Sündenböcke: Zur Rolle von zehn Prominenten unter dem NS-Regime (German Edition)

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The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies

Research family history relating to the Holocaust and explore the Museum's collections about individual survivors and victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution. This reference provides text, photographs, charts, maps, and extensive indexes. New Search.


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Digitized 2, In English 16, Holding Institutions. Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies 1, Until March , the welfare authorities reported cases of illness requiring hospitalization. There were several outbreaks of communicable diseases such as diphtheria and tuberculosis; in March the municipal department of health diagnosed 40 percent of the camp inmates as afflicted with scabies. By September , the number of Gypsies in the camp had risen to Three more barracks were built that year, but overcrowding continued and several families had to sleep on the ground under caravans.

A school with five grades was organized in a barrack put up in The degree of compulsion associated with them varied; some were fenced in, others were not. Many Gypsies continued to live in their private houses or apartments. Some cities with substantial Gypsy populations such as Hamburg and Munich had no municipal camps at all.

After war broke out in , as we shall see in a later chapter, the character of these camps changed.


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Freedom of movement was eliminated, supervision was tightened and the occupants were subjected to compulsory labor. The municipal Gypsy camps during the years — fit into the pattern of harassment and control, albeit stepped up and intensified, typical of the pre-Nazi period in Germany. Much of the apprehension about the alleged crime wave resulted from sensational media reporting. The Nazis took advantage of public anxieties and presented themselves as the champions of law and order.

They would end, they pledged, the constitutional restrictions that had tied the hands of the police and led to the coddling of criminals. Criminality gradually became a social category, and Gypsies, reputed to be asocial elements, soon became enmeshed in the new measures.

Solving the problem of crime and achieving a society without criminals, it was believed, required purging German society of racially inferior elements, for the roots of crime, more often then not, lay in the prevalence of bad racial stock. Such ideas became increasingly popular in police circles, and so did the shift to preventive crime fighting. Members of the detective force or criminal police Kriminalpolizei or Kripo in particular had long been interested in instituting preventive custody for habitual offenders, and most of them happily accepted the increased powers granted the police.

In early Arthur Nebe became head of the Prussian Kripo and later assumed an important role in developing Nazi policy toward the Gypsies. He was among those who welcomed the switch to a preventive approach to crime. Several former colleagues recall that Nebe embraced the concept of preventive custody with enthusiasm. Despite an image of apolitical professionalism, the Kripo proved more acceptable to the Nazis than any other branch of the police; very few of its members needed purging after The concept of crime had been expanding since The decree provided for two ways of preventing crime and protecting society.

First, the police were authorized to put professional criminals and repeat offenders under systematic supervision. The police could now prohibit such individuals from leaving their place of residence without permission, oblige them to report to the police at regular intervals, and prohibit them from driving a car, using certain kinds of public transportation or owning weapons. Second, the police were given the right to take certain individuals into preventive custody.

Applications for the imposition of preventive custody were to be submitted by the local Kripo to the head office of the criminal police in Berlin. That office made the final decision regarding both the initiation and the termination of preventive custody; a review was to take place every twelve months. That this was indeed the intent of the decree was confirmed by Himmler in a circular of May 13, The old border between Germany and the recently annexed Austria had been abolished and there were no longer any passport requirements.

In order to prevent Gypsies and Gypsy-like itinerants from moving at will across the former border, Himmler suggested that, if no other legal provision could be found, the authorities consider using the section of the decree of December 14, , that provided for the imposition of preventive custody on those who endangered the general public by their asocial conduct. Not all measures aimed at preventing crime need violate the rule of law, but the system introduced here was clearly irreconcilable with any conception of due process. Combining the SS with the police in effect gave a party organization control over a key state function and provided the SS with new powers of intimidation and terror.

Formally, Himmler was subordinated to Minister of the Interior Frick, but in practice the new head of the German police could do as he pleased. Aligning complementary party and state agencies created a powerful new tool for persecuting those deemed to be enemies of the Nazi state. Operation Work-Shy It did not take long for the new police apparatus to be put to use. On January 26, , Himmler ordered the Gestapo to take action against the work-shy. The decree acknowledged the jurisdiction of the Kripo for preventive crime measures but noted that on account of the heterogeneous character of the population involved the Kripo was not yet ready to act.

The arrest of the work-shy was to be a one-time action. Apparently it was utilized here against asocials because in a tightening labor market Himmler was anxious to put everybody to work without delay, and at this time he saw the Gestapo as the most appropriate instrument to achieve this goal. Track 2: Crime Prevention 29 In the spring of the SS opened the first of its economic enterprises located in or near concentration camps in Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald. Hitler and Speer had decided that bricks and stone for the reconstruction of Berlin and other major cities could be produced by the inmates of the concentration camps, and Himmler and his chief of administration, Oswald Pohl, eagerly embraced this plan, which opened up a new source of influence and income for the SS.

