The occupation and implementation of German laws and regulations

Once the Protectorate was established, the Protectorate government gradually adopted all the anti-Gypsy regulations that were implemented in Nazi Germany during the 1930s. At first, however, the new regime used the legal measures and the practical implementation of the persecution of the population described as gypsies, based primarily on the First Czechoslovak Republic‘s law No. 117/27 of 15 July 1927 On wandering gypsies and people living in a gypsy way. People who were labeled gypsies under this law were, among other things, denied access to certain areas, such as border areas, spas, certain districts of larger cities, etc.1 By decree of the Protectorate Minister of the Interior Josef Ježek of 30 November 1939, all wandering gypsies were banned from travelling by the end of January, 1940 and were ordered to settle either in their home village, that is the village where they legally posessed a right of residence2, or in the place they were currently staying. The settlement itself did not proceed smoothly, as municipalities often tried to prevent the settlement of wandering gypsies by expelling them from their district or denying them the right of residence. After settlement, people were practically under the constant control of local gendarmes, and the Protectorate administration could use periodic reports from individual offices to clarify their records. A census counted a total of 6,540 gypsies in the Protectorate on April 1, 1940.3

Ill. 1.: A Roma family after forced settlement, 1940.

One of the possible punishments for non-compliance with the travel ban was imprisonment in disciplinary work camps. These camps were opened on August 10, 1940 in Lety u Písku and in Hodonín u Kunštátu. The decree on their establishment was approved by the Czecho-Slovak government of Rudolf Beran on March 2, 1939, thus before the establishment of the Protectorate. The disciplinary work camps served for the internment of workshy men, including wandering gypsies fit for work. Men older than eighteen years who could not prove their source of livelihood were to be placed in disciplinary labor camps.4 After the ban on nomadism, men from Roma families who would still travel also were seen as unable to prove their source of livelihood. Prisoners of the disciplinary labor camps considered gypsies were identified in the camp records by a capital letter C (ie, cikán or gypsy). Depending on the season, they usually made up 5 to 25 % of all internees.5

An important step in the development of Nazi persecution in the Protectorate was Regulation No. 89/42 Sb. on the preventive fight against crime, which was a copy of the German decree of the same name issued by the German chief of SS and Heinrich Himmler in 1937. The Protectorate government chaired by Jaroslav Krejčí adopted the decree and issued it on March 9, 1942. Among other things, the criminal police were given the right to impose indefinite detention in newly established detention camps on those who threaten the public with their asocial behavior. This preventive detention was the official legal basis for imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps.6 According to the relevant definition, asocial was a person who even if not by criminal behavior directed against the community, indicates that he does not intend to join the community. This very vague definition thus allowed the persecution of hundreds of men and women, who were imprisoned in various detention and concentration camps without a court order.

The regulation No. 89/42 Sb. defined gypsies and gypsy nomads as asocials and contained special provisions on gypsies: Gypsies and people living in agypsy way of life were forbidden to leave their officially assigned place of residence without prior permission of the Center for criminal investigation in Prague.

The Center for criminal investigation in Prague was established during the alignment and integration of the Protectorate’s authorities into the Reich’s structure and was the unit responsible for the execution of the all measurements against gypsies. Until its effective establishment the Criminal department of the police headquarters in Prague were to fulfil the Center’s tasks.7 The Center was the only authority eligible to issue travellers‘ ID cards. Travellers‘ ID cards issued by other authorities expired and were to be confiscated from their holders. The Center was also the only authority having the right to decide on the issuance of a license to operate a trade in a wandering way.8

With effect from 1 January 1942, the disciplinary labor camps in Lety u Písku and Hodonín u Kunštátu were converted into detention camps. Further, preventive detention in the Protectorate could be conducted in the coercive workhouses in Prague-Ruzyně, Pardubice and Brno (with a branch in Olšovec). The worst option for those subjected to this measure was deportation to the Auschwitz I concentration camp, later also to the Buchenwald and Ravensbrück concentration camps. Among the several hundred people who were deported from the Protectorate from April 1942 to February 1944 as asocials, there were only a few Roma.9 Although the racial ideology of the Nazis linked Roma and Sinti to asocials, they did not equate these groups.

 


Ill. 2: Police identification card of Antonín Vrba, a prisoner of the detention camp in Lety u Písku, who was labelled as asocial by the protectorate authorities and subsequently imprisoned on 25 March 1942.

Next chapter:  The "Gypsy"-census (August 2, 1942)

Remarks

1:

Nečas, Ctibor. Romové v České republice včera a dnes. 3rd ed. Olomouc: UP Olomouc, 1999. 132 p. s. 66.

2:

This „right of residence“ originates from austrian-hungarian rule and was in use in the Czech lands until 1949. Broadly speaking, this „right of residence“ functioned similarly to today’s citizenship concerning the rights of residence and access to social services, though it affiliated a person not to the whole state but a municipality.

3:

Nečas, Ctibor. Českoslovenští Romové v letech 1938-1945. In: Spisy Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity v Brně. Brno: Masarykova univerzita v Brně, 1994. s. 33-34.

4:

Vládní nařízení ze dne 2. března 1939 o kárných pracovních táborech [Government Order of 2 March 1939 on disciplinary labor camps]. In: Sbírka zákonů a nařízení státu československého [Collection of laws and regulations of the Czechoslovak state]. (Praha, 1939), pp. 368–370, http://www.digitalniknihovna.cz/mzk/uuid/uuid:92c52e90-8681-11e9-b844-5ef3fc9ae867. Accessed: 17 May 2020.

5:

 Nečas, Ctibor. Českoslovenští Romové v letech 1938-1945. In: Spisy Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity v Brně. Brno: Masarykova univerzita v Brně, 1994. p. 18 .

6:

HENSLE, Michael P.: Die Verrechtlichung des Unrechts. Der legalistische Rahmen der nationalsozialistischen Verfolgung [The juridification of injustice. The legal framework of Nazi persecution]. In: Benz, Wolfgang, Distel, Barbara and Königseder, Angelika. (Hg.): Ort des Terrors. Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager, Bd. 8. München: 2008. s. 76–90.

7:

Moravský zemský archiv [The Moravian Land Archives], B 124, Krajský národní výbor Brno [Regional national committee Brno], III. Manipulation, box 1871, inv. no. 1536, Zvl. příloha ke St. I/II-17-100-78 Ministersvo vnitra, oběžník z 24. června 1942. [Special supplement to St I / II-17-100-78, Ministry of the Interior, Circular decree of 24 June 1942].

8:

Vládní nařízení č. 89/42 Sb. ze dne 9. března 1942 o „preventivním potírání zločinnosti“ [Government Decree No. 89/42 of the Collection of 9 March 1942 on the „Preventive Fight against Crime“]. In: Nové zákony a nařízení Protektorátu Čechy a Morava [New laws and regulations of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia]. (Praha, 1942), pp. 184–204, http://www.digitalniknihovna.cz/mzk/uuid/uuid:d1e3c790-3635-11e4-8c14-5ef3fc9bb22f. ​ Accessed: 17 May 2020.

9:

 Nečas, Ctibor. Holocaust českých Romů. Praha: Prostor, 1999. 173 p. s. 18–19.

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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