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A Wannsee Conference on the


Extermination of the Gypsies? New
Research Findings Regarding 15
January 1943 and the Auschwitz
Decree

Karola Fings

NS-Dokumentationszentrum der Stadt Kln (City of Cologne's


Documentation Centre on National Socialism), Appellhofplatz
23-25, Kln 50667, Germany
Published online: 02 Dec 2013.

To cite this article: Karola Fings (2013) A Wannsee Conference on the Extermination of the

Gypsies? New Research Findings Regarding 15 January 1943 and the Auschwitz Decree , Dapim:
Studies on the Holocaust, 27:3, 174-194, DOI: 10.1080/23256249.2013.852766
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23256249.2013.852766

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Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, 2013


Vol. 27, No. 3, 174194, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23256249.2013.852766

A Wannsee Conference on the Extermination of the Gypsies? New


Research Findings Regarding 15 January 1943 and the Auschwitz Decree
Karola Fings

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NS-Dokumentationszentrum der Stadt Kln (City of Colognes Documentation Centre on National


Socialism), Appellhofplatz 23-25, Kln 50667, Germany
(Received 1 October 2012; accepted 1 December 2012)
Was the persecution of the Sinti and Roma under National Socialism an act of genocide? This
article posits that the conference of January 15, 1943 constituted a point of culmination for Nazi
policy toward Gypsies. Until now, researchers have attached little importance to this event, but
the author will show that various actors gathered at this meeting to shape Nazi Germanys racial
policies including those directed at Gypsies and reached agreement on subsequent actions
against Mischlinge, persons of mixed race. This paper explores the increasing persecution of
this minority and its escalation in 1943 with deportations to the concentration and extermination
camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Such persons were to be rendered extinct within a generation by
means of forced sterilization; only a very few were to be Germanized. On the basis of
empirical data, the author also shows that the group of Gypsies dened as racially pure, and
therefore exempted from deportation to Auschwitz, was extremely small. The racially-motivated
elimination of Gypsies continued until the end of the Nazi regime. The author also makes clear
how the men who made Nazi racial policy correlated the lessons learned from the parallel
processes of the persecution of Jews and the persecution of Sinti and Roma.
Keywords: Wannsee Conference; genocide of Sinti and Roma; Mischling policy; Auschwitz
decree

On 15 January 1943, a meeting took place in the Reich Criminal Police Department (RKPA,
Reichskriminalpolizeiamt). Along with representatives of the RKPA, personnel from the Research
Center for Racial Hygiene and Biology of Human Populations (RHF, Rassenhygienische und bevlkerungsbiologische Forschungsstelle), the Security Service (SD, Sicherheitsdienst) which
was under the authority of the Reich Security Main Ofce (RSHA, Reichssicherheitshauptamt)
and the Race and Settlement Main Ofce (RuSHA, Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt) also participated. The composition of the group of participants, the matter negotiated and the context in
which this meeting took place are reminiscent of the Wannsee Conference, where the practical
implementation of the nal solution of the Jewish question a program that had been previously
decided upon and set into motion was ne-tuned in discussions between the RSHA and the key
Reich ministries barely one year earlier.
Parallels primarily exist, however, with the subsequent conferences of 6 March and 27
October 1942, referred to in the literature as the second and third Final Solution conferences.
Negotiations at these meetings focused on groups about which the Nazis had reservations

This article appeared initially as Eine Wannsee-Konferenz ber die Vernichtung der Zigeuner? Neue Forschungsergebnisse zum 15. Januar 1943 und dem Auschwitz-Erlass in the Jahrbuch fr Antisemitismusforschung 15 (2006): pp. 303333, and was revised for this publication.
2013 The Institute for Holocaust Research, at the University of Haifa

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about deporting.1 These included Jews living in mixed marriages that is, Jews, who were
legally married to a spouse deemed to be of German blood and so-called Mischlinge,
persons of mixed racial heritage. The question posed in this article, however, is this: On 15
January 1943, did deliberations deal with the concrete realization of the nal solution of the
Gypsy question, an objective that had been sought for years?
Before examining the reason for this meeting, the participants and the issues on the table,
however, a comment on the body of source material is necessary. A record of the meeting prepared by the RKPA exists. By Joachim S. Hohmanns account, the original of this document
was available to him when he published the transcribed minutes in a study that appeared in
1991.2 Unfortunately Hohmann died in 1999 and provided no indication of the provenance of
the document or of any other document in his study. When comparing the other sources he
transcribed with accessible originals, however, we can conrm that, in all probability,
Hohmanns rendering was faithful and meticulous. Although it remains problematic to base a
hypothesis on a source not acknowledged in the original, I shall proceed with the assumption
of its authenticity.3
A decree issued by Heinrich Himmler on 16 December 1942, called for the deportation of
Gypsy Mischlinge, Romani Gypsies, and Balkan Gypsies to a concentration camp, and is mentioned in the minutes as the reason for the January 1943 meeting.4 As stated in the transcripts, in
accordance with this order, the majority of these Gypsy-like persons (zigeunerische Personen)
[were] to be deported to a concentration camp and ofcials were to refrain from deportation
only in special cases, which required a clarication of the issue of what [was] to be done
1

Raul Hilberg, Die Vernichtung der europischen Juden, 2nd ed. (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer-TaschenbuchVerlag, 1990), 419425, 436449. See also Mark Roseman, Die Wannsee-Konferenz. Wie die NS-Brokratie
den Holocaust organisierte (Munich and Berlin: Propylen, 2002), 165184, for a facsimile of the record of
the proceedings. The conference, convened by the head of the RSHA, Reinhard Heydrich, in a villa near the
Groer Wannsee, dealt with the coordination of the procedures for the wholesale murder of Europes Jews, a
process already underway at the time. Among the 15 participants RSHA personnel, SS ofcers and administrative heads of departments there was consensus regarding the deportation and killing of the Jews, verbally camouaged as the nal solution. Nonetheless, there was still a considerable need for coordination
regarding the groups to whose deportation some opposition was anticipated.
2
Joachim S. Hohmann, Robert Ritter und die Erben der Kriminalbiologie. Zigeunerforschung im Nationalsozialismus und in Westdeutschland im Zeichen des Rassismus, Studien zur Tsiganologie und Folkloristik, vol. 4 (Frankfurt am Main: P. Lang, 1991), 7577.
3
According to Hohmann, this source is cited in various places, including the most important summary presentations of the National Socialists persecution of Gypsies. See Michael Zimmermann, Rassenutopie und
Genozid. Die nationalsozialistische Lsung der Zigeunerfrage, Hamburger Beitrge zur Sozial- und Zeitgeschichte, vol. 33 (Hamburg: Forschungsstelle fr die Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus in Hamburg,
1996), 302; Martin Luchterhandt, Der Weg nach Birkenau. Entstehung und Verlauf der nationalsozialistischen Verfolgung der Zigeuner, Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Gesellschaft fr Polizeigeschichte e.V.,
vol. 4 (Lbeck: Schmidt-Rmhild, 2000), 244; and Isabel Heinemann, Rasse, Siedlung, deutsches Blut.
Das Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt der SS und die rassenpolitische Neuordnung Europas (Gttingen: Wallstein, 2003), 557. Even though the authenticity of the source seems certain, there is still a need to nd the
original. According to information provided by the widow of Joachim S. Hohmann (personal communication
with the author on 3 November 2006), his Nachlass in the Landesbibliothek Fulda contains only the printed
books, articles and supplements, as well as his collection of poetry. Part of the written Nachlass went to the
archives of Rom e.V. in Cologne. No reference to the document in question is to be found there, however (as
accessed on 13 December 2006).
4
Himmlers order of 16 December 1942 (Tgb. Nr. I 2652/42 Ad./RF/V), has not survived, but is mentioned in
the RKPA Schnellbrief (circular letter) dated 29 January 1943, which contains the exact provisions for
implementation. See Reichskriminalpolizeiamt, ed., Vorbeugende Verbrechensbekmpfung. Erlasssammlung, Schriftenreihe des Reichskriminalpolizeiamtes, vol. 15 (Berlin, n.d.), 322, cited from Institut fr Zeitgeschichte (IfZ), Dc 17.02.

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K. Fings

with the remaining Gypsy-like persons.5 This question was debated by the leadership of the institutions that had a decisive role in shaping National Socialist policies toward Gypsies.
Institutions participating in the January 1943 conference included, for one, the Reich Central
Ofce for Combating the Gypsy Menace (Reich Central Ofce, Reichszentrale zur Bekmpfung
des Zigeunerunwesens), a subdivision of the Preventive Detention Department of the RKPA (also
known as Ofce V Amt V of the RSHA). The Reich Central Ofce coordinated the registration
and monitoring of Gypsies6 throughout the Reich and was represented at the meeting by its head
Kriminaldirektor Heinrich Bhlhoff, and his colleagues Kriminalkommissar Albert Wiszinsky,
Kriminalinspektor Josef Eichberger and Kriminalkommissar Wilhelm Supp.7 The RHF also participated and was represented by its director, Dr. Robert Ritter, and his closest associate, Eva
Justin. From the mid-1930s, the RHF had worked diligently to acquire a monopoly on dening
the terms of the discourse on the racial classication of the Gypsies, and had rmly entrenched
its authoritative position with the RKPA as well. Thus the RHF provided the racially based ideological framework for designing policy toward Gypsies throughout the Reich.8 Above all, it

Cited from Hohmann, Robert Ritter, p. 75.


As a result of the civil rights movement, the term Sinti and Roma has become generally accepted in the
Federal Republic of Germany as a replacement for the discriminatory term Gypsies, while Roma is used
in the European context. Sinti denotes the largest group, which has lived in German-speaking Europe for
around 600 years, and Roma is used to refer to the groups that have migrated from eastern and southern
Europe since the late nineteenth century. In the context of the National Socialists persecution of the
Gypsies, I deliberately employ the word Gypsies, the term used by the authorities for the objects of the
persecution. Employing terminology based on the way those concerned viewed themselves is not possible
for the very reason that their conception of themselves does not emerge from the contemporary sources and is
certainly not identical with the racist classications used by the racial biologists or Kripo detectives.
7
On the RKPA, see Patrick Wagner, Volksgemeinschaft ohne Verbrecher. Konzeption und Praxis der Kriminalpolizei in der Zeit der Weimarer Republik und des Nationalsozialismus, Hamburger Beitrge zur Sozialund Zeitgeschichte, vol. 34 (Hamburg: Christians, 1996), especially pp. 233253. The life histories of the
staff members at the Reich Central Ofce have barely been studied, despite these individuals special positions in the National Socialists persecution of the Gypsies. Heinrich Bhlhoff, born in 1896, was with the
RKPA from 1941 until April 1945 in Department A2 (Preventive Detention), the director of which was simultaneously head of the Reich Central Ofce; Albert Wiszinsky, born on 13 January 1913, in Altenwald,
from summer 1940 to August 1944 also employed in the Preventive Detention Department; Josef Eichberger,
born on 21 August 1896, in Endorf near Rosenheim, employed in the Reich Central Ofce from 27 October
1939, to 25 January 1945, attaining the rank of Kriminalinspektor; Wilhelm Supp, born on 3 July 1906, in
Nuremberg, from 1941 until at least October 1943, a case ofcer at the Reich Central Ofce. See Landesarchiv NRW, Abteilung Rheinland (LAV NRW, Abt. R), Ger. Rep. 231/1537, 1542, 1546; Zimmermann,
Rassenutopie, p. 482f.
8
Robert Ritter (19011951), who held university degrees in psychology and medicine, in spring 1936
assumed the leadership of the newly established RHF, afliated with the Reich Ofce of Public Health
(Reichsgesundheitsamt), and in 1941 also became head of the Criminal Biological Institute of the Security
Police (Kriminalbiologisches Institut der Sicherheitspolizei). Eva Justin (19011966), beginning in 1934,
worked closely with Ritter and became his deputy at the RHF. On both, and on the RHF, see Reimar Gilsenbach, Wie Lolitschai zur Doktorwrde kam, in Wolfgang Aya, Reimar Gilsenbach, and Ursula
Krber, (eds.), Feinderklrung und Prvention. Kriminalbiologie, Zigeunerforschung und Asozialenpolitik,
Beitrge zur nationalsozialistischen Gesundheits- und Sozialpolitik, vol. 6 (Berlin: Rotbuch Verlag, 1988),
pp. 101134; Heike Krokowski, Die Rassenhygienische und Bevlkerungsbiologische Forschungsstelle
im Reichsgesundheitsamt. Zur Bedeutung wissenschaftlicher Forschung bei der Verfolgung von Sinti und
Roma whrend des Nationalsozialismus, Beitrge zur Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Verfolgung in
Norddeutschland 1 (Bremen: Ed. Temmen, 1994), pp. 7384; Luchterhandt, Weg, pp. 123137, 172183,
206234, 259265; Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, especially pp. 125155; Eve Rosenhaft, Wissenschaft
als Herrschaftsakt: Die Forschungspraxis der Ritterschen Forschungsstelle und das Wissen ber Zigeuner,
in Michael Zimmermann, (ed.), Zwischen Erziehung und Vernichtung. Zigeunerpolitik und Zigeunerforschung im Europa des 20. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2007), pp. 329353; Tobias
6

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developed the procedure for utilizing race-biological evaluations to classify individuals as


Gypsies on the basis of a highly differentiated table. Once relegated to one of three main
groups Gypsies, Gypsy Mischlinge (part-Gypsies) and non-Gypsies a systematic
policy of exclusion under the Nuremberg Laws became possible in 1941.9
To date, scholarship has undervalued the signicance of this meeting on National Socialist
policy toward Gypsies, in part because there was no further pursuit of the question of the identity
of the representatives of the SD and the RSHA and the necessity of their involvement.10 And yet,
their biographies prove quite enlightening. The representative of the SD, SS-Standartenfhrer
Hans Ehlich, served as head of the SDs Department III B for Racial and Ethnic Policy (Volkstumspolitik).11 He began his career in the SD Head Ofce in 1937 as director of the Racial and
National Health (Rasse- und Volksgesundheit) Department after serving as advisor on race in
the Health Department of the Saxon Ministry of the Interior and working in the NSDAP
Ofce of Racial Policy (Rassenpolitisches Amt). As a member of mobile killing squad Einsatzgruppe V, he had gained practical experience in the ethnic struggle (Volkstumskampf) against
Poles and Jews when the German Wehrmacht invaded Poland. From that time he was among
the principal coordinators of the SS policy of expulsion and relocation. From late October
1939, he served as special advisor to the Immigration and Settlement Department for the Occupied Territories (Einwanderungs- und Siedlungsreferat fr die besetzten Gebiete), and had
worked closely with the special advisor for evacuations, Adolf Eichmann.12 Ehlich had also
been responsible for the ethnic and racial examinations of Baltic Germans scheduled for resettlement and in this function had had close contact with the Staff Main Ofce of the Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germandom (Reichskommissar fr die Festigung deutschen
Volkstums).
Along with Eichmann, Ehlich proposed a conference to be held on 30 January 1940, at which
participants debated the problems that had cropped up in the course of the resettlements. The mass
deportation of all Jews and Gypsies from the Reich was also discussed at this meeting. The following year, Ehlich participated in deliberations on the killing of Jews in the occupied territories,

Schmidt-Degenhard, Vermessen und Vernichten. Der NS-Zigeunerforscher Robert Ritter (Stuttgart: Franz
Steiner Verlag, 2012), dissertation, Universitt Tbingen, 2008, Institut fr Ethik und Geschichte der
Medizin; Michael Zimmermann, Mit Weigerungen wrde als nichts erreicht. Robert Ritter und die Rassenhygienische Forschungsstelle im Reichsgesundheitsamt, in Tobias Jersak, (ed.), Karrieren im Nationalsozialismus. Funktionseliten zwischen Mitwirkung und Distanz (Frankfurt am Main and New York: Campus,
2004), pp. 291317.
9
On the evaluation procedures, made compulsory as of 1941, see Karola Fings and Frank Sparing, Rassismus, Lager, Vlkermord. Die nationalsozialistische Zigeunerverfolgung in Kln, Schriften des NS-Dokumentationszentrums der Stadt Kln, vol. 13 (Cologne: Emons, 2005), pp. 132151; Karola Fings, Die
Gutachtlichen uerungen der Rassenhygienischen Forschungsstelle, in Zimmermann, Zwischen Erziehung und Vernichtung, pp. 425459.
10
Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, p. 303. Zimmerman does not interpret Ehlichs participation and surmises
that the RuSHA was involved at Himmlers behest, but possibly also at the wish of the RKPA and RHF,
seeking to reduce their share in the responsibility. Luchterhandt, Weg, p. 244, reduces the presence of
Ehlich and Harders to a vote on the denition of Gypsies and further procedures in the Reichsgau
Danzig-West Prussia.
11
The following information is based on Michael Wildt, Generation des Unbedingten. Das Fhrungskorps
des Reichssicherheitshauptamtes (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2002), 176180, 381, 490, 495, 613, 642,
664f.
12
Appointed SS-Obersturmbannfhrer in 1941, Adolf Eichmann headed the Reich Security Head Ofce
(Reichssicherheitshauptamt) Department IV D 4 for emigration and evacuation (Auswanderung und
Rumung) starting in October 1939, and later organized the genocide of European Jewry as the director
of Department IV B 4 for Jewish affairs and evacuation (Judenangelegenheiten und Rumung).

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and in October 1941 he accompanied the head of the RSHA, Reinhard Heydrich, to a conference
at the Reichs Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, where the matters at stake included
the regulation of the Jewish question in the course of resettlement. Moreover, Ehlichs Department III B developed the rst Master Plan East (Generalplan Ost)13 in the rst half of 1941,
which provided for the resettlement, forced labor or extermination of millions of people.
It was no accident that the Race and Settlement Main Ofce of the SS, RuSHA, was also represented at the January 1943 meeting, because it, like the SD, had been involved as early as
January 1940 in the deliberations regarding deportation of all Gypsies. As part of the policy of
Germanization in the conquered East, the RuSHA was concerned with the race-based selection
of the population and was involved with resettlements and racial examinations, as well as with
the planning and carrying out of strategies of extermination. Like Ehlich, RuSHA representative
SS-Obersturmfhrer Georg Harders was a top specialist for race questions. Harders had been
with the RuSHA since 1935 and became one of the key gures in its Race Ofce by assuming
leadership of the Re-Germanization Department in 1942.14 He too was among the participants
in the third Final Solution conference on 27 October 1942.15
The participation of Ehlich and Harders in the 15 January 1943 meeting is evidence that the
long-standing goal of the nal regulation of the Gypsy question was to be decisively expedited
on this day. On the basis of their career proles, both Ehlich and Harders were makers of extermination policy. As strategists and practitioners, they were equipped with experience in the
killing of the European Jews. Mass sterilization and the displacement of millions of people
were just as much a part of their sphere of action as the racial selection of individuals for an
eventual decision on, for example, their Germanization or extermination. The institutions they
represented were involved at an early stage in the planning for a comprehensive deportation of
all Gypsies from the Old Reich.
The outcome of the meeting also favors this assumption. The approach agreed upon regarding
persons not to be deported to Auschwitz mainly conformed to the considerations discussed at the
Final Solution conferences. The objective was to achieve racial purity in the German ethnic
community by using deportation or sterilization to completely isolate inferior groups, which
would then die or become extinct while superior subgroups would merge into the ethnic community. The decisions made at the Final Solution conferences provided for sterilization of the
Jewish Mischlinge of the rst degree (people with two Jewish grandparents). Although this procedure was described as voluntary, refusal to undergo sterilization was to result in deportation.
The Jewish Mischlinge of the second degree (people with one Jewish grandparent), on the
other hand, were to be treated as persons of German blood. All Jewish Mischlinge,
however, would continue to be subject to the existing anti-Jewish measures. Jews living in
mixed marriages would be forced to divorce and, once deprived of their privileged status, then
would be deported.

