4.2. The Roma since 1981

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.

1 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.