Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Black Triangles, Purple Triangles – The Forgotten Holocaust.

Persecuted from the start of both Dictatorial Regimes [Editor's note: Italian and German]. The Bible Student's community was completely decimated with a series of arrests starting in October 1939 in Italy, and destined to finish in the extermination camps in Germany.

It's important to underline that, in contrast to that which happened to the Jews, this was a persecution without racial motivations, but caused by membership to a religious minority, in the moment in which these religious bonds the motive for continuing violence were lost.

The persecution of the Romany (an indo-Aryan population made up of the Rom, Sinti, Manouches, Kale and Romanichals) however was motivated exclusively on racial grounds. According to the pseudo-scientific theories of the Nazi doctors the gypsies were of &ldquopure Aryan race, degenerated”.

Doctor Ritter [Editor's note:Dr. Robert Ritter at the University of Teubingen – a criminal psychologist who advocated several racial theories used by the Nazi's], sustained that genetic factors controlled the gypsy existence. The gypsies were therefore genetically thieves, conmen, and wanderers. Their danger was in their blood.

Eva Justin, Ritter's assistant, from the study of 148 gypsy babies hypothesized the presence in the gypsy blood of the &ldquoGene for the nomadic instinct”, condemning to death thousands of people.

As shown by Giovanna Bousier2, before the accession to power of the Nazis, and not only in Germany, there existed legislation against gypsies firstly aiming to control and identify individuals present in a territory, then afterwards to their grouping together and assimilation.

The anti-gypsy persecution took a step further in 1936 with the opening in Berlin of the Central office for the fight against the Gypsy nuisance. From this moment began the deportation of the German gypsies to the newly created concentration camps or at least into areas controlled by police where the gypsies were thrown into forced labour, with almost no food and in poor hygienic conditions.

In 1938 Himmler issued a decree (Fight against the Gypsy Curse) in which the question of the gypsies was spoken about as a decidedly racial problem, and in 1939 the orders came to round up and imprison the gypsies in specific places in order for an &ldquoimminent solution to the gypsy question”.

At the end of February 1943 sector BIIe of Auschwitz-Birkenau came into use, reserved for the Gypsies. The first transport arrived on the 26th of the same month. On their arrival, the prisoners weren't subjected to, as was the case for all the other categories of deported, the initial selection, the division of the women from the men, rather the families remained united (this sector of Auschwitz was known as the Familienlager).

Once they had had their heads shaved, been disinfected and registered by means of tattooing, the gypsies were left to their own means: they didn't have the morning roll calls and didn't make up a part of the work groups. The motives for this strange treatment are, even today, still not clear.

In April of 1944 a number of selections were made in the gypsy camp. Those who were fit for work were transferred to other camps. On the night of the 1st of august 1944 the Zigeunerlager was liquidated: a number of people estimated to have been between 3000 and 4000 were exterminated in the gas chambers. The speed with which this operation was carried out was probably due to the imminent arrival of train loads of Hungarian Jews fit for work, and the advance of the Russian front.

In total, taking into account the difficulties in providing estimates, around 500,000 gypsies are thought to have been exterminated.

Three Monkeys Online would like to thank Katarzyna Pollock for the kind permission to reproduce one of the works from her Gypsy Holocaust series. Ms Pollock is a Berlin based Sinti artist.


1 Vercelli Claudio

2 Boursier Giovanna, Lo sterminio degli zingari durante la seconda guerra mondiale, in Studi storici, April-June 1995.

The Patrin Web Journal – Romani (Gypsy) Culture and History

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust – Jehovah’s Witnesses

Artist Katarzyna Pollock’s Gypsy Holocaust Series

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