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The Roma in Romanian History

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Viorel Achim

Chapter V. The policy of the antonescu regime with regard to the gypsies

Texte intégral

1. RACIST CONCEPTS IN 1930S AND 1940s ROMANIA AND THE GYPSIES

  • 1 See E. V. Popa, Minorităţile etnice in statul naţional român, Bucharest, 1944, pp. 76–77; I. Stanc (...)

1In the inter-war period, the Gypsies were not a particular preoccupation of Romanian society. In many respects, the Gypsies continued to lead the same way of life as they had done in the past. In general, they lived on the margins of the villages and towns. However, there is no doubt that the development of the Gypsy population was in the direction of integration and assimilation into the majority. For the country’s political forces, the Gypsies did not represent an ethnic problem. Even if in censuses they were registered as a separate ethnic group with its own language, they were treated more as a social category. Consequently, the Gypsies were not included among the country’s national minorities in the political actions of the successive Romanian governments. Legislation relating to minorities did not make reference to the Gypsies. Anti-Gypsy attitudes and manifestations were not to be found in the Romanian nationalism of the inter-war period. Nationalist theories made no reference to the Gypsies. Generally speaking, the attitude of the extreme right (principally the legionary movement) towards minorities was restricted to anti-Semitism. Nor did the “Romanianisation” policy and the anti-minority legislation adopted at the beginning of 1938 by the government of Octavian Goga and A. C. Cuza and during the royal dictatorship (1938–40) target the Gypsies. The introduction into the Constitution in February 1938 of the legal and political distinction between “blood Romanians” and “Romanian citizens”, the harsher regime for minorities etc. were in fact targeted at the Jews and to a certain extent other minorities.1 Up until the time of the Antonescu regime, the Gypsies were not made the object of the measures of a clearly racist tendency adopted in the years 1938–40. Significantly, the General Commissariat of Minorities established in 1938 did not deal with the Gypsies. In the political life and discourse of ideas in inter-war Romania, there was no “Gypsy problem” in the way that there was a “Jewish problem”.

  • 2 See A. Boia, op. cit.; Domnica I. Păun, op. cit.

2The special interest for the Gypsies and for the “problem” that they represented appeared first of all in the scientific field. During the 1930s, the Gypsies were included among the preoccupations of the Romanian representatives of bio-politics, adepts of racist theories originating from Germany. Until that moment, the handful of studies devoted to the Gypsies carried out in Romania focused on the history, ethnography and language of this population. A new feature of this period were the multidisciplinary research of the sociological school in Bucharest led by Dimitrie Gusti. Monographic research teams dealt with the Gypsies as a component part of the village community. On occasions when they dealt expressly with the Gypsies, they did so from the perspective of the study of the process of their integration and assimilation into the Romanian community.2

  • 3 Cf. I. Făcăoaru, Antropologia in stat ca ştiinţă şi obiect de invăţămant, [Cluj], s. a., pp. 14–16
  • 4 See idem, Amestecul rasial şi etnic in Romania, pp. 276ff.

3A different kind of approach began to appear from the perspective of bio-politics. Bio-politics and eugenics began to establish themselves as separate disciplines within the field of anthropology in Romania, in a development that mirrored, to a certain extent, contemporary trends in science in other countries, particularly in Germany. The foundations of bio-politics in Romania were laid by professor Iuliu Moldovan from Cluj. Studies in biopolitics and eugenics were institutionalised in 1926 with the creation of the sub-department of biopolitics and eugenics within ASTRA and the appearance of the Buletinul eugenic şi biopolitic (Eugenics and Bio-politics Bulletin), a periodical of the Institute of Social Hygiene in Cluj.3 Research in this field was from the beginning politically committed, being subordinated to preoccupations about the fate of the nation, which was regarded as an ethnic community. In the second part of the 1930s, four Romanian specialists in bio-politics dealt specifically with ethnic minorities with the aim of providing the State with a “handbook” for minorities policy. At this time, concepts such as “ethnic purity”, “inferior ethnic groups”, “ethnic promiscuity” etc. emerged. In the view of these specialists, in Romania there were minorities that constituted a “bioethnic danger”. These were the so-called “minorities of extra-European origin” or “ballast minorities”: the Gypsies, the Jews and others, who were distinct from the historical minorities, who did not constitute a danger of this kind.4 These were the beginnings of a racist theory affirming the idea of the racial superiority of the Romanians. The theory, however, was not fully fledged, and none of its exponents were public personalities during the period. Generally speaking, the theory was limited to the adoption of certain concepts borrowed from the racist “science” of inter-war Germany, which played an important role in the preparations for the genocide of the Jews and the Gypsies during the Second World War.

  • 5 Ibid., p. 283.
  • 6 Ibid., pp. 282–286.
  • 7 Gh. Făcăoaru, op. cit., pp. 17–18.
  • 8 See J. S. Hohmann, Vervolgte ohne Heimat. Geschichte der Zigeuner in Deutschland, Frankfurt am Mai (...)

4The “problem” of the Gypsies was also discussed in this context. In fact, it was the same “scholars” who introduced the notion itself in Romania. Due to their marginal social position, poverty, high level of criminality etc., the Gypsies were regarded as a “plague” for Romanian society. For the Romanian theoreticians of racism, the “danger” came from two directions. On the one hand, there was the number and proportion of Gypsies in the population as a whole and their birth rate, which was relatively higher than that of the Romanians. Blatantly exaggerated figures concerning the number of Gypsies in Romania were vehiculated: it was claimed that 400,000 or even 600,000 Gypsies were living in Romania at the time. Statisticians who examined the demographic situation of the Gypsies at the beginning of the 1940s, either for the State or on a confidential basis, rejected such figures. They gave credence to the official figures of the 1930 census, even if they accepted the existence of the phenomenon of under-registration of the Gypsies. Today, if we consider diachronically the evolution of the Gypsy population in Romania, it can be estimated that never in their history had the Gypsies constituted such a small proportion of the total population of the country as they did at the beginning of the 1940s. Furthermore, during the inter-war period the tendency was for greater and more complete integration and linguistic and ethnic assimilation of the Gypsy population than in the past. It is, perhaps, for this reason that the demographic argument was not the most important strand of the thesis of racists in Romania. In their opinion, the greatest danger lay, paradoxically, in the very assimilation of the Gypsies. Ioan Făcăoaru, the leading exponent of racist theories with regard to the Gypsies, considered that the assimilation of second-rank minorities would mean the “estrangement and pauperisation of our own ethnic traits.” He spoke of the danger of assimilating the Gypsies in the following terms: “the process of assimilation is activated and aggravated not only by the large number of Gypsies, but also by other factors specific to the political conditions in Romania: the tolerant disposition of the Romanian people, the distribution of the Gypsies across the entirety of the country, the Gypsies’ social promiscuity with the autochthonous population both in the towns and the villages, the existence of joint schools, the granting of land to many Gypsies, and the relaxation of sedentary living conditions, thereby facilitating their entry into the Romanian community, the absence of any legal restrictions upon the Gypsies, and finally the indulgent attitude of the government and the administrative authorities towards them.”5 This author expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that in Romania, the country with the largest Gypsy population (at least 400,000, according to him), the authorities had not taken any measures against this population. He also expressed his appreciation for the policy of other countries in this respect, especially that of Germany. At the same time, Făcăoaru rejected the other policy alternative: namely “biological isolation” or “complete ethnic separation”. He argued that ethnic separation was impossible to achieve at a practical level while if it were to take place, it would lead to losses of an economic and moral order.6 The “Gypsy problem” was conceived as a racial problem and the solutions proposed were consequently of racial nature. The “practical solution” advanced by another author in 1941 consisted of the following: “nomadic and semi-nomadic Gypsies are to be interned in forced labour camps. There they will be forced to change their clothes, they will be shaved, receive a haircut and be sterilised [emphasis in the text—noteV.A.]. In order to cover the costs of their upkeep, they will be required to carry out forced labour. We would be rid of them from the first generation. Their place will be taken by national elements, capable of ordered and creative work. Sedentary Gypsies will be sterilised at home, so that place in which they reside may be cleaned of their presence in the course of a generation. In all cases, their place must be occupied by the best elements of the nation, either from within Romania or from outside its borders […]. In this way, the margins of villages and towns will no longer be a source of shame or focus of infection for all the ills of society, but rather an ethnic wall buttressing the nation rather than harming it.”7 Evident in these texts is the influence of the ideas of Robert Ritter, the creator of the Zigeunerwissenschaft and the man who prepared the theoretical component of the genocide of the Gypsies in Nazi Germany.8 The works of Ritter were used as arguments in support of the necessity of a state policy with regard to the Gypsies.