The original of the rst version of the Master Plan East, drafted by the RSHA, has not been preserved.
According to the second version, prepared in May 1942 by the ofce of the RKF and the RSHA, 31
million people were to be moved out of the occupied eastern territories to be used for forced labor or to
be exterminated, and the rest of the population around 14 million people were to be Germanized.
The plan was not carried out in this form, of course, but it had considerable inuence on occupation policies.
See Gtz Aly and Susanne Heim, Vordenker der Vernichtung. Auschwitz und die deutschen Plne fr eine
neue europische Ordnung (Frankfurt am Main: Hoffmann und Campe, 1993), 394440; Czesaw Madajczyk, ed., Vom Generalplan Ost zum Generalsiedlungsplan. Dokumente (Munich: Saur, 1994); Heinemann,
Rasse, Siedlung, deutsches Blut, pp. 359372.
14
Ibid, p. 618.
15
Hilberg, Vernichtung, p. 443f.
13

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For various reasons, these plans were not put into effect before the wars end.16 In late 1942
and early 1943, of course, it was not yet known that the radical solution discussed in October 1942
would more or less come to nothing. At that time, only around 51,000 German Jews a small
percentage of a population that had previously numbered 500,000 were still living in the
Reich, and Himmler assumed that the deportations and mass sterilizations still pending could
be implemented both practically and politically.17
The decisions reached at the RKPA on 15 January 1943 regarding the further handling of the
remaining Gypsies in the Reich following the deportations also included a policy of splitting up
and isolating this group, an approach based on sterilization and intended to cause those of mixed
ancestry, the Mischlinge, to disappear. The size of the group and its genetic rating had been painstakingly ascertained by the RHF in previous years. By its account, the RHF had collected data on
exactly 28,607 persons in the territory of the Reich and prepared evaluations of 18,904 of them by
November 1942. Accordingly, 1079 were classied as full Gypsies, 1017 as Lalleri, 1585 as
Roma, 211 as Balkan Gypsies, and 2652 as non-Gypsies. The largest category consisted of
12,360 persons dened as Gypsy Mischlinge.18
The course for the treatment of the various categories had already been set. Unless already
deported in 1938 or 1940, a small number of full Gypsies and Lalleri were to receive special
status as racially pure Gypsies. All Roma, Balkan Gypsies and the vast majority of Mischlinge
were to be deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Differentiation within these groups resulted from the
classication by the RHF, which ascribed characteristic properties to each of the different strains
within the Gypsy population.19 In contrast to the racial classication of Jews, within which

16

The group scheduled for sterilization, around 64,000 persons in all, was so large that implementation of this
plan in wartime seemed impractical, both medically and administratively. In addition, large-scale protests on
the part of those concerned and their relatives were anticipated and would have destabilized the domestic
political situation and possibly posed a threat to the overall project of the extermination of Europes Jews.
For the same reasons, there was a retreat from across-the-board compulsory divorce and deportation of
the approximately 17,000 Jews living in mixed marriages in the Old Reich at the end of 1942. Both
groups were nonetheless subject to intense pressure from measures of persecution, culminating in deportations. See Hilberg, Vernichtung, pp. 443449; Heinemann, Rasse, Siedlung, deutsches Blut, pp. 544559;
Roseman, Wannsee-Konferenz, pp. 114119; Cornelia Essner, Die Nrnberger Gesetze oder die Verwaltung des Rassenwahns 1933-1945 (Paderborn: Schningh, 2002), pp. 410442; Wildt, Generation, pp. 627
642; Beate Meyer, Jdische Mischlinge. Rassenpolitik und Verfolgungserfahrung 1933-1945, Studien zur
jdischen Geschichte, vol. 6 (Hamburg; Dlling und Galitz, 1999), pp. 98f., 162358. Plans to complete the
deportation of all Jews living in mixed marriages, in accordance with the order issued on 15 January 1945,
were thwarted by Germanys capitulation soon thereafter. See Wolf Gruner, Von der Kollektivausweisung
zur Deportation der Juden, in Die Deportation der Juden aus Deutschland. Plne-Praxis-Reaktionen 19381945, Beitrge zur Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus 20 (Gttingen: Wallstein, 2004), pp. 2162, here
p. 59.
17
Figures based on Gruner, Von der Kollektivausweisung, p. 58. Starting in 1937, Himmler considered the
idea of having inferior persons sterilized, and from 1940 on he instructed physicians to search for ways of
performing mass sterilizations. Shortly thereafter, sterilization experiments in concentration camps were
launched. See Gisela Bock, Zwangssterilisation im Nationalsozialismus (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag,
1986), 452456. Shortly before the third Final Solution conference, Himmler was informed that such a
method had been found. See Hilberg, Vernichtung, p. 444.
18
Historisches zur Zigeunerfrage, Bundesarchiv Berlin (BA Berlin), Zsg 142, Anh. 27; also, Luchterhandt,
Weg, p. 235f.
19
Robert Ritter, Die Zigeunerfrage und das Zigeunerbastardproblem, Fortschritte der Erbpathologie, Rassenhygiene und ihrer Grenzgebiete 3 (Leipzig: Thieme Verlag, 1939), pp. 220; Robert Ritter, Die Bestandsaufnahme der Zigeuner und Zigeunermischlinge in Deutschland, Der ffentliche Gesundheitsdienst 6B
(1940/41), pp. 477489. The Rom, for example, were regarded as a small, quite dangerous group who
lived only off scams and cunning rackets and made a decidedly Jewish impression. See Eva Justin,
Die Rom-Zigeuner, Neues Volk. Bltter des rassenpolitischen Amtes der NSDAP 11: 5 (July 1943),

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Mischlinge were ranked higher in the racial hierarchy, Ritter also had dened Gypsy Mischlinge
in particular as especially inferior and antisocial. Across the board, more than 90% of all
Gypsies living in the Reich were pronounced Mischlinge. Therefore, for him, the Gypsy question
[was] very predominantly a Mischling problem.20 According to a grid based on blood percentages, someone was regarded as a Gypsy Mischling if he or she had even one or two grandparents
who each were one-quarter Gypsy by blood. Only people with at least three grandparents classied as full Gypsies were classied as Gypsies.21
Against this backdrop, one can also understand why the meeting in January 1943 dealt exclusively with the treatment of the remaining Gypsy Mischlinge in the Reich. Participants reached an
agreement that sterilization would be aimed for in the following cases: (1) all Gypsy Mischlinge
with predominantly German blood and all Gypsy Mischlinge with equal shares of Gypsy and
non-Gypsy blood; (2) legally married Gypsy Mischlinge with predominantly non-Gypsy
blood and their children; and (3) Gypsy Mischlinge with predominantly non-Gypsy blood
who were legally married to spouses of German blood and their children, provided they also
were deemed Gypsy Mischlinge with predominantly non-Gypsy blood. A fourth category of
Gypsies was to be Germanized: Gypsy Mischlinge with predominantly non-Gypsy blood
who were legally married to spouses of German blood, provided their children were deemed
non-Gypsies and their genotype [was] good.22
For the performance of the sterilization, those concerned were to submit a declaration of
consent. If they refused to do so, ofcials were to look into whether they too [were] to be
placed in a concentration camp. After sterilization took place, the RHF was to present new evaluations with the category non-Gypsy. These individuals were to be excluded from regulations
applying to Gypsies and treated by the police as persons of German blood, although they
were classied as genetically impaired. This categorization left them subject to bans on marriage
and deemed unable to be Germanized, which meant that their legal status remained limited. The
Germanization of the fourth category was to be promoted by the RuSHA and the RHF, with the
nal decision about each individual to be made in joint discussions in the RKPA. For special situations not covered by regulations, the RKPA reserved the right to make decisions on a case-bycase basis.23
The second group of topics addressed in the meeting dealt with the question of how Gypsy
Mischlinge were to be treated with regard to inclusion in the German Peoples List (Deutsche
Volksliste). Because the provisions of the Decree of 4 March 1941 concerning the German
Peoples List and German Citizenship in the Incorporated Eastern Territories barred Gypsies
from inclusion but did not explicitly mention Gypsy Mischlinge, it was assumed that the inclusion
of Mischlinge had already been achieved. In the January 1943 meeting, participants agreed upon a
procedure designed to avoid such instances in the future: The Germanization commissions of
the RuSHA, with the involvement of SD Department III, were to make sure that only the

pp. 2124. The members of Gypsy clans of Balkan origin, not of German blood were families that had
migrated to Germany from the Ottoman Empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, some
of whom repeatedly attracted attention as bear trainers with their small circuses. See Karola Fings,
Gehetzt wie Tiere: Sinti und Roma in der Region Aachen 1900 bis 1945, Zeitschrift des Aachener
Geschichtsvereins 106 (2004), pp. 354388, here p. 379f.
20
Ritter, Zigeunerfrage, p. 19.
21
See the table showing blood percentages, broken down into 34 groups, in BA Berlin, R 165/181; reproduced in Fings and Sparing, Rassismus, p. 136.
22
The following is based on the record of the meeting published in Hohmann, Robert Ritter, pp. 7577.
23
This passage suggests that the number of special cases not covered by regulations was considered to be
small.

