, let alone social contempt. Given this respectability of the perpetrators, there was little shame or sympathy for the victims.26

  • 27 Brigitte Bailer, Wiedergutmachung kein Thema. Österreich und die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (Vi (...)

22Austrian perpetrators and collaborators encountered an even more favorable situation. They exploited the chance offered to the Second Republic to affirm the position of the Austrian state and society as victims. After 1945, the Austrian government proceeded on the basis of the victim status that it had been granted in the Moscow Declaration of 1943. Austrians were only too glad to overlook and hush-up “Austria’s shared responsibility for National Socialism and its crimes” that was likewise formulated in the Moscow Declaration. Perpetrators and accomplices found many forms of protection in the shadow of the victim myth, which brought unpleasant consequences for surviving victims of Nazi persecution. Thus, Austria saw itself as “the first victim of Hitler’s policy of aggression” and, in contrast to Germany, was not obliged to pay any indemnification to the victims. Accordingly, victims could not pursue legal claims for compensation. However, the republic provided welfare payments to those in desperate need (so-called victims’ welfare measures, or Opferfürsorge-Maßnahmen), though this, too, was done very grudgingly. From the outset, different categories of victims—and thus hierarchies—were created and certain groups were passed over.27

  • 28 Bailer, Wiedergutmachung kein Thema, pp. 185–97.

23At first, only ‘political persecutees’ were acknowledged so as to not endanger Austria’s victim status. It was not until 1949 that those persecuted on the basis of race were accepted as being entitled to support. Payments began slowly in 1952. Some victims received payment in installments as compensation for the time they had spent in prison or concentration camps. Nevertheless, pressure from the Allies was still necessary to bring this about, and there was no one to exert it on behalf of certain groups.28

CONTINUITIES IN STIGMATIZATION

  • 29 Ibid., pp. 52–62; pp. 178–84.

24The Roma and Sinti, above all, came to realize that Nazi socio-cultural patterns and judgments had not been eradicated in 1945. For them, a group that had suffered discrimination and exclusion prior to 1938, the process of being recognized as victims proceeded in particularly painful fashion, and to this day has not been brought to a positive conclusion. The few survivors were denied recognition as victims of racial persecution—a status that was problematic in any event—with the same intensity and tenacity they had suffered as an ‘alien race.’ Further stigmatization and unchanged attitudes perpetuated persecution motifs (such as harassment due to ‘asocial behavior,’ ‘aversion to work’ and criminality), which caused them considerable hardship and put them at a distinct disadvantage in their attempts to obtain indemnification. Their persecution was justified with arguments borrowed from Nazi biology and race ideology. Declarations of Austrian officials that the Nazi policies of persecution in their manifold forms—with the common goals of genocide and ethnocide—were eugenic or intended as crime prevention measures and, in any event, were socially necessary, met with scant protest.29

  • 30 In 1948 the Austrian Republic/Ministry of Security began a campaign to get rid of ‘foreign gypsies (...)

25Thus, during the postwar period the National Socialists’ measures of discrimination and persecution were applied with particular brutality against the victims. Instead of granting aid to those among the Roma and Sinti who had suffered at the hands of the Nazis, the Federal Ministry of the Interior issued a warning to potential concentration camp swindlers who were out to take advantage of the situation. Instead of enacting indemnification and support measures, hatred of concentration camp survivors was stirred up among law enforcement agencies. All those who could not prove beyond a doubt their right to remain in Austria—documented in citizenship papers or evidence of previous right of permanent residence—were treated as ‘stateless citizens’ or ‘foreigners’ and deported. It was no use objecting that the Nazis had confiscated these documents and that the very process of persecution had robbed them of their status. Those who refused to be intimidated and attempted, in spite of this hate campaign, to apply for compensation or victim pensions, ran the risk that their stories of concentration camps and persecution would expose them to slander charges. Some survivors were silenced in this way and thus prevented from undertaking what was in any event usually a futile attempt to obtain financial compensation.30

  • 31 Bureaucratic officials and doctors who were former SS-members, for example: Dr. Gerhart Harre, uni (...)