  • 9 L. Stan, “Rasism faţă de ţigani”, Cuvantul, N. S., XVIII, no. 53, 18 January 1941, pp. 1, 9.
  • 10 I. Chelcea, op. cit., pp. 100–101.

5Of course, such opinions did not benefit from a wide circulation in Romania. In the 1930s, discussion of racial problems was limited to specialists in bio-politics. The universities were in general reticent with regard to this kind of research. Racist ideas with regard to the Gypsies were not adopted by the press of the time or by public opinion. They were not even included in the discourse of the extreme right in Romania. However, the situation began to change together with the political events of 1940, and in the context of the abandonment of democratic values and the country’s entry under the political and ideological domination of Nazi Germany. The legionary movement only came to consider the need for a racist policy with regard to the Gypsies after their arrival in power. From that time on, the Gypsies were associated with the Jews. An article published in the official publication of the Iron Guard on 18 January 1941 (therefore, a few days before the Legionaries were chased from power), declared “the Gypsy problem” to be a priority among the many problems facing the National– Legionary State and indicated the necessity of prohibiting marriages between Romanians and Gypsies, to be followed by the gradual isolation of the Gypsies in a kind of ghetto.9 However, no measures of this kind were taken against the Gypsy population during the Legionary government. At the beginning of the 1940s, in some scientific papers relating to the Gypsies, we suddenly come across racist ideas and concepts never before expressed, either in Romanian science or in the works of the scientists who were then vehiculating them. Top-ranking scientists suddenly began to consider from a theoretical point of view the “problem” constituted by the Gypsies. In the scientific monograph devoted to the Gypsies, the solutions proposed (in the conditions of the era) include the colonisation of the Gypsies in a remote part of the country, their deportation to Transnistria and even their sterilisation.10 This can be accounted for with reference to political pressures, as well as the xenophobic atmosphere with racist elements pervading part of Romanian society at the time. Opinions of a racist character expressed in Romanian in the 1930s by certain exponents of eugenics, even though they were isolated in nature, undoubtedly played a role in the preparation of the policy that would be adopted by the Antonescu government with regard to the Jews and the Gypsies.

2. THE “GYPSY PROBLEM” DURING THE ANTONESCU REGIME

  • 11 Cf. Evreii din Romania intre anii 1940–1944, vol. i, Legislaţia antievreiască, compiled by Lya Ben (...)

6The sudden appearance of the so-called “Gypsy problem” at the beginning of the 1940s had nothing to do with the traditional attitude of the Romanian authorities towards this population. From the time of their emancipation from slavery in the middle of the nineteenth century until the time of the Antonescu regime, the Gypsies never received any special attention from any government. The appearance of the “Gypsy problem” depended, on the one hand, on the evolution of Romanian nationalism and, on the other hand, on the change in political regime in the context of the political situation of the year 1940. The drama of the summer of 1940, with the territorial losses suffered by the country and the collapse of old values, including the last vestiges of the democratic system that was held responsible for the state to which the country had sunk, led to the degeneration of national feelings into xenophobia. The political regime established with the coming to power of General Antonescu and the country’s entry into the political and ideological orbit of Hitler’s Germany resulted in the transformation of measures against the non-Romanian population into state policy. While the fascist component of the Antonescu regime was principally confined to the Iron Guard and the period in which the Legionaries were present in the government (6 September 1940–21 January 1941), measures of a nationalist character were one of the essential components of the internal policy of the Antonescu regime. The policy of “Romanianisation”, that is, the promotion of Romanian elements in all aspects of the economic and social life of the country and the restriction, even the exclusion, of “foreigners”, chiefly the Jews, was a defining aspect of the Antonescu regime. There are even some indications that Antonescu’s ultimate goal was the ethnic cleansing of the country. At a cabinet meeting on 16 November 1943, Antonescu declared: “If circumstances help us to win this war, rest assured that there is no other solution than the movement of the minorities, by a reform that we will have to enact, and to eliminate them out of Romanian society.”11 The partial deportation of the Jews and the Gypsies may be regarded as the beginning of this policy.

  • 12 I. Dan, “Procesul” mares, alului Ion Antonescu, Bucharest, 1993, p. 161.
  • 13 Procesul marii trădări nat,ionale; stenograma desbaterilor de la Tribunalul Poporului asupra Guver (...)

7The policy adopted with regard to the Gypsies was in the complete sense of the word the creation of Ion Antonescu. It was Antonescu himself who raised the question of measures against the Gypsies during the cabinet meeting of 7 February 1941. Following an inspection in Bucharest in which he noted the serious offences committed during the blackout, he called for the removal of all Gypsies from the city.12 This was the beginning of the policy of the Antonescu regime with regard to the Gypsies. The decision to deport the Gypsies to Transnistria was taken by Ion Antonescu himself, as he declared at his trial in 1946.13 It should be recalled that none of Antonescu’s orders with regard to the Gypsies bore his signature and none of them were published either in the Official Gazette or elsewhere. The orders were given verbally to ministers and transmitted to the General Inspectorate of the Gendarmeries for execution. Antonescu closely followed the way in which the measures were taken, to the extent that the policy applied in Romania with regard to the Gypsies during the Second World War can be considered the creation of Antonescu.

  • 14 A. S. B., fond Sabin Manuilă, XIII/209.
  • 15 A. S. B., fond P. C. M., dossier 42/1942.

8The views of a racist character originating from certain scientific circles played no role in the adoption of the decisions taken with regard to the Gypsies. It is true that the Presidency of the Cabinet Council showed some interest in the drawing up of a “population policy” and certain requests in this respect were made to the Central Institute of Statistics. In a document of this kind, Sabin Manuilă referred to the Gypsies as a major problem: “Romania’s major racial problem is that of the Gypsies. They constitute the most numerous ethnic group after the Romanians. At the same time, they are responsible for the promiscuity and disgénie in our country. Nothing has been done so far to solve the Gypy problem.”14 The study undertaken to establish the number of Gypsies in the country carried out by the Central Institute of Statistics on the orders of the Presidency of the Cabinet Counsil15 was finalised in September 1942, i.e. when the deportation of the Gypsies had practically come to an end. From the material currently available, it can be seen that the motives of the Gypsy policy of the Antonescu government were more of a social nature, whose declared aim was the eradication of criminality and the elimination from the social landscape of the problems caused by this pauperised population, especially in the towns. No document originating from the authorities attempts to justify the measures against the Gypsies on racial grounds.

9At the same time, the measures taken against the Gypsies should be considered in the context of the authoritarian policy introduced in Romania by the Antonescu government, which aimed at establishing order and strict state control over all aspects of social life in the country. The necessity of establishing order in the country was the basis of the legitimacy of the Antonescu administration and consequently, the authorities promoted a policy that was designed to eliminate anything that did not coincide with the concept of order, as it was understood at the time. It is in this context that we should place the persecution of Communists, Legionaries (from January 1941 onwards), Jews, Gypsies, minority religious groups etc. Nor should we neglect the extremely tough legislation applied during the years of the regime with regard to vagrancy, begging, prostitution, the refusal to work etc.

10The most important component of Antonescu’s policy with regard to the Gypsies was their deportation to Transnistria in the summer and early autumn of 1942. As we shall see, approximately 25,000 Gypsies were taken to Transnistria, including all nomadic Gypsies and part of the sedentary Gypsies. This measure was taken against “problem” Gypsies, in other words against those considered in the official parlance of the time to be “dangerous” and “undesirable”. There is not any special material available that offers an explanation of these notions. However, the criteria used in the selection of Gypsies for deportation were their way of life, nomadism, previous convictions and the lack of means of supporting themselves or of a specific occupation enabling them to earn a living. All “problem” Gypsies were to be deported and it appears that Antonescu planned to deport in stages the country’s entire Gypsy population to Transnistria. However, at the beginning of October 1942, all deportations were postponed until the spring of 1943, only to be completely abandoned subsequently. As a result of motives of both an internal and external nature, Antonescu’s policy towards the Gypsies, as well as towards the Jews, underwent some modifications.