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above-mentioned fourth category was in line for inclusion, and then only under a legally restricted
status with revocation possible at any time.24
On 29 January 1943, the RKPA issued more precise instructions to district ofces of the Criminal Police (Kripo), as well as to all relevant ofces of the SS, NSDAP and SD. These were concerned with the categories of people to be deported pursuant to the decree of 16 December 1942.25
Regardless of the degree of the particular Mischling, all Gypsy Mischlinge, Roma Gypsies and
Balkan Gypsies were to be placed indeported to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The following categories were excluded from deportation: (1) racially pure Sinti and Lalleri
Gypsies; (2) Gypsy Mischlinge who are good Mischlinge in the Gypsy sense and (...) are
added to individual racially pure Sinti Gypsy clans and to Lalleri Gypsy clans deemed to be racially
pure; (3) Gypsy-like persons who are married to persons of German blood; (4) socially integrated
Gypsy-like persons who already had stable employment and a xed residence before the general
registration of the Gypsies; (5) Gypsy-like persons who are exempted from the regulations applying to Gypsies by order of the Reich Criminal Police Department; (6) Gypsy-like persons who are
still in military service or were discharged from military service during the current war after being
injured or decorated; (7) Gypsy-like persons whose removal from work deployment is declined by
the relevant Armament Inspectorate or by the Labor Ofce because of the importance of this work
to the war effort; (8) spouses and the dependent children of the Gypsy-like persons listed above
under 3-7; (9) Gypsy-like persons whose placement in the Gypsy camp is to be suspended for the
time being for special reasons, in the opinion of the relevant Kripo district ofce; and (10) Gypsylike persons who can prove possession of foreign citizenship.
If these criteria for exemption are understood as part of a consistent selection strategy, it
becomes clear that all suggestions of the institutions vitally concerned with the Gypsy question
had some inuence. Ritters breakdown and construction of a hierarchy of Gypsy groups
served as a basis for the decree, which particularly seized upon his separation of genuine
Gypsy clans from especially maligned clans and Gypsy Mischlinge, and his long-standing
appeal for sterilization.26 Further, the decree reects the notion of the presence of Aryan residues
among Gypsies, an idea allegedly inuenced by the SS think tank, the Ahnenerbe (Research and
Teaching Community the Ancestral Heritage, Forschungs- und Lehrgemeinschaft das Ahnenerbe
e.V.). As a result, a group of racially pure Gypsies was to be exempted from deportation. Also
taken into account, however, was the desire of the Wehrmacht not to further diminish the strength
of its manpower and to continue its protection of highly regarded war invalids and decorated

Cited from Hohmann, Ritter, p. 77. See also Reichsgesetzblatt, part I, 1941, p. 118, Verordnung ber die
deutsche Volksliste und die deutsche Staatsangehrigkeit in den eingegliederten Ostgebieten, March 4,
1941, and Ibid., part I, 1942, p. 51f., Zweite Verordnung ber die Deutsche Volksliste und die deutsche
Staatsangehrigkeit in den eingegliederten Ostgebieten, Jan. 31, 1942. In NS-Volkstumspolitik und die
Neuordnung Europas. Rassenpolitische Selektion der Einwandererzentralstelle des Chefs der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD (1939-1945) (Paderborn: Schningh Paderborn, 2011), Andreas Strippel does not examine
the selection process with regard to Gypsies and makes no mention of the conference on 15 January 1943 or
of Ehlichs participation in it. Strippel states that there was unanimity concerning the selection of Jews and
Gypsies on the basis of race policies, but that the exclusion of Gypsies in the practices of the Central Immigration Ofce (Einwandererzentralstelle) played no role. See also p. 328. Ehlichs concern with this subject,
however, suggests that further empirical studies are needed.
25
Schnellbrief des RKPA betr. Einweisung von Zigeunermischlingen, Rom-Zigeunern und balkanischen
Zigeunern in ein Konzentrationslager, Jan. 29, 1943, IfZ, Dc. 17.02, fols. 322327.
26
On the ideas of the future Gypsy policy at the RHF, see also the text written by Eva Justin, dated November 1942, which is titled Vorschlge vom RKPA an RF [Suggestions from the RKPA to RF] (another possible reading is to dF [an dF], that is, to Adolf Hitler), BA, Zsg 142/22, reproduced in part in
Luchterhandt, Weg, p. 238f.
24

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K. Fings

soldiers. Finally, the RKPA reserved the right to decide on deportation exemptions on a case-bycase basis. The exclusion criteria for Gypsies working in factories vital to the war effort and for
Gypsies holding and demonstrating foreign citizenship indicate that protests originating in the
armament industry or with the Labor Ofce were as much to be avoided as diplomatic imbroglios
with friendly or neutral states. Here too, the Germans had learned lessons from their experiences
during the deportation of the Jewish population.27
The detailed exemption regulations nonetheless left local Kripo detectives a wide margin of
discretion, as they uniformly applied only to people who neither had a long criminal record nor
were to be viewed as roaming Gypsies. Of central importance, however, is the fact that all of
those excluded from deportation of age 12 and above in groups (3) to (9) that is, all but the
so-called racially pure Gypsies and the foreign nationals were to be sterilized. Here, the
results of the meeting on 15 January 1943, found direct expression.
To assess the relative importance of the meeting, however, a closer look at the deportation
plans and their concrete execution is required. Before deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau
began in March 1943, the RKPA and the RHF the institutions concerned with National Socialist
policies toward the Gypsies separated the Gypsies living in the Reich into three categories: (1)
those to be deported to Auschwitz, (2) those to remain behind and undergo sterilization, and (3)
the so-called racially pure Gypsies.
In the portrayal of the persecution of the Gypsies in the territory of the Reich, deportation to
Auschwitz has special signicance because it is generally considered to be the beginning of a systematic, planned, or factory-like mass murder, especially in the numerous studies on local and
regional history.28 Emphasis placed on these adjectives indicates a metadiscourse that apparently
refers to the quality of the genocide of the Sinti and Roma. On the other hand, publications
received by the public at large placed special emphasis on the quantitative extent of the persecution.
In the process, exceedingly problematic statements have been made and are supported by the
decrees issued in the context of the deportations and by the gures circulating in various institutions
regarding the Gypsy groups living in the German Reich. Thus, in Yehuda Bauers essay on Zigeuner [Gypsies] in the Enzyklopdie des Holocaust one nds the assertion that about 14,000 of the
37,000 Gypsies registered in the German Reich (including Austria) were classied as racially pure
or almost racially pure Gypsies and were therefore, in most cases, spared from measures of persecution.29 Guenter Lewy even goes so far as to claim that a substantial number of the Gypsies
living in the Reich, perhaps even a majority, were able to escape deportation.30
27
In carrying out the deportations of the Jewish population from the Reich, ofcials had learned to select
these groups in a graduated process. See Hilberg, Vernichtung, pp. 459468.
28
In fact, this applies only to the Old Reich and, with restrictions, to post-Anschluss Austria; in the occupied
countries, no complete census of all Gypsies was sought, no racial biological examinations were undertaken,
and no evaluations by experts were prepared. Targeted killings of Roma took place in the occupied
countries, especially in southeastern Europe, long before the deportation of the German Reichs Gypsies
to Auschwitz. As early as November 1941, 5007 Austrian Gypsies were deported to the Litzmannstadt
(d) ghetto, and in early January 1942 they were killed in gas vans in the Kulmhof (Chemno) extermination camp. On persecution in occupied Europe, see Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, pp. 231292, on Litzmannstadt, pp. 223228. On the Soviet Union, see: Martin Holler, Der nationalsozialistische Vlkermord an den
Roma in der besetzten Sowjetunion (1941-1944) (Heidelberg: Heidelberg Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Dt. Sinti und Roma, 2009).
29
Yehuda Bauer, Zigeuner, in Eberhard Jckel, Peter Longerich, and Julius H. Schoeps, (eds.), Enzyklopdie des Holocaust. Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europischen Juden, vol. 3 (Berlin: Argon, 1993),
pp. 16301634, here pp. 1632, 1634.
30
Guenter Lewy, Rckkehr nicht erwnscht. Die Verfolgung der Zigeuner im Dritten Reich (Munich and
Berlin, 2001), pp. 251, 374; also in Guenter Lewy, Himmler and the Racially Pure Gypsies, Journal of
Contemporary History 34 (1999), pp. 201214, here p. 210.

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Such statements are problematic not only because they suggest that persecution was random,
selective or sloppily carried out. They also assign Gypsies intentionally or not a lower rank in
an imagined hierarchy of victims. Further, they are problematic because they are based on questionable numbers and, moreover, they mistakenly equate the statutory position with actual practice. As will be shown, incorrect assumptions about the percentage of Gypsies who escaped
deportation to Auschwitz were the basis of controversy between Yehuda Bauer and Sybil
Milton as well as Romani Rose with regard to the politics of memory.31
A scientically sound assessment of the practice of persecution, however, is only possible
against the backdrop of empirically supported data. The number of victims among the Roma
in occupied eastern and southeastern Europe will probably never be accurately quantiable.32
But for the territory of the Reich, a very few collections including Gypsy les from former
Kripo district ofces have survived, and they do indeed enable us to make representative statements. In addition to some fragmentary collections,33 one can mention the 174 individual
les (Personenakten) of the former Berlin Agency for Gypsy Affairs (Dienststelle fr Zigeunerfragen) and almost 600 les from the former Magdeburg branch of the same agency.34
The largest surviving collection of les about the Gypsy population 810 Zigeunerpersonenakten in total is for the area of the former Cologne district ofce of the Kripo, whose authority
extended to the city of Cologne and the administrative districts of Aachen, Coblenz, Cologne and
Trier.35 With the aid of these les and additional research, 1600 persons registered as Gypsies and
affected by persecution measures could be identied.36 Thus, it is possible to gather more precise
information about the history of the persecution of people registered as Gypsies for one of the 17
Kripo district ofces that existed in the Reich in 1940. Decisions made in the context of deportation to Auschwitz, as well as their consequences for the individuals affected, can be assessed on a

Correspondence: Yehuda Bauer and Sybil Milton, Gypsies and the Holocaust, The History Teacher 25: 4
(Aug. 1992), pp. 513521; Romani Rose, Fr beide galt damals der gleiche Befehl. Eine Entgegnung auf
Yehuda Bauers Thesen zum Genozid an den europischen Juden, Sinti und Roma, Bltter fr deutsche und
internationale Politik 4 (1998), pp. 467472; Yehuda Bauer, Es galt nicht der gleiche Befehl fr beide. Eine
Entgegnung auf Romani Roses Thesen zum Genozid an den europischen Juden, Sinti und Roma, Bltter
fr deutsche und internationale Politik 11 (1998), pp. 13801387.
32
For many of these countries there are no gures or, at best only tentative ones, because the victims either
were not registered or, as in the case of many Roma, fell victim to massacre without having been previously
registered as Gypsies. For a cautious provisional appraisal of the state of knowledge as of the mid-1990s, see
Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, pp. 381383; Donald Kenrick and Grattan Puxon, in Gypsies under the Swastika (Hateld: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2009), p. 153, proceed on the assumption of 200,000 Roma
murdered in the parts of Europe under National Socialist occupation and numerous unreported cases, difcult
to quantify, but they distance themselves from their earlier estimate of 500,000 victims.
33
Two les on individual Gypsies from Paderborn (Kreispolizeibehrde Paderborn, nos. 3, 4, Staatsarchiv
Detmold, D 2 C), 14 archival units from Nuremberg (Akten der Kriminalpolizeistelle Nrnberg, Erfassung
von Zigeunern 19391944, Staatsarchiv Nrnberg, Rep. 218/4), 30 individual les from the Duisburg
Kripo (Polizeiprsidium Duisburg, Zigeunerpersonenakten, Landesarchiv Nordrhein-Westfalen, Hauptstaatsarchiv Dsseldorf, BR 1111/29-60). On Duisburg, see: Marc von Lpke-Schwarz, Zigeunerfrei!
Die Duisburger Kriminalpolizei und die Verfolgung von Sinti und Roma 1939-1944 (Saarbrcken: VDM
Verlag, 2008).
34
Polizeiprsidium Berlin, Anhang II: Zigeuner-Personenakten, nos. 1174, LHA Potsdam, Rep. 30 Berlin
C Tit 198 A; Polizeiprsidium Magdeburg, Anhang II.1, LHA Magdeburg, Rep. C 29. While the Berlin
les were consulted by Lucherhandt, Weg, a full assessment of the Magdeburg holdings has not yet been
made.
35
LAV NRW, Abt. R, BR 2034.
36
The les were a major source for Fings and Sparing, Rassismus, Lager, Vlkermord, pp. 1520, where an
exact description of the holdings can be found.
31

