Timeline of Gypsies and the Holocaust

A Gypsy couple sitting in Belzec.
(Photo courtesy the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

The Gypsies (Roma and Sinti) are one of the "forgotten victims" of the Holocaust. The Nazis, in their strive, to rid the world of undesirables, targeted both Jews and Gypsies for "extermination." Follow the path of persecution to mass slaughter in this timeline of what happened to the Gypsies during the Third Reich.

1899: Alfred Dillmann establishes the Central Office for Fighting the Gypsy Nuisance in Munich. This office collected information and fingerprints of Gypsies.

1922: Law in Baden requires Gypsies to carry special identification papers.

1926: In Bavaria, the Law for the Combating the Gypsies, Travellers, and Work-Shy sent Gypsies over 16 to workhouses for two years if they could not prove regular employment.

July 1933: Gypsies sterilized under the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring.

September 1935: Gypsies included in the Nuremberg Laws (Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor).

July 1936: 400 Gypsies are rounded up in Bavaria and transported to the Dachau concentration camp.

1936: The Racial Hygiene and Population Biology Research Unit of the Ministry of Health at Berlin-Dahlem are established, with Dr. Robert Ritter its director. This office interviewed, measured, studied, photographed, fingerprinted, and examined Gypsies in order to document them and create complete genealogical listings for every Gypsy.

1937: Special concentration camps are created for Gypsies (Zigeunerlagers).

November 1937: Gypsies are excluded from the military.

December 14, 1937: Law Against Crime orders arrests of "those who by anti-social behavior even if they have committed no crime have shown that they do not wish to fit into society."

Summer 1938: In Germany, 1,500 Gypsy men are sent to Dachau and 440 Gypsy women are sent to Ravensbrück.

December 8, 1938: Heinrich Himmler issues a decree on the Fight Against the Gypsy Menace which states that the Gypsy problem will be treated as a "matter of race."

June 1939: In Austria, a decree orders 2,000 to 3,000 Gypsies to be sent to concentration camps.

October 17, 1939: Reinhard Heydrich issues the Settlement Edict which prohibits Gypsies from leaving their homes or camping places.

January 1940: Dr. Ritter reports that Gypsies have mixed with asocials and recommends to have them kept in labor camps and to stop their "breeding."

January 30, 1940: A conference organized by Heydrich in Berlin decides to remove 30,000 Gypsies to Poland.

Spring 1940: Deportations of Gypsies begins from the Reich to the General government.

October 1940: Deportation of Gypsies temporarily halted.

Fall 1941: Thousands of Gypsies murdered at Babi Yar.

October to November 1941: 5,000 Austrian Gypsies, including 2,600 children, deported to the Lodz Ghetto.

December 1941: Einsatzgruppen D shoots 800 Gypsies in Simferopol (Crimea).

January 1942: The surviving Gypsies within the Lodz Ghetto were deported to the Chelmno death camp and killed.

Summer 1942: Probably about this time when decision was made to annihilate the Gypsies.1

October 13, 1942: Nine Gypsy representatives appointed to make lists of "pure" Sinti and Lalleri to be saved. Only three of the nine had completed their lists by the time deportations began. The end result was that the lists didn't matter - Gypsies on the lists were also deported.

December 3, 1942: Martin Bormann writes to Himmler against the special treatment of "pure" Gypsies.

December 16, 1942: Himmler gives the order for all German Gypsies to be sent to Auschwitz.

January 29, 1943: RSHA announces the regulations for the implementation of deporting Gypsies to Auschwitz.

February 1943: Family camp for Gypsies constructed in Auschwitz II, section BIIe.

February 26, 1943: The first transport of Gypsies delivered to the Gypsy Camp in Auschwitz.

March 29, 1943: Himmler orders all Dutch Gypsies to be sent to Auschwitz.

Spring 1944: All attempts to save "pure" Gypsies have been forgotten.2

April 1944: Those Gypsies that are fit for work are selected in Auschwitz and sent to other camps.

August 2-3, 1944: Zigeunernacht ("Night of the Gypsies"): All Gypsies who remained in Auschwitz were gassed.

Notes

  1. Donald Kenrick and Grattan Puxon, The Destiny of Europe's Gypsies (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1972) 86.
  2. Kenrick, Destiny 94.