  • 16 Ibid., dossier 1275/1943, pp. 4–12. Arhivele Statului Timis, oara, fond Inspectoratul de Jandarmi (...)
  • 17 A. S. B., fond I. G. J., dossier 130/1942, pp. 607, 609, 611.

11Gypsies who were not included in the category of those considered dangerous and undesirable, in other words the vast majority of the population, were not affected by the policy of the Antonescu regime. They did not lose their rights as citizens, as happened with the country’s Jewish population, while their assets were not subject to the policy of “Romanianisation”, as it was in the case of the Jews. Like other citizens, Gypsies were mobilised in the army and fought on the front during the war. Gypsy soldiers on the front and those eligible for mobilisation were, together with their families, exempted from deportation even if they figured among those destined for this fate. If some were for whatever reason deported to Transnistria, they were, at least in theory, guaranteed favourable conditions. At the same time, measures were taken to improve the conditions of certain categories of Gypsies. Here we are speaking of the colonies of Gypsies located on certain large agricultural estates in the plain counties of the south of the country, which for many years had used Gypsy labour in exchange for derisory wages without even any obligation to provide them with accommodation. These Gypsies lived in poverty. In November 1942, the General Inspectorate of the Gendarmerie and in June 1943, Marshal Antonescu himself issued orders obliging estate owners to build stable dwellings for Gypsies working on the estates.16 However, dwellings were built for Gypsies from this category in only a handful of places. During the war, hundreds of Gypsies sought refuge from northern Transylvania, which was at the time under Hungarian occupation, settling in the counties of Cluj-Turda and Arad. Even if the local Gendarmes proposed their internment in labour camps or their deportation to Transnistria, the General Inspectorate of the Gendarmerie decided that they would remain where they were. Consequently, they were not expelled to the occupied territories.17

12Thus, the measures taken against the Gypsies affected only a part of this population. The Romanian government did not deal with the Gypsies as a single unit. The government was only interested in those Gypsies who, due to their social and legal situation, were considered dangerous and undesirable. The majority of these Gypsies were indeed deported to Transnistria. The rest of the Gypsies were not targeted by the government and were not subjected to any kind of discriminatory measures. It is true that Ion Antonescu issued certain declarations proclaiming the necessity of the ethnic purification of the country, which clearly would have affected the Gypsies, but such statements remained at this level only. The idea of ethnic cleansing never reached the stage of being a political programme for the Antonescu government. Likewise, the government’s policy towards the Gypsies should be judged by controllable facts. The Antonescu government did not have a programme that was targeted at all the Gypsies. Although the deportation of the Gypsies to Transnistria was a clearly defined component of the internal policy of the Antonescu regime, the “Gypsy problem” did not count among its priorities. It was a subject of only marginal interest in government policy.

3. DEPORTATION TO TRANSNISTRIA (1942–44)

  • 18 Procesul marii trădări nat,ionale, pp. 42, 65–66, 104, 108, 305.
  • 19 See I. Cioabă, “Il genocido in Romania: una testimonianza”, Lacio Drom, 20 (1984), nos. 2–3, pp. 5 (...)
  • 20 For example, D. Kenrick, G. Puxon, Sinti und Roma—die Vernichtung eines Volkes im NS-Staat, transl (...)

13The episode in which the Gypsies were deported to Transnistria is linked to the period of the Second World War and the administration of Marshal Ion Antonescu. Until now, researchers have neglected this question, together with the entire policy with regard to the Gypsies in Romania at the time. This state of affairs exists in spite of the fact that the events that took place in Romania in the years 1940–44 have received and continue to receive special attention from historians. All that is known about the deportation of the Gypsies in Transnistria is some extremely vague information invoked during the trial of Ion Antonescu and his principal collaborators in 1946,18 the testimonies of deportees recorded in certain writings19 and the story, containing factual elements, of the deportation of a community of nomadic Gypsies from the novel S,atra (The Gypsy Caravan), published by Zaharia Stancu in 1968. Similarly, literature devoted to the fate of the Gypsies in Europe during the war contains some speculation as to the scale of the deportations in Romania and the number of victims.20 As we shall see, however, documentary research provides us with other figures.

  • 21 O. Verenca, Administraţia civilă romană in Transnistria, Chişinău, 1993, pp. 34–37.

14The German and Romanian armies occupied the territory between the Dniester and Bug rivers, which formed part of Soviet Ukraine, in the summer of 1941. Following an exchange of letters between Adolf Hitler and Ion Antonescu and the German-Romanian accord signed in Tighina on 30 August 1941, the administration of this territory was entrusted to the Romanian state. Its fate was to be decided definitively at the end of the war.21 The Romanian civil administration in Transnistria (as the territory between the Dniester and the Bug was from then to be known), led by governor Gheorghe Alexianu, was responsible for the normalisation of the economic and social life and the economic exploitation of the territory. The civilian administration remained in place until 29 January 1944, when as a consequence of the military situation, it was replaced with a military administration. It was to Transnistria that the Romanian authorities deported, in the years 1941– 44, the Jews of Bessarabia and Bukovina and a part of the Gypsy population living in Romania.

  • 22 I. Dan, loc. cit.
  • 23 Procesul marii trădări naţionale, p. 66; I. Dan, op. cit., p. 264.

15Clearly, when at the beginning of 1941 the question of taking measures against the Gypsies was first considered, the idea of deporting them to Transnistria did not exist. In the cabinet meeting of 7 February 1941, Ion Antonescu pointed out that: “the solution would have been to wait for the draining of the marshes of the Danube in order to establish villages of Gypsies there and turn them into fishermen etc. Another solution is for us to hold talks with the leading landowners. In the Bărăgan there has always been a shortage of labour. Let’s build the villages there. They won’t be permanent villages, but we can build houses and shacks, sanitary installations, shops, drinking houses etc.”22 The initial plan was to settle the Gypsies in compact villages in the Bărăgan region. Later on, it was decided to deport them to Transnistria. The pretext for their deportation invoked by Ion Antonescu was the thefts and murders committed by the Gypsies during the blackout, which were terrorising the population of the towns.23

  • 24 A. S. B., fond I. G. J., dossier 201/1942, dossier 202/1942, dossier 203/1942.
  • 25 Arhivele Statului Arad, fond Legiunea de Jandarmi a judeţului Arad, dossier 13/ 1942, p. 141.

16Deportation was to be used against those Gypsies considered to be a “problem”. In order to achieve this, at the end of May 1942 the gendarmerie and the police carried out a census of Gypsies from this category. The census recorded, together with their families, nomadic Gypsies as well as those sedentary Gypsies who had criminal convictions, were repeat offenders, were unable to support themselves or who lacked a clear occupation on which they could make a living. Lists of Gypsies from these two categories, compiled by commune, town and county, were sent to the General Inspectorate of the Gendarmerie.24 In total, 9471 nomadic Gypsies and 31,438 sedentary Gypsies who fell into the aforementioned category were registered. According to the orders issued on 17 May 1942 by the General Inspectorate of the Gendarmerie, who was responsible for the operation, after the carrying out of the census and prior to further orders, the Gypsies named in the lists were no longer permitted to leave the county in which they had been registered and were to be kept under close supervision by the police and gendarmes.25 On the basis of the figures from the census of May 1942, the General Inspectorate of the Gendarmerie began to organise the operational phase of the deportation.

  • 26 A.S.B., fond I.G.J., dossier 130/1942, p. 1.
  • 27 Ibid., dossier 126/1942, p. 204.

17The deportations began with the nomadic Gypsies. Beginning on 1 June 1942, these Gypsies were rounded up by the gendarmes in the county capitals and then sent to Transnistria. The order for the evacuation of all nomadic Gypsies without exception was given by the Presidency of the Cabinet Council on 25 June 1942.26 The operation came to an end on 15 August 1942. Those who at the time of the evacuation were serving on the frontline or had been mobilised within the country were by order of the General Staff of the Army removed from the military rolls, sent home and sent to follow their families to Transnistria. A total of 11,441 people in this category (2352 men, 2375 women and 6714 children) were evacuated to Transnistria.27

  • 28 Ibid., dossier 130/1942, p. 7–10.

