4.1.2. After '45 no end to the persecution Part II

From 1948 on, a working “Gypsy bureau” was systematically re-established in Germany. To make it adaptable to the constitution, it was called “travelling folk bureau”.

Its duties were assigned as follows:

1) execution of actions to assess a person’s civil status

2) Administration of the following files:

a) personal files

b) photograph files

c) Gypsy name files

d) Characteristc traits files

e) Vehicle files

3) Administration of personal and family files

4) Co-operation with other authorities

5) Tracing of searched “travelling folk”

6) Control of caravan camping spots

· The former Central Office of the Reich for the “fight against the Gypsy menace”, that was called “travelling folk bureau” after the war, was kept in business until 1970 as the officially responsible authority and surveillance institution for Gypsy questions.

· After 1970, this business was decentralised. Among others, the “travelling folk bureau” in Hamburg occupied a key position in the “federal fight against the Gypsy menace”.

Typical for these intentions of a complete registration of the Sinti and Roma was the unrestricted pragmatism endeavouring to compile all possible information about the Gypsies. Besides the name and photograph files, so-called “characteristic traits files” were kept to record among other things the concentration camp numbers that had been tattooed on the lower arms of the Sinti and Roma (on the thighs for the children) by the Nazis.

Every contact to this group of persons was subject to registration.

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Special forms designed for the control of the travelling folk dealed with details like pregnancies, sex and colour of animals brought along, jewelry, car antennas and so forth.

The regular realisation of identification procedures was recommended to make the Gypsies identifiable also by photographs and finger prints.

With the start of the federal German civil rights work of the Sinti and Roma, the authoritative measures began not to refer directly to the group of the Roma and Sinti. Instead, measures were labelled as

· “Check of frequently changing place of residence” and

· “Report service of daily apartment burglary”

These new procedures were part of a well-organised and continuous “fight against the Gypsy menace” by the authorities.

In the files of the afore mentioned “Report service”, especially camping groups of Sinti and Roma were registered by the various federal states of Germany or their central criminal authorities, respectively.

Since 1981, the federal criminal office maintains a special file system for Roma and Sinti to record all vehicles and their owners.

All this information was collected in the so-called “travelling folk files”. Their existence, despite authoritative denial, can be proven without doubt for the federal states of Hamburg, Hessia, Baden Wurttemberg and Bavaria. Special laws served the easier enactment of the assignments.

For example the Registry Office Decree 103, according to which all marriages, deceases and births of so-called unsettled individuals had to be reported regularly to the criminal police. This decree remained until 1985 and was only suspended after protests by the Rom and Cinti Union.

The “Caravan Law” of Hamburg, however, is still effective.

There is an attitude of principal suspicion on the side of the authorities concerning the Sinti and Roma and their supposed characteristic of permanent travelling, leading to the belief of an immanent danger of criminal activities that calls for police measures. From this results the practice of immediately tightening controls when Sinti and Roma appear in a district.

The police measures enacted by the authorities are considered as a pre-emptive action. Through disciplining and deterrence, a supposed refraining from criminal offences shall be caused, but the main target is to make the Roma and Sinti move on.

Measures like identity controls or age checks by public health officers are probate means of fighting the Gypsies, according to the responsible authorities. At the same time, welfare and social authorities do everything within their abilities to make residence for groups of Roma difficult if not impossible.

The preferred strategies to expel such people are the denial of social welfare and the complication of settlement by not assigning living space to those concerned. Exemplary deterrence measures against individuals are also supposed to deter other Sinti and Roma groups to move to a certain region.

By way of summarizing, it can be said that the Gypsy persecution in Germany has been continuously kept up until the present day. Always more or less covered by legislation, according to the Zeitgeist and the political mood. Furthermore, it can be noted that the so-called “Gypsy problem” has not been satisfyingly solved in the eyes of the responsible authorities. The aim, in any case, is a solution by causing expulsion. Preferred strategy for expelling camping groups is a flexible position, informally allowing a “short residence” of the groups while at the same time threatening them with forced measures in the case of violation of the deadline.

Exemplary executions against individual groups are also supposed to impress other Sinti and Roma. Most of the time, the authorities are afraid that a prolonged residence or even a settlement of these groups will result in financial expenses for the municipality.

While the Gypsy persecution in its early phase was dictated by irrational and paranoid ideas, the modern-age persecution from the Third Reich up to the present day is carried by a pseudo-objective, racist argumentation. Similar to the blacks in America, the centuries-long persecution has left its marks on the Roma and Sinti in Germany: missing education, unemployment and an increasing exclusion from all fields of social life.