nuremberg racial laws

gypsiesWhen we think of the horrors of the Holocaust, we think of millions of Jewish people who were murdered because they were Jewish. The horrible things Hitler did are so awful, that most of us can hardly bare to think about it at all. It is uncertain just when the Holocaust began, but the accepted date is January 30, 1933. That date is when Adolf Hitler was appointed German chancellor, setting in motion what would become the Nazi genocide against the Jews. On September 15, 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were enacted. The Nuremberg Laws were anti-Jewish statutes enacted by Germany, that were a major step in clarifying racial policy and removing Jewish influences from Aryan society. These laws, were the foundation on which the rest of Nazi racial policy hung.

The Jewish people were not the only group of people who came to the attention of Hitler’s insane mind either. Under the rule of Adolf Hitler, a supplementary decree to the Nuremberg Laws was issued on November 26, 1935, defining Gypsies as “enemies of the race-based state”, the same category as Jews. The Nuremberg racial porajmos-1laws of September 15, 1935, “Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor” and “Reich Citizenship Law” did not explicitly mention Gypsies, but in commentaries interpreting these laws, “Gypsies were included, along with Jews and Negros, as racially distinctive minorities with alien blood. As such, their marriage to Aryans was prohibited.” Like the Jews, the Gypsies were also deprived of their civil rights. Hitler viewed Jews and Gypsies as a defective race, in fact he viewed all non-white people as defective. I suppose this view was what originally justified Hitler’s brutal murder of 6 million Jews and who knows how many people of other races. On this day, November 15, 1943, Heinrich Himmler, who was the Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (Protection Squadron, or SS), and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Nazi Germany ordered that Gypsies and those of mixed Gypsy blood are to be put on “the same level as Jews and placed in concentration camps.”

Hitler’s decision to include the Gypsies, and the ensuing murders of up to 500,000 Romani Gypsies, became known as the Romani Holocaust, or Porajmos, which means cutting, fragmentation, or destruction; or porajmos-2Samudaripen, which means mass killing. It was Nazi Germany and its allies planned and attempted effort to exterminate the Romani Gypsy people of Europe. Some historians put the death toll as high as 1.5 million. In 1982, West Germany formally recognized that genocide had been committed against the Romani. In 2011 the Polish Government passed a resolution for the official recognition of August 2nd as a day of commemoration of the genocide. As I was researching this horrific genocide, I began to wonder how it was that I had never heard about it before. Was I living under a rock? In reality, I doubt if it was in any of the history books of my time, because no one admitted that it happened until 1982, at the earliest.

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