18With regard to the sedentary Gypsies registered in the census of May 1942, the authorities initially attempted to divide them into separate groups. The first group destined for evacuation were those Gypsies considered “dangerous and undesirable”, who together with their families, made up a total of 12,497 people. The remaining 18,941 were to be evacuated at a later date. The families of mobilised Gypsies and Gypsies eligible for mobilisation together with their families remained where they were, even if they were included in the category of those considered to be dangerous. The authorities did not have an action plan with regard to the sedentary Gypsies at the time when the deportation of the nomadic Gypsies began. The sedentary Gypsies were either to be evacuated to Transnistria or to be interned in camps inside Romania. Finally, Ion Antonescu chose the first option and the order was given on 22 July 1942. The operation was due to begin on 1 August.28 However, the evacuation of the sedentary Gypsies only took place between 12 September and 20 September 1942.

  • 29 Ibid., dossier 126/1942, pp. 208–211.

19In September 1942, 13,176 sedentary Gypsies were deported to Transnistria, more than had been decided. Furthermore, the lists of those who were evacuated did not coincide with the lists of those chosen for evacuation. An investigation into this state of affairs established that on the date of evacuation, some of the persons selected for evacuation had disappeared and had been replaced with others who wanted to be evacuated. There was a fairly substantial number of Gypsies not included on the deportation lists who came to the stations from where the deportees were leaving and who managed to become mixed with the other Gypsies, as a consequence of the rushed nature of the embarkation and the fact that the Gypsies had no identy papers on them. Others set off for Tighina in regular trains and joined different groups of Gypsies upon their arrival there.29 A rumour had been circulating among the Gypsies once they arrived in Transnistria, they would be granted land. This in part explains the desire of some Gypsies to leave.

  • 30 A. S. B., fond P. C. M., dossier 202/1941–1944, pp. 274–277.
  • 31 A. S. B., fond I. G. J., dossier 120/1942, p. 126.
  • 32 Ibid., dossier 43/1943, pp. 450–451.
  • 33 Ibid., pp. 313–314.
  • 34 Ibid., dossier 77/1943, p. 47; dossier 43/1943, p. 286.

20Many abuses were committed by the gendarmes and policemen charged with carrying out the operation. Some families of mobilised Gypsies were evacuated as well as some Gypsies eligible for mobilisation together with their families, 538 people in total. In one case, a soldier on leave saw his family (his wife and parents-in-law) deported by the gendarmes to Transnistria. Furthermore, the family in question even had some wealth.30 Families of Romanians were rounded up by mistake, as well as families of Turks from Dobrogea. A note dated 6 December 1942 stated that among those deported to the county of Ochakov were 62 families of Romanians and 6 families of Turks.31 Some of those deported were married to Romanian women. People who had a profession (blacksmiths, musicians, workers etc.) and people who owned land, a house and some wealth, were also deported. A large number of petitions were filed pointing out these occurrences and calling for the abuses to be righted. There were also a large number of requests for repatriation. Gypsy soldiers on the frontline or concentrated inside Romania protested against the abuses. The Presidency of Cabinet Council and the General Staff also called for the righting of abuses. As demonstrated in an order issued by the Ministty of Interior, these abuses “have produced a justifiable sense of unrest among Gypsy soldiers, who, while carrying out their duty to their country in a role of utmost honour, have seen their families rounded up and evacuated to Transnistria.” Consequently, it was ordered that measures were to be taken. Furthermore, it was ordered that special care was to be shown to the families of these people, while the notion of “family” was to be interpreted as the Gypsies did, so that exception from deportation was extended to the unmarried partners of those Gypsies who had been mobilised or who were eligible for mobilisation, as well as the children resulting from such unions.32 At the end of the investigation, 311 heads of families had received repatriation orders, together with 950 family members, giving a total of 1261 people.33 However, not all of these people were repatriated. Deported Gypsies who had family members on the frontline or who had fought in the anti-Soviet war or the war of 1916–18 were guaranteed special treatment in comparison to other Gypsies by granting them certain material benefits.34

  • 35 Ibid., dossier 126/1942, pp. 10–11.

21At the same time, Gypsies were taken from their homes without being allowed to take with them the personal and household belongings necessary for life in the places to which they were being deported. They did not have sufficient time to liquidate their assets. There were a considerable number of cases in which heads of sections of gendarmes and police took advantage of the opportunity to buy various objects from the Gypsies at derisory prices. The houses and other goods of the evacuated Gypsies were taken over by the National Centre for Romanianisation.35

  • 36 Documents Concerning the Fate of Romanian Jewry During the Holocaust, ed. J. Ancel, vol. iv, Jerus (...)

22The deportation of the Gypsies was not a popular measure. Even from the beginning of the evacuation operations, in many places the local inhabitants called on the authorities not to deport the Gypsies, as the village needed them, the Gypsies usually working as the village blacksmith. Sometimes, such requests were signed by the entire village. Similarly, certain democratic political figures protested against the measures. Constantin I. C. Brătianu, the president of the National Liberal Party described the expulsion of the Gypsies in a letter addressed to Ion Antonescu dated 16 September 1942 as an unjustified and cruel act, and called for an end to such persecutions, which “turn back the clock on several centuries of history.”36

  • 37 A. S. B., fond I. G. J., dossier 126/1942. p. 205.
  • 38 Ibid., p. 2.
  • 39 Ibid., p. 205.
  • 40 Ibid., dossier 203/1942, p. 337.
  • 41 Timpul, VI, no. 1954, 16 October 1942, p. 3.

23The deportation of sedentary Gypsies considered dangerous was to be followed by the evacuation of the other Gypsies registered in the census of May 1942. To be affected were the other 18,941 (the number recorded initially for this purpose) or 18,262 Gypsies (those left after the deportation from September).37 When the sedentary Gypsies were divided into separate groups, the idea was considered of interning Gypsies who had been mobilised or who were eligible for mobilisation in camps inside Romania.38 In the end, the authorities opted for deportation. This did not take place because at the beginning of October 1942, the deportation of the Gypsies and the Jews to Transnistria was halted. On 2 October, the Ministry of Interior suspended all further evacuations until the spring of the following year,39 while on 14 October the ministry ordered that no category of Gypsies was to be sent to Transnistria, even if those remaining were nomads or Gypsies with a criminal record; only those Gypsies “whose presence constitutes a danger to public order”40 were still to be deported. The decision to withdraw any further deportations was taken by the cabinet on 13 October 1942.41 After this date, only a small number of those Gypsies who had avoided the deportations in the summer were deported to Transnistria.

  • 42 A. S. B., fond I. G. J., dossier 126/1942, p. 203.

24The exact number of Gypsies deported to Transnistria during the period 1942–44 is not easy to establish. Even from the autumn of 1942, there was a permanent tide of people moving between Romania and Transnistria in both directions, as a result of the repatriations and the deportations of isolated individuals. At the beginning of October 1942, after the deportation of the two categories of Gypsies had come to an end, in Transnistria there were 24,686 Gypsies: 11,441 nomadic Gypsies, 13,176 non-nomadic (settled) Gypsies and a further 69 who were evacuated with special authorisation after their release from prison.42 If we add to this figure the several hundred Gypsies deported at a later stage, the total number of Gypsies deported to Transnistria can be estimated at approximately 25,000. The Inspectorate and legions of gendarmes in Transnistria kept records of the Gypsies evacuated there. The number of Gypsies listed in the records differed from one month to another according to the movements of people from and to Transnistria. From late autumn 1942, the number of deportees was in continual decline, partly due to the repatriations taking place but also due to the extremely high level of mortality among the deportees, caused by hunger, cold, disease and all manner of shortages.

  • 43 Ibid., dossier 43/1942, p. 321.

25In Transnistria the Gypsies were settled at the boundary or in the centre of villages located on the bank of the river Bug and belonging to the counties of Golta, Ochakov, Balta and Berezovka. Most nomadic Gypsies were settled in Golta county, while sedentary Gypsies were almost all settled in Ochakov county; 13,850 people belonging to this category were placed in this area.43 Some Gypsies were accommodated in huts dug into the earth, while others received houses. As a rule, half of the village was evacuated, with the local Ukrainians being moved into the houses of fellow villagers who did not suffer evacuation, while the Gypsies were put into the vacated houses. Some entire villages on the Bug were evacuated for this purpose, with the Ukrainian population moved back into the interior of the respective county.

