The Nazi regime wanted to establish a state based on purity of race: many illustrious scientific studies, in the time of Colonialism, explained and justified the superiority of some nations on others with the level of “racial purity” of the peoples.
It was easy to single out, in the German people, the “different” ones, that with their “weakness” or treachery had caused defeat and decadence, so a century of antisemitism exploded into the Kristallnacht, and the Shoah began.
But in addition to the different ones, there were the invisible ones, the untouchables. For a cruel irony of History, they were even more “Aryan” than the Germans, so the regime was forced to modify its racist theories, inventing a “racial decadence” due to the style of life, and as soon as they had arranged it, the extermination of “Gypsies” began.
Shoah, in Hebrew, means “calamity, catastrophe”. Roma and Sinti people call what happened to them “Porajmos”, a word that means “devouring”.
The extermination was absolute, ferocious: in many countries Rom and Sinti populations were annihilated, everybody murdered, from he first old man to the last baby.
I often asked to myself what would I do if I lived in the ’30’s Germany. I do not know, yet, but now I know how it had to feel like to watch helpless the first steps of the Extermination, with a difference: who watched helplessly in the ’30’s, could be afraid of the way it would have ended, but he could not know for sure. We now know it.
In Italy, press campaigns, instigation to hatred, unbelievable statement by politicians and officials at any level, have instigated many true pogrom, in addition to the media ones, against a people whose only fault is to belong to a minority. A furious Tiziana Maiolo, at a fashion show in Milan, where a designer presented a collection inspired by tzigan models, declared that she would take him personally to visit Rom encampments, to see the “reality”, feeling no shame that citizens are left living in such conditions. In Italy the life expectancy of a Rom person is 40 years: like during the Porajmos.
Pointless demagogy depicts them as making a living out of theft and delinquency: reliable statistics, on the contrary, tell that in spite of the tragic life conditions crime rate among the citizens of Roma ethnicity is not different from the “other” Italians’ one, in similar economic and social conditions. And it is very easy to reply to whom blabbers about children exploitation: the unemployment rate of the young beggars’ parents is extremely high and given discrimination and lack of incentives and relief that these kids suffer at school they will probably not have better chances than their parents…
Rom and Sinti were traditionally metal smiths, renowned for the copper pot production and repairing, besides the sale of hand made cheap jewelry. The modern rules for craftsmen, conceived for shop bound workers, were devastating for them.
Populist and demagogic politicians, who need to foment hatred to remain in power, attack them routinely. We will never be able to know how many of the fires of Rom camps have been caused by Molotov cocktails thrown by hooligans, that seem to have fun going to burn kids alive, but we know that Italian police, unable to identify the arsonists, charge the survivor for “abandoning” the victims, escaping the fire.
Romanì culture survive in other countries, from Turkey, where musicians at wedding parties are traditionally Rom, for good luck too, to the Balkans, to the Mitteleurope. Italy is losing another piece of the culture that made it. But to stay indifferent, to stay silent now means to be accomplices of the white genocide happening before our eyes.