Slovakian Gypsys

Figure 1.--This photo was taken in the early-1920s in Subcarpathian Ruthenia whichbat the time was part of Czechoslovakia. It is now part of Slovakia. It shows a Gypsy mother and her child.

Gypsies in Slovakia were forced to make adjustments major adjustments as a result of political changes. At the beginning of the century, Slvakia was part of the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire and ruled by Hungary. They were one of the pricipal minorities, but lived on the the social periphery and not integrated into the national culture. As a result of World War I, Slovakia became part of Czechoslovakia, a much smaller state. Czechoslovak policies toward the Gypies essentially continued the basic outline of Austro-Hungarian policies. Officials did not view the Gypies as legitimate minority community, but rather as an anti-social criminal element. The police began finger ptinting Gypsies (1925). Parliament passed a law about wandering Gypsies (1927). Gypies became targets of the NAZI Holocaust after Germany invaded and occupied Czechosolvakia (1939). The SS deported about 6,000-7,000 Czech Gypsies (Bohemia and Moravia) to Auschwitz. They were held in a special compound for a while, but eventually gassed. Slovakia suceeded from Czechoslovakia as the Germans invaded and became a NAZI client state. The Slovaks copied NAZI race laws. Officials set up labor camps for Gypsies. A range of regulations were implement to control and restrict Gypsey movement. They were prohibited from using public transport, entry to towns was limited, and settlements were denied access to roads. We do not know of killing operations conducted by the Slovaks, but our information is still incomplete. After the Wehrmact occupied Slovakia, mass killing actions were carried out (1944). The killing took place in Slovakia and the German tranport system was beginning to break down. Czechoslovakia was reconstituted after the War and became part of the Soviet Empire. Communist Czechoslovak policy was to force assimilation. The principal law was Law No. 74, "On the permanent settlement of nomadic and semi-nomadic people"(1958). This forcibly limited the movement of the smallmprtion of the Gypsey community (about 5-10 prcent) who still largely nomadic. At the sajme time, the Communist Party passed a resolution designed to achieve "the final assimilation of the Gypsy population" which the Party described as a "socially-backward section of the population". Of particular concern was the large birth rate among Gypsey families. The Government offered financial incentives for Roma women to submit to sterilization. Authorities alsi cleared Gypsey settlements and relocated them to urban housing. The Government refused to recognize Gypseys as a cultural and ethnic group. Municipal authorities sureptitiously collected population data on Gypsey communities. Census takers did not allow individuals to describe themselves as Gypsies, but the Census officials marked the forms without the responent's knowledge.


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Created: 9:14 AM 1/19/2011
Last updated: 9:15 AM 1/19/2011