26Some tried, nonetheless, and they—perhaps 10 percent of all survivors— were subjected to inquisitorial and demeaning procedures, one of which was a possible confrontation with their former persecutors in the guise of government officials and experts (i.e., SS doctors). Not a few former Nazis— quickly rehabilitated or never found out—obtained government jobs, and some were entrusted with the task of writing expert medical opinions. But it was not only former party members who were stigmatizing these victims anew. The republic generally displayed particular toughness and resistance concerning the injuries and health impairment of concentration camp survivors. The majority of government officials with jurisdiction over such issues (whether intentionally or not) assisted the state in maintaining this stance.31

VICTIM STATUS REFUSED, COMPENSATION REFUSED, BOURGEOIS STATUS REFUSED

  • 32 Experiences of the author gained in 20 years among groups of victims in various locations (Zeitzeu (...)

27Thus, these Roma and Sinti victims of Nazi persecution went on to become victims of the compensation process. Their standing as victims remained controversial. Not only were they denied the status of ‘racial victims’ during the early postwar period—although no high court ever officially confirmed this judgment—but the position they were accorded within the social hierarchy was accompanied by Nazi charges that they were ‘asocial elements.’ They never lost the stigma of having been criminals and thus persecuted for good reason. This meant that other groups of victims showed no solidarity with them and long refused to have anything to do with them.32

  • 33 Steinmetz, “Österreichs Zigeuner im NS-Staat”; Thurner, “Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Öster (...)
  • 34 An amendment of the Opferfürsorgegesetz for ‘Lackenbach-prisoners,’ 1988, and symbolic acts of rec (...)

28In spite of limited interest by the majority culture and society, some action has been taken, on the basis of previous research results, as well as of those parallel to this research.33 In the two central areas of persecution— Lackenbach/Burgenland and Salzburg—memorials have been erected (1984/ 1985). A small group of Roma and Sinti and of non-‘Gypsies’ (gadje) protested against past injustices and the concentration camp pensions denied them. Although belated, this activity resulted in reparations from 1988.34

29Once again this was done very grudgingly and the commemorative year held in 1988 did little to change this. The limited recognition of Roma and Sinti as Nazi victims (in Austria since 1988) as well as their status as an ethnic minority (‘Austrian ethnic group’ since 1993) came much too late. The prejudices that had already been widespread before the Nazi era, the denigration of this group that became even more intensive and extensive as a result of National Socialism, and the absence of a correction of this situation after 1945, continue to have an impact to this day, both on the victims and on their descendants.

Notes

1 The term ‘Roma’ as a self-descriptive name is used as a general term for all the various groups: Roma (Ungrika-Rom), Sinti (Lalleri), Lovara, Kalderash; nowadays generally accepted as a totality for all groups. However, the majority of German and Austrian Sinti prefer to be addressed as Sinti and insist on differentiating between Roma and Sinti (or: Roma/Sinti).

2 The first unbiased study in German was conducted by a member of the Austrian resistance movement, the historian Selma Steinmetz, “Österreichs Zigeuner im NS-Staat” (Austria’s Gypsies in the National Socialist State), Monographien zur Zeitgeschichte (Vienna/Frankfurt/Zürich, 1966); for the Federal Republic of Germany, see Tilman Zülch (ed.), Im Auschwitz vergast, bis heute verfolgt (Gassed in Auschwitz, Still Persecuted Today) (Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1979). For Austria compare: Erika Thurner, “Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Österreich” (National Socialism and Gypsies in Austria), Veröffentlichungen zur Zeitgeschichte 2 (Vienna/Salzburg, 1983). (Since 1998 a translation of this dissertation into English has been available: National Socialism and Gypsies in Austria [updated and expanded edition], edited and translated by Gilya Gerda Schmidt, foreword by Michael Berenbaum (Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation Washington, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa and London, 1998); and: in general, the fundamental, comprehensive study by Michael Zimmermann, “Rassenutopie und Genozid. Die nationalsozialistische ‘Lösung der Zigeunerfrage’” (Racial Utopia and Genocide: The National Socialist “Solution of the ‘Gypsy’ Question”) Hamburger Beiträge zur Sozial- und Zeitgeschichte 33 (Hamburg, 1996).

3 “The primitive Gypsy ways will never undermine or endanger the German people as a whole like Jewish intellectuals do”; see: Eva Justin, “Lebensschicksale artfremd erzogener Zigeunerkinder und ihrer Nachkommen,” in: Veröffentlichungen aus dem Gebiete des Volksgesundheitsdienstes, Bd. 57, H. 4, Berlin, 1944, p. 120.

