Thursday, February 18, 2016

Rare Color Photographs of The Nazi Regime Isolate and Eventually Destroy the German Gypsy Population from 1938-1940

In 1939, 30,000–35,000 people known as Gypsies lived in Germany and Austria, which was incorporated into Germany in March 1938.

Gypsies are believed to have arrived in Europe from northern India in the 1400s. They were called Gypsies because Europeans thought they came from Egypt. This ethnic minority is made up of distinct groups called “tribes” or “nations.” Most of the Gypsies in German-occupied Europe belonged to the Sinti and Roma tribes. The Sinti generally predominated in Germany and western Europe, and the Roma in Austria, eastern Europe, and the Balkans. The Sinti and Roma spoke dialects of a common language called Romani, based in Sanskrit, the classical language of India.

The research of racial scientist Dr. Robert Ritter and his associates served both as instrument and justification for the Nazi regime to isolate and eventually destroy the German Gypsy population.

By studying Gypsies, Ritter, who was a psychiatrist, hoped to determine the links between heredity and criminality. With funding from the German Association for Scientific Research and access to police records, Ritter began in 1937 to systematically interview all the Gypsies residing in Germany.

To do so, he traveled to Gypsy encampments and, after the deportation and internment of Gypsies began, to the concentration camps. Ritter developed detailed genealogies—family histories to distinguish "pure" Gypsies from those of "mixed blood" and to root out assimilated Gypsies from the general German population.

1938. A Roma woman and child in a camp during an investigation by the Racial Hygiene Research Center at the Reich Bureau for Health.

1938. Eva Justin interviews a Roma woman about her family and ancestry.

1938. Dr. Robert Ritter conducts an interview with a Roma woman.

1938. Dr. Ritter takes a blood sample from a Roma woman.

1938. Sophie Ehrhardt of the Racial Hygiene Research Center conducts an interview with an elderly Roma woman.

1940. A woman runs outside a Sinti encampment targeted by the Racial Hygiene Research Center.

May 1940. A Roma man in Asperg, Germany, prior to deportation to a camp in Poland.

May 22, 1940. Sinti are marched down the street in Asperg on their way to Hohenasperg Prison prior to their deportation to camps in Poland.

May 22, 1940. Sinti in the courtyard of Hohenasperg Prison prior to their deportation to camps in Poland.

May 22, 1940. Sinti are rounded up by police in Asperg, Germany.

May 22, 1940. Sinti board the train that will take them to a concentration camp in Poland.

(All photos by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images, via Mashable/ Retronault)

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