2.3. Roma and Hamburg

We do not know exactly when the first Cinti came to Hamburg, but presumably it was as early as the 15th century. From this time, there presence in other Northern German cities like Lübeck is known. Roma came to the city no earlier than the 19th century. With the industrialization, many were able to find work and housing on the outskirts of the big cities. Families who had come to Germany only one or two generations ago with the abolishment of serfdom in Eastern Europe, tried to settle down. But in spite of the general need of work force and the openness for which the city was already famous, the settlement of Roma in Hamburg was marked with restrictions and “defensive measures”.
In 1890, the city denied through an edict the admission to “every gypsy who can not without any doubt prove that he is a German citizen”. Concerning domestic gypsies, Hamburg in 1891 joined the practice of other cities to not issue them workbooks, without which taking a regular job was impossible. Even the admission of licenses for moving trades was handled stricter, expecting that these might bring Roma and Cinti to leave the city. Only few did so, though, because in other regions similar restrictions were effective for Roma as well. Measures to drive Cinti and Roma away from the city in the end led to the destruction of their economical existence and forced them into poverty and social misery. Many depended on odd jobs or the help from social welfare.

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