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The Romani people have long been a part of the collective mythology of the West, where they were (and very often still are) depicted as outsiders, aliens, and a threat. For centuries they were enslaved in Eastern Europe and hunted in Western Europe: the Pořajmos, Hitler's attempt at genocide, was one violent link in a chain of persecution that encompassed countries generally considered more tolerant of minorities, such as the United Kingdom and Denmark. Even today, while there is a surge of Romani self-identification and pride, restrictive measures are being debated and passed by democratic states to curb the rights of the Romani people.
It is generally thought that the Romanies, because they had no written language until relatively recently, have origins obscured by some mythical past. Although there are many unanswered questions, much more is known about the Romanies than is assumed. The greater problem in attempting a comprehensive history of the Romanies is their distribution, not only throughout Europe, but also in the Middle East and the Americas. In each region, Romani history diverged, depending on the attitudes of the host population. For instance, although slavery and serfdom are key themes in the history of Romani in the Eastern Europe, other forms of persecution, including early forms of genocide, are preponderant in Western Europe.
What is not often considered is how the implications of this shatter traditional myths about the Romanies. For example, Romanies are considered to be nomadic, which was largely true in Western Europe; however, the fact that they were slaves and serfs in the Balkans since at least the 15th century (and until the late 19th century) implies that they were settled. Between 1933 and 1945 Roma and Sinti suffered greatly as victims of Nazi persecution and genocide. Building on long-held prejudices, the Nazi regime viewed Roma both as "asocials" (outside “normal” society) and as racial "inferiors" believed to threaten the biological purity and strength of the “superior Aryan” race
40-70: Indian Traders settled in Roman province of Egypt.
420-438: Indian Musicians taken by Bahram V from India to Persia.
740: Roma people settled in Phrygia.
800-803: Roma people in Adrianopolis, Thrace.
c. 1050-1054: Roma people settled in Sulukule.
c. 1100: Romani people recorded in the Byzantine Empire.
1300-1400 : Romanies already settled in Serbia; in the same time they reached Wallachia where they are perceived as aliens and enslaved.
1407: Romani recorded living in Germany; within ten years they are expelled.
1418: Romanies recorded in France.
1422: Romanies recorded in Rome.
1425: Romanies recorded in Spain.
1471: Anti-Romani laws passed in Lucern, Switzerland.
1482: Anti-Romani laws passed in Brandenburg, Germany.
1492: Spain passes anti-Romani laws and subjects Romanies to the Inquisition as heretics.
1498: Romani settlement in the Americas begins, when four Romanies accompany Christopher Columbus on his third voyage, as slaves.
1502: Louis XII expels the Romanies from France.
1512: Romani recorded in Sweden.
1526: Henry VIII expels the Romanies from England. Romanies caught entering England are to be punished with death.
1530: Egyptians Act 1530 passed in England.
1530: Muslim Roma got their own Sandjak in Rumelia of Ottoman Empire.
1536: Anti-Romani laws passed in Denmark.
1538: Portugal expels Romanies to Brazil.
1540: Anti-Romani laws passed in Flanders.
1541: Anti-Romani laws passed in Scotland.
1549: Anti-Romani laws passed in Bohemia.
1557: Anti-Romani laws passed in Poland and Lithuania.
1560: In Sweden, the Lutheran Church forbids any priests to baptize, marry or bury Romani.
1563: Romanies are denied entrance into the priesthood by the Council of Trent.
1571: Sweden: The act of 1560 are retracted and the church are permitted to baptize, marry and bury Romani.
1578: The King of Sweden attempt to expel the Romani by threatening them with forced labor in Sala silver mine.
1589: Denmark imposes a death sentence on any Romani caught in the country.
1595: Ştefan Răzvan, son of a Romani immigrant from the Ottoman Empire, rules Moldavia for four months.
1619: Philip III of Spain orders all Romanies to settle down and abandon their traditional lifestyle and culture. Failure to do so is punishable by death.
1637: Anti-Romani laws passed in Sweden: all adult Romani men are sentenced to death, while women and children are to be expelled.
