Max Fisher reflects on his role
as a major Republican Jewish advocate.
CARLA JEAN SCHWARTZ
Sam. Flam is moving from education
to communications at age 55.
The entrance to Auschwitz: 'The Gypsy question is as important as the Jewish'
Hitler's Gypsy Victims Must Be
Included In Holocaust History
ecause little concerted research has
been undertaken on the Romani
victims of the Holocaust, it has
taken 40 years for us properly to begin to
understand the magnitude of Hitler's
genocidal policy against the Gypsy people,
more accurately called the Roma. Tradi-
tionally, Roma have been either dealt with
in just a few lines in treatments of the
Holocaust or omitted altogether.
Statements on the racial distinc-
tiveness of Gypsies as constituting a
danger to German blood date from the
1920s; Jews were categorized as "asocial"
too, to begin with, and both Jews and Gyp-
sies came to be classified by race under the
Policies directed at Gypsies were no
more confused than those directed at Jews,
and whatever they were, they led to Gyp-
sies being named together with Jews in
Heydrich's infamous directive of July 11,
1941, ordering the "Final Solution." Gyp-
sies had to wear a triangle on their sleeve
bearing the letter Z.
I want to provide here a brief overview
of Romani Holocaust chronology and offer
the opinion that, in part, the commonly
held preconceptions about my people are at
the root of our not being fully acknowledg-
ed. The Gypsy stereotype is deeply ground-
ed in the Euro-American tradition.
Barbara Rogasky writes of our
"wander[ing] from place to place in the
traditional Gypsy way," implying a certain
aimlessness, and that it was a matter of
choice. We have been portrayed as a
thievish, unprincipled people in literature
and the media — as Jews have been — and
Ian Hancock is the U.S. representative to the
United Nations and to UNICEF for the
International Romani Union.
it is only recently that we have been able
to challenge the myth.
Romani culture, what we call
Romanipe; is so intensely self-segregated
that we have many businessmen, but few
professionals, or even scholars to explore
our history, to tell the world about what
happened to us in Nazi Germany.
That same isolation has led to accusa-
tions of conspiracy, suspicion of what we
must be up to; the image of the literary
Gypsy has been able to flourish uncheck-
ed. Like the poor, wandering Jew who -was
doomed to roam forever because he refus-
ed Jesus a resting place, we, too, have been
judged guilty by the Christian establish-
ment, which justified its earlier policies of
banishment and enslavement by creating
the folklore that it was a Gypsy who forg-
ed the nails by which Christ was crucified
— and thus we must wander for all eterni-
ty as punishment.
As with Judaism, the family is central
to Romani life. Yet we lack another integral
component of Jewish life — books — and
through them, the means to tell our story.
Five centuries of enslavement in the
Balkans, and pan-European anti-Gypsy
legislation since its abolition in the
mid-1800s, as well as our own traditional
avoidance of the gadjikano (non-Gypsy)
establishment, put the acquisition of
literacy, in the past, beyond our reach.
As scholars begin more systematically
to examine the records, and as survivors
themselves begin to tell their stories, a hor-
rifying and more accurate picture emerges.
It had been thought, for instance, that
Gypsies were killed for criminal and not
racial reasons, and that in fact some "pure"
Gypsies were spared because of their race,
and that because of this the entire people
was not slated for extermination by the
Continued on Page 10
A Libertarian candidate
envisions benefits for Jews.
A contemporary 'Hester Street'
draws a filmmaker's rave review.
Change Of Scenery
VICTORIA BELYEU DIAZ
Law is her day-time venue, but theater
is Elissa Marcus' avocation.
are the new
goals for Akiva.
Rabbi Zev Shimansky
A major gift will give a needed boost
to U-M's Judaic studies program.
Life In Israel
October 7, 1988
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS