Nazis declared the Roma to be ‘racially inferior’, so Roma — like Jews and Serbs — faced a genocide in Europe. So why is it that despite Anti-Ziganism still being present in Europe, 70 years after the Holocaust, the Roma phlight in Europe — then and now — is virtually ignored?
27 January - International Holocaust Remembrance Day (all victims)
27 Nisan (Hebrew Calendar; Gregorian Date varies by year) - Yom HaShoah (Jewish victims)
2 August - Roma Genocide Remembrance Day (Roma/Sinti victims)
It’s never OK to challenge or downplay the suffering endured by the latter two groups, but if you specifically hassle Jews or Roma with your “but what about the X” bullshit on their own remembrance days, you are a special breed of asshole.
Westerbork, Holland. A Roma girl named Settela Steinbach staring out of a deportation train.
On May 19, 1944, the Nazis and their collaborators deported people of Roma and Sinti descent from Holland for extermination in the East. Born in Limburg, Holland, Settela Steinbach died on the night between August 2-3, 1944 in Auschwitz, where her mother and nine brothers and sisters were also murdered.
Two interned Roma (Gypsy) boys are forced to play violins for departing and arriving detainees at a camp (possibly Beaune-la-Rolande transit camp or Pithiviers internment camp) in German-occupied France. German soldiers and a French policeman stand behind and watch. The genocide of Roma people in Europe during the war cost the lives approximately 220,000 to 1,500,000, most of whom died in concentration camps, with thousands more interned in camps and ghettos throughout occupied territories. This would become known to the Roma as the Porajmos; meaning “the devouring” or “the destruction” in the Romani language. France. Circa 1940-1944.
Like millions of Jews across Eastern Europe, Dina and her Mother were collected and crowded into primitive barracks until their number came up to be herded into the gas chambers and eliminated. An artist before her capture, she used her cartooning talents to paint a mural on the wall of the children’s barracks of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The movie had been released in Europe several years earlier and was a familiar and calming influence the children in her camp.
Because of the mural, Dina’s talents came to the attention of the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele. The inaptly-named “Angel of Death” was pure evil incarnate, whose abominable experiments on human patients (Romany and Jew) would be too much for even the most sinister comic criminal.
Among his other monstrous pursuits, Mengele tried to prove the genetic inferiority of Eastern European Gypsy (Roma) population – thereby supposedly justifying their extirpation at the hands of the Nazis. Dissatisfied with the quality of photography at the time, the real-life mad doctor called on Dina to paint portraits of the Roma prisoners, to accurately depict their darker skin colors. While Dina painted, Mengele spared her and her mother from execution. Her subjects were not spared, however, and after Dina had completed each portrait, each gypsy inmate was sent on to their death.
In 1973, six of the portraits were donated or sold to the Holocaust Museum in Auschwitz, Poland. (A seventh painting was later donated or sold by an similarly unidentified benefactor.) The Museum determined that Dina had been the creator of those paintings, and contacted her to fly – at her own expense – to verify this. Since she was their creator under the most extreme duress Dina naturally assumed that the Museum would be releasing the paintings and she would be returning with them to the United States. Although she fully intended to grant the Museum full rights to reproduce and display them, she was shocked and disappointed when the Museum refused to refused to release the portraits to her.
Imagine first, what it was to be Dina – imprisoned in Auschwitz – knowing that she had merely postponed the death of each of the subjects of her paintings. Then imagine Dina today, knowing that these portraits are all that remain of these people. Dina captured their essence – their soul, as it were – but can never hold the paintings again, give them to her children – to honor the memories of these gypsy victims of the Holocaust.
READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE, ABOUT THE COLLABORATION OF COMIC BOOK LEGENDS (inc. Stan Lee) TO HELP RETRIEVE THE PAINTINGS HERE:
Eva Justin (23 August 1909 – 11 September 1966) was a German racial anthropologist and psychologist, and a prominent Nazi anthropologist.
photograph: Eva Justin checking the facial characteristics of a Romani woman as part of her “racial studies”.
She was born in Dresden in 1909, the daughter of a railroad official Charles Justin and his wife Margarethe (née Ebinger). Justin served as an assistant to Nazi psychologist Robert Ritter in the “Rassenhygienische und Bevölkerungsbiologische Forschungsstelle” (The Research Unit for Racial Hygiene and Population Biology) founded by Ritter in 1936 at the University of Tübingen .
Justin originally trained as a nurse, and received her doctorate in anthropology in 1944. She also spoke Romani, thus earning the trust of Roma and Sinti people. Her doctoral dissertation, titled “Lebensschicksale artfremd erzogener Zigeunerkinder und ihrer Nachkommen” (English: the life history of alien-raised G***y children and their descendants), was based on studies of “G***y Mischlinge” half-Romani children who were taken from their parents and raised in orphanages and foster homes without any contact with Romani culture.
