On 29 January 1943 an order was given that all Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) living within the Reich were to be deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. This followed previous orders which had expelled Gypsies from Germany to occupied countries and to concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Gypsies, like Jews, were targeted for total destruction by the Nazis. Their rights as citizens had been removed by the Nuremberg Laws and they were subject to registration. Many thousands were murdered in the death camps and concentration camps, in mass shootings or died of starvation or disease. Others were used for medical experimentation or as forced labour and some were released on condition of forced sterilisation. It is impossible to know how many Gypsies were murdered in the Porrajmos (The Devouring). However, it is estimated that up to 50% of Europe’s Gypsies – upwards of 200,000 – were murdered.
Find out more about:
- the Porrajmos
- the persecution of Roma and Sinti under the Nazi regime, in this podcast by historian Donald Kenrick
- Amalie Schaich, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau
Image: © USHMM