Dr. David N. Crowe
Professor of History, Elon University
Professor of Legal History, Elon University School of Law
Author of Oskar Schindler: The Untold Story of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind the List (2004)
While Jews were the principal victims of Nazi racial policy, the Roma were also targeted for persecution and death. Often referred to as Gypsies, based upon the belief that they came from ancient Egypt, the Roma, like the Jews, experienced centuries of abuse. In German, they were called Zigeuner, derived from a Greek root meaning “untouchable.” Nazi policies built on the long history of discrimination against the Roma which viewed them as racially inferior and stereotyped them as thieves and shiftless wanderers.
Most Roma in Nazi Germany and Austria were sent to concentration or death camps. In Auschwitz-Birkenau, they existed in abysmal conditions in the so-called “family camp.” Roma twins were subjected to horrific medical experiments at the hands of Josef Mengele. On August 2-3, 1944, the camp was liquidated and almost 3,000 Roma were sent to the gas chambers. After the war, the fate of the Roma received little attention and few Roma received restitution.
Dr. David Crowe is one of the world’s foremost scholars of the Roma. In 2007, he published the second, revised edition of A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia. It was a selection of the History Book Club and has been translated into Japanese and Russian. Dr. Crowe is professor of history at Elon University and professor of legal history at Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Photo of children courtesy of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Elizabeth Eidenbenz.