Hence persons who were unwilling to participate in the working life of the nation and who were merely scraping by as work-shy or asocials and making the cities and main road unsafe had to be dealt with by coercive means and set to work. Local labor exchanges were instructed to establish the identity of the work-shy by April 3, and to transmit the names to the Gestapo. In addition to relying on this source of information, the secret police, working in cooperation with other appropriate authorities such as welfare offices, was to make its own inquiries.

Between April 3 and 9, the work-shy were to be taken into custody. Unless the arrested persons could justify their idleness by reason of sickness or a special family situation, they were to be sent to concentration camp Buchenwald, with the continuation of their incarceration to be evaluated every three months.

The names of those who could not be seized by that date were to be handed over to the Kripo. The decree of December 12, , on preventive crime fighting, Heydrich wrote, had given the police extensive powers to proceed not only against professional criminals but also against all asocial elements who were a burden on society 30 The Prewar Years and harmed its well-being. The rigorous implementation of the Four Year Plan requires the participation of all those able to work and does not tolerate that asocial persons shirk work and thus sabotage the Four Year Plan.

Also to be seized were male Jews who had been sentenced to a jail term of more than one month. Those arrested were to be sent to concentration camp Buchenwald. The Kripo did not want to be accused of contributing to a failure of the Four Year Plan, and it responded with a wave of arrests that occasionally went beyond the instructions received.

Some of those seized, the RKPA admonished the district offices on June 23, had been work-shy in the past but were now regularly employed. Their arrest, therefore, was not authorized and they were to be released forthwith. In the hierarchy of the SS they ranked very low, only above Jews and homosexuals. Many did not survive this schooling, which was accompanied by systematic brutalities.

The asocials had a mortality rate higher than the political or criminal inmates of the camps.

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The proportion of Gypsies among those arrested as asocials during Operation Work-Shy in June of is not known, though a few figures are available from some localities. In Aachen, eleven Gypsies were arrested during the week of June 13—18 and sent to the concentration camp Sachsenhausen. Buchenwald had almost 8, inmates in , about 4, of whom were labeled as workshy;34 as of February 2, , there were said to be Gypsies in Buchenwald. They also show that as a result of the prevailing hostility toward Gypsies, often the mere fact that someone was a Gypsy without a steady place of residence or job resulted in their being labeled a criminal and subjected them to preventive custody in a concentration camp.

Thus, for example, Wilhelm L. He ended up in Sachsenhausen and was still there as of November , more than four years later. Josef F. The last date of record there is September 9, Wilhelm L.


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His first destination was Buchenwald; from there he was transferred to Natzweiler in , then to Dachau in , and eventually back to Natzweiler. He was still alive on April 1, ; his subsequent fate is not recorded. His medical examination found him to be unsuitable for work because of high blood pressure. However, his reprieve was only temporary. In March , L.

Michael L. He was sent to Buchenwald and was still being held on May 26, On account of an injury incurred during his military service in World War I he was found to have limited work capabilities.

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He too was sent to Buchenwald where he died on August 19, Needless to say, even those who were truly hardened criminals should not have been subjected to the life of torment that was the lot of the concentration camp inmates. Moreover, as we have seen, the main purpose of Operation Work-Shy appears to have been the procurement of slave labor rather than the prevention of crime. Although the ultimate decision on releasing an inmate in preventive custody was in the hands of the RKPA in Berlin, local Kripo offices could make recommendations. Thus when a family applied for the release of a father, husband or son, the local Kripo office sometimes supported such an application; in other instances they opposed it.

August L. At the obligatory medical examination, he claimed to be suffering from a kidney and bladder disorder, but the examining physician merely diagnosed him as malnourished and L. In October Track 2: Crime Prevention 33 of the same year, his wife applied for his release, and neither the mayor of Quedlinburg nor the Kripo of Magdeburg expressed any objection.

Before leaving the concentration camp, he had to sign a standard form promising not to talk about the life of the camp, and not to say or write anything against the National Socialist state and its institutions, and stating that he had subscribed to the declaration voluntarily. His mother submitted a petition for his release to Hitler, which remained unanswered.

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On December 31, she wrote to the Gestapo in Berlin. Her son, she pleaded, was sorely missed by her as well by his wife and their four children. He was a good boy who had thought that he could support his family by playing music. Heil Hitler. Twentytwo-year-old Gypsy musician Karl L.