26The regime imposed on the Gypsies evacuated to Transnistria was established by a decision of the Government of Transnistria from 18 December 1942. This included the following:

  • The settlement of the Gypsies in villages, in groups of 150–350, according to local labour needs and potential, under the leadership of one of their number, with the obligation that they carried out the work required of them and with wages equivalent to local workers.
  • Qualified workers were to be used according to their profession in existing workshops as well as workshops that were to be established.
  • The rest of the Gypsies were to be organised in work teams under the supervision of one of their number. The teams were to be used in agricultural work, in lumbering, in the production of objects made from unprocessed wood, the collection of animal skins, sinews and hair, the collection of metals, waste products, rags etc.
  • All Gypsies aged between twelve and sixty of either sex were obliged to work in workshops or in work teams.
  • Gypsies who generated a higher than average output were to receive a bonus equivalent to 30 per cent of the surplus of labour provided.
  • The leaders of a group of Gypsies in a village were to be responsible for the Gypsies’ presence in the village, while the supervisors of the work teams were to be responsible for their presence at work.
  • Gypsies who abandoned the locality in which they had been settled without authorisation or who were absent without reason from work were to be interned in punishment camps to be established in each county.44

27The proposed measures were supposed to guarantee deportees the chance to earn a living under conditions of a regime of forced domicile. However, these measures only ever existed on paper. The situation of the Gypsies in Transnistria was from the beginning extremely harsh. Gypsies were only to a very small extent provided with the opportunity to work and earn a living. Only some of them were used on farms and collectives (former kolkhozes). The farms and collectives only ever required the labour of a small number of the Gypsies and as a rule on a seasonal basis, preferring to use the local Ukrainians instead. Workshops were not set up, and machinery was not acquired for qualified Gypsies.

28The harsh conditions in which the Gypsies found themselves were in part due to their concentration in large groups. The so-called colonies were as a rule large, made up of hundreds of people. In the county of Ochakov, initially the almost 14,000 Gypsies were all settled in three areas: in the communes of Kovaliovka, Bolshaya-Karanika and in the barracks at Aleksandrudar. The mass settlement of the Gypsies in such large numbers created an extreme situation in which the local authorities—on whom implementation of the measures decided for the Gypsies depended in the final analysis—were unable to guarantee them accommodation, food, clothing and work opportunities. A note dated 5 December 1942 from an agent carrying out intelligence work in the region of Ochakov, described the dramatic situation of the Gypsies as follows:

  • 45 Ibid., pp. 129–130.

While they were living in the barracks at Aleksandrudar, the Gypsies lived in conditions of indescribable squalor. There was insufficient food. They were given 400g of bread for those fit for work and 200g for children and the elderly. They were also given a few potatoes and on very rare occasions salted fish, but then only in very small quantities.
As a result of the lack of nourishment provided, some Gypsies, and these formed the majority, lost so much weight that they were skeletal in appearance. Every day, recently especially, ten to fifteen Gypsies would die. They were covered in parasites. There were no doctors available and they had no medicine. They are naked, having no clothing upon them, and completely lack clean clothing and footwear. There are women whose bodies (the lower half) are naked in the proper sense of the word. They have received no soap since they arrived and so consequently they have not washed and have not been able to wash the shirts that they wear.
Generally speaking, the conditions in which the Gypsies are living are terrible, almost unimaginable. Due to the squalor, many of them have been reduced to virtually savage shadows of human beings. This situation is due to the poor accommodation and food, as well as the cold. Due to the hunger to which they are subjected, they have spread far among the Ukrainians with their stealing. If in Romania some Gypsies stole, they did so out of habit, whereas in Aleksandrudar, even the Gypsy who in Romania was honest has taken to stealing because hunger have driven him to such shameful gestures.
Due to their poor treatment, by 25 November this year 309 Gypsies died. Corpses were found on the Ochakov Aleksandrudar road. The people had died of hunger and cold.
Although the Gypsies from the barracks at Aleksandrudar have been housed in more humane conditions in the villages mentioned above, the Gypsy problem in Ochakov county has not yet been solved. Only their conditions have improved to a certain extent: they are less exposed to the cold and have been deloused. However, if they do not receive wood or some other fuel, the Gypsies will manage to do the same to the houses they have been given as they did in the barracks, that is, render them uninhabitable. They will be brought to this by the cold, without them thinking that they are making things worse and that the danger of dying of cold is greater by doing so. Similarly, if they do not receive more human food, medical assistance and medicines, as well as clothing for some of them, the death rate of the Gypsies will not fall, but will rise for every day that the frost gets worse. Also, they will steal even more from the Russians. In any case, the local population is up in arms and their morale is very low as a result of their being evacuated from their houses in winter so that the Gypsies whom they cannot bear could be moved into them.45

29The units of gendarmes took up the matter with the county administrators so that the Gypsies would be provided with means of surviving. In many cases, the units of gendarmes proposed the Gypsy colonies be broken up and the Gypsies be distributed among the villages, with a maximum of twenty families per village so that it was easier for them to survive and to be put to work. On a local scale, solutions were sought to guarantee them a source of food. In Balta county in 1943, the Gypsies were moved from houses into huts; they were given land to farm and to feed themselves. In other areas, the colonies were disbanded and the Gypsies were farmed out among the Ukrainian villages, thus making it easier to feed them and to use them as labour.

30Living conditions in Transnistria were very harsh. Monthly reports compiled by the gendarmes reflected this situation and the lack of concern on the part of the civilian authorities (town halls, county heads, the Governornment of Transnistria) for ensuring the survival of the Gypsies. The food rations established by the government were not respected. Sufficient food provisions were not distributed to the Gypsies. Sometimes they received nothing for weeks on end. In some places, only those Gypsies who worked on the collectives were given food provisions. At the same time, they were not provided with wood to be used for food preparation and heating, while only a small proportion of the deportees received work. Clothing was a particularly serious problem, all the more so since the Gypsies were not allowed to take with them a change of clothing or other personal effects when they were deported. They lacked the most basic items, including vessels for the preparation of food. Health care was effectively non-existent and there was a lack of medicines. Funerals were carried out without a priest. Those who had gold, Romanian money or other objects sold them to the locals in order to survive.

  • 46 Ibid., dossier 166/1942. pp. 171–172; dossier 140/1943, pp. 9–11.
  • 47 Ibid., pp. 533–538.

31At the same time, it should be mentioned that the authorities frequently accused the Gypsies of dodging work when it was offered to them or of producing very low outputs. The documents show that they preferred to travel the surrounding villages, begging or thieving, which angered the local Ukrainians and caused a great deal of trouble to the authorities.46 At the same time, there was a general tendency among the Gypsies to flee the colonies set up along the Bug. By all means possible, either individually or in groups, they tried to return to Romania. In most cases, the fugitives were caught and returned to the colonies. The authorities in Transnistria found it impossible to control these movements. The punishment camps intended for such situations were never established. Only in the autumn of 1943, at a time when the exodus of the Gypsies had reached a considerable scale and the number of fugitives who had been caught exceeded 2000, were steps taken to improvise a camp of this kind at Golta, where 475 Gypsies were interned.47

  • 48 Ibid., dossier 43/1943, pp. 363–364.
  • 49 Ibid., dossier 84/1943, pp. 237–238.
  • 50 Ibid., p. 176.

32In the conditions described, a large part of the Gypsy deportees in Transnistria died of hunger, cold, disease and poverty. We learn from reports compiled in mid-December 1942 (in other words, three to four months after deportation) with regard to the Gypsy deportees in Ochakov county, in the area of Bolshaya-Karanika out of 3881 Gypsies over 150 had died, equivalent to 3.8 per cent,48 while in the area of Aleksandrovka out of 3585 Gypsies 388 had died (10.8 per cent).49 A news report from September 1943 presenting the dramatic conditions of the Gypsies indicated that: “as a result of this state of affairs, in winter [Gypsies] will die of cold and malnutrition, as they died last winter, and their disappearance next spring will make the problem of the Gypsies in Transnistria disappear altogether.”50

  • 51 Procesul marii trădări naţionale, p. 42.
  • 52 A. S. B. fond I. G. J., dossier 86/1944, pp. 149–217; dossier 97/1944.

