Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Final Solution of the Gypsy Question
FROM Ian Hancock
When countries are at war, certain individuals and organizations in those countries become singled out as potentially harmful to the national interest, and are dealt with in different ways, usually by expulsion or by
In Germany during the Second World War many groups were thus identified: Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, male homosexuals and others, but only two populations identified by what they were born were targeted for extermination: the Jews and the Romanies (“Gypsies”).
Policies aimed at these two peoples predate the Second World War, beginning in the year that Hitler became Chancellor of Germany:
“In 1933 a process began which was to pursue the racial differentiation of people into Aryans and non-Aryans. The intended goal was the final
annihilation of all Jews and Gypsies in Europe.”
The overarching label for this intent was the Final Solution.
Although the word Holocaust is sometimes generalized to include all groups
targeted by the National Socialists between 1933-1945, it should strictly refer only to the implementation of this policy: the genocide of
the Jews and the Romanies.
Though not a ‘racial’ group nor one defined by religion, the handicapped too were singled out and destroyed for the same reason: they were seen to constitute a genetic contaminant in the creation of Hitler’s envisioned Herrenvolk, his ‘Master Race.’
The term itself is euphemistic and vague. The words “The final solution of the Gypsy problem” (in the Romani language o Paluno Impachimos le
Rromane Puchimaske) can be found as early as 1888 on the first page of the first issue of The Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, though the
“problem” referred to there was for scholars to determine Romani origins.
Reference to “the final solution of the Jewish question” is found
in a Nazi party document from 1931 concerning the
possible use of Jews for slave labor.
For Romanies, the earliest Nazi document referring to “the introduction of the total solution of the Gypsy problem on either a national or an
international level” was drafted under the direction of State Secretary Hans Pfundtner of the Reichs Ministry of the Interior in March 1936.
In his 1938 address to The German Association for Racial Research, Dr. Adolph Würth of the Racial Hygiene Research Unit said “the Gypsy question is a racial question for us today.
In the same way as the National Socialist state has solved the Jewish question, it will also have to settle the Gypsy question once and for all.
The race biological research on Gypsies is an unconditional prerequisite for the Final Solution of the Gypsy Question.”
In March the same year a letter to the “Imperial Leader of the SS” from Dr. Werner Best, Head of the Nazi Security Police addressed the “initiat[ion of the] Final Solution to the Gypsy problem from a racial point of view.”
The first official publicly-posted Party statement to refer to the Final Solution of the Gypsy question (endgültige Lösung der Zigeunerfrage) was issued at that time signed by Himmler, who also ordered
the Bureau of Romani Affairs to be moved from Munich to Berlin.
In his post-war memoirs, SS Officer Perry Broad of the political division at Auschwitz wrote that ‘it was the will of the all-powerful Führer to
have the Gypsies disappear from the face of the earth” (“es war der Wille des allmächtigen Reichsführers, alle Zigeuner von der Erde
verschwinden zu lassen”), and that “the Central Office knew it was Hitler’s aim to wipe out all the Gypsies without exception” (“das Zentralbüro
wusste, dass es Hitlers Ziel war, alle Zigeuner ohne Ausnahme auszulöschen”) .
“The final resolution, as formulated by Himmler, in his ‘Decree for Basic Regulations to Resolve the Gypsy Question as Required by the Nature of
Race,’ of December 8th, 1938, meant that preparations were to begin for the complete extermination of the Sinti and Roma” (emphasis added).
In 1939 Johannes Behrendt of the Office of Racial Hygiene issued a brief stating that “[a]ll Romanies should be treated as hereditarily
sick; the only solution is elimination. The aim should therefore be the elimination without hesitation of this defective element in the population.”
In 1940, a memorandum from Leonardo Conti, Secretary of State for Health in the Ministry of Interior, to the Main Office of the Security Police, Kripo headquarters, and the Reich Health Department, Berlin sent on January 24 read:
“It is known that the lives of Romanies and part Romanies are to be regulated by a Gypsy law (Zigeunergesetz) . . . I firmly believe, now as
before, that the final solution of the Gypsy problem can only be achieved through the sterilization of full and part Romanies.”
Heydrich, who had been entrusted with the ‘final solution of the Jewish question’ on 31 July 1941, shortly after the German invasion of the USSR,
also included the Romanies in his ‘final solution’.
The senior SS officer and Chief of Police for the East, Dr. Landgraf, in Riga, informed Rosenberg’s Reich Commissioner for the East, Lohse, of the inclusion of the Romanies in the ‘final solution.’
Thereupon, Lohse gave the order, on 24th December 1941, that the Romanies
“should be given the same treatment as the Jews.”
Reinhard Heydrich, who was Head of the Reich Main Security Office and the leading organizational architect of the Nazi Final Solution, ordered the
Einsatzkommandos “to kill all Jews, Romanies and mental patients.”
According to the minutes from a conference on racial policy organized by Heydrich and held in Berlin on 21 September 1939 to decide, inter
alia, upon the Final Solution of the Gypsy Question, four issues were decided:
the concentration of Jews in towns;
their relocation to Poland;
the removal of 30,000 Romanies to Poland,
and the systematic deportation of Jews to German-incorporated territories using goods trains.
An express letter sent by the Reich Main Security Office on 17th October 1939 to its local agents mentioned that the ‘Gypsy Question will
shortly be regulated throughout the territory of the Reich.’ . . .
At about this time, Adolf Eichmann made the recommendation that the ‘Gypsy
Question’ be solved simultaneously with the ‘Jewish Question,’. . .
Himmler signed the order dispatching Germany’s Sinti and Roma to Auschwitz
on 16th December 1942. The ‘Final Solution’ of the ‘Gypsy Question’ had begun.
Posted by Morgan at 1:40 PM