Justin’s dissertation was approved by the German ethnologist Richard Thurnwald. After the completion of her studies, the 41 children used in the study were deported to the “G***y Camp” at Auschwitz. Soon after their arrival Josef Mengele arrived at Auschwitz. Some of the children were subjected to his experiments and most were eventually killed in the gas chamber. In the mean time Eva Justin was awarded her Ph.D., on May 9.
In 1958, the Frankfurt district attorney initiated an investigation into her wartime actions, but the investigation was closed in 1960, after the district attorney had concluded her actions were subject to the statute of limitations.
After the war, she was employed as a child psychologist in the social services department of the municipality of Frankfurt am Main working again with Ritter, until shortly before her death from cancer in 1966 in Offenbach am Main, a city on the outskirts of Frankfurt. (via)
Images of the children used in the study, probably recorded in 1943, Mulfingen, Germany.
39 children Romani children (20 boys and 19 girls) at St. Josefspflege orphanage in Mulfingen, Germany were purposely kept from their parents as part of a study. Eva Justin of the Institute for the Study of Racial Hygiene studied them for her doctoral dissertion titled “Lebensschicksale artfremd erzogener Zigeunerkinder und ihre Nachkommen” (The fate of G***y children and their offspring raised in alien environments) was accepted by the Mathematics-Science Faculty of Berlin University in 1943 and was published in 1944. In the preface Justin explains her hope that her “study will serve as a basis for future race hygiene laws regulating such unworthy primitive elements.” The children were then sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where most perished.
August 2 is the day of commemoration of the Nazis’ attempt to exterminate the Roma of Europe. Almost the entire Romani populations of the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Croatia, Estonia, and Lithuania were killed. The word “porajmos” means devouring or destruction.
Writing a genocide to which you have no personal connection
Anonymous asked: Is it okay to write Holocaust Fiction, specifically with a Jewish main character, if I am not Jewish and I am not related to a survivor? Thank you for your time.
Objectively, it is “okay”, but there are a lot of things you probably need to do to make sure what you’re writing is fair to the victims, survivors, and their descendants. I’d ask yourself some hard questions first: what are you hoping to get out of it? What draws you to this? Why this? Hey, there might be some great answers. But I do think it’s definitely good to look at yourself and ask why this.
Then, there’s the weight of truly understanding what it was that happened. I was force-fed a shit-ton of Holocaust lit when I was a teenager, because my mom wanted me to know. Exodus. Mila 18. Anne Frank. All that stuff. Are you prepared to read all that? Are you prepared for what it will make you feel? (And this goes for any genocide or horrifying event that you haven’t experienced either personally or secondhand. It will take research that will disturb you.)
Plus, you’d need to decide which European country your MC was from and figure out the specific nuances of horror that happened there, because it wasn’t identical across the board.
I’m not saying not to do it, I’m saying “are you going to do it right?” There are some things that you can only accept if you understand completely what kind of assignment you’re giving yourself..
“Can I do this justice? Can I be a credit and not a hindrance to the real life people who will be impacted by my words?”
The porajmos - by Linda Marshall. Written after visiting Auschwitz with her uncle, a porajmos survivor who lost his entire family there
I, a stranger, walk the trail of tears Shared by my race. Like them, I carry an alien face. Even after all these years Our deaths remain unmourned, ignored. The crowd of tourists thronging round At Auschwitz now seem almost bored. With so much horror in the TV news Can tears of pity for the past be found?
I, trembling, try to take stock Of thirteen years of madness and cruel death: Auschwitz, Chelmno, Bialystok; I catch my quivering breath.
Here and now, in this dreadful place I stand alone, The only representative of my race And hear the drone Of others thinking ‘only my death matters.’ They should remember what the poet Donne said: 'Each man’s death diminishes me.’ Idle chatter From increasingly bored tourists fills my head, And I escape to a much earlier time, To relive in myself the vicious crime.
I am alone and frightened as I stand Watching the familiar uniform Of the SS driving us from our land, And then, like a huge swarm Of stinging wasps, on to the train they led us, And made us promises of work and homes, And even dignity. Oh, how they bled us! Our blood soon reddened the mighty ocean’s foam.
I am a gypsy girl today, I, waiting for the train to take me Into the darkness where they soon will make me Abandon earth for ever. I must pay, I and my people, for what they call the crime Of being homeless, wandering the road, Passing our time In our hand-painted vardos, with our load Of kipsis and other goods to sell. For this they sentenced us to hell.
I, a gypsy, out of India, wandering, I, betrayed, stripped, beaten, raped and slain; I, who but yesterday was dukkering The vast of a rakli, slaughtered on the plain.
