Monday, August 13, 2007

Culture. Romania, Roma, Gypsy culture, Holocaust

Roadside dump, Romania, with Roma, scavenging

1.  This is a roadside dumping area, with Roma (gypsy ethnic group) looking for clothing, anything that can be repaired and resold, or used.

 The gypsy or Roma population was decimated in World War II. Read about gypsies at For a basic history of gypsies, see Do a search for gypsies.

  • We also saw many well-dressed Roma, traditional costume, and gold.  
  • Photographing women.  Not welcomed. Women are easily seen in doorways, windows, on the street with a companion, with families. I understand they are strongly protected. 
  • The clothing was exquisite in the economically advantaged groups, fine cars, great style - as anywhere where there is financial and cultural confidence for the individual. Others are very poor.  Choosing to scavenge may not be a choice.
2.  Roma are countrywide, and have had a difficult history, including centuries (past) of enslavement in Romania and discrimination now. See "Minorities at Risk" at Go to the e-museum that the University of Minnisota offers at Then click on Roma. Go to the main home page first, and see all they offer in other areas.

3.  Holocaust.  The holocaust in Romania was directed at Roma and Jews and other groups.  The holocaust in Romania at  After the German invasion of Poland and other European countries, in 1940 Romania was compelled to cede northern Transylvania, including the town of Sighetu Marmetei, to Hungary.

Romania, however, was an Axis partner to Germany, and did not "systematically annihilate" Roma in Romania.

However, about 26,000 Roma were deported in 1941-1942 by the Romanian military and police, to Transnistria, in SW Ukraine under Romanian administration. Thousands died: disease, starvation, and brutal treatment. See

The holocaust in Romania was officially remembered in Romania in 2006. See Read its history at

4.  Statistics difficult.  In the town of Moisei, see post here on Maramures, there is a special memorial to Jews captured and killed, but no break-down of which of those killed in the specific event sequence there were Jewish.

5.  Value of diaries.  Keeping diaries of those times requires literacy and then preservation, discovery and translation - for me, into English. "The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941-1942," edited by his sister, Chava Pressburger, was discovered in 1993 but only translated into English in 2007. See The Places of Petr Ginz. See also Petr Ginz: The Places, The Legacy. Are there diaries in Romanian?

Children beg, but a strong body language "no" - including flat palms crossing and flung out, usually brought the adult from a doorway nearby to signal a cease.

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