1740-1789: In the Habsburg monarchy under Maria Theresa (1740–1780), a series of decrees tried to force the Romanies to permanently settle, removed rights to horse and wagon ownership (1754), renamed them as "New Citizens" and forced Romani boys into military service if they had no trade (1761), forced them to register with the local authorities (1767), and prohibited marriage between Romanies (1773). Her successor Josef II prohibited the wearing of traditional Romani clothing and the use of the Romani language, punishable by flogging.
1748: Romani are officially permitted to reside and live in Sweden.
1936-1945: Nazis begin systematic persecution of Romanies, that culminated in the killing of 500,000 to 1,500,000 Romanies in what is called Porajmos, the Romani Holocaust.
2006: University of Manchester completes its "Romani project", the first morphological study aiming to collect all the dialects of Romani language throughout Europe and dealing with their coherency.
2006: The first entirely Romani party is founded in Hungary, called the "MCF Roma összefogás" (MCF Union of the Roma), although they managed only 0.08% of total votes at the parliamentary elections held on April 9, 2006. [ permanent dead link ]
2010: In July 2010, French President Nicolas Sarkozy began a systematic deportation campaign against the Romani. His targets were Romanian and Bulgarian Roma. Critics of the Sarkozy administration consider the deportations as a diversionary tactic to reduce attention on threats to French social benefits. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern the deportations are evidence of growing racism and xenophobia in France.
2011: On September 1, 2011, a Romani academy of arts and sciences was founded in Belgrade to promote, organize, and disseminate research into Romani culture, language, and history. The academy has 21 regular members, including prominent Romani academics and public figures from 11 European countries, India, and the United States. There are 13 honorary members, which have included former Czech President Václav Havel. The academy was co-founded by Rajko Đurić, a Serbian Romani writer and academic who is also its first president, and received initial supporting funds from the German Heinrich Böll Foundation.
2012: On October 24, 2012, after many years of delays and disputes over cost and design, Angela Merkel unveils the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma victims of National Socialism in Berlin.
2016: On February 12, 2016, Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj recognized all Roma people as Indian descendants.She called them flag bearers of Indian ethos and culture. Soon the community would be recognized on par with rest of the Indian diaspora.
The Romani, colloquially known as the Roma, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, traditionally nomadic itinerants. They live in Europe and Anatolia, and have diaspora populations located worldwide, with significant concentrations in the Americas.
The Romani Holocaust or the Romani genocide—also known as the Porajmos, the Pharrajimos meaning the hard times, and the Samudaripen —was the effort by Nazi Germany and its World War II allies to commit ethnic cleansing and eventually genocide against Europe's Romani people during the Holocaust era.
Romani music is the music of the Romani people who have their origins in northern India but today live mostly in Europe.
The Sinti are a subgroup of Romani people mostly found in Germany and Central Europe that number around 200,000 people. They were traditionally itinerant, but today only a small percentage of Sinti remain unsettled. In earlier times, they frequently lived on the outskirts of communities. The Sinti of Central Europe are closely related to the group known as Manouche in France. They speak the Sinti-Manouche variety of Romani, which exhibits strong German influence. While people from Sindh were mentioned in 1100 by the Arab chronicler Meidani, it is unclear if Sindhi people are the ancestors of modern-day Sinti.
Romanichal Travellers are a Romani subgroup within the United Kingdom and other parts of the English-speaking world. There are an estimated 200,000 Romani in the United Kingdom; almost all live in England. Most Romanichal speak Angloromani, a mixed language that blends Romani vocabulary with English syntax.
Bohemian Romani or Bohemian Romany is a dialect of Romani formerly spoken by the Romani people of Bohemia, the western part of today's Czech Republic. It became extinct after World War II, due to extermination of most of its speakers in Nazi concentration camps.
The Romani people, also referred to as Roma, Sinti or Sindhi, or Kale, depending on the sub-group, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group which primarily lives in Europe. The Romani may have migrated from what is the modern Indian state of Rajasthan, migrating to the northwest around 250 BCE. Their subsequent westward migration, possibly in waves, is now believed to have occurred beginning in about 500 CE. It has also been suggested that emigration from India may have taken place in the context of the raids by Mahmud of Ghazni. As these soldiers were defeated, they were moved west with their families into the Byzantine Empire. The author Ralph Lilley Turner theorised a central Indian origin of Romani followed by a migration to Northwest India as it shares a number of ancient isoglosses with Central Indo-Aryan languages in relation to realization of some sounds of Old Indo-Aryan. This is lent further credence by its sharing exactly the same pattern of northwestern languages such as Kashmiri and Shina through the adoption of oblique enclitic pronouns as person markers. The overall morphology suggests that Romani participated in some of the significant developments leading toward the emergence of New Indo-Aryan languages, thus indicating that the proto-Romani did not leave the Indian subcontinent until late in the second half of the first millennium.