I am surrounded, cursed and spat upon, Lied to and about; My blood is slowly oozing out: I shall never bear a son.
The heroes in black are raising their fists And punching and kicking me into the ground; There is no strength left in my wrists, Nor any help to be found.
I, naked, dripping with sweat and blood, Am dragged, too weak to scream, towards the shower; They do not want to wash me clean of blood But to destroy me in this evil hour.
And now they bundle me into the room Which now I know will be my bitter tomb. The gas pours in; I try to catch my breath, But there’s no cheating this unwelcome death.
Not a bird sings as I pass away, Not a flower blooms as I am cast aside; Just yesterday I should have been a bride, And gladly married miri ro, Yet here I am and now to hell I go, Or death at least. Divvel, pray for me now! I’ll soon be fertiliser for the plough.
I am a single voice Mourning the loss of 800,000 folk Who, under the bitter yoke Of tyranny, were slain. We had no choice; Death was the only way to end our pain.
Out of the thousands who died Mine is only a single cry For the old and the young, The women and men, Who were led out to die Again and again: I am only their voice.
Here, in Auschwitz, Chelmno, Bialystok, I watch the crowds of tourists flock. The holocaust deniers spin their lies; The special pleaders will not grant our place Beside their own. 'Gypsies are not a race,’ Or so they, lying, say, and with insincere sighs Try to round down the numbers of our dead, And almost blame us. Oh, the bitter bread We eat even today! The evil names They call us as they try to bring us shame! Yes, I’m a gippo, pikey, call me what you will: Love always conquers hate, and always will.
terminology of Nazi eugenics: life unworthy of life
The phrase “life unworthy of live” (in German: “Lebensunwertes Leben”) was a Nazi designation for the segments of populace which had no right to live and thus were to be “euthanized”. The term included people with serious medical problems and those considered grossly inferior according to the racial policy of the Third Reich. This concept formed an important component of the ideology of Nazism and eventually helped lead to the Holocaust. The euthanasia program was known as Action T4. It was officially adopted in 1939 and came through the personal decision of Adolf Hitler. It grew in extent and scope until 1942 when public protests stopped the programme. However, euthanasia continued and the methods used (lethal injection and gassing, mainly) were expanded into the Nazi concentration camps where they were used on such a large scale as to form the basis of the Holocaust.
The expression first occurs in the title of a 1920 book, Die Freigabe der Vernichtung Lebensunwerten Lebens (Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life) by jurist Karl Binding, retired from the University of Leipzig, and psychiatrist Alfred Hoche from the University of Freiburg, both professors. According to Hoche, some living people who were brain damaged, mentally retarded, psychiatrically ill were “mentally dead”, “human ballast” and “empty shells of human beings”. Hoche felt killing such people was useful. Some people were simply considered disposable. Later the killing was extended to people considered ‘racially impure’ or 'racially inferior’ according to Nazi thinking.
Those considered to be “deviant” or a “source of social turmoil” in Nazi Germany and the occupied Europe fell under this designation. The “deviant” category included the mentally ill, people with disabilities, political dissidents, homosexuals, interracial couples, and criminals. The “social turmoil” category included Communists, Jews, Romani people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, “non-white” or non-Caucasian peoples, and some clergy. More than any other of these groups, the Jews soon became the primary focus of this genocidal policy.
The concept culminated in Nazi extermination camps, instituted to systematically kill those who were unworthy to live according to Nazi ideologists. It also justified various human experimentation and eugenics programs, as well as Nazi racial policies
According to the author of Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, the policy went through a number of iterations and modifications:
Of the five identifiable steps by which the Nazis carried out the principle of “life unworthy of life,” coercive sterilization was the first. There followed the killing of “impaired” children in hospitals; and then the killing of “impaired” adults, mostly collected from mental hospitals, in centers especially equipped with carbon monoxide gas. This project was extended (in the same killing centers) to “impaired” inmates of concentration and extermination camps and, finally, to mass killings in the extermination camps themselves.
If you’re going to force Rroma people into mandatory “work training” programmes, that involve manual labour, no hope for advancement, and a sub-living wage - if you REALLY are SO convinced of our worthlessness that you’d rather spend your countries money on the kind of initiative that is not only dehumanizing as fuck but also offers no chance for sustainability, instead of investing money in actual social services for Rroma people - it seems like the VERY LEAST YOU COULD DO would be to NOT CALL THOSE PROGRAMMES “LABOUR CAMPS”.
NBD or anything, I’m sure it was just an oversight on your parts - I mean, it’s not like there’s a history of Rroma people being mass-murdered in so-called “labour camps”… oh, wait.
I mean really. Every time I think I’ve lost the ability to be further shocked by how far gadje will take their bullshit, they go and prove me wrong.