On 10 December , Himmler issued an order to send all Sinti and Roma Gypsies to concentration camps, including Auschwitz. Approximately 23, Gypsies had been brought to Auschwitz by , 20, of whom died there. Gypsy prisoners were used primarily for construction work.
On 2 August , the SS cleared the Gypsy camp. A witness in another part of the camp later told of the Gypsies unsuccessfully battling the SS with improvised weapons before being loaded into trucks.
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The surviving population estimated at 2, to 5, was then killed en masse in the gas chambers. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Bauer, Yehuda . In Gutman, Yisrael; Berenbaum, Michael eds.
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Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Epstein, Catherine Nazi Germany: Confronting the Myths. Hancock, Ian Later, many people were told they had only been persecuted for criminal reasons, and their requests for compensation were denied. Hildegard Reinhardt above lost her three young daughters in Auschwitz.
Sinti und Roma - The "main ledgers" of the "gypsy camp"
In the early s, representatives of the Sinti and Roma communities staged a hunger strike at the entrance of the former Dachau concentration camp. They were protesting the criminalization of their minority and calling for the recognition of Nazi persecution. In , a memorial for the Sinti and Roma victims of Nazi persecution was erected near the Bundestag in Berlin. The site is a reminder of the fight against discrimination for the world's Sinti and Roma, particularly on International Romani Day.
To this day, members of the minority still experience discrimination in Germany and around Europe. But none of that mattered 75 years ago. The family was locked in cattle wagons with thousands of others at the city's South Train Station, with no provisions and no toilets, Mano remembers. His father told him that he had been promised a farm in Poland.
The journey took days, but to the 9-year-old it seemed like an eternity. The first people began to die along the way. When they arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau it became clear that the farm story was a lie. Each passenger was tattooed with a number, and their heads were shaved. Families were forced into barracks known as the "Gypsy Camp. Prisoners were required to line up each morning at four. In winter, they stood in deep snow.
He also encountered the infamous SS physician Josef Mengele. Mano had to carry medical jars containing specimens: The organs of children that Mengele had murdered in the Gypsy Camp. Mengele's barbarism was notorious: "He had little twins jump from third-story windows and then he would put them back together.
Everyone began to scream. Then the train lurched off in the right direction. The survivor draws a deep breath, he sounds very agitated: "The mothers and fathers all screamed. Such a thing must never happen again! Again and again, he interrupts himself: "One cannot possibly explain how it really was at Auschwitz, at the death camps. It was so much worse than what I've told you. Mano's mother and sister Lilly were sent to the women's camp. He feared they would be killed. He says a doctor used one knife to sterilize his father, uncle and cousins.
He and a young Polish boy hid under the triple bunk beds for days.
He recalls that there were huge rats there: "I almost died. His father and the others were extremely weakened by the brutal invasiveness of their operations. Mano, then just 10, snuck into the prisoners' kitchen, where he was able to steal a container of pudding for them. But later he was caught. An SS officer forced him to continuously jump over a wooden bench as punishment: "First left, then right, until I couldn't go on," he says.
Yet, to this day the fact that the others were able to eat the pudding before he was caught gives him great satisfaction. He says he still has a scar from his fall. The war was getting closer. His father and the other ex-soldiers were sent to the front.
Roma Holocaust Memorial Day: Auschwitz survivor Mano Höllenreiner recalls Nazi 'Gypsy Camp'
They were put in SS uniforms and forced into the arms of the approaching Russians, says the year-old, full of indignation at the thought. It was only good fortune that men bearing Auschwitz tattoos were not shot. Mano was forced to leave Sachsenhausen on a merciless westward death march that few survived. Those who were too slow in getting up out of the deep snow after a break were simply shot.
The Halt at a Gypsy Camp
One scene, in particular, is seared into his memory. He says an SS officers told a Jewish father and son that, "It would be a waste to use two bullets" to kill them. So the two were forced to stand one behind the other, the son in front with his mouth wide open. The SS officer then put his pistol in the boy's mouth and pulled the trigger. Mano saw what the bullet did to the men — he was standing right next to them when it happened.
Mano was finally able to escape with his cousins and a few other boys. They drilled him: "Don't say you're German. Suddenly, the war was over and year-old Mano was standing in Paris.
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
An Alsatian woman who spoke German took him home with her. She eventually became his "Aunt Fifine" and her son Paul was like a brother to him. Not long ago, he told his story to author Anja Tuckermann. She retold it in her book Mano. The year-old says he thinks it is important that people know exactly what happened during the Nazi era.
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But she says they have had many positive experiences, too. The survivor himself is thankful that so many students have been able to learn his story in that way. A regional school also made a documentary film about Mano. They belong to their daughter Carol, who loves animals just as her father does. After his daughter leaves, Mano starts to get nervous. Carol and Mano's wife Else also want to protect him in return. They know that speaking about the past awakens memories that no person can bear. When his hands start to shake, she shows his documents and photographs for him.
The two have been married for more than 60 years. Animals, he says, were always a comfort. When he was too scared to say who he really was in France, he spoke to ants and chipmunks. He says he sobbed while thinking about his family under the watchful gaze of a blackbird. But he is nothing of the sort. Instead, he lovingly and protectively accompanies his visitor out to the garden gate and implores: "Please let us know when you have gotten home safely. Seventy-five years ago, Heinrich Himmler instructed German police to bring "all gypsy mixed-bloods, Roma Gypsies and […] members of gypsy clans" to Auschwitz.