In the 1930s the Nazi party came to power in Germany. Germany conquered large areas of Europe during World War II (1939-45). This period saw the culmination of centuries of persecution of Romani people in the form of genocide. They were hunted down, caught and murdered throughout Europe.
The persecution of the Romani people by the Nazis and other fascist groups had its origins in three thought processes prevalent in Europe in the first half of the 20th century:
- Traditional anti-Romani attitudes, a mixture of prejudices towards Romani people, such as the belief that they carried dangerous diseases and that they stole children.
- Racism, including a belief that “anti-social behaviour” was an inherited trait in certain sections of the population.
- The Nazis’ “preventive methods for defeating crime”. Authorities were allowed to arrest and imprison all those they considered possible to represent a danger to society, even if they had not committed any crime.
Chapter from Sofia Taikon’s autobiographical story from concentration camps. By Amanda Eriksson, Gunilla Lundgren and Sofia Taikon, published by Tranan 2006.