4 There are no exact figures. In early research results we estimated that less than half, and later, less than one-third, of the Austrian Roma and Sinti population did not survive. According to new research findings, based on data collections, about 20 percent survived the Nazi persecution. See Historikerkommission (Florian Freund, Gerhard Baumgartner, Harald Greifeneder) (ed.), Vermögensentzug, Restitution und Entschädigung der Roma und Sinti (Vienna, 2002), http://www.historikerkommission.gv.at

5 See Hans Buchheim, “Die Zigeunerdeportation vom Mai 1940,” in Gutachten des Instituts für Zeitgeschichte, Bd. I, Munich, 1956, S. 57.

6 From 1937 on, it was called Eugenic and Criminal Biological Research Station.

7 See Thurner, “Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Österreich,” p. 18; 1998 edition, p. 12.

8 Walter Dostal, “Die Zigeuner in Österreich,” in Archiv für Völkerkunde, Bd. X (Vienna, 1955), pp. 1–5.

9 Tobias Portschy, “Die Zigeunerfrage. Denkschrift des Burgenländischen Landeshauptmannes,” Eisenstadt 1938, S. 36: “Der Geschlechtsverkehr zwischen Zigeunern und Deutschblütigen muß als Verbrechen der Rassenschande den strengsten Strafbestimmungen unterworfen werden. Wer die Zigeuner ihrem Charakter nach kennt, wird sie unbedingt den Juden in jeder Beziehung gleichstellen müssen.”

10 “Ordnung in der Zigeunerfrage” (Order re the Gypsy Question), Grenzmark, Burgenland, 4 Aug., 1938; see: Thurner, “Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Österreich,” p. 39.

11 See Thurner, “Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Österreich,” pp. 40–1: Portschy began a campaign to exclude Gypsy children from school attendance in fall 1938. Efforts in the Altreich to follow the path of Portschy had begun: “Exclusion already begins in the classroom; in addition to the Burgenland, West German cities also adopted this measure.” They had to wait until November 1941 for such a decree.

12 Ibid., pp. 42–102.

13 Robert Ritter, “Zigeuner und Landfahrer” (Gypsies and Travelers), in Der nichtsesshafte Mensch (Nomadic People). Ein Beitrag der Neugestaltung der Raumund Menschenordnung im Großdeutschen Reich (Munich, 1938), p. 77. (“In contrast to the Jews, the Gypsy half-breeds [are] socially more inferior… than those who are racially pure.”)

14 Hefte von Auschwitz (Auschwitz Journals), Museum of Auschwitz (Krakow, 1966); compare also: “Gedenkbuch. Die Sinti und Roma im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau,” Staatliches Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma, 2 Bde. (Munich/London/New York/Paris, 1993).

15 Ibid.; compare also: “Widerstand und Verfolgung im Burgenland,” Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstandes (Vienna, 1979), pp. 252; 288–9.

16 Testimonies of ‘Gypsy’ prisoners and prisoners (Ärzte, Arztschreiber—Ella Lingens, Hermann Langbein); compare: Steinmetz, “Österreichs Zigeuner im NS-Staat” (1966, 1979); Thurner, “Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Österreich” (1983, 1998). See also testimonies of survivors, for example Karl Eberle, who was in the Gypsy camp for one week and was then sent to the main camp, describing it as a civil institution compared to the Gypsy camp. Conversation, 30 April 1981.

17 In 1940 in Salzburg prison, the police tried to separate children from their families. The protests of the parents—acts of resistance and chaos—put a stop to this trial; see: Erika Thurner, “Eine tatsächliche Befreiung hat es nicht gegeben. Konzentrationslager in der Erinnerung von Roma und Sinti,” in Tomas Dvorak, et al. (eds.), Festschrift für Ctibor Necas (Brno, 2003), p. 367

18 Auschwitz Journals 8 (1965), p. 55; compare also: “Widerstand und Verfolgung im Burgenland,” 251 f., also Documents 54 and 55, 290 ff.

19 Express letter of 29 Jan. 1943, RSHA V A 2 No.59/43g, or Decree of RSHA V A 2 No.48/43g dated 25 Jan. 1943, and V A 2 No.64/43g dated 28 Jan. 1943, for the Alps and Danube districts. Source: Hans-Joachim Döring, “Die Zigeuner im NS-Staat,” Bd. 12 der Kriminologischen Schriftenreihe (Hamburg 1964), pp. 156, 214–16; compare also Michael Zimmermann, “Die nationalsozialistische Vernichtungspolitik gegen Sinti und Roma,” in Politik und Zeitgeschichte, supplement to the daily Das Parlament, B16–17, (Bonn, 1987), pp. 36f.

