The Roma (also Romany, Romanies, Romanis, Romani, Zigeuner, or Gypsies) are traditionally nomadic ethnic group with origins in what is now India. The Romani left Asia roughly 1,000 years ago, and are widely dispersed across the world. Their largest concentrated populations in Europe, but they also reside in the Americas and, to a lesser extent, in North Africa and Asia.
They are more popularly known as Gypsies, based on the mistaken belief that they originated from Egypt. As the word "Gypsy" has also developed connotations of illegality or abnormality, many Roma few it as a slur.
Historically, Roma have been relegated to the fringes of society and subjected to an alternating cycle of persecution and toleration. However, even in time and places where Romani were not actively persecuted, they were still allowed only limited opportunities to integrate into all levels of society. The Roma were among the prime targets of the Nazis and their allies, who defined the Romani in the same ways they defined the Jews. Anywhere from a quarter to a full half of the Romani population of Europe (approximately 1 million people) were murdered during the Holocaust, an event the Romani call the Porajmos. Even after the war, a few countries maintained a policy of marginalizing the remaining Romani within their borders. For example, Czechoslovakia forced sterilization for women beginning in 1973 that continued until the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Even in the first decades of the 21st century, the Romani are still regarded with suspicion and disdain in much of Europe.
The Roma of Europe were systematically destroyed by the Greater German Reich in much the same manner as the Jews. By the 21st century, it was believed that the Roma were all dead. As secret Jews survived in the very heart of the Reich, some Roma may have also been hiding in plain sight.
Roma in "Shtetl Days"Edit
The government of the Greater German Reich wiped out the Roma after the War of Retribution just as it wiped out the Jews. Nonetheless, Romania recreated a Gypsy camp as a tourist attraction, much as Germany had recreated shtetls in various provinces.
Roma in The War That Came EarlyEdit
In the aftermath of "the big switch" of 1940, which saw France and Britain join with Germany against the Soviet Union, Peggy Druce could help but wonder if the French government might decide to persecute the Gypsies living in France, including the jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, as a sop to their new Nazi allies.