And are Their Dead no Less Dead?

. . . That is, the Sinti and Roma, which we English-speakers describe as “Gypsies”?

The horror of the Holocaust sometimes burns so blazingly bright that it destroys our ability to understand that the Jews were not the only group consigned to death by the Nazis.  The homosexuals of course were done to death as and when caught (OK, it’s impossible not to note that the fellow who composed “Des Großen Kurfürsten Reitermarsch,” Graf Cuno von Moltke, came from the same family which provided the commander who defeated France in 1870, and also the same fellow who dropped dead before the kaiser while wearing a ballerina’s costume), and of course the mentally handicapped were dispatched as “useless feeders.”

When one thinks of Nazis, one thinks of Jews.  Properly, by the way.

But the Jews were not the only victims of the Nazi genocide.  So also were the Gypsies, like the Jews the Eternal Other, the People Who Do Not Belong.  The people who wherever their camps were pitched were to that extent convenient objects to load up with blame for whatever misfortune happened to plague the neighborhood that year.  They died, but unlike the Jews they have had no wealthy, influential kinsmen in other lands to rub our noses in their degradation and death. 

Jewry’s dispersal, the Diaspora, was not only their curse but also their salvation.  To kill them all one must first lay hands upon them, and when they have sunk roots deep in the soil of the United States, which is quite capable and willing to dole out such ass-whippings as may be necessary to warn off the aspirations of ambitious princes (to borrow, imperfectly, from Gibbon), their complete eradication is not possible.  But the Gypsies didn’t come to the U.S.  They stayed in Europe.  Where Hitler found them.

Mourn them, as well as the other victims.  Promise their survivors that we will not stand aside once again.

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