“The Gypsy Nuisance” Heinrich Himmler Essay


“The Gypsy Nuisance” Heinrich Himmler EssayThe “Gypsy Nuisance” written by Heinrich Himmler in 1938 reflects to an amazing degree the prejudice which was uncontrollable during the Nazi reign over Germany. The Nazi reign refers primarily to the practices, ideology and policies which were adopted by the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (the official Nazi party name) under Adolf Hitler between 1933 and 1945 in Germany (Melson, 2002). In their attempt at ethnic cleansing the Nazis killed approximately 6 million Jews, 200,000 to 500,000 Roma (Gypsies), millions of Soviet prisoners of war and groups the Nazis believed to be unworthy to live such as communists, homosexuals, people of colour, and those with physical and mental disabilities (Smith, 2008). They were also the cause for World War II where 60 million people lost their lives.

Anti-Semitism lay at the very foundation and core of Nazi ideology, which was formulated by Adolf Hitler, who rose to power as the German Chancellor in 1933 which resulted in 12 years of terror which led to disaster for Germany, Europe and the world (Smith, 2008). The Nazis used their wanting of a homogenous Germany for justifying all the atrocious crimes they committed and the racially motivated murder of ethnic groups which has become known as the Holocaust.

Heinrich Himmler was born in 1900, along with Reinhard Heydrich and Adolf Eichman was greatly associated with the Nazi regime, Himmler in particular being considered the architect of the Holocaust. Himmler was at that time the second most powerful man in Germany as he rose to the post of minister for interior, head of Hitler’s elite paramilitary force the Schutzstaffel (SS) and oversaw all security forces including the Gestapo (BBC, 2008). Himmler believed with all certainty that each and every race had a different value and it was the Aryan race due to its superior intellect which was the most superior; the Aryan race being the descendants of the original speakers of European languages (Lewey, 1999). It was Hitler who propounded these opinions and formed the basis for Nazi Germany’s official policy of race and more importantly any race that was not Aryan. Therefore Himmler through the eyes of Hitler believed that if the Aryan race bred with any inferior race it would lead to the downfall and extinction of the Aryans (Lewey, 1999). Himmler argued that the Aryan blood must be kept pure and not contaminated by the blood of a lesser race. The Nazis, believing these lesser races are the Jews, Roma and people of colour, even went to the extent of passing laws to register them and prevent marriage between them and Germans of Aryan blood. Himmler’s intense force in making sure there was no such marriage as a mixed marriage and the stressed principles on racial selection resulted in this law to ensure marriages between people with actual value. This in his eyes would mean a growth in numbers of Aryans and the preservation of superiority and purity of Germanic blood (Melson, 2002).

As early as 1939 there was a ‘final solution’ specifically targeted to the Roma community put forward by Himmler. The reason for the animosity towards the gypsies or the Roma would be that the Roma were a distrusted and feared population, being the reason they were so vulnerable in German and European society (Melson, 2002). Laws had been passed against them as far back as the middle ages. Due to their dark skin tone and exotic appearance they were viewed as alien to the Aryan Germans and so were included in the Nazi campaign to cleanse Germany of non Aryans. Himmler argued at that time that past experience proved that the Roma problem was accounted to their race and that part-Roma were the main players in gypsy crimes. He also goes on to state that pure gypsies could not be settled into one place as they had a strong tendency to wander, which again he attributed to the Roma race. With these observations in mind Himmler thought it would be in the best interest of the citizens to have all Roma registered. Due to this all forms of Roma; pure, part, settled, wandering, and those living like gypsies were made to register with the Reich Criminal Police office- Reich central office for the fight against the gypsy nuisance. Once the war started 1939 Roma were believed to be spies on top of being criminals and the population at large were against them (Lewey, 1999). These popular demands to do something radical about the Roma under the Nazis found ready ears in the upper levels of the party (Melson, 2002), this gave them more than enough reason to go a step further with the persecution. Citizens were to report anyone who by their appearance, habits or customs belonged to the Roma.

But the Nazis still had a problem. While the Jews could time and again be recognized by their religious beliefs and habits, recognizing Roma with absolute certainty was far more complicated as most were, like most Germans, Roman Catholic. This propelled them to find a scientific basis. In 1936 a racial hygiene research unit was established, and it was charged with registering all Roma according ‘racial’ criteria (Grant, 2000). Extensive measurements were made of heads, eyebrows, cheekbones and distances between the eyes (Grant, 2000). As was the fate of millions of Jews who were shipped off to concentration camps, far worse was to come with the first deportations of the Roma. Under the direct orders of Himmler himself, doctors in concentration camps conducted sterilisations, castrations, induced infection of typhus, mustard-gas tests, and cold-shock tests on thousands of Roma, many of them being children (Grant, 2000).

However, it was not always like this. At the beginning many superiors in the party sought to give special consideration to the pure gypsies from harsh treatment thinking that they were actual descendants of Aryan blood (Melson, 2002). But Himmler’s quest for a homogenous Germany of Aryan blood resulted in genocide in the name of ethnic cleansing and avoiding contamination of the Aryan bloodline. As with the Jews, German policies toward the Roma were radicalized by the war. Where once there were distinctions made such as German Roma (Sinti) and non-German Roma, between pure and part, settled and non-settled, and intermarried, the war destroyed most of these distinctions easing the way to genocide (Melson, 2002). In the end the Nazi ‘solution’ was mass murder, and an estimation of 59 to 95 percent of German Roma were either killed or sterilized for the reason that they were lesser human beings not worthy of the rights of Aryans.

(Word Count – 1053)

Reference

Himmler, Heinrich (1938), “The Gypsy Nuisance”, cited in CW1 Handbook.

Lewey, Guenter (1999), “Himmler and the racially pure Gypsies”, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 34. No. 2, pp.201-214.

Melson, Robert (2002), “The Nazi persecution of the Gypsies”, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 16. No. 1, pp.109.

Smith, P. The New York Times Upfront, (2008), “1933 Hitler Comes to Power”, viewed April 7th 2008,

Grant, J. (2000), “Victims of a forgotten Holocaust: A poignant exhibition in Heidelberg recalls the horror of the Nazis' persecution of Roma people”, Financial Times London

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