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statistically representative basis for the German Reich for the rst time. With the aid of the
Cologne database, following is a closer examination of two groups that are repeatedly causes
for speculation. They are the so-called racially pure Gypsies, and those who were not
deported because of the Auschwitz Decrees exemption clauses. In conclusion, the signicance
of the January meeting for the persecution process is summarized and assessed against this
backdrop.

Gypsy chiefs
Until now, current scholarship has assumed that the Ahnenerbe Ofce of the SS ordered deportation to Auschwitz. This organization emerged in September 1942 as a competitor of the RKPA
and the RHF. By order of Himmler, it sought to identify the supposedly racially pure Gypsies
who originated in India and to investigate their Aryan roots, all with the aim of granting
them limited freedom of movement.37 Opposition to such plans arose in the RKPA, which was
averse to granting Gypsies any freedom of movement at all, and in the RHF, which feared for
its status as sole authority on the terms of the discourse. Nonetheless, as prompted by Himmler
in September, the head of the RKPA, SS-Gruppenfhrer Arthur Nebe, issued a decree as early
as 13 October 1942, with the assistance of the Reich Central Ofce for Combating the Gypsy
Menace and the RHF. For the territory of the Old Reich, nine spokesmen were appointed,
also termed Gypsy chiefs in the language of the decree. Their task was to designate racially
pure Gypsies.38 The RHF made the nominations for the appointment of Gypsy spokesmen,39
and selected older men held in high esteem in their extended families to be leaders and authorities
(Rechtsprecher).40
Somewhat later, in early November 1942, Himmler instructed the Reich Central Ofce to
reorganize the treatment of the Gypsies in the Reich.41 On 3 December 1942, the head of the
NSDAP Party Chancellery Martin Bormann lodged a protest with Himmler because special treatment of the so-called racially pure Gypsies would run counter to previous policy, as well as to the
views of the population and the NSDAP, and would under no circumstances meet with Hitlers
approval.42 Himmler managed to speedily rebut this objection. The subsequent operating procedure was agreed upon after talks between entities involved and after Himmlers meetings
37
On the decision process, see Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, pp. 297304; Michael Zimmermann, Die
Entscheidungen fr ein Zigeunerlager in Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Zimmermann, Zwischen Erziehung und
Vernichtung, pp. 392424; Luchterhandt, Weg, pp. 235242. Both Zimmermann and Luchterhandt
assume that it was as a result of the instructions to the Ahnenerbe and deliberations regarding separate treatment of racially pure Gypsies that planning for deportation of the other Gypsies got started in the rst place.
38
RSHA (RKPA) betr. Zigeunerhuptlinge, Oct. 13, 1942, IfZ, Dc. 17.02, fol. 306f.
39
See the text written by Eva Justin to exonerate herself, prepared in 1960 at the latest, reproduced in
Hohmann, Robert Ritter, pp. 469500, here p. 497.
40
The social structures of the Sinti, however, never corresponded to the communal life in clans delineated
by Ritter. See Reimar Gilsenbach, Oh Django, Sing deinen Zorn. Sinti und Roma unter den Deutschen
(Berlin: BasisDruck, 1993), p. 150.
41
On 4 November 1942, Bhlhoff and Otto mentioned a corresponding instruction from Himmler. See the
note by an ofcial in charge at the Reich Ministry for Food Supply and Agriculture (Reichsministerium fr
Ernhrung und Landwirtschaft), dated Nov. 14, 1942, BA Berlin, R 14/156, cited from Luchterhandt, Weg,
p. 239. See also pp. 237239, and Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, p. 299.
42
Martin Bormann to Heinrich Himmler, Dec. 3, 1942, BA Berlin, NS 19/180, fol. 1f. Michael Schenk, Rassismus gegen Sinti und Roma. Zur Kontinuitt der Zigeunerverfolgung innerhalb der deutschen Gesellschaft
von der Weimarer Republik bis in die Gegenwart, Studien zur Tsiganologie und Folkloristik, vol. 11 (Frankfurt am Main: P. Lang, 1994), p. 268, correctly points out that Bormann, in his objections on 3 December
1942, could invoke only statements by third parties.

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with Hitler and Bormann.43 A small, handpicked group of racially pure Gypsies, as well as a few
Gypsy Mischlinge, were to be allowed to live with strict regulation in an area yet to be determined in occupied territory. The great majority of the Gypsies, however, were to be deported.
This restrictive handling was in complete conformity with the line taken by the RKPA and the
RHF, which wanted to keep the number of exemptions low from the outset. In summer 1942
Ritter had estimated the number of tribally authentic Gypsies in the German Reich to be
barely one hundred families.44
The parameters of the activities of the appointed Gypsy spokesmen were narrowly dened.
They rst had to sign a statement declaring their agreement with the actions expected of them
and acknowledging the threat of deportation to a concentration camp if they or a clansman
violated any of the provisions. Their primary task was to compile lists for the RKPA, giving
information about the residence and occupation of all Gypsies known to them. At the same
time, they had to suggest who, as good Mischlinge in the Gypsy sense, would be
potential candidates for admission to the group of racially pure Gypsies.45 In addition
to this direct preliminary work, which implied the creation of a kind of involuntary body
of informers within the minority,46 the RKPA expected a disciplining inuence on the
Gypsies.47
By taking on these obligations, the spokesmen entered into an alliance with their persecutors
that they found difcult to comprehend and ultimately threatening. Since 1938, they had forcibly
experienced the Kripos immediate penalization for perceived and actual infractions with deportation to a concentration camp. Because the Gypsy spokesmen risked their lives by pledging that
those they recommended would comply with the Kripo-specied measures despite oppressive
living conditions, the Nazis anticipated that the Gypsy leaders would limit proposals to their
closest family circle. Punishments for violating Kripo dictates included the separation of families
through the decree limiting their mobility (Festsetzungserlass) and through deportation, prohibitions on relations, restrictions on mobility that went as far as compulsory internment in camps,
forced labor, reductions in food rations and exclusion from social welfare benets. As the
Cologne les on the Gypsy population reveal, ultimately only six families from the urban
region, comprising 24 persons, as well as one man from Trier, were actually placed formally
among the ethnic group of racially pure Gypsies.48
In contrast to the 25 people classied as racially pure and spared from deportation, more than
463 were deported to Auschwitz from the area of the Kripos Cologne district ofce starting in
March 1943.49 In other district ofce areas, the number in the racially pure category is likely
to have been similarly low and the kinship afliation with the Gypsy spokesmen similarly
close. At Berlins Marzahn internment camp, apart from the two Gypsy spokesmen in addition

43

Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, p. 300f.


Das Zigeunersippenarchiv, Westdeutscher Beobachter, June 20, 1942.
45
RSHA (RKPA) betr. Zigeunerhuptlinge, Oct. 13, 1942, IfZ, Dc. 17.02, fol. 307f. See also Luchterhandt,
Weg, p. 236.
46
Udo Engbring-Romang, Die Verfolgung der Sinti und Roma in Hessen zwischen 1870 und 1950 (Frankfurt
am Main: Brandes & Apsel Verlag GmbH, 2001), p. 333.
47
See the opening negotiations in RSHA (Amt V), betr. Zigeunerhuptlinge, Oct. 13, 1942, IfZ, Dc. 17.02,
fols. 305307, here fol. 307. For an example of supervision of regular work delegated by the Kripo district
ofce in Berlin to the Gypsy spokesmen of the Lalleri, see Lewy, Verfolgung, p. 305.
48
LAV NRW, Abt. R, BR 203/2, 3, 72, 73, 116121, 123, 130, 131, 188, 900904, 951, 1168, 1180, 1194.
On the activities of the two successively appointed Cologne Gypsy spokesmen, see: Fings and Sparing, Rassismus, pp. 292297.
49
Of that number, 374 in the context of the mass deportations in spring 1943, and 89 in the course of individual deportations. See ibid., p. 307.
44

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K. Fings

to the spokesman for the Sinti, there was also a Reich-wide spokesman appointed for the Lalleri
only a good two dozen of their closest relatives were selected for this group. For Berlin overall,
only 37 exceptions in total are documented.50
Because Kripo ofces and the RKPA reviewed every individual application for admission in
advance, the Kripo carried the greatest weight in the selection process for the group of racially
pure Gypsies. The Gypsy spokesmen had real discretionary authority only when it came to
assenting to the admission of a person selected by the Kripo.51 Operating on the assumption
that all nine Gypsy spokesman chose or could choose only their close relatives, then at most
200 to 300 people within the Reich escaped deportation to Auschwitz as a result of these exemption regulations.52
From the RKPAs perspective, the Gypsy chiefs were a component of the selection
process for Auschwitz; a tiny group received an alleged status of privilege, while the vast
majority of the population was to be deported or sterilized. Once completed, the appointment
of spokesmen would not only yield relatively small frictional losses for the persecuting authorities, but further served these entities interests by separating the group of Sinti and Roma
still remaining in the Reich. The Gypsy spokesmen were inevitably integrated into the persecution apparatus because of their enforced proximity to the persecutors, their active information-gathering for the Nazi authorities and the imposition of full responsibility for
appropriate social behavior on the part of their entire group. Even their hopes of being able
to protect themselves and others from deportation proved deceptive for the most part, and
the effort to save their closest family members inevitably resulted in the exclusion of
others.53 The delegation of selection and control functions to the Gypsy spokesmen is
similar to the Gestapos involvement of Jewish representatives of traditionally established or
forcibly created communities.54 Both the Gypsy and the Jewish representatives had only
minimal scope for action, and in the end they nevertheless contributed to the smooth operation
of the persecution process.55
Himmlers declaration that racially pure Sinti Gypsies would be allowed a certain freedom of
movement, so that they can roam in a xed area, live according to their customs and mores, and

50

See Gilsenbach, Sinti, p. 151f.; and Luchterhandt, Weg, p. 242.