20 A ruling that granted exemption to socially adjusted individual ‘Gypsies’ with a permanent residence and members of the armed forces existed only on paper. It was known that the exemption clauses were only empty words on these extermination decrees. The racially pure, who were also exempted from the decree of 13 October 1942—like the other privileged—were sucked in by the campaigns if they had not gone underground. See Auschwitz Journals 9, pp. 41–2; Testimonies of ‘soldiers’ and ‘pure bred Sinti’.

21 Ibid.

22 Reimar Gilsenbach, “Wie Lolitschai zur Doktorwürde kam. Ein akademisches Kapitel aus dem Völkermord an den Sinti,” in Feinderklärung und Prävention. Kriminalbiologie, Zigeunerforschung und Asozialenpolitik. Beiträge zur nationalsozialistischen Gesundheits- und Sozialpolitik, Bd. 6 (Berlin 1988), pp. 101–35.

23 Ibid., pp. 110–16

24 In reality Himmler probably followed only one goal, namely to save a limited number of pure-bred Roma (Sinti and Lalleri) for subjects of study; compare: Thurner, “Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Österreich,” p. 12.

25 See Ref. 4.

26 Thurner, “Die Roma. Opfer von NS-Verfolgung und Nachkriegsentschädigungspolitik,” in Eleonore Lappin & Bernhard Schneider (eds.), Die Lebendigkeit der Geschichte (St. Ingbert, 2001), pp. 157–70.

27 Brigitte Bailer, Wiedergutmachung kein Thema. Österreich und die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (Vienna, 1993); also: Robert Knight, “Ich bin dafür, die Sache in die Länge zu ziehen”: Die Wortprotokolle der österreichischen Bundesregierung von 1945-1952 über die Entschädigung der Juden (Frankfurt/Main, 1988).

28 Bailer, Wiedergutmachung kein Thema, pp. 185–97.

29 Ibid., pp. 52–62; pp. 178–84.

30 In 1948 the Austrian Republic/Ministry of Security began a campaign to get rid of ‘foreign gypsies’ (Document first published, in Thurner, “Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Österreich” [1983], Appendix XXVIII).

31 Bureaucratic officials and doctors who were former SS-members, for example: Dr. Gerhart Harre, university professor and leader of the Salzburger Nervenklinik (SS-number 303067) was responsible for the medical certificate of Mrs. K., who survived the concentration camps Ravensbrück, Buchenwald and Bergen- Belsen; see: Thurner, “Ein ‘Zigeunerleben’? Als Sinto, Sintiza, Rom und Romni in Salzburg,” in Mozes F. Heinschink and Ursula Hemetek (eds.), Roma—das unbekannte Volk (Vienna/Cologne/Weimar, 1994), pp. 79–83; for more examples, see Barbara Rieger, “Roma and Sinti in Österreich nach 1945,” Sinti- und Roma-Studien 29 (Frankfurt/Main/Berlin/Bern/Brussels/New York/Oxford/Vienna, 2003), pp. 143–201.

32 Experiences of the author gained in 20 years among groups of victims in various locations (Zeitzeugen-Tagungen, KZ-Lagergemeinschaften, a.s.o.)

33 Steinmetz, “Österreichs Zigeuner im NS-Staat”; Thurner, “Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Österreich” (1983); Thurner, Kurzgeschichte des nationalsozialistischen Zigeunerlagers Lackenbach, Eisenstadt (1984). Selma Steinmetz and the author were engaged in gaining restitution for Roma/Sinti—in cooperation with other concentration camp inmates (members of the KZ-Verband, or other KZ-Lagergemeinschaften) and/or institutions: Österreichische Liga für Menschenrechte, Gesellschaft für Politische Aufklärung; and, 1989 ongoing, together with Roma and Sinti organizations.

34 An amendment of the Opferfürsorgegesetz for ‘Lackenbach-prisoners,’ 1988, and symbolic acts of recognition, e.g., Chancellor of Austria Franz Vranitzky, visited the Lackenbach memorial in l988; see Rieger, “Roma and Sinti,” p. 170.

Auteur

ERIKA THURNER is Professor of Political Science and Modern History at Leopold Franzens University in Innsbruck. She has also taught at the Universities of Innsbruck, Salzburg, Linz and Vienna. The main topics of her research are Nazi policy and persecution of Roma and Sinti, as well as ethnicity and nationalism, migration and minority problems, the women’s question, and gender studies. She has received several Austrian and US awards for her research work.

© Central European University Press, 2007

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