Encyclopedia on the Nazi genocide of Sinti and Roma goes online


This historical photo from Asperg in Baden-Württemberg shows the deportation of Sinti and Roma to Poland. © Federal Archives R 165 Image-244-42/ CC-by-sa 3.0

Hundreds of thousands of Sinti and Roma were persecuted and murdered under National Socialist rule in Germany and Europe. But for a long time this genocide received little attention and was hardly researched. Historians have now brought together knowledge of the Nazi genocide of Sinti and Roma in a large-scale encyclopedia. It will be put online on March 5, 2024 and will therefore be accessible to the public for the first time.

Jewish people were not the only population group in Europe that was systematically persecuted and killed during the Nazi era. The Sinti and Roma were also affected. From 1939 onwards their freedom of movement was initially restricted, and from spring 1940 systematic deportations from the German Reich to occupied Poland began. There the deportees were locked in camps and ghettos and forced to do forced labor. The systematic killing of Sinti and Roma from German territories and allied countries began in 1941. According to estimates, a total of 220,000 to 500,000 fell victim to this genocide during the Nazi era.

Fragmented knowledge, late memory

But this genocide of Sinti and Roma received little attention for a long time, even in the decades after the end of the Second World War. It was not until 2012 that the first central memorial to the victims of the Nazi genocide against Sinti and Roma was created in Berlin. “The aim of the Nazi state and its racial ideology was to destroy the Sinti and Roma minority,” explains project leader Karola Fings from the Antigypsy Research Center at the University of Heidelberg. “Although significant special studies have been published on this topic in recent decades, knowledge is still highly fragmented today.”

In order to change this, the Antiziganism Research Center was established in 2017 as the first and so far only academic institution in Europe with this focus. It deals with fundamental questions about the causes, forms and consequences of antigypsyism in European societies from the Middle Ages to the present. “By supporting the Antiziganism Research Center, we are setting an example – against silence, for enlightenment,” emphasizes Theresia Bauer, Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Science.

The first encyclopedia on the subject goes online

Since summer 2020, more than 90 scientists from 25 countries have been working on a special project: a first comprehensive encyclopedia of the Nazi genocide against the Sinti and Roma in Europe. The first contributions to this unique knowledge resource will begin on March 6, 2024 posted online and thus made publicly accessible. become. The online platform is technically based on “Open Encyclopedia Systems” and was implemented by the Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS) at the Free University of Berlin. From a historical perspective, it shows the persecution in the German Reich, the suffering in the concentration camps and the murderous crimes in Eastern and Southeastern Europe.

The new online portal offers access to specialist articles that are not only sorted alphabetically, but are also assigned to various categories such as crime scenes, life stories or aftermath. In addition to photographs, the digital encyclopedia also includes an interactive map: All crime scenes across Europe for which information is available are listed here, including concentration camps but also places where massacres were committed. A chronology provides an overview of all relevant events from 1933. By the end of 2025, the encyclopedia is expected to grow to around 1,000 specialist articles and represent a milestone for research and educational work.

Source: Heidelberg University

Recent Articles

Related Stories