In the individual les in Cologne, only one case is documented in which the Gypsy spokesman refused to
admit a man. LAV NRW, Abt. R, BR 2034/133. In this decision, pressure apparently had been put on R. by
the district ofce. There would have been no doubt that severe sanctions would have been imposed on R. as
well, in the event of any misconduct by the man. See, on the other hand, the presentation of the case in Lewy,
Himmler, p. 212. In addition, those concerned could not lose sight of the fact that admission into the group of
racially pure Gypsies could have positive or negative effects on their living situation. Further, one must not
forget that the categorization undertaken by the RHF is by no means to be equated with the categories
assigned by those concerned. In this respect, it is not at all surprising if those concerned insisted that they
were not racially pure Gypsies.
52
Gilsenbach, Sinti, p. 153. This estimate is the basis for the assumption, veried for Berlin and Cologne, that
along with each Gypsy spokesman, around 2030 people were selected for the group of racially pure
Gypsies.
53
Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, p. 302; Engbring-Romang, Verfolgung, p. 330.
54
See Hilberg, Vernichtung, pp. 189196 (Reich Association), 227251 (Jewish councils, or Judenrte, in
ghettos); Beate Meyer, Tdliche Gratwanderung die Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland
zwischen Hoffnung, Zwang, Selbstbehauptung und Verstrickung (1939-1945) (Gttingen: Wallstein,
2011); Beate Meyer, Handlungsspielrume regionaler jdischer Reprsentanten (1941-1945). Die Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland und die Deportationen, in Die Deportation der Juden aus Deutschland. Plne-Praxis-Reaktionen 1938-1945, Beitrge zur Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus, vol. 20
(Gttingen: Wallstein, 2004), pp. 6385.
55
Meyer, Handungsspielrume, pp. 63f., 84f.
51

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pursue a characteristic occupation,56 was never enforced. The notions of the Gypsies purported
Aryan roots absurd ideas in light of the previous race policies were much discussed in the corridors of the ministries. They resulted in a temporary halt of plans, including the sending of judicial
prisoners to concentration camps, and unnerved a few underlings57 but, in the end, were not further
pursued. The executive director of the Ahnenerbe, Wolfram Sievers, indeed met with Arthur Nebe
in the RKPA on 10 February 1943 to deal with the question of the settlement of the racially pure
Gypsies,58 but a special directive on the treatment of the pure Gypsies heralded in October 1942
was not forthcoming. During the entire undertaking, no signicant relief emerged for the Sinti
Gypsies, said Eva Justin after the war. After a few months nobody talked about it anymore.59
Until the wars end, the supposedly privileged group remained subject to the rigid special law
(Sonderrecht), as well as to the forced labor system and the constant threat of deportation.

Mixed marriages and forced sterilizations


Next, we will look at the example of the group of those not deported to Auschwitz from Cologne.
This groups size, composition and the practices of persecuting authorities with regard to the
group will be examined.
Gypsy-like Persons Registered in the Area of the Cologne Kripo Ofce, 1943194560
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)

Category
Failed deportations
Registered as Yeniche (Jenische) or traveling performers
As racially pure Gypsies, exempt from deportation
Excluded from deportation on the basis of other exemption clauses
Families in which one parent is deemed to be of German blood
Total

Number of persons
25
30
25
43
225
348

The exclusion from deportation of what at rst glance seems a large group 348 people by
no means indicates anything arbitrary about measures of persecution. Rather, in each case reasons
exist that are attributable to the scope of the decree and the specic local situation. The case of the
rst group of failed deportations (a) included two individuals and three families, the deportation of
whom was scheduled but for various reasons could not be carried out before the war ended.
Specically, their foreign citizenship could be proven, a proceeding to determine their citizenship
was pending, or documents regarding ancestry were otherwise lacking.61 Ultimately, the advance
of the Allied troops and the liberation of Aachen in October 1944 also put a halt to the bureaucratic preparations for the deportation of these families living in the western part of the area under
the authority of the Kripos Cologne district ofce.
56

IfZ, Dc. 17.02, fol. 306.


On 14 December 1942, Bormann placed a temporary moratorium on the sending of Gypsies from the judicial system to concentration camps, a procedure initially ordered on 14 September 1942. See Luchterhandt,
Weg, p. 240. Rudolf H, camp commandant at Auschwitz, also seemed unnerved; in April 1943, because
Himmler is planning something special with the Gypsies, he asked the SS Economic and Administrative
Main Ofce (SS-Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt) to supply better provisions for pregnant Gypsy
women and their small children. See SS-WVHA (Oswald Pohl) to Personal Staff RFSS (Brandt), April 9,
1943, BA Berlin, NS 19/180, fol. 3.
58
Luchterhandt, Weg, p. 245.
59
Text written by Eva Justin to exonerate herself, prepared no later than 1960, reproduced in Hohmann,
Ritter, pp. 469500, here p. 498.
60
Evidence for the individual groups: see the following text.
61
On the individual cases, see Fings and Sparing, Rassismus, p. 332f.
57

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K. Fings

In addition to Yeniche or traveling performers (b), who were classied as non-Gypsies,62 the
small group (c) of racially pure Gypsies was also spared from deportation. For the next group
spared via other exemption clauses (d), references to specic reasons for the postponement of
deportation also exist. Twelve persons from this groups family milieu were effectively treated
as racially pure Gypsies, but apparently without formal assignment to that category by the
Cologne district ofce.63 In this case, the Kripo detective in charge seemingly made use of his
discretionary powers, as in the case of a family of 11, which was not scheduled for deportation
because of the social adaptation of its members. The rationale supplied to the RKPA by the
Cologne district ofce was that the family had resided in Cologne since 1930 and thus far had
not come into the picture as Gypsies. The father, born in 1904, had served in the Wehrmacht
and had been classied as a Gypsy in July 1941.64 The family was indeed not deported, but
also does not seem to have been exempted from Gypsy regulations.
In the case of Gustav F. from Aachen, a different provision applied. He had volunteered for
military service in 1938 and was not released from active duty in the Wehrmacht until 1942.
Because of his long years of service, he was not deported but he continued to be classied as
a Gypsy Mischling and was reported as such to the Labor Ofce.65 The last family, to which
yet another exception clause was applied, lived in the area of the Coblenz Kripo ofce. In
January 1943, an agreement to undergo sterilization had already been extorted from this large
family of 19, so that its members unlike many of their relatives were not deported.66
But the largest group (e) with 65 percent not deported to which an exception clause applied
was comprised of Gypsy-like persons who are legally married to persons of German blood, as
stated in the Auschwitz Decree.67 Until the end of the war, in the area for which the Cologne
Kripo district ofce was responsible, 48 families (225 persons) lived in a situation in which
one parent was deemed a Gypsy and the other a person of German blood.68 In view of the accelerated and usually successful segregation policy that the NSDAP Ofce of Racial Policy had practiced since the early 1940s,69 along with the Cologne Agency for Gypsy Affairs, the number of
more than 200 people still living in mixed-marriage families after the deportations to Auschwitz
62

This referred to six individuals and six families with two to seven members, who were registered with the
Kripo district ofce and were exempted in part from the requirements. See LAV NRW HSA, BR 2034/659
661, 682686, 792, 1139, 1152; ibid., Kartei: Anton, Eva, and Klara H., Nikolas M.; NS-Dok., Polizeiprsidium Kln, ED-Kartei: Johann L.; Gemeindearchiv Morsbach (GAMb), no. 1676; Mrkisches Museum
Witten, Sammlung Wlfrath 756/20; Landeshauptarchiv Koblenz (LHAK), 510,1/209, fol. 66f.; ibid.,
510,1/210, p. 173; ibid., 510,1/211, fol. 11.
63
LAV NRW, Abt. R, BR 2034/77, 110, 115, 124126, 128f., 132, 211, 938, 981.
64
Ibid., BR 2034/1002. The parents and other relatives of Mr. L. had already been deported in May 1940.
65
Ibid., BR 2034/14.
66
Ibid., BR 2034/1234, 12731290; LHAK, 517,1/210, fol. 131f.; ibid., 517,1/211, fol. 16.
67
IfZ, Dc. 17.02, fol. 323.
68
Cases identied in accordance with LAV NRW, Abt. R, BR 2034/4, 6, 11, 55, 5961, 70f., 75f., 91f., 94f.,
100, 105, 111114, 138, 161f., 168, 244, 272, 339, 345f., 353, 411, 416, 420, 431435, 455, 469, 495, 531f.,
552f., 560, 575, 600f., 608, 614, 627637, 655, 658, 668, 680, 687, 689691, 721723, 727, 739, 748, 751,
755757, 759768, 782, 787, 791, 793, 825, 830, 836, 872876, 882, 906, 945, 966f., 970, 982987, 991,
997, 1004, 1006, 10081011, 1049, 1052, 1070f., 10761078, 1117f., 11311134, 1138, 1154f., 11571161,
1163, 1181, 1190, 1195, 12001203, 1206, 12131221, 12451255, 1260f., 12641268, VH II/90; LHAK,
517,1/211; GAMb, no. 1676. For the assessment except in the cases of two extended families from Morsbach und Coblenz the classic nuclear family was used as the basis; that is, married couples or partners and
their children. Owing to gaps in the records, the total number of persons affected is presumably larger. Partners who were deemed to be of German blood were included as well, wherever possible. They were also
subjected to intense pressure through persecution, especially if they had children. Most of the families were
recorded in Cologne (22 families) and Coblenz (15); seven lived in Bonn, three in Aachen, and one in Trier.
69
Fings and Sparing, Rassismus, pp. 255263.

