Between 1936 and 1945 the Nazis wiped out over 50% of Europe’s Romani people.
Whether they were choked to death in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau, “exterminated through labour” climbing the stairs of death at Mauthausen, or shot in a mass grave dug by their own hands in Romania – the extermination of the Gypsies of Europe was carried out with deadly efficiency.
The result in countries like Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and what is now the Czech Republic, was a kill rate of over 90% of the pre-war Romani population. Many massacres of Roma in the East by the Nazis’ roving death squads, the Einsatzgruppen, went unreported or under-documented, meaning the total loss of Romani life will probably never be fully exposed or accounted for.
Europe’s collective memory of the Romani genocide is short compared to the Holocaust of the Jews. Germany paid war reparations to Jewish survivors but never to Romani, and the racial character of the Romani genocide was denied for decades in favour of the argument that Roma were targeted for being asocials and criminals. West Germany only recognised the genocide of Roma officially in 1982.