“Gypsy” memory – for a dictionary of memory, see the article “Porraimos”.

“When the Nazis took over the communists, I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a communist. / When the Social Democrats were imprisoned, I didn’t say anything, because I’m not a Social Democrat. / When they took the trade unionists, I didn’t say anything because I was not a trade unionist. /Then they took the Jews, but I didn’t say anything, because I’m not a Jew. / Then they came for me. / And there was no one to say anything to.” // Poem by Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller, deported to Dachau (original version).

An ancient gypsy proverb says: “If you want to be wise, listen.” The saying is not found written down, but is repeated from generation to generation. And this oral transmission reminds us that the Roma, Sinti, Caminanti and Kale – those we pejoratively call “Gypsies” – are peoples who not only do not own their own land, but also do not own a written culture. The memory of them is only oral and is passed on orally from father to son, from grandfather to grandson, and so on, forever, from generation to generation.

As I wrote some time ago, the Nazis considered the “gypsies” (“zigeuner”) to be a “degenerate branch” of the Aryan race (even though they were probably the purest ethnic manifestation of Aryanism) and decided to exterminate them, and so they did. It happened.

There will be 500 thousand killed “gypsies”, but some scientists will triple this figure. Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, ordered the deportation of “Ziegeuners” to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, sector B2E, Ziegeunerlager, with the infamous “Auschwitz Decree” of December 16, 1942. There (and not only in this concentration camp) about 23 thousand “gypsies” will be locked up. On May 16, 1944, those deported from this sector of the camp (about six thousand survived) rebelled almost with their bare hands, killing 11 SS men.

All 2,897 survivors of this desperate attempt at rebellion would be killed by the Nazis on August 2, 1944. Their extermination is called Porraimos (Great Devour) or even Sa Mudaripen. This is recalled by a statue sculpted in Majella stone, located in Lanciano (Chieti) in the Parco delle Memorie, a park dedicated to the memory of the victims of Nazi-Fascist racial hatred, where it was installed on April 5, 2018 and in Rome, in Via degli Zingari, once home to a gypsy community, memorial plaque erected by the municipality in 2001.

The lines you read serve as a necessary prologue to the subsequent story. This is the story aboutRoman Held , an Italian Shinto for whom the stumbling block on January 18 was in front of the Trieste train station. The first is in Italy, in memory of the “gypsy” deported by the Nazis.

“Romano Held played here, born in 1927, arrested 01.05.44, deported from Dachau, released” So says the stumbling block, which arose thanks to the cooperation between young Jews and Gypsies of the city, as well as the cooperation of the Association “Arte in Memoria”, which for many years was responsible for laying the stumbling stones, an instrument of widespread remembrance invented by a German artistGunther Demnig .

Italian Cinto Romano Held, born in San Pier d’Isonzo in the province of Gorizia, was 17 years old when he was arrested on May 1, 1944, while moving with his caravan in the Palmanova area. His family, who had always lived in the Trieste area, took refuge in the mountains above Udine (Fagagna) after this border area came under the direct control of the Third Reich following the armistice of September 1943. The sister said that the arrest occurred due to a “tip” from a German soldier from an Italian fascist collaborator. So the seventeen-year-old was sent to Udine prison, in whose journals (now kept in the State Archives of Trieste) his “guilt” is listed next to his name: “wanderer.” Yes, because Romano, the son of an Italian Sinto and an Istrian gypsy, was part of a family of musicians who were victims of the Nazi genocide of Roma and Sinti. In fact, his brother Berto will also be deported, but he will also survive (**)

Accept Abitare A Documents show that on May 31, 1944, in Udine, Romano boarded convoy No. 48, en route from Trieste to Dachau, where he arrived on June 2. Here it is converted to the number 69525. When the camp was liberated by the Americans on April 29, 1945, Romano was still alive: he returned to Italy to his family and resumed his activities as a musician. Not for long: also due to the poor health he suffered from in the Camp, he died in Trieste in 1948, at just 21 years old.

Note : When the Americans entered the Dachau concentration camp, they found an active International Committee of Deportees, which had been in control since the SS escaped. The International Committee has been active since September 1944. KL Dachau was designated as the “University” of the Nazi concentration camp system. Since its opening (March 22, 1933), it has held about 200 thousand people. There were 19 thousand deported Italians in Dachau. As of April 29, 1945, 41,500 deportees had been killed, of whom 1,550 were Italians.

Thus, Piero Terracina (1928-2019), deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau (serial number: A-5506) and survivor, recalls the extermination of Roma and Sinti that occurred in KL on August 2, 1944: “In this camp there were many children, many of these children were probably born in this enclosure (…). On the night of August 2, 1944, I was locked up, it was night, and there was a night curfew in the concentration camp, but I heard everything. In the middle of the night we heard screams in German and barking dogs, they gave the order to open the barracks of the gypsy camp, from there there were screams, screams and some shots. Suddenly, after more than two hours, there was only silence and from our windows, soon after, the glow of a very high crematorium flame. In the morning, the first thought was to look towards the Ziegeunerlager, which was completely empty, only silence and the slamming of the barracks windows.”


Damn gypsy

Cold black hands pointing to the sky

the swamp covers your head

crushed, a suffocating cry rises,

no one is listening.

Defenseless people

to the massacre carried out,

nobody has seen

no one spoke.

Corpses rose from the swamp,

terrible faces shown to the sun,


in relation to whomhe was silent.(

Santino Spinelli, aka Alexian, from Romanipe.


Ugo Fanti, President of Anpi in Rome Aurelio-Cavallegeri “Gagliano Tabarini”

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