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may seem high. Analysis of the coverage dates, however, indicates that the Kripo district ofce in
Cologne was unaware of many of them until 1943. As a result of extensive inquiries or messages
from, for example, military reporting ofces or other Kripo (district) ofces, almost half went on
the record only after that point.70 The deportations in 1940 and 1943 primarily affected people
already known and registered as Gypsies for some time. Because of the genealogical investigations of the RHF, Gypsies lacking outward physical characteristics or stereotypical means
of earning a living and those who had been acculturated for one or more generations only gradually came to the Kripos attention as well.71
For 11 of the mixed-marriage families (39 people), the history of persecution could not be
claried because of unsatisfactory source material. For the remaining 37 families (186 people),
the persecution practiced on the basis of racial classication can be divided into two categories,
depending on whether the families were forcibly separated or were allowed to continue living
together. Fifteen families, of which only 42 persons remained, were separated by divorce, issuance of restrictions, and deportation; the children in these families were sterilized or institutionalized. Substantial pressure was applied in an attempt to break up the other 22 families (144 people)
as well, but separation was not enforced, because the male members of the families either had
served in the Wehrmacht for a long time or were still in active military service. Therefore,
racial and biological evaluations, some provisional, were prepared, and to some extent affected
those also temporarily exempted from the Gypsy regulations. This group too, however, was
threatened or affected by sterilization.72 There was a threat of placement in a concentration
camp, particularly if the husband was the partner not of German blood, and preparations for
deportation were made.73
The district ofce employed the sterilization clause of the Auschwitz Decree as its chief
means of exerting pressure. This provision applied to all partners or children not of
German blood, regardless of whether the marriage or relationship had already been disrupted
or not. As was customary from 1942, the persons concerned had to give consent to sterilization, as these extralegal sterilizations were supposed to be implemented through the Reichs
Committee for the Scientic Registration of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses
(Reichsausschuss zur wissenschaftlichen Erfassung von erb- und anlagebedingten schweren
Leiden). The district ofce asked the subordinate police ofces for such documents of
consent74 or summoned those concerned to the ofce to coerce them into issuing such
declarations.
Some agreed to undergo the procedure because the prospect of exemption from the
special law was reserved for those who had been sterilized. In many cases, however,
the Cologne district ofce failed due to the substantial resistance of those concerned. By
and large, active-duty Wehrmacht soldiers were best able to avoid forced divorces and the sterilization of their wives and children. By early summer the RKPA had been forced to soften its
sterilization policy. It recommended that a husband of German blood on furlough from a

70

Nineteen of 37 families whose history can be reconstructed went on the record only after March 1943. See,
for example, LAV NRW, Abt. R, BR 2034/608 (report of Dortmund Kripo ofce, May 1944), BR 2034/1133
(report of Dsseldorf Kripo district ofce, Nov. 1943); BR 2034/531 (exemption from Wehrmacht and
report, June 1944).
71
See also Robert Ritter to DFG, March 23, 1943, BA Berlin, R 73/14005. Ritter comments in the document
that the RHF continually uncovers mixtures between persons of German blood and Gypsies.
72
See the table in Fings and Sparing, Rassismus, p. 335, for a more detailed portrayal of different family
constellations.
73
LAV NRW, Abt. R, BR 2034/1190, 105.
74
Cologne KPLSt to OPB Morsbach, March 24,1943, GAMb, no. 1676.

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combat unit be informed in detail about the undesirable genetic makeup of his wife or children so that the parties in question would be sensible and consent to sterilization.75 To avoid
raising further concern, the evaluation practices of the RHF were aligned with this new course.
The children of soldiers of German blood were classied as non-Gypsies, to some extent by
way of provisional evaluations.76 In the few instances in which Gypsy Mischlinge were still
on active duty in 1944, they and their children were provisionally classied as non-Gypsies
because the authorities wanted to keep the men with their combat units. After the victory,
a decision was to be made on the next steps.77
An estimated total of 2000 Gypsies were forcibly sterilized in the German Reich pursuant to
the Auschwitz Decree.78 In Cologne, the disorganization of the Kripo district ofce due to the
war, the collapse of the Cologne health care system beginning in 1943, and the advance of the
American troops probably spared many at-risk families from sterilization. Bureaucratic delays
resulting from the subordination of the Kripos Coblenz and Trier ofces to the district ofce
in Frankfurt am Main on 1 June 1944 also most likely contributed to the failure of the intended
sterilizations, at least in some cases.79 Primarily, however, these plans failed because of the
dogged resistance of those concerned. They sought to delay surgery by ling petitions with
various Reich authorities or went into hiding amid the increasing confusion of the nal months
of war.80
Even though many planned sterilizations were not carried out, the RKPAs sterilization policy
for the most part followed the course agreed upon at the conference on 15 January 1943 until the
wars end. It had been decided at the conference that once sterilization was performed, the RHF
would prepare new evaluations for those affected, classifying them as non-Gypsies to exempt
them from the special law, while still retaining the prohibitions against marriage. From December 1944 at the latest, in such cases the RKPA operated with individual waivers,81 which effectively superseded previous racial and biological evaluations prepared by the RHF. The racial
classication now merged with the Kripos aim of producing an overall decision on the status
of those concerned.82 In no case, however, was Germanization, a measure also discussed at the
conference in January 1943, carried out.83

75

Ibid., RKPA to Cologne Kripo district ofce, June 1,1943. An identical letter, sent on May 28, 1943, to the
Dortmund Kripo ofce, appears in Hansjrg Riechert, Im Schatten von Auschwitz. Die nationalsozialistische
Sterilisationspolitik gegenber Sinti und Roma (Mnster and New York: Waxman, 1995), p. 117.
76
LAV NRW, Abt. R, BR 2034/689-91, 1070f., 1010f.
77
Ibid., BR 2034/100, 830, 836, 1157.
78
Riechert, Schatten, p. 135.
79
Polizeibehrden vor 1945, Nr. 38, Meldeblatt der KPLSt Kln Nr. 24, July 18, 1944, LAV NRW, Abt. R.
80
Additional examples in Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, p. 360f.; Hans Hesse and Jens Schreiber, Vom
Schlachthof nach Auschwitz. Die NS-Verfolgung der Sinti und Roma aus Bremen, Bremerhaven und Nordwestdeutschland (Marburg: Tectum Verlag, 1999), pp. 102104; Peter Sandner, Frankfurt, Auschwitz. Die
nationalsozialistische Verfolgung der Sinti und Roma in Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt am Main: Brandes
& Apsel, 1998), p. 228f. In general, after the war began, performance of sterilizations was to continue
only in cases of especially great danger of reproduction, owing to the workload of the health care
system. See Lewy, Verfolgung, p. 312. The priority assigned to the sterilization of Gypsies under these conditions is a topic that has yet to be researched on the basis of case studies. Riechert, Schatten, p. 119, assumes
that this priority remained high until the end of the war.
81
Example from Dec. 1, 1944, in Hesse and Schreiber, Schlachthof, p. 44. Hesse and Schreiber, ibid., pp. 45
48, interpret the document as an indication of a hitherto unknown decree. Facsimile of such a statement,
dated Jan. 2, 1945, in Lewy, Verfolgung, p. 309.
82
Ibid. The ve-gure number entered beneath the log number in the document could be the numbering customary in the evaluations.
83
Such a case is documented neither in the body of literature nor in the individual les in Cologne.

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In most cases, a nal decision on the subsequent treatment of those marked for deportation or
sterilization was postponed to an unspecied time after the war.84 Meanwhile, medical professionals in the concentration camps conducted experiments seeking to develop faster and
cheaper methods of sterilization. It was no accident that the last deportation to Auschwitz from
the area under the Cologne Kripo district ofce in April 1944 targeted precisely those individuals
who allegedly had feigned consent to sterilization but actually intended to avoid the surgery.
Despite all the resource problems, the Kripo pursued time-consuming investigations into the
origins and social adjustment of Gypsies until the wars end. With regard to these investigations,
Guenter Lewy wrote, Such cases were worked on practically until the end of the war, though one
might think the authorities would have had more serious worries in those days.85 In the context of
the practices of persecution, however, it is apparent that this process should by no means be
regarded as an irrational trie. On the contrary, these efforts evidence the high value placed on
a racist program of forced assimilation with regard to Sinti and Roma as a component of the
Reich`s policy aiming at racial purity.
The empirical ndings for the individuals registered as Gypsies in the area under the authority
of the Cologne Kripo district ofce are summarized below:
Persecution of Gypsies in the Area of the Kripos Cologne District Ofce86
May deportation (1940)
Auschwitz (1943/1944)
Individual deportations
Deported:

622
414
59
1095

Failed deportations
Deportation to Auschwitz deferred
Mixed marriages
Yeniche
Emigrated, escaped, lived in hiding (illegally)
Threatened:

25
68
225
30
21
369

Deceased
Unaccounted for
Others:

40
79
119

Total

1583

The vast majority, 1095 of 146487 people, or 75 percent, were deported. An additional 25
percent were affected in different ways by persecution measures such as forced sterilization
until the wars end, or were otherwise threatened by them until the military capitulation of Reich
put an end to all plans that had been postponed to the period following the nal victory.
84

This became a common justication in the individual cases in which several authorities could not agree on
a uniform approach. See the example of the mail distribution clerk in Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, p. 364.
85
Lewy, Verfolgung, p. 310.
86
Fings and Sparing, Rassismus, pp. 344346. To avoid double counts, the persons deported in May 1940
were placed only in this column. If they returned from the Generalgouvernement and fell victim to either
individual deportations or later to the Auschwitz deportation, they were not listed again in these columns.
87
Percentage calculated without taking into account the group labeled Others because a majority of this
group was also affected by measures of persecution. Among the deceased are persons who died of
natural causes, as well as persons whose cause of death is unknown. Therefore, death due to persecution
cannot be ruled out. The Unaccounted for group includes several families known only by name; in all likelihood they were deported in May 1940.

