- Estimated nomadic or seminomadic population: 400 Romanies and some 5,000 Travelers. Norway had become part of Denmark in 1380, and Danish laws applied. So, when the Danish king Christian III expelled Gypsies from his kingdom in 1536, this action applied to Norway as well. It is thought that, because he and his people became Protestant in that year, his tolerance waned for immigrants claiming to be pilgrims. There may well have been no Romanies in Norway at the time. One group was deported from England to Norway in 1544, and others entered from Germany. In 1554 the king again ordered their banishment from his territories. If they then returned, the magistrates were to set them in irons to work for up to a year, following which they were to be expelled again. A further order from King Frederick II in 1589 became valid for Norway on 1 August, when Gypsies were to be imprisoned, their possessions confiscated, and the leaders executed without mercy. The followers would be killed as well if they did not leave. Mayors of towns would forfeit their property if they did not denounce Gypsies, and anyone protecting or sheltering them for the night would be punished, as would the ferrymen and captains of ships that brought Gypsies into the country.Some Romanies then left-for Finland, probably-and others went underground in the country, mixing and intermarrying with Norwegian nomads to form the group known as Reisende or Norwegian Travelers.In 1814 Norway set up its own Parliament. The immigration of Romanies from Romania and Hungary was helped by the relaxation of the Passport Law in 1860, and in 1884 the first Romany birth in the country for many years was recorded. In 1888 a new law stating that citizenship depended on descent, not birth, was introduced. That meant that Romanies born in Norway did not get Norwegian citizenship until 1914, when the law was changed and between 30 and 40 Romanies acquired Norwegian citizenship. However, between 1918 and 1939 the Norwegian government tried hard to keep Romanies out, specifically invoking the Foreigners Law of 1901, which meant they could not get permission to enter the country to work as nomadic craftspeople; only a few who had relatives already in the country were allowed to come. In 1924 the Justice Department accused the Catholic Church of issuing false baptism certificates to Romanies. The following year, the department said that all Norwegian passports held by Romanies were false and should be withdrawn. In 1927 all the Romanies left the country, precipitated by the Aliens Law, which said that "Gypsies or other Travelers who cannot prove they have Norwegian citizenship shall be forbidden access to Norway."An international incident occurred in 1933 when a group of Romanies, some with Norwegian passports, wanting to go to Norway were stopped on the frontier between Germany and Denmark. The Danish government would not allow them transit until the Norwegian government agreed to take them, which it refused to do. These Gypsies were held in an internment camp in Germany for some months and then pushed over unmanned border crossings into Belgium. During the Nazi occupation of Belgium, some of these Gypsies with Norwegian nationality were arrested and sent to Auschwitz.Between 1927 and 1954 there were no Romanies in Norway. After 1954 a number of Gypsy families came into the country from France, but there has never been a large population. Some families were able to regain Norwegian citizenship. In 1955 Oslo social workers ordered a Romany family to move from their two tents to the workhouse at Svanvike. The parents refused because they had heard about the place from Travelers. Their six children were then taken away by force. The press took up the story, and the authorities then agreed to return the children to the parents. In 1956 a new Law on Foreigners left out an earlier provision about Gypsies (Sigoiner) that was seen as racist and replaced it with a section on nomads: "Foreigners shall be refused admittance at the border if it is thought that they will try and support themselves as nomads."In 1956 some Romany families regained their Norwegian citizenship and permission to live in the country. Temporary camps were set up around Oslo. In 1961 the authorities in Oslo discussed the problem of Romany children not going to school. The Mission for the Homeless, set up for the Norwegian Travelers, was still involved and suggested sending families to work in a kind of labor camp. A Gypsy committee was set up by the Social Services Department in 1962 for a Romany population of about 40 people. A new Gypsy committee was set up in 1969, excluding the Mission for the Homeless, although in fact there were no Romanies in Norway at this time. In 1970 and again in 1973 the government published reports and proposals for the Romanies. By this time some families had returned, and in 1973 Parliament passed a decree on support for Gypsies. In 1975 all immigration was stopped, affecting newcomers but not the existing population of about 100.Several initiatives of 1978 were aimed at Romanies in Oslo: the opening of the first nursery school, an agreement that all Romany children were to have mother tongue tuition, and the appointment of a special employment adviser. The Romanies in the country were not, however, classed as immigrants but had a special status. In 1979 a language primer in Romani was printed, Me ginavav Romanes [I Read Romani], and two years later a reader for primary-age children appeared. In the last few years, there has been renewed immigration from eastern Europe.An annual international music festival called Iagori ("Little Flame") has been held since 1999, organized by Raya Bielenberg. The king of Norway attended the 2004 event.
Historical dictionary of the Gypsies . Donald Kenrick.
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