33The precise number of Gypsies who died in Transnistria is not known. In the 1946 trial, the prosecution stated that “tens of thousands of men, women and children died of hunger, cold and disease.”51 The Romania Commission for the victims of war gave the figure of 36,000 Gypsies who died in Transnistria. The figure is, of course, exaggerated, since the total number of deportees totalled approximately 25,000 people. In May 1944, shortly after the evacuation of Transnistria and the Gypsies’ abandonment of the places to which they had been deported, the Gendarmerie carried out a nominal registration of the Gypsies who had returned to Romania. In their figures, only around 6 000 people returned.52 However, it is clear that the number of those who survived deportation was higher. The registration was carried out in conditions in which parts of the country were already under the occupation of the Soviet army or at least located on the frontline. At that time some Gypsies were in the process of travelling home, and so consequently a by no means insignificant number of Gypsies would have been missed by the registration. It should also be added that some Gypsies remained where they were after the withdrawal of the army and the Romanian authorities and later scattered throughout the USSR. As an estimate, it can be stated that approximately half of the 25,000 Gypsies from Romania deported to Transnistria died there.

  • 53 A case is cited ibid., dossier 43/1943, p. 260.

34Since it is deportation being dealt with here, and knowing what the policy of the Nazis with regard to the Gypsies was, the question must be asked whether the Romanian authorities were deliberately aiming for the death of the Gypsy deportees. There are not, however, any signs that lead to the conclusion that the aim of the deportation was the physical elimination of the deportees. From the archive data, we have examined, it does not emerge that the civilian and military authorities in Transnistria organised executions among the Gypsies. It is not known, however, whether that there were cases in which German soldiers in the region carried out such acts.53 The harsh conditions in which the Gypsies found themselves in Transnistria, which led to the deaths of many of them, were due to the fact that once they reached the river Bug, they were practically abandoned by the authorities and left to the care of the local communities, who had no need of them and for whom they were a burden. The “colonisation” of the Gypsies in Transnistria— which should have meant not only the removal from Romania of elements considered to be dangerous, but also the use of such elements in the economic exploitation of the territory in question—was clearly not only a tragedy, but also a failure on the part of the Romanian civilian administration there.

  • 54 Ibid., dossier 86/1944, p. 76.
  • 55 Ibid., p. 91.
  • 56 Ibid., pp. 220, 225–227, 290.
  • 57 The Inspectorate of Gendarmes from Galaţi pointed out in a report that “nor are the landowners sat (...)
  • 58 Ibid., p. 295.

35The Gypsies who survived deportation to Transnistria returned to Romania in the spring of 1944 together with the retreat of the army and the Romanian authorities in the face of the Soviet offensive. Already in the autumn of 1943, the unauthorised abandonment of the places of deportation was taking place en masse, with those who were caught sent back to Transnistria. In March–April 1944, however, without waiting for any particular repatriation measures, the Gypsies withdrew back across the Dniester and from there into the interior of the country. In some cases, the withdrawal of the Gypsies was carried out with the direct assistance of retreating Romanian and German army units and workers from the Romanian railway. On 19 April 1944, the General Inspectorate of the Gendarmerie issued an order that the Gypsies who had fled from Transnistria were to be stopped on the spot and put to work.54 The order was repeated on 17 May.55 These Gypsies were given a temporary home and were forbidden from travelling. They were then to be allocated to an estate where they would be put to work. However, as a result of the life they had led in Transnistria, most were unfit for work. The others were placed with different landowners to carry out agricultural work and were to receive the same wages as the other workers.56 There were, however, frequent instances of Gypsies refusing to work on the grounds that they did not know how to do the tasks, which exasperated the local authorities.57 The Gypsies consequently remained in a situation in which they were in danger of dying of hunger. In such conditions, some groups of Gypsies were granted permission to return to their native villages. With the overthrow of the Antonescu regime on 23 August 1944, and the abrogation of fascist legislation, the regime’s policy with regard to the Gypsies was brought to an end. On 13 September 1944, the State Under-Secretariat for the Police issued an order that all Gypsies who had returned from Transnistria were to be “left to their occupations, while measures are to be taken to induce them into different types of work.”58

4. THE POLICY OF THE ANTONESCU REGIME WITH REGARD TO THE GYPSIES AND THE FATE OF THE GYPSIES IN EUROPE DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR

36The history of the Gypsies in Romania during the Antonescu regime is just one chapter in the fate of the European Gypsies during the Second World War. The war years were a time of dramatic collective experience for the Gypsies living in the countries under the occupation or the political influence of Nazi Germany. Almost everywhere, measures were taken against them, affecting larger or smaller numbers of them, ranging from the restriction of certain of their civil rights to the extermination of entire communities. There is no doubt that in Germany and other countries, a policy of genocide was practised against the Gypsies. The Gypsies were the victims of Nazi racial policy. For a long time, the fate of the Gypsies was omitted from the history of the Nazi regime. Recently, however, the Gypsies have begun to become associated with the notion of Holocaust, alongside the Jews.

  • 59 From literature dealing with this issue: H-J. Doring, Die Zigeuener im NS-Staat, Hamburg, 1964; Mi (...)
  • 60 For example, I. Hancock, The Pariah Syndrome. An Account of Gypsy Slavery and Persecution, Ann Arb (...)
  • 61 Cf. H. R. Huttenbach, op. cit., p. 45.

37Even if the fate of the Gypsies during the war has only quite recently come to the attention of the historians, there is already in existence a body of literature on this subject. Within this literature, valuable contributions can be found, but generally speaking it is far from the standards of contemporary research. One of the characteristics of this literature is that it makes reference more to oral sources and memoirs than it does to archive material. Studies of more or less elaborate nature have been carried out that attempt to offer a picture of this problem in one country or another or to synthesise the information available for an entire area of Europe that was under Nazi hegemony. Study has been made of the so-called Zigeunerwissenschaft, which actually prepared from an ideological perspective the policy of the German authorities with regard to the Gypsies (the Zigeunerpolitik), as well as the administrative, legal and other measures that were implemented against this population during the years of the Second World War in Germany and other countries.59 Estimates of the total number of Gypsies who were systematically murdered at Auschwitz–Birkenau and other Nazi camps, shot by SS troops, the Gestapo, the gendarmes and fascist militias, or who died in the labour camps set up at the time in many countries or died of disease etc, range from 250,000 to 500,000. Some authors and Gypsy political activists have advanced even higher numbers.60 (The number of Gypsies estimated to be living in Europe in 1939 was approximately 900,000.) In some countries, the losses suffered by the Gypsy population were enormous. From the 16,275 Gypsies recorded in Germany before 1938, 14,325 were killed, with only 1950 (12 per cent) surviving. Almost all the Gypsies in Croatia (where only 1 per cent survived), from the occupied territories of Serbia, as well as from Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Estonia and Lithuania were murdered. Similarly, the majority of the Gypsies from occupied France, Latvia, Austria, the Czechia and Poland suffered the same fate. Many Gypsies in the territories of the USSR occupied by the German armies were killed. It is estimated that from 70–80 per cent of the Gypsies who lived in countries occupied by Nazi Germany fell victim to the programme of extermination.61

  • 62 D. Kenrick, G. Puxon, op. cit., p. 93.
  • 63 L. Karsai, A ciganykerdes Magyarorszagon 1919–1945. Ut a cigany Holocausthoz, Budapest, 1992, pp. (...)