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Conclusion
What parallels between the Wannsee Conference or the Final Solution conferences and the
meeting at the RKPA can now be observed? Their rst commonality is that top-ranking people
from Himmlers organization responsible for Jewish or Gypsy policy met with representatives
from the institutions concerned with open cases and questions that would emerge after the
deportations of the vast majority of the Jews and Gypsies deportations that already had been
decided upon. The objectives were identical on a crucial point: it was a matter of permanently
removing racially undesirable minorities from the Aryan ethnic community. This involved
not only their physical removal by means of deportation, but also a highly differentiated Mischling policy, designed to cause the greater part of the remaining group to disappear as a
result of sterilization and the rest through Germanization.
If one traces these resolution strategies further back, the prospect of a racial restructuring
of the Reich becomes the focus of attention. Such reorganization had been projected in the
RSHA as early as 27 September 1939, the very rst month of the war. It was outlined as
follows: (a) [relocate] Jews as quickly as possible into the towns, (b) Jews from the Reich to
Poland, (c) the remaining 30,000 Gypsies to Poland as well, (d) systematic transport of the
Jews from the [new] German territories by freight train.88 In addition, at the previously mentioned conference on 30 January 1940 instigated by Ehlich and others, there was renewed
support for the plan to deport the approximately 30,000 Gypsies in the Reich.89 Even then
Ritter had favored sterilization over the deportation plans, because he thought the Gypsy question could not be viewed as solved until the further propagation of this Mischling population
[could be] permanently halted.90
The temporary failure of the deportation plans is well established. Instead of a nal solution, for the time being partial campaigns (Teilaktionen) were carried out,91 with much
higher priority assigned to the deportation of the Jewish population than to that of the
Gypsies. It is signicant, however, that both at the center (in the RSHA, including the Reich
Criminal Police) and on the periphery (at the level of the local authorities) the option of a deportation of all Gypsies remained a real and present threat. This possibility was reinforced not in
the least by the decree limiting mobility in October 1939,92 which actually was intended as a
preparatory step for general deportation. The curtailment of Gypsies freedom of movement
created a situation that placed permanent pressure on Reich authorities, especially in the
local administrative districts, as a stop had been put to their traditional policy of forced
displacement.
By August 1940, however, Himmler had already declared that the evacuation of Gypsies
and Gypsy Mischlinge from the territory of the Reich would be suspended until the Jewish

Cited from Gtz Aly, Endlsung. Vlkerverschiebung und der Mord an den europischen Juden (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1995), p. 29f. See also Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, p. 167.
89
Grundstze fr die Aussiedlung von Polen, Juden und Zigeunern in das Generalgouvernement, record of
the meeting on Jan. 30, 1940, BA Berlin, R 58/1032, fols. 3544.
90
Ibid., Arbeitsbericht von Dr. Robert Ritter, Jan. 1940, R 73/14005, fol. 7. Emphasis present in the original. On the dates, see Riechert, Schatten, p. 95.
91
For the deportation of the Jews, see the general overview by Gruner, Von der Kollektivausweisung; also
Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, pp. 165175.
92
Ibid., p. 187f. On 17 October 1939, the RKPA set aside days for a count of Gypsies along with an
immediate freeze on their mobility, requiring them to remain in their present location whether it was
the place of residence of the person concerned or not. This injunction remained in effect until the end of
the war and made it easier for Kripo ofces to monitor the Gypsies and supplied grounds for individual
deportations.
88

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question [is] generally resolved.93 Soon after, in November 1940, he postponed the prospect of
the nal settlement of the Gypsy question in the territory of the Reich for the postwar period.94
For the next two years, until October 1942, this remained the ofcial stance of the ReichsfhrerSS.95
Within a few weeks, however, the situation changed, and Himmler gave the order for the
deportation of Gypsies to Auschwitz. Several factors probably contributed to this decision.
First, for Himmler, the Jewish question in Germany was no longer open to debate; as he
stated on 23 November 1942, it was being solved by deportation.96 Thus, the deportation of
the Gypsies to Auschwitz appears to be a resumption of a deportation process that had been
merely postponed. In addition, increased importance was given to the concentration camps in
Fall 1942, which also were under Himmlers authority. Through the increased deployment of prisoner labor, camps were to be utilized for planning SS housing areas and for the wartime economy,
and at the same time the aspect of extermination of certain groups in the camps including
Gypsies received even greater emphasis.97
Against this backdrop, it is implausible to trace the 16 December 1942, deportation order back
to the initiative of the SS-Ahnenerbe alone. Rather, it must be assumed that this initiative only
inuenced the details of the deportation plans. It also should not be ruled out that the RKPA,
advised by the RHF, backed the appointment of Gypsy spokesmen with the expectation that
resistance a reaction familiar from previous deportations could be circumvented in this way.98
If one thinks of the persecution of the Gypsies, like the persecution of the Jews, as neither
planned nor designed from the start and as proceeding in an inconsistent manner, then the late
1942 to early 1943 period served as a point of culmination for this persecution process. Many
factors inuenced the development of these policies and many decision-makers with specic
interests were involved in a process that became steadily more radical as the war progressed.
In this context, the meeting in January 1943 exemplies the way in which lessons learned in parallel processes of persecution were correlated. Ehlich and Harders quite likely were involved primarily because a harmonization of the Mischling policies in the Reich appeared necessary after
the deportations of the Jews and Gypsies.

Amt des Generalgouverneurs an die Distriktchefs, Kreis- und Stadthauptleute betr. Evakuierung von
Zigeunern aus dem Reich, Aug. 3, 1940, Archiv Lublin, Sygn. 203, fol. 10.
94
See the correspondence from 1940-1941, Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe, Aktenband 364, Zug. 1975/3 II
Nr. 23.
95
An order from Himmler to refrain from any further resettlements of Gypsies for the duration of the war
was issued in October 1942 to the NSDAP in the Gau Westphalia-North. See Kriminalpolizeistelle Dortmund an den Regierungsprsident Minden, Oct. 14, 1942, Staatsarchiv Detmold, M 1 I P no. 14578, fol. 34.
96
Der Dienstkalender Heinrich Himmlers 1941/42, adapted and with comments and introduction by Peter
Witte, Michael Wildt, Martina Voigt, Dieter Pohl, Peter Klein, Christian Gerlach, Christoph Dieckmann,
and Andrey Angrick on behalf of the Forschungsstelle fr Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg, with a foreword
by Uwe Lohalm and Wolfgang Schefer, Hamburger Beitrge zur Sozial- und Zeitgeschichte, vol. 3
(Hamburg: Christians, 1999), p. 621.
97
This aspect was pointed out earlier by Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, p. 300f. In general, also see Jan Erik
Schulte, Zwangsarbeit und Vernichtung: Das Wirtschaftsimperium der SS. Oswald Pohl und das SSWirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt 1933-1945 (Paderborn: Schningh, 2001), pp. 332364. On the
handing over of antisocial elements from regular judicial procedures to the Reichsfhrer SS for the
purpose of extermination through work, agreed upon with the Minister of Justice on 18 September 1942,
see Wagner, Volksgemeinschaft, p. 335f.
98
Relatives of deported Gypsies made written petitions or appeared in person in Berlin, and some even traveled to the Generalgouvernement following the deportees. The RKPA felt compelled on multiple occasions
to impose bans on petitions or travel. See Zimmermann, Rassenutopie, p. 185.
93

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Yet even from an entirely external standpoint, the talks one a conference in an imposing
villa, involving key ministries, and the other a gathering that seemed more like a typical professional meeting point to differences as well. Once again, one sees the central signicance
of antisemitism for National Socialist policy and the resulting absolute priority of a nal solution
of the Jewish question. Both in the shaping of the boogeyman image and in the number of individuals on whom this image was imposed there were differences and a clear hierarchy. At the
same time, it is indisputable that despite this hierarchy, both before and after the Wannsee Conference, men, women and children in the German Reich were murdered solely because they were
Gypsies. It is also true that in the National Socialist sphere of inuence beyond the territory of the
Reich, thousands of Roma had already fallen victim to genocide, even without registration and
racist evaluations.
But while the killing of the Jews from the territory of the Reich had been decided upon before
the Wannsee Conference,99 there is no indication that the order for deportation of Gypsy-like
persons to Auschwitz in December 1942 entailed the physical destruction of all those concerned
at that date. The decision to kill those deported from the German Reich to the Gypsy family
camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was made at a later time; in all probability, in April 1944. Nonetheless, because the matter hung in the balance until that date, the vast majority of the deportees
in the Gypsy family camp had long since fallen victim to a process of extermination for which no
order had needed issue.100
The settlement of the Gypsy question with regard to the existence of this race was the formulation used by Heinrich Himmler in December 1938 in his discussion of the objective of
National Socialist Gypsy policy.101 Four years later, the registration was concluded and for all
intents and purposes the fate of most Gypsies deportation was sealed. Therefore, it was
indeed a matter of the nal solution of the Gypsy question when the Nazis decided upon the
sterilization of all Gypsies remaining in the Reich in January 1943, a step intended to render
them extinct within one generation. Anyone ever registered and evaluated as a Gypsy was at
risk. Only on 8 May 1945 did the National Socialists utopian ideal of a racially pure society
created by means of genocide come to an end.
Translated by: Kathleen Luft

Karola Fings studied history and German language and literature at the Heinrich Heine University, Dsseldorf; deputy director of the City of Colognes Documentation Centre on National Socialism; lecturer at the
University of Cologne. She has published on the Nazi persecution of the Gypsies, concentration camps,
forced labor, and culture of memory.

99

On this topic, in summary, see Christopher R. Browning, Judenmord, NS-Politik, Zwangsarbeit und das
Verhalten der Tter (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 2001), pp. 4792.
100
Fings and Sparing, Rassismus, pp. 313331, esp. pp. 326328.
101
Runderlass des Reichsfhrers-SS und Chef der Deutschen Polizei im Reichsministerium des Innern betr.
Bekmpfung der Zigeunerplage, Dec. 8, 1938, IfZ, Dc. 17.02, fols. 108110.