- Estimated Gypsy population: 100,000. Records state that in September 1407 wine was given to Gypsies ("Tartars") while their papers were being checked at the town hall in Hildesheim. Another early description is of a group of acrobats in Magdeburg who danced on each others' shoulders and did "wonderful tricks." They were rewarded with food and drink. In 1416 we find the first anti-Gypsy action in Germany when the Margrave of Meissen ordered the expulsion of Gypsies from the territory under his authority. In September 1498 the Parliament of the Holy Roman Empire, as the German Empire was then called, meeting in Freiburg under Maximilian I, ordered them to leave the country by the following Easter. Any who did not leave would be regarded as outlaws, and it would then not be a crime to beat, rob, or even kill them. In 1658 Gypsies were outlawed in Bavaria. Adults found there were killed and their children taken into care.By the 18th century, the laws were becoming more severe. Saxony ordered Gypsies to be executed if they reappeared in the state after once being expelled. In 1714 Mainz decreed the execution of any Gypsy men captured, while their wives and children would be flogged and branded. In Frankfurt-am-Main in 1722 it was stated that children would be taken away from their parents and placed in institutions, while their parents would be branded and expelled from the district.The harsh laws led to some emigration when some of the Sinti and all of the Manouche clans left for France, and other Sinti went east to Poland and Russia or south into northern Italy. The existing laws gradually fell into disuse, and in the 19th century, assimilation programs began replacing expulsion. Schools for Gypsies were set up in a few places. However, when Otto von Bismarck became chancellor of Germany in 1886, he recommended the expulsion of all foreign Gypsies. Anti-Gypsy actions by the authorities then increased.In March 1899 an Information Service on Gypsies was set up at the Imperial Police Headquarters in Munich. There, the registration and surveillance of the entire Gypsy population group was organized. This included the Vlah Romanies who were emigrating from the east. Alfred Dillmann, an officer of the Munich police, in 1905 published his Zigeunerbuch [Gypsy Book], giving details of more than 3,500 Gypsies and persons traveling as Gypsies. By 1925 the Information Service already had 14,000 individual and family files for Gypsies from all over Germany.Two years after the Nazi Party came to power, the Nuremberg Laws made Gypsies, alongside Jews, second-class citizens. The first internment camps for nomadic Gypsies were established in the towns of Cologne and Gelsenkirchen in 1935. More camps followed, and settled Gypsies were removed from their houses and also interned. In 1936 the Race Hygiene and Population Biology Research Center was established under the direction of Robert Ritter. Its role was to search out, register, and classify Gypsies as pure or mixed race. The first mass arrests came in the week of 13-18 June 1938 when many Gypsies were deported to concentration camps. In October of the same year, the National Center for the Fight against the Gypsy Plague was set up. In 1940 a policy of making Germany Gypsy-free began when 2,800 Gypsies were deported to German-occupied Poland. Then, starting in March 1943, the mass deportation of some 10,000 Gypsies-both Romanies and Sinti - to the concentration camp of Auschwitz was organized. It is estimated that three-quarters of the Gypsy population of Germany (some 15,000 persons) died there and in other camps.After the end of World War II, those who had survived found it difficult to get reparations as compensation for their suffering. In 1956 Oskar Rose founded the Union and Society for Racially Persecuted German Citizens of Non-Jewish Belief, the first organization for Sinti and Romanies. In 1979 the Verband der Deutschen Sinti und Roma was recognized throughout the republic as the representative body for Sinti. It also has some non-Sinti members. In 1997 a Documentation and Cultural Center was established in Heidelberg.Many Romanies have come to Germany since 1945 as guest workers, particularly from Yugoslavia. Others arrived from Poland and, more recently, Romania as asylum seekers. This explains the high estimated Gypsy population. Many asylum seekers have, however, been sent back to Romania and Macedonia. Rudko Kawzcynski in Hamburg set up the Romani National Congress, which represents the interests of these recent arrivals.The Romani language has been recognized as an official minority language in the state of Hesse. In general, the press and the public have little sympathy for the Gypsies. Some towns, however, have set aside stopping places for the few remaining nomadic families.See also Gesellschaft für Bedrohte Völker.
Historical dictionary of the Gypsies . Donald Kenrick.