L.M., Romni from Romania
L.M.. refers to a survey by the Elie Wiesel Institute in May 2015 according to which 21 percent of respondents see Roma as a threat for Romania, and 40 percent consider them as a problem. Only 18 percent of Romanians know about the genocide of Roma.
Even Roma themselves know little about. The lack of awareness of the decisive moments in their history contributes to the fact that Roma have a low self-esteem.
The remembrance of this part of the story could therefore contribute to the renewal of identity for today’s young Roma population.
Concerning deportations in 1942 L. M. writes the majority population welcomed this deportation. Some politicians and artists had indeed protested, the most prominent of them, the queen mother, but the intellectual elite of that time was permeated by racist views about the Roma.
As a starting point for Romanian antiziganism L. M. asseses the abolition of slavery in the mid 19th century. The “freed” slaves were partially dismissed from their former masters and became homeless – in the eyes of the Interior Ministry: “stateless vagabonds”. At the beginning of the war antiziganism became an open political issue.
The deportations were partly racist, partially motivated by social criteria. The most important reason for deportation was the intention of the Romanian state, similar to the German government, to carry out an “ethnic cleansing”. Allegations claiming a “social” cleansing, as to deport particularly criminal persons etc. are just pretexts. Actually, the perpetrators intended to establish “racial purity”.
The great-grandparents of L. M. were blacksmiths, but did not speak Romanes and were not officially registered as Roma. Therefore, they were not affected by the deportations. But they were witnesses of the gathering and deportation of tinsmiths in the neighborhood. The grandmother of L. M., born in 1939, remembers that she came with relatives who were in fear of German assaults.