Defining victims

When the Nazis occupied what had been left of the territory of the former Czechoslovakian state and established their occupation regime, they brought with them their racial ideology and thus the definition of foreign races (artfremde Rassen) as which they considered Jews, Gypsies and Negroes.1 As Jews2, they didn’t only consider those who also identified themselves as such, but also people, who, for example, came from families who had converted to Christianity several generations ago. They codified their definition of who was to be considered jewish in the so-called Nuremberg Laws. The Nazis created a list of their future victims in a long and complicated process. They used official documents, documents of Jewish communities, and, in Germany, the census in order to compile a registry of those they considered to be jewish solely for the purpose of their persecution.3 Concerning those they considered gypsies, they had to adapt their methods. The Nazi definition of gypsies was based primarily on the pseudo-scientific research of Dr. Robert Ritter, who since 1936 headed the so-called „Research Institute for Racial Hygiene“ (Rassenhygienische Forschungstelle) at the Reich Health Office. This research institute used genealogical research in combination with police registers and pseudo-scientific anthropometric criteria to determine who counted as a racial gypsy or gypsy half-breed. This process began later than the creation of the list of Jews in the Reich and took place mostly during the Second World War. After the establishment of the Protectorate, the Nazis quickly gained documents, which enabled them to also determine in the Czech lands who was a Jew according to the definition of the Nuremberg Laws. However, they did not have similar documents regarding the gypsies.

There was though a police register of Gypsies, which the Czechoslovak police ran since 1925 and which was regulated by law No. 117/1927 Sb. on wandering gypsies. This law defined gypsies based on lifestyle. Paragraph 1 of that law was worded as follows: According to this law, wandering gypsies are considered to be gypsies wandering from place to place and other workshy wanderers who live in the gypsy way of life, even if they have a permanent residence for part of the year, especially the winter.4

The vague definition of wandering gypsies in this law reflects the general understanding of the term gypsy in the Czech society of that time. Gypsies were considered on the one hand Roma and Sinti as an ethnic group (then called Gypsies, in Czech written uppercase), and, on the other, everyone who resembled the imagination of this group based on prejudices and stereotypes (gypsies, in Czech written , eg. vagrants, wandering grinders, umbrella repairers, wandering merchants, small carousel operators). The Dictionary of the Czech Language from 1937 states that a gypsy is a member of the wandering nation of Gypsies, but also a rogue, liar, impostor in general.5

Before the Nazis used the beforementioned police register for their own purposes, various other measures from the Reich were adopted in the Protectorate.

Next chapter:  The occupation and implementation of German laws and regulations

Remarks

1:

Runderlass des RMI vom 26. November 1935. In: Ministerialblatt für die Preußische Innere Verwaltung 1935, s. 1429–1934. [Circular of the Reich Ministry of the Interior of 26 November 1935]. In: Ministerialblatt für die Preußische Innere Verwaltung 1935 [Ministerial Gazette for the Prussian Internal Administration 1935], pp. 1429–1934. Cited by: Rickmann, Anahid S. „Rassenpflege im völkischen Staat“. Zum Verhältnis der Rassenhygiene zur nationalsozialistischen Politik. Bonn: Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Bonn, 2002. On-line: http://hss.ulb.uni-bonn.de/2002/0091/0091.pdf?origin=publication_detail ​Accessed: 17 May 2020.

2:

The quotation marks indicate the difference between legitimate self-identification and the illegitimate racist assignment of an „identity“ by the Nazis.

3:

 Aly, Götz. Die restlose Erfassung: Volkszählen, Identifizieren, Aussondern im Nationalsozialismus. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2000. .

4:

Zákon č. 117/1927 Sb. o potulných cikánech [Law No. 117/1927 Sb. on „wandering gypsies“], http://ftp.aspi.cz/opispdf/1927/052-1927.pdf . Accessed: 17 May 2020.

5:

Váša, Pavel and Trávníček, František. Slovník jazyka českého. Praha: Fr. Borový, 1937. .

List of used archival sources and literature:

Archival sources:

Moravský zemský archiv [Moravian Land Archives]

  • B 124, Krajský národní výbor Brno [Regional National Committee Brno], III. manipulace [III. manipulation]:

  • - box 1871, inv. no. 1536 – Cikáni (1942–1951) [Gypsies (1942–1951)]

Státní oblastní archiv v Třeboni [State Regional Archives in Třeboň]

  • CT Lety [Gypsy camp Lety]:

  • - box 3, inv. no. 38 – Vyhláška Okresního úřadu Písek o soupisu cikánů vydaná dne 17. 7. 1942 [Decree of the District Office in Písek on the census of gypsies issued on 17 July 1942]

  • - box 14, inv. no. 75 – Změny stavu, propuštění z cikánského tábora, seznamy zemřelých [Changes in the number of prisoners, releases from the gypsy camp, death lists]

  • - box 20, inv. no. 83, osobní spisy muži [personal files men]

  • - box 23, inv. no. 96 – Epidemie tyfu [Typhus epidemic]

 

Laws and regulations:

Literature:

  • Rickmann, Anahid S. „Rassenpflege im völkischen Staat“. Zum Verhältnis der Rassenhygiene zur nationalsozialistischen Politik. Bonn: Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Bonn, 2002.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Romové na Moravě a ve Slezsku (1740-1945). Brno: Knižnice Matice moravské, 2005. 475 p.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Romové v České republice včera a dnes. 3rd ed. Olomouc: UP Olomouc, 1999. 132 p.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Českoslovenští Romové v letech 1938-1945. In: Spisy Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity v Brně. Brno: Masarykova univerzita v Brně, 1994.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Holocaust českých Romů. Praha: Prostor, 1999. 173 p.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Andŕoda taboris. Tragédie protektorátních cikánských táborů v Letech a v Hodoníně. Brno: 1995.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Nemůžeme zapomenout. Našti bisteras. Nucená táborová koncentrace ve vyprávěních romských pamětníků. Olomouc: Univerzita Palackého v Oloumoci, 1994. 244 p.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Nad osudem českých a slovenských Cikánů 1939-1945. Brno: Univerzita J. E. Purkyně v Brně, 1981. 180 p.

  • Schmidt, Zilli. Gott hat mit mir etwas vorgehabt! Erinnerungen einer deutschen Sinteza. Berlin: Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, 2020.

  • Serinek, Josef, Tesař, Jan and Ondra, Josef. Česká cikánská rapsodie. Praha: Triáda, 2006.

  • Memorial book: The Gypsies at Auschwitz-Birkenau = Księga Pamięci: Cyganie w obozie koncentracyjnym Auschwitz-Birkenau = Gedenkbuch: Die Sinti und Roma im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau: The gypsies at Auschwitz-Birkenau. München: Saur, 1993.

  • Váša, Pavel and Trávníček, František. Slovník jazyka českého. Praha: Fr. Borový, 1937.

  • Zimmermann, Michael. Rassenutopie und Genozid. Die nationalsozialistische Lösung der Zigeunerfrage. Hamburg: Christians, 1996. 547 p.

  • Benz, Wolfgang, Distel, Barbara and Königseder, Angelika. (Hg.): Ort des Terrors. Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager, Bd. 8. München: 2008.

  • Aly, Götz. Die restlose Erfassung: Volkszählen, Identifizieren, Aussondern im Nationalsozialismus. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2000.

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