Deportations to Auschwitz

On December 16, 1942, the head of the German police and SS, Himmler issued the so-called Auschwitz-Erlass (Auschwitz decree), which ordered imprisonment for all Gypsies, Gypsy half-breeds and non-German members of Roma groups of Balkan origin in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination and concentration camp. This deportation order applied to the territory of the Great German Reich, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Himmler's decree was subsequently supplemented by the Reich Security Office on January 29, 1943 with an implementing directive and on January 30, 1943 containing instructions for the confiscaton of the property of gypsies as enemies of the Reich.1 At the same time, this decree marked the end of all other plans for the future of Roma and Sinti that the Nazis had previously discussed.

The preparations for the deportations from the Protectorate were kept secret. The compilation of the transports was ordered by the German criminal police, and the execution itself was entrusted to the protectorate's criminal police and gendarmerie. Based on their racial investigations, the criminal police decided who they considered a racial gypsy or half-breed and because of this categorization would be deported.2

Only those with good connections to that part of society that had contacts with the occupiers which could be made use of, had a certain chance to be excluded from the transports. One such case was the family of the famous Roma musician Jožka Kubík (1907–1978) from the village of Hrubá Vrbka.3 There was also some hope for those with a lighter skin color, bribing police men sometimes worked, too. At the end of April 1943, the protectorate police in Moravia was reprimanded by the German criminal police for the high number of exemptions it had granted. Most of these exemptions granted were revoked by the Criminal Central Office and the people concerned were deported anyway.4

Originally, the Protectorate Criminal Police and the non-uniformed Protectorate Police had planned to deport the prisoners of the gypsy camps in Lety u Písku and Hodonín u Kunštátu first. However, these plans were changed due to the typhus epidemic that broke out in both camps. Officials feared that the epidemic could spread into the Auschwitz concentration camp, and so those men, women and children labelled as racial gypsies and hald-breeds but so far living outside of the camps were deported first.

In larger cities connected to the railway, they were gathered for several days at so-called collection points – in occupied gyms, inns and other facilities, where they spent several days before the transport. All their money and property were taken from them, in many cases stolen, sold at public auctions or confiscated by the Reich.5

After the transport was assembled, the journey by rail in freight wagons without food and drink to the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp followed. There, Roma and Sinti from the Reich and other European countries directly controlled by the Nazis were imprisoned in a special section B-II-e called the Gypsy Family Camp, where over 22,000 Roma and Sinti men, women and children were gradually interned. Most of them died there.6

The first mass transport of protectorate Roma, numbering 1,038 people, left Brno on March 6, 1943.7 During 1943, further transports followed from various parts of Bohemia and Moravia, as well as from both gypsy camps, arriving in Auschwitz on March 10 (the transport sent from Prague numbered 650 people), March 19 (1,048 people from Olomouc). On May 7, the transport of prisoners left the camp in Lety u Písku (863 people), and on August 22, the transport from the camp in Hodonín u Kunštátu (768 people) followed. The last transports left on October 19 (from Prague and Brno, 92 people) and on January 28, 1944 (from Prague and Brno, 37 people). In total, the protectorate authorities gradually deported about 4,500 protectorate Roma and Sinti to Auschwitz by mass transports of gypsies. More than a hundred other people were deported individually.8

ZruseniCikanovu.Polednilist.08.03.194317(65).s.2.jpg

Ill. 6: The Abolition of „Gypsyness“. In: Polední list. [Afternoon daily.] Prague, March 8, 1943, No. 17, p. 2.

Ill. 7: Roma from the village of Bohusoudov (Jihlava district) gathered for their deportation to the Auschwitz II.-Birkenau concentration camp, 1943.


Next chapter: Escape, survival and resistance

Remarks

1:

Nečas, Ctibor. Holocaust českých Romů. Praha: Prostor, 1999, p. 173. p. 20–21.

2:

For example: Státní oblastní archiv Třeboň [State Regional Archives in Třeboň], fund Gypsy camp Lety, box 14, inv. n. 75; see also Ctibor Nečas, Cikánský tábor v Letech (1942–1943) [The Gypsy camp in Lety (1942–1943)]. In: Romano džaniben (2008) 15, pp. 186–197, p. 187–188; Ibidem, Holocaust, pp. 20, 83; Zimmermann, Racial utopia and genocide, pp. 221–222.

3:

Nečas, Ctibor. Českoslovenští Romové v letech 1938-1945. Brno: Masarykova univerzita v Brně, 1994, in: Spisy Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity v Brně. p. 71.

4:

Nečas, Ctibor. Českoslovenští Romové v letech 1938-1945. Brno: Masarykova univerzita v Brně, 1994, in: Spisy Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity v Brně. p. 73.

5:

Nečas, Ctibor. Českoslovenští Romové v letech 1938-1945. Brno: Masarykova univerzita v Brně, 1994, in: Spisy Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity v Brně. s. 70-71.

6:

For more information about the „Gypsy camp“ in Auschwitz-Birkenau, see e.g. Gedenkbuch. Die Sinti und Roma im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau / Memorial Book. The Gypsies at Auschwitz-Birkenau / Księga Pamięci. Cyganie w obozie koncentracyjnym Auschwitz-Birkenau. Vol. 1, 2. (München/London/New York/Paris. 1993), 1674 pp.; Slawomir Kapralski/Maria Martyniak/Joanna Talewicz-Kwiatkowska, Voices of Memory 7. Roma in Auschwitz. (Oswiecim, 2011), 163 pp.

7:

Himmler, Heinrich. Geheimreden 1933 bis 1945 und andere Ansprachen. Frankfurt a. M., Berlin, Wien: Bradley F. Smith und A. F. Peterson, 1974, p. 320. p. 76–78.

8:

Více o transportech Romů z českých zemí viz např. Nečas, Ctibor. Nad osudem českých a slovenských Cikánů 1939-1945. Brno: Univerzita J. E. Purkyně v Brně, 1981, p. 180. p. 62–63.

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, p. 475.

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

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

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

  • 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, p. 244.

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

  • 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; 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; Trávníček, František. Slovník jazyka českého. Praha: Fr. Borový, 1937.

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

  • Benz, Wolfgang; Distel, Barbara; 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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