Nazi treatment of Roma

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Roma (Gypsies) had long been persecuted in Germany, as they were in much of Europe. The Nazis judged them to be racially ’undesirable’. They did not fit into a well-ordered society as they did not have regular work and were nomadic.

From 1935 the Nazis began rounding up Roma and holding them in camps; by 1939 many thousands had been sent to concentration camps. During the war at least 220,000 from across Europe were murdered at the hands of the Nazis.

The notorious Dr Josef Mengele selected many Roma twins for horrific experiments at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

  • Karl Stojka

    Karl Stojka was born on 20 April 1931. He was the fourth of six children born to Roman Catholic Gypsy parents in a small village in eastern Austria. The family lived in a horse-drawn caravan. During summers they would travel from place-to-place, whilst they spent winters in Vienna. Karl's ancestors had lived in Austria for more than 200 years.

    In March 1938, whilst the Stojka’s caravan was parked for the winter in a Vienna, the Germans marched into Austria. The family and all of the other gypsies there were ordered to remain where they were. Karl’s parents converted the caravan into a wooden house. His father and eldest sister began working in a factory. Karl was enrolled into school.

    In 1943 Karl’s family were deported to the gypsy camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. In August 1944, 918 of the gypsies were sent to carry out forced labour at Buchenwald concentration camp. On arrival at Buchenwald Karl was thought to be too young to work and was about to be sent back to Auschwitz-Birkenau. However, his brother and uncle insisted that he was 14, so he was allowed to stay.

    Some time later, Karl was deported to the Flossenburg. He was liberated by American troops on 24 April 1945.

    After the war, Karl Stojka returned to Vienna.