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Like Jews, the Rom Gypsies were chosen for total annihilation just because of their race. Even though Jews are defined by religion, Hitler saw the gypsies as a race that he believed needed to be completely annihilated. The Nazis believed that both the Jews and Gypsies were racially inferior and degenerate and therefore worthless.
On December 16, 1942, Heinrich Himmler had a "Final Solution" to the gypsy problem and issued an order to send all gypsies to the concentration camps, such as Dachau, Mauthausen, Ravensbruck and Sachsenhausenexcept to perish and become human guinea pigs. But the chosen gypsies, these "lucky" ones from Germany and Nazi-controlled Europe were sent to Auschwitz/Birkenau, where a special Gypsy Family Camp was erected.
At the hands of the so-called "doctors" at Auschwitz/Birkenau they would torture Gypsy children and adults by putting them into pressure chambers, tested with drugs, castrated, frozen to death, and exposed to various other traumas. Some gypsy adults of child-bearing years were lured into voluntary sterilization on the false pretense that to do this would allow them to go free. The female volunteers were injected with chemical substances producing horrible pain, inflamed ovaries and bleeding. If the subject lived through all of that, the damaged ovaries were then removed, without anesthesia, and sent to Berlin. Men and women were positioned repeatedly for several minutes between two x-ray machines aimed at their sexual organs. Their seared flesh was prime for infection, which many died from. Void of anesthesia, men had their testicles sliced off and sent to Breslau.
The man in charge of life and death at Auschwitz/Birkenau, Dr. Josef Mengele, oddly enough loved the gypsy children as much as he hated them. He had a soft spot for them and would give them treats of chocolate and candies. In turn, the children would call him "Uncle Pepe". This Uncle facade allowed Dr. Mengele to get close to the children and made it easier to take them to the children's barrack, nicknamed "The Zoo", in order to be primed for medical and scientific experiments.
In July 1944, the order was given from Berlin to close down the Gypsy Family Camp. Those strong enough to be moved were to be sent to work camps, while the others, mostly women and children, were to be liquidated in the gas chambers. At the end of July and early August 3,000 men were marched out to walk the long distance to the work camps with nothing for survival but the meager clothes on their backs..
"Night of the Gypsies", August 2/3, 1944, the SS rounded up the rest of the gypsies by luring them out of the barracks with the promise of water and bread. Since it was well known by the SS that the gypsies would not go quietly to their deaths, the SS was prepared. After the gypsies realized what was going on they fought back with their bare hands but they were no match for the clubs and guns of the SS. The gypsies were loaded onto the lorries and driven to the gas chambers. Dr. Mengele drove the children under his care to the gas chambers and led them straight to their death. The gypsies fought for their lives until their last breath.
Figures for the number of gypsies killed during the holocaust range from 200,000 to a conservative 500,000. As gypsies could not read or write, many were not registered at the camps and if they were registered, a simple 'Z" was placed where their name should be. Most gypsies were either killed in transit or where they were captured with no record of their deaths. A more realistic number of gypsy deaths is between 1.5 and 4 million, 80% of the European gypsies, slaughtered at the hands of the Nazis.
Dr. Josef Mengele escaped while in custody of the Allied forces and led a long life in South America until he died in 1979 in a drowning accident in Brazil.
The gypsies still await recognition for their suffering.
Excerpt from: Gypsy Magic for the Family's Soul © 2006 by Allie Theiss. All rights reserved.