When people think of the Holocaust, it conjures images of Nazi Germany and the death camps of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belson. The sad truth is, the persecution not only touched Jews but Roma (Gypsy is a derogatory name) as well. The Roma are considered to be in the lowest class of people, often bunched in with thieves. So, when the Nazi’s invaded Romania, the Roma were the first to be deported.
The Roma were treated a little better than the Jews in the fact that, they were allowed to work for their food rations. However, that didn’t last long. Men, women, and children ate grass and roots. A few parents cut the flesh off of the dead to feed their children.
“One of the Romas from the Argintari clan said that, when one of his children died, he had to carve up his son’s buttcheeks and thighs and roast them on the fire to feed the rest of his kids. Others said that they simply had no other choice than to stab their living children for food.”
Some parents were not strong enough to carry their children so they would tie them to their backs. One survivor said that an officer shot a woman carrying her child on her back. The bullet killed her child, and she cast his body aside. She couldn’t do anything about her child’s death, so she left the body and kept walking.
There is no doubt that the Holocaust is one of the worst atrocities in history, yet there is still a lot that we don’t know. Sadly, some of the Roma that survived are now gone. Life after the Holocaust hasn’t been kind for the Roma. Since Roma are stigmatized, they live on the fringe of society producing different types of crafts to sell.
George Santayana said it best. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”