38However, these figures differ greatly from author to author and should be regarded with caution in the absence of clear archive data. In writings produced in recent years, there is a clear tendency to inflate the number of victims of Nazism among the Gypsies without, however, bringing any fur ther arguments in this respect. It is probable that the majority of these figures are closer to reality than those circulating in the Gypsy Holocaust literature in connection with Romania. Here, Romania figures with the largest number of victims: 36,000 Gypsies killed in Transnistria. This figure is clearly erroneous as the documents from the Romanian archives show a different situation: if the number of those who died in Transnistria is hard to establish, it is known that the number of Gypsies deported to Transnistria was approximately 25,000. When more detailed studies were carried out with regard to the situation in a particular country, these figures were found to be exaggerated and were corrected. For example, in connection with the situation of the Gypsies in Hungary during the war, it is generally stated that all Gypsies that did not have regular work were interned in forced labour camps, while in 1944, during the German occupation 31,000 Gypsies from Hungary were deported to the death camps, of which only 3 000 survived.62 Recent research has come to the conclusion that during the German occupation of Hungary from March to October 1944, when the Hungarian Jews were deported to the death camps in Poland, neither the German occupation forces nor the Hungarian authorities took any measures against the Gypsies. In the autumn of 1944, in the areas under their control, the Hungarian military and civilian authorities began to organise forced labour detachments made up of Gypsies. Similarly, in certain counties deportations of Gypsies took place. The number of Gypsies from Hungary who were interned, deported or enrolled in forced labour detachments is estimated at approximately 5 000, while the number of Gypsies who died is estimated at a few hundred.63

  • 64 B. Michalewicz, op. cit., p. 131.

39It is necessary to ask to what extent the Gypsy policy of the Antonescu government fits in with what is known as the Nazi Holocaust policy. In Nazi Germany, measures against the Gypsies were introduced gradually, from the prohibition of civil rights to deportation, then to internment in camps and the systematic killing of the Gypsy population. It was an elaborate plan, with decades of Zigeunerforschung and Zigeunerpolitik behind it. In Romania, the situation was different in this respect as there was no tradition of a special policy there with regard to the Gypsies. We have seen that in Romania, measures taken against the Gypsies during the war were limited to the deportation of certain Gypsies to Transnistria. In Romania, neither ghettos nor labour camps were ever set up for the Gypsies. As for deportation, this was imposed on nomadic Gypsies and a part of the sedentary Gypsy population, totalling approximately 25,000 people, equivalent to around 10 per cent of the Gypsy population. The scale of the anti-Gypsy policy in Romania was thus different to that imposed in Germany and German-occupied countries. In Romania, no measures were taken to place the Gypsies outside the law. The majority of the Gypsies were not affected by deportation, instead remaining citizens with full civic rights. It is indicative in this sense that unlike in Germany, where the authorities deported indiscriminately to the camps even the handful of Gypsies who had served as army officers and treated them the same as other prisoners,64 in Romania Gypsies were mobilised on the frontline in the same way as other citizens. The families of Gypsies listed on military rolls, even those included on deportation lists, stayed where they were, whilst in the case of the families of Gypsies who had been mobilised or who were eligible for mobilisation that had been wrongly deported to Transnistria, the military authorities took steps for their repatriation or at least for them to be guaranteed a better regime than the other deportees.

40The deportation of undesirable ethnic groups is, however, a characteristic of Nazi policy. As occupied Poland was for the Germans a “dumping ground” to where the Jews and the Gypsies from the Reich were deported, so Transnistria was for the Romanian authorities the place to where a part of the country’s Jewish and Gypsy populations were evacuated. It is very likely that the deportation to Transnistria had as its model the German deportations.

  • 65 F. Ruland, “Die Zigeunerfr age im Sudosten”, Volkstum im Sudosten, Vienna,October 1942, pp. 163–16 (...)

41Another issue is whether the decision to deport the Romanian Gypsies to Transnistria was taken at the recommendation of or under pressure from Germany or not. Once it began to implement radical measures with regard to the Gypsies, Germany had an interest in “solving” the Gypsy problems of its allies. An article entitled “Die Zigeunerfrage im Südosten” that appeared in 1942 in the magazine Volkstum im Südosten and which reflected the opinion of German official circles, had as its aim to request that the countries of south-eastern Europe take measures of racial nature against the Gypsies. Making special reference to Romania, where in the view of the author Fritz Ruland the “Gypsy problem” was even greater than elsewhere due to the large number of Gypsies there, the article pointed out that there were no voices in Romanian public opinion to attract attention to the danger represented by the Gypsies and expressed the hope that Marshal Antonescu would take vigorous measures of racial nature against them.65 At the current stage of research, it cannot be established for certain whether there was any political and diplomatic pressure from Germany for the implementation of certain measures against the Gypsies. We are inclined to believe that in spite of certain similarities, the policy of the Antonescu regime with regard to the Gypsies was independent of what was going on in Germany and in the countries occupied by the Reich. Evidence of this comes from the fact that the Romanian government halted the deportation of the Gypsies (in October 1942) at a moment when in Germany Himmler was ordering (in December 1942) the deportation of Gypsies to Auschwitz. In the case of the policy on the Jews, where the German pressure is clear, it has been possible to establish that the measures taken by the Antonescu government in most cases were not co-ordinated with Germany. The German influence consisted rather of elements of the xenophobic and racist ideology that at least on a political level could also be found in the policy of the Romanian regime from 1940–44.

42Why was Transnistria chosen as the place of deportation? The answer, in our opinion, lies in the plans that the Romanian government had in connection with this territory. The German–Romanian accord of August 1941 produced a provisional settlement with regard to the status of the territory between the Dniester and the Bug rivers, with a permanent status to follow only after the end of the war. In 1941, Transnistria was placed under the administration of the Romanian government. It was not annexed by Romania and it was not included within the Romanian customs regime. The only currency permitted was the German currency (RKKS). It remained in all respects a foreign territory, subject to Romanian military occupation and economic exploitation by the Romanian government. Even if the Germans suggested to Antonescu that Romania should expand to the east in compensation for the loss of Northern Transylvania, which Hitler had given to Hungary in 1940, the Romanian authorities did not intend to annex Transnistria. From the point of view of the Romanian authorities, at the end of the war Transnistria was to revert to Germany. Precisely because Transnistria was not a Romanian territory and was not to become one, it was the most suit-able place for the deportation of the Jews, the Gypsies and other elements in the country who were considered to be undesirable. In the vision of the Romanian authorities, deportation to Transnistria was equivalent to expelling them from the country. When the status of this territory was to be settled, together with the withdrawal of the Romanian authorities, the deportees would remain outside the borders of Romania.

  • 66 Cf. D. Kenrick, G. Puxon, op. cit., p. 95.

43In the autumn of 1942, when in Germany preparations were being made to launch the “final solution” with regard to the Gypsies, the Romanian authorities halted deportations to Transnistria. Aside from certain motives of an internal nature linked to the protests of certain democratic parties over this policy, it would appear that the intervention of the Foreign Minister of the Reich played an important role in the halting of the deportations. In August and September 1942, when the deportation of the Gypsies to Transnistria was in full flow, the Reichskommissar for Ukraine made an address to the minister for the occupied territories in the east, who in turn addressed himself to the Foreign Minister in Berlin, warning about the danger represented by the colonisation of the Gypsies along the river Bug. In their opinion, the danger lay both in the possibility that the Gypsies would settle on the east bank of the Bug as well as in the damaging influence that the Gypsies would outnumber the local population in an area that also had a German population. The German authorities in Ukraine called on Berlin to intervene with the Romanian government to halt the deportations.66 It is worth recalling that in the autumn of 1942, not only the deportations of the Gypsies were halted but also those of the Jews. It is clear that Antonescu’s policy with regard to deportation underwent a change at that time. However, we are a long way from discerning the motives for this decision. It is probable, as has been supposed, that possible question marks over the conclusion of the war also played a role. Research into the deportation of the Jews to Transnistria has not provided a clear explanation to this change in policy. It is, however, certain that much more than giving up on the planned deportation of the Jews from the Old Kingdom, in 1943 and 1944 certain categories of Jews were actually repatriated, while their emigration to Palestine was made easier.

44It can be estimated that the policy of the Romanian government with regard to the Gypsies differed in many respects from what happened in Germany and in German-occupied countries, through its being limited to certain segments of the Gypsy population, through its motivation and through the measures that were actually taken. Even if numerous victims were recorded among those deported to Transnistria, there are no arguments that would justify considering the deportation as a measure designed to achieve the physical elimination of the deportees. It is indicative that in the conditions of the retreat of the army and the Romanian administration from Transnistria at the beginning of 1944, the Gypsies who had survived the deportation regime returned to Romania with the assistance of military units. We believe that in spite of certain similarities, a sign of equality should not be drawn between the deportation to Transnistria and the Nazi death camps or the mass executions that took place in Poland and on other occupied territories where a large number of Gypsies perished. Furthermore, at the time Romania was not perceived as a country where radical measures against the Gypsies were being taken. The proof of this lies in the case of Gypsies who fled Northern Transylvania during the years of Hungarian occupation to Romania.

