Racial ideology

The "Rassenhygienische Forschungsstelle" (Federal Archives)

Modern biological racism came into being in the last third of the 19th century. The classification and treatment of groups of people according to supposedly different innate values was at its core. Vehemently propagated, the new "racial theory" was not only accepted in the universities but also in the thinking of broad sectors of civil society. In National Socialism, the theory of the "inferiority" and "superiority" of the races and their classification as "members of the master race" and "subhumans" was elevated to a state doctrine. NS offices had been collecting data on the German Sinti and Roma since 1931. In the same way as Jews, they were declared to be "people of foreign race", who were to be excluded from the "national community" and finally "exterminated".

The racial ideology was the actual law of motivation of National Socialism; it always set the tone for the decisions of the Nazi leadership in spite of all the tactical turnarounds and adjustments. The objective was the creation of a new society on a "racial" basis as well as a "new racial order" in Europe under "Aryan" dominance. In this respect, the purported "scientific approach" of the racial doctrine served as justification for the marginalization and ultimately the systematic extermination of millions of people. The indoctrination of the population was a central element of the National Socialist system of rule. Thousands of employees in the propaganda machine under Joseph Goebbels controlled public opinion and cultural life. In addition to the new media of radio and film, a compliant press became the central instrument of National Socialist propaganda.

In the same way as the Jewish population, the German Sinti and Roma were also subjected to concerted press campaigns. Their systematic criminalisation was to contribute to justifying the persecution measures and the acceptance of the population as well as to ensuring the collaboration of the authorities.

"Rats, bugs and fleas are also natural phenomena, just as the Jews and gypsies ... All life is a struggle. We therefore have to gradually biologically eradicate all this vermin, and today this means fundamentally changing their living conditions through preventive detention and sterilization laws, so that all these enemies of our people are slowly but surely eradicated." (Journal of the Association of German Physicians, 1938)

 The National Socialist racial ideology was accepted in curricula and textbooks; the "eradication" of all Sinti and Roma was openly demanded even in medical journals. The distorted picture of the "gypsy" in the National Socialist propaganda made a substantial contribution to creating a social climate, in which the deportation of the Sinti and Roma to the death camps was ultimately accepted without protest.

"While the coloured peoples mostly live far away from us and their physical deviations clearly display what separates us, for our people there are two other dangers of racial mixing much closer at hand. These are alien elements which are lighter-skinned, but deviate greatly from the spiritual characteristics of our race. These are the gypsies on the one hand [...] About 6,000 racial gypsies and 12,000 gypsy hybrids (half-gypsies) are living in Germany today. Naturally our Race Protection Laws also apply to the gypsies, since they are not of course "German-blooded", but a foreign race."

The term 'Aryan' is used for all the native race components which are combined in the German people under the determining influence of the Nordic race. A person is of Aryan extraction if he is free of any other (foreign) race genotype ('blood'). Apart from the Jews, all native races of non-European parts of the world and the gypsies are deemed to be foreign. Aryan extraction is a condition for all civil servants (law of 7th of April 1933), lawyers, notaries, patent lawyers, pharmacists, doctors, dentists and dental technicians employed by the health insurance organizations; for the Wehrmacht; labour service and NSDAP."

(from: the biology textbook "Das Leben" for the 5th grade, 1942)

The National Socialists used the help of "science" to define and register Sinti and Roma according to "racial" criteria. The "Racial Hygiene Research Unit" was set up at the Reich Interior Ministry in Berlin in 1936 under the direction of Dr. Robert Ritter for the total registration of all Sinti and Roma. "Race researchers" played a major role in the ideological preparation and the practical implementation of the National Socialist policy of extermination.