The USC Shoah Foundation has a collection of 407 video interviews with Roma survivors of persecution by the Nazis and their Allies. They were gathered in 18 countries and in 16 languages between November 1995 and November 1999.
The interviewees, 185 men and 222 women, were predominantly from Poland and Ukraine and gave their testimonies mostly in the Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian languages; a smaller group of testimonies are from western and southern Europe. Around half of the interviewees report that they led nomadic lives before, during, and after the war. Over three quarters relate that they were from Romani-speaking communities; 24 testimonies are exclusively in the Romani language. They describe their families, traditions, Christian and Muslim religious observances, relations between different Roma groups, as well as relations with the local population.
Nazi and Axis persecution of Roma during World War II took various forms. Around 100 Roma survivors were prisoners of camps in Poland—including the “Zigeunerlager” in Auschwitz-Birkenau—as well as Austria, Germany, Ukraine, Latvia, and other countries. Thirty eight discuss their experiences in ghettos in Ukraine especially, but also in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Forty one were witnesses to executions; for example, the five accounts of a mass shooting in Aleksandrovka (Smolensk oblast, Russia) make this the most witnessed single execution in Russia among the Institute’s testimonies.
Many interviewees talk about continuing persecution after the war and describe the efforts of various governments to force the Roma to establish permanent settlements and to participate in state-led integration schemes.
Polish (181 interviews), Russian (103), Ukrainian (42), Romani (24), German (15), Serbian (9), Slovak (6), Bulgarian (5), English (4), Russian and Ukrainian (4), Czech (3), Italian (3), Romanian (3), Hungarian (2), Dutch (1), French (1), Latvian and Russian (1).
Poland (181 interviews), Ukraine (135), Moldova (16), Germany (10), Russia (10), Yugoslavia (9), Romania (7), Latvia (6), Slovakia (6), Austria (5), Bulgaria (5), United States (4), Belarus (3), Czech Republic (3), Italy (3), Hungary (2), France (1), Netherlands (1).
Poland (164), USSR (98), Russian Empire (37), Romania (33), Czechoslovakia (22), Germany (15), Yugoslavia (9), Austria-Hungary (8), Austria (5), Bulgaria (5), Latvia (4), Italy (3), Hungary (2), France (1), Netherlands (1).
Selected Indexing Terms
anti-Roma school prejudice
attitudes toward Roma
childhood anti-Roma prejudice experiences
nomadic life style (Roma)
post-liberation Roma identity concealment
settled life style (Roma)
Roma cultural observances
Roma ghetto inhabitants
Roma identity exposure fears
Roma labor servicemen
Roma persecution awareness
Roma persecution bystander responses
Roma population roundups
Roma prisoner functionaries
Roma resistance fighters
Roma war veterans
Roma-general population relations
Zentralrat Deutscher Sinti und Roma
Zigeunerlager (Auschwitz II-Birkenau)
Kenrick, Donald; Puxon, Grattan. Gypsies under the Swastika, Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2009.
Milton, Sybil. “Holocaust: the Gypsies,” in Israel Charny, William Parsons, and Samuel Totten (eds.) Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts, New York: Routledge, 2004, pp. 160-202.
Tyrnauer, Gabrielle. Gypsies and the Holocaust: a Bibliography and Introductory Essay, Montréal: Concordia University: Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies, 1991.
Weiss-Wendt, Anton (ed.). The Nazi Genocide of the Roma: Reassessment and Commemoration, New York: Berghahn, 2013.