45Even allowing for the particular features of the policy with regard to the Gypsies promoted by the Antonescu government, the deportation of the Gypsies, like that of the Jews, remains a racially-motivated measure. It forms part of the logic of the Holocaust policy introduced by Nazi Germany and applied in one form or another in all the countries occupied by or allied to Germany. It is the Romanian part of the tragic history of the Gypsies during the Second World War.

Notes

1 See E. V. Popa, Minorităţile etnice in statul naţional român, Bucharest, 1944, pp. 76–77; I. Stanciu, “Statultul juridic al populaţiei evreies, ti din Romania in perioada 1878 – septembrie 1940”, Revista istorică, III (1992), nos. 3–4, p. 329ff.

2 See A. Boia, op. cit.; Domnica I. Păun, op. cit.

3 Cf. I. Făcăoaru, Antropologia in stat ca ştiinţă şi obiect de invăţămant, [Cluj], s. a., pp. 14–16.

4 See idem, Amestecul rasial şi etnic in Romania, pp. 276ff.

5 Ibid., p. 283.

6 Ibid., pp. 282–286.

7 Gh. Făcăoaru, op. cit., pp. 17–18.

8 See J. S. Hohmann, Vervolgte ohne Heimat. Geschichte der Zigeuner in Deutschland, Frankfurt am Main, Bern, New York, Paris, 1990, pp. 107–123.

9 L. Stan, “Rasism faţă de ţigani”, Cuvantul, N. S., XVIII, no. 53, 18 January 1941, pp. 1, 9.

10 I. Chelcea, op. cit., pp. 100–101.

11 Cf. Evreii din Romania intre anii 1940–1944, vol. i, Legislaţia antievreiască, compiled by Lya Benjamin, Bucharest, 1993, p. XL.

12 I. Dan, “Procesul” mares, alului Ion Antonescu, Bucharest, 1993, p. 161.

13 Procesul marii trădări nat,ionale; stenograma desbaterilor de la Tribunalul Poporului asupra Guvernului Antonescu [Bucharest], 1946, p. 66.

14 A. S. B., fond Sabin Manuilă, XIII/209.

15 A. S. B., fond P. C. M., dossier 42/1942.

16 Ibid., dossier 1275/1943, pp. 4–12. Arhivele Statului Timis, oara, fond Inspectoratul de Jandarmi Timis, oara, dossier 156/1943, pp. 8–10.

17 A. S. B., fond I. G. J., dossier 130/1942, pp. 607, 609, 611.

18 Procesul marii trădări nat,ionale, pp. 42, 65–66, 104, 108, 305.

19 See I. Cioabă, “Il genocido in Romania: una testimonianza”, Lacio Drom, 20 (1984), nos. 2–3, pp. 54–56; Fr. Remmel, op. cit., pp. 66–72.

20 For example, D. Kenrick, G. Puxon, Sinti und Roma—die Vernichtung eines Volkes im NS-Staat, translated by Astrid Stegelmann, Gottingen, Vienna, 1981, pp. 95–96, 135.

21 O. Verenca, Administraţia civilă romană in Transnistria, Chişinău, 1993, pp. 34–37.

22 I. Dan, loc. cit.

23 Procesul marii trădări naţionale, p. 66; I. Dan, op. cit., p. 264.

24 A. S. B., fond I. G. J., dossier 201/1942, dossier 202/1942, dossier 203/1942.

25 Arhivele Statului Arad, fond Legiunea de Jandarmi a judeţului Arad, dossier 13/ 1942, p. 141.

26 A.S.B., fond I.G.J., dossier 130/1942, p. 1.

27 Ibid., dossier 126/1942, p. 204.

28 Ibid., dossier 130/1942, p. 7–10.

29 Ibid., dossier 126/1942, pp. 208–211.

30 A. S. B., fond P. C. M., dossier 202/1941–1944, pp. 274–277.

31 A. S. B., fond I. G. J., dossier 120/1942, p. 126.

32 Ibid., dossier 43/1943, pp. 450–451.

33 Ibid., pp. 313–314.

34 Ibid., dossier 77/1943, p. 47; dossier 43/1943, p. 286.

35 Ibid., dossier 126/1942, pp. 10–11.

36 Documents Concerning the Fate of Romanian Jewry During the Holocaust, ed. J. Ancel, vol. iv, Jerusalem, 1985, p. 225.

37 A. S. B., fond I. G. J., dossier 126/1942. p. 205.

38 Ibid., p. 2.

39 Ibid., p. 205.

40 Ibid., dossier 203/1942, p. 337.

41 Timpul, VI, no. 1954, 16 October 1942, p. 3.

42 A. S. B., fond I. G. J., dossier 126/1942, p. 203.

43 Ibid., dossier 43/1942, p. 321.

44 Ibid., dossier 130/1942, pp. 118–119.

45 Ibid., pp. 129–130.

46 Ibid., dossier 166/1942. pp. 171–172; dossier 140/1943, pp. 9–11.

47 Ibid., pp. 533–538.

48 Ibid., dossier 43/1943, pp. 363–364.

49 Ibid., dossier 84/1943, pp. 237–238.

50 Ibid., p. 176.

51 Procesul marii trădări naţionale, p. 42.

52 A. S. B. fond I. G. J., dossier 86/1944, pp. 149–217; dossier 97/1944.

53 A case is cited ibid., dossier 43/1943, p. 260.

54 Ibid., dossier 86/1944, p. 76.

55 Ibid., p. 91.

56 Ibid., pp. 220, 225–227, 290.

57 The Inspectorate of Gendarmes from Galaţi pointed out in a report that “nor are the landowners satisfied with those fit for work, because aside from the fact that they do not know what they are doing, they are also ill-willed, while some have actually engaged in the stealing of birds, items of clothing etc, for which reason they are being discharged.” (Ibid., p. 97.)

58 Ibid., p. 295.

59 From literature dealing with this issue: H-J. Doring, Die Zigeuener im NS-Staat, Hamburg, 1964; Miriam Novitch, Le Genocide des Tsiganes sous le regime Nazi, Paris, 1968; C. Bernadac, L’Holocaust oublie. Le massacre des Tsiganes, Paris, 1974; D. Kenrick, G. Puxon, op. cit., pp. 53–136; H. R. Huttenbach, “The Romani Pořajmos: The Nazi Genocide of Gypsies in Germany and Eastern Europe”, in The Gypsies of Eastern Europe, ed. D. Crowe and J. Kolsti, Armonk/New York, London, 1991, pp. 31–49; Sybil Milton, “Nazi Policies Towards Gypsies and Sinti, 1933–1945”, JGLS (5), 2 (1992), no. 1, pp. 1–18; A. Fraser, op. cit., pp. 257–270; Selma Steinmetz, Osterreiches Zigeuner im NS-Staat, Vienna, 1966; Erika Thurner, Nationalsozialismus und Zigeuner in Osterreich, Vienna, 1983; J. Gotovitch, “Quelques donnees relatives a l’extermination des Tsiganes de Belgique”, Cahiers d’Histoire de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, 4 (1976), pp. 161–180; B. A. Sijes, Vervolging van Zigeuners in Nederland 1940–1945, The Hague, 1979; Bogumila Michalewicz, “L’Holocauste des Tsiganes en Pologne”, in Tsiganes: identite, evolution. Actes du Colloque pour le trentieme anniversaire des Etudes Tsiganes, Paris, 1989, pp. 129–130.

60 For example, I. Hancock, The Pariah Syndrome. An Account of Gypsy Slavery and Persecution, Ann Arbor, 1987, p. 81 speaks of 600,000 victims among the Gypsies.

61 Cf. H. R. Huttenbach, op. cit., p. 45.

62 D. Kenrick, G. Puxon, op. cit., p. 93.

63 L. Karsai, A ciganykerdes Magyarorszagon 1919–1945. Ut a cigany Holocausthoz, Budapest, 1992, pp. 85–135, 144.

64 B. Michalewicz, op. cit., p. 131.

65 F. Ruland, “Die Zigeunerfr age im Sudosten”, Volkstum im Sudosten, Vienna,October 1942, pp. 163–169.

66 Cf. D. Kenrick, G. Puxon, op. cit., p. 95.

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