4.1.1. After '45 no end to the persecution

When the gates of the concentration camps finally opened also for the Roma and Sinti, they had been hit so lastingly at their social structures that for the first time in their history they have not been able to recover up until today.

The Families, the most important social points of orientation and the connected grids to protect the individual in an enemy society, they had all been destroyed for most of the survivors. What could not be accomplished in centuries of the most massive attempts of extermination, the bureaucrats and office culprits of the Nazi regime finally managed: The Roma people had been hit almost completely in its structures. The Polish and German Roma were almost completely exterminated, only a small number remained. Many Sinti returned to their hometowns after the so-called freeing. On September 22nd, 1945, about four months after the war had ended, the Hamburg police opened a rather macabre account: “… total number of Gypsian persons living in the greater area of Hamburg before May 20th, 1940: 1628. 551 of these were resettled to the general gouvernement on May 20th, 1940. 328 were brought to Auschwitz on March 11th, 1943; 26 were brought to Auschwitz on April 18th, 1944; 30 moved to somewhere else; 89 were put in a concentration camp for criminal activities; 111 deceased. In total: 1135. According to this, the total number of Gypsian persons living or being present in the greater area of Hamburg should be 439 …”

Continuously, what the Nazis had perfected was kept running – the systematic registration and surveillance of the Sinti and Roma. Only a practical usage for this work was not quite apparent anymore.

But this also changed soon:

· In 1948, the central criminal department of Baden Wurttemberg issues “guidelines for the fight against the Gypsy menace”. These guidelines should be of use to the policemen as a temporary aid until the “… final solution of the Gypsy problem …” as is stated in the accompanying letter.

· The former “Reich Central Office for the Fight against the Gypsy Menace” is relocated to Munich and picks up its old work.

· In the same year, Bavaria issues its “new” Gypsy legislation, the travelling folk laws, based on the old “Law for the fight against Gypsies and Idlers” from 1926.

· Nazi culprits like Eichberger, Supp and many others, who only a short time ago had sent the Gypsies to the concentration camps, are now made responsible for their further registration and are also hired as experts on questions of compensation. Thus, it is not surprising that the so-called compensation practice was experienced as a second persecution by the Roma and Sinti. Not one of these office culprits was ever held responsible for his part in the genocide of the Roma and Sinti. Even after the war, the victims and survivors were met with distrust.

· The German Federal Court affirms in 1956 the principal judgement that “their (the Roma and Sinti) deportation to the concentration camps had not been a persecution out of racial reasons, but a pre-emptive criminal measure”. A “compensation” and support for re-integration was denied to them by the argumentation of the court.

Different as for the Jewish victims of the Nazi terror, the Holocaust of the Roma was de facto legitimised afterwards by this judgement. Up until today, no German government has issued serious reparations for the injustice done to the Roma and Sinti.

Within the scope of the forced laborers’ compensation, the German government assigned the “International Organisation for Migration” (IOM) with the handling of the applications in 2001. The IOM also is the organisation responsible for the enactment of the deportation policy against Roma refugees. This example clearly shows how the German policy tries to come to terms with its past.

· The assets robbed from the Roma and Sinti were incorporated in the Federal Treasury Department and later in the Federal Republic of Germany.

· Dr. Robert Ritter, the chief ideologist of the “final solution of the Gypsy question” was hired after the war by the City of Frankfurt as a public health officer. He died unharmed in 1951, as a pensioner in Frankfurt.

· Leo Carstens, head of the Central Gypsy Office in Berlin, worked unharmed for the Criminal Police in Ludwigshafen. Even after his retirement, he was cherished for his “valuable tips on how to handle Gypsies”. Of course, he too was an expert for the compensation authorities. He was never called to account for the deportation of innumerable Gypsies from Berlin and their fate.