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Germany and Its Gypsies

A Post-Auschwitz Ordeal

Gilad Margalit

Publication Year: 2002

    Historian Gilad Margalit eloquently fills a tragic gap in the historical record with this sweeping examination of the plight of Gypsies in Germany before, during, and since the era of the Third Reich.
    Germany and Its Gypsies reveals the painful record of the official treatment of the German Gypsies, a people whose future, in the shadow of Auschwitz, remains uncertain. Margalit follows the story from the heightened racism of the nineteenth century to the National Socialist genocidal policies that resulted in the murder of most German Gypsies, from the shifting attitudes in the two Germanys in 1945 through reunification and up to the present day.
    Drawing upon a rich variety of sources, Margalit considers the pivotal historic events, legal arguments, debates, and changing attitudes toward the status of the German Gypsies and shines a vitally important light upon the issue of ethnic groups and their victimization in society. The result is a powerful and unforgettable testament.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. vii


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pp. ix-x

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xviii

On 9 January 1957, less than twelve years after the end of the Nazi persecution of the Gypsies, the Administration and Construction Committee of the local parliament (Landtag) of the German state of Baden- Wurttemberg debated a bill for...

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1. Images and Impressions of Gypsies in the German Collective Memory

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pp. 3-24

The sinti (also written and pronounced Sinte and Cinti) arrived in the German domain of Europe in the fifteenth century. To this day, they are the largest group of Gypsies in Germany. They call themselves “Gadschkene Sinti,” which means German Sinti. After 1870, other Gypsy groups emigrated

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2. Policy toward Gypsies until the Collapse of the Third Reich

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pp. 25-55

Groups of Gypsies first arrived in the German-speaking domain of Europe at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Contemporary chronicles report that these groups were headed by leaders bearing aristocratic titles, who carried patronage letters (Schutzbriefe) from Christian rulers. The patronage...

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3. Policy toward Gypsies in the Shadow of Auschwitz

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pp. 56-82

The Gypsy policy of the Nazi regime collapsed along with the Third Reich in May 1945. The collective incarceration, enforced sterilization, and mass murder came to an end, and the bodies in the Reich’s criminal police office (RKPA), which had centralized the persecution, were dismantled...

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4. Compensation Policy toward Gypsy Victims of Nazism

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pp. 83-122

After winning the war, the Allies forced Germany to offer assistance and compensation to the victims of Nazism who had been persecuted for political, religious, or racial...

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5. German Courts, Nazi Perpetrators, and Gypsy Victims

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pp. 123-142

From the late 1940s to the mid-1960s, the legal system of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) conducted an investigation into issues related to the Nazi persecution of Gypsies, in particular, the appeals for compensation by Gypsy survivors of Nazi persecution. In dealing with these questions,

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6. Effect of Nazism and Denazification on Attitudes toward Gypsies

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pp. 143-159

The mass murder of Gypsies by the Nazis did not lead to any substantial change in attitudes toward them by ordinary Germans after 1945. Nor were the Allies’ military governments particularly interested in the attitude of the German population toward Gypsies. The denazification policy they established...

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7. Public Debate on Nazi Persecution of Gypsies

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pp. 160-179

The debate among Germans about the Gypsy persecution has focused more on the motives of the Nazis than on the fate of the victims. Opinion has been divided sharply between those who share the Allies’ views and those whose views are more in line with the defeated Nazis. The Allies, who...

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8. “Discovery” of the Gypsy Victim of Nazism

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pp. 180-214

Although a public discourse on the Nazi persecution of Gypsies had begun in Germany in 1945, the issue was not properly placed on the public agenda until March 1979, when the Society for the Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft fur bedrohte Volker), a German human rights organization, initiated...

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pp. 215-220

The confrontation between Joseph Vogt and Emmi Diemer- Nicolaus in parliament in Stuttgart on 9 January 1957, which set the opening scene of this book, is highly representative of the German discourse on Gypsies in the aftermath of Auschwitz. Strange as it might sound, each speaker,...


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pp. 223-254


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pp. 255-280


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pp. 281-285

E-ISBN-13: 9780299176730
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299176747

Publication Year: 2002