The Kalderash are a subgroup of the Romani people. They were traditionally coppersmiths and metal workers and speak a number of Romani dialects grouped together under the term Kalderash Romani, a sub-group of Vlax Romani.
The World Romani Congress is a series of forums for discussion of issues relating to Roma people around the world. As of 2020, there have been ten World Romani Congresses. Among the chief goals of these congresses have been the standardization of the Romani language, improvements in civil rights and education, preservation of the Roma culture, reparations from World War II, and international recognition of the Roma as a national minority of Indian native origin.
Anti-Romani sentiment is hostility, prejudice, discrimination or racism which is specifically directed at Romani people. Non-Romani itinerant groups in Europe such as the Yenish, Irish and Highland Travellers are often given the name "gypsy" and confused with the Romani people. As a result, sentiments which were originally directed at the Romani people are also directed at other traveler groups and they are often referred to as "antigypsy" sentiments.
Raјko Đurić was a Serbian Romani writer and academic. He was also politically active as the leader of one of Romani parties in Serbia - Roma Union of Serbia.
The Roma people have several distinct populations, the largest being the Roma and the Iberian Calé or Caló, who reached Anatolia and the Balkans in the early 12th century, from a migration out of the Indian subcontinent beginning about 1st century – 2nd century AD. They settled in the areas of present-day Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Moldova, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Hungary, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia, by order of volume, and Spain. From the Balkans, they migrated throughout Europe and, in the nineteenth and later centuries, to the Americas. The Roma population in the United States is estimated at more than one million.
Romani people, or Roma, are the third largest ethnic group in Serbia, numbering 147,604 (2.1%) according to the 2011 census. However, due to a legacy of poor birth registration and some other factors, this official number is likely underestimated. Estimates that correct for undercounting suggest that Serbia is one of countries with the most significant populations of Roma people in Europe at 250,000-500,000. Anywhere between 46,000 to 97,000 Roma are internally displaced from Kosovo after 1999.
The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma is a German Romanies rights group based in Heidelberg, Germany. It is headed by Romani Rose, who lost 13 of his close family in the Holocaust.
Berlin-Marzahn Rastplatz was a camp set up for Romani people in the Berlin suburb of Marzahn by Nazi authorities.
The Romani people are also known by a variety of other names; in English as gypsies or gipsies, and Roma; in Greek as γύφτοι (gíftoi) or τσιγγάνοι (tsiggánoi), in Central and Eastern Europe as Tsingani ; in France as gitans besides the dated terms bohémiens and manouches; in Italy as rom and sinti besides the dated terms zingari, zigani, and gitani; in Spain as gitanos; and in Portugal as ciganos.
Sinte Romani is the variety of Romani spoken by the Sinti people in Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, some parts of Northern Italy and other adjacent regions. Sinte Romani is characterized by significant German influence and is not mutually intelligible with other forms of Romani. The language is written in the Latin script.
The Gypsy family camp was Section B-IIe of the Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp, where Romani families deported to the camp were held together, instead of being separated as was typical at Auschwitz.
The Roma Holocaust Memorial Day is a memorial day that commemorates the victims of the Romani genocide (Porajmos), which resulted in the murder of an estimated 220,000 – 500,000 Romani people by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. The date of 2 August was chosen for the memorial because on the night of 2 – 3 August 1944, 2,897 Roma, mostly women, children and elderly people, were killed in the Gypsy family camp (Zigeunerfamilienlager) at Auschwitz concentration camp. Some countries have chosen to commemorate the genocide on different dates.
Margarete Kraus was a Roma woman who was persecuted during the Porajmos, imprisoned at Auschwitz and Ravensbruck. Her experience was recorded in later life by the photographer Reimar Gilsenbach.