This Day In History: Himmler Orders Gypsy To Concentration Camps (1943)

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On this day in history in 1943, Heinrich Himmler announces to the  public an order that Gypsies and those of mixed Gypsy blood are to be regarded as sub-humans. According to the mad Nazi racist ideology, many groups of people were inferior to Germans who were the ‘Master Race’. The Nazis racial theories were used to justify the persecution and mass murders of Jews and other minorities. This announcement by Himmler was to be a fateful one for the Gypsies, also known as the Romani. They were now ordered into concentration camps.  This was to be a new phase in what is known as the Romani Holocaust, which was the mass murder and imprisonment of the Gypsy or Romani people.

Himmler a fanatical follower of Hitler was determined to destroy all those minorities that he and his leader deemed to be inferior to Germans. These groups were seen as enemies and that they were the cause of all the troubles in Europe. The Nazis were obsessed with ideas of racial purity and they wanted to eliminate those groups that were a threat to the German race. The Nazi Party was also committed to rid Europe of all those deemed to be criminals and anti-social. The Romani were considered both sub-humans and criminals by the Nazi leadership. They were a distinct and are a distinct ethnic group in Europe, who at the time were still largely nomadic. The Romani people had long been vilified as thieves by mainstream European society and had been frequently persecuted down the centuries. After the German occupation of Eastern Europe, the Nazis suddenly found themselves faced with a huge population of Gypsies. From an early date in WWII many Romani had been executed by German death squads.  In some areas they were forced into Ghettoes and denied any rights in those countries occupied by the German army.  Many more Romani had been detained in labor camps. The announcement on this day by Himmler meant that Gypsies could be sent to Concentration Camps where they would be murdered. The Romani would either be worked to death or gassed in the gas chambers.

Roma
Romani woman being questioned by Nazis

Many of the Nazi puppet regimes in Easter Europe also persecuted the Romani and they were denied their rights. These regimes such as the Croatian Fascist government murdered many Romani en masse. No one knows how many Romani were murdered by the Nazis as there were no records kept of their numbers prior to the war. Some estimates claim that a quarter of a million Gypsies were killed, other historians estimate that half- a million were killed. The Nazis attempted to annihilate the Roma population in Europe. After the war, the atrocities committed against the Roma people was largely forgotten. It is only in recent decades that the full horrors of the Nazi mass murder and persecution of Jews have come to light.

 

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