Roma and Sinti
# Introduction
Roma Settlements
»Gypsy Camps«
Deportation to Lodz
After 1945

Approximately 11,000–12,000 Roma and Sinti lived in Austria before 1938, in Burgenland  alone 8000. The Austrian »Gypsies« were badly affected by the economic depression of the interwar period. The increasing welfare costs of local communities at the time, especially in Burgenland, led to an increase in hostile prejudices against so-called »Gypsies.« Special »Gypsy registers« were compiled, and in January 1933 the suggestion was made at a »Gypsy conference« in Oberwart (Burgenland) to deport »Gypsies« to sparsely populated islands in the Pacific.

The systematic persecution of the »Gypsies« began with Austria’s »Anschluss« in March 1938. They were deprived of their voting rights on 10 April, hindered in carrying out their crafts, and their children forbidden to attend school. Forced labor for »Gypsies« was introduced in Burgenland in July 1938. The arrests of the years 1938–39 set a dynamic in motion that would finally lead  to the murder of the majority of Austria’s »Gypsies.« At least 1142 able-bodied men and women were sent to the Dachau, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, and Ravensbrück concentration camps, since Himmler needed laborers fit for work in the SS-owned factories established there. Even the Gauleiter of Styria, Siegfried Uiberreither, complained  that as a result of the imprisonment of persons previously in employment, hundreds of children were left unprovided for. That meant that welfare costs rose even further and, as a consequence, calls for the removal of the allegedly »asocial Gypsies« became louder. Pursuant to a directive from 17 October 1939, »Gypsies« and »Gypsy half-breeds« were forbidden to leave their place of residence. And in 1940, the Reich Security Main Office finally ordered the establishment of camps for them. It was through these measures that the criminal police and the welfare authorities – the classical institutions for »Gypsy« persecution – actually created the alleged »necessity« for those deportations, which eventually culminated in the deaths of about 90 % of the Austrian »Gypsies.«



Roma and Sinti – »Gypsies« in the Nazi Era