The October 12, 2022, NEVER AGAIN IS NOW podcast was especially important to me – that of acknowledging the Nazis’ goal to exterminate all the Roma (known as Gypsies at that time) as well as all Jews in Nazi-occupied countries.
As the character PHYLLIS describes in my nonfiction Holocaust theater project www.ThinEdgeOfTheWedge.com –
The Nazis’ concentration camp Dachau was opened in March 1933 less than two months after Hitler, head of the biggest faction in the German parliament, was appointed chancellor and then transformed Germany into a dictatorship. When my husband and I were stationed with the U.S. Army in Munich, we were very close to Dachau. The first time we visited, the exhibits of the small museum shocked me. From the exhibits I learned that the few concentration camp names I knew were only the tip of the iceberg of a huge network of extermination camps, concentration camps, labor camps and accompanying sub-camps.
On one visit to Dachau, I glanced over to the interior gate leading to the crematorium. Poised in the gate stood three people — a man on each side of a woman — all three in silhouette. These three people were a heartbreaking reminder that the Romani were the only other group besides the Jews slated by the Nazis for total extermination.
Our guest for this podcast episode was: Verena Meier — a doctoral student at the research center on antigypsyism at the University of Heidelberg with research focusing on historical antigypsyism and antisemitism, National Socialism, minority history as well as the history of ideas. She has worked for the Documentation and Cultural Center of German Sinti and Roma, the Topography of Terror and the Saxony-Anhalt State archives, and volunteered for the Domari Society of Gypsies in Jerusalem. (Learn more at www.sintiundroma.org/en/)
One of the most significant things I learned in preparation for the podcast was told to me by co-host Evelyn Markus, a Dutch Jew. She said that in The Netherlands — commemorations of Holocaust victims frequently include the Roma alongside Jews. I told Evelyn that this is definitely not the norm in the U.S.
Here is the paragraph on Liquidation of “Gypsy Family Camp” at Auschwitz-Birkenau on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
AUGUST 2, 1944
The SS liquidates the “Gypsy family camp” BIIe at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The SS authorities transport 1,408 Roma (Gypsies) from the family camp and from Auschwitz I to the Buchenwald concentration camp. SS men then murder the remaining 2,897 inmates of the “Gypsy family camp” in the gas chambers at Birkenau.
Read more about the Nazis’ efforts to wipe out the Roma from links on my THIN EDGE OF THE WEDGE nonfiction reading list.
And, having visited this memorial in Berlin, I highly recommend the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe Murdered Under National Socialism.
Antisemitism and antigypsyism:
The podcast also discussed the related issues of antisemitism and antigypsyism. How to respond when someone says an offensive remark against Jews or Roma? How to educate people as to what statements are offensive?