Gypsies- Zigeuner

Posted on 06. Nov, 2010 by in Culture, Current Events, Folklore, History, Holidays, Language, Music, People, Traditions, Travel

Zigeuner- Gypsies

Thousands of years ago an ethnic group from northern India migrated towards Europe, spreading to all directions around the globe eventually, all the way to Australia as well as north America, thus the history of the gypsies in Germany going back 600 years.

During WWI many Roma’s, as they prefer to be called, fought for Germany, yet never receiving (bekommen ) compensation as promised and were rather jobless.

The German term for gypsy is Zigeuner- meaning “Ziehendes Volk”  In Latin the true meaning ( Bedeutung )is “untouchable”  often they were mistaken for Egyptians throughout history as to why the name”Gypsy”

While everyone is aware of the holocaust, it seems the gypsies or zigeuner have been forgotten in our society and history, persecuted, hunted and discriminated all over Europe and across the globe.

The statistics on how many perished during world war two is still under debate but the estimates is around 600,000 to a million and even today most live in poverty, receive no government help and are often deported like the recent event in France.

During WWII gypsy women were forced to become guinea pigs in the hands of Nazi physicians. Women were sterilized as unworthy human reproduction. Much like the Jewish star, the gypsies wore black patches, green triangles and the letter Z.

After Germany invaded the Soviet Union, special SS squads began shooting Gypsies in Russia, Poland, and the Balkans, at the same time killing Jews.

Thousands of Sinti and Roma men, women, and children are believed to have been killed in these actions, ( Aktionen)  often carried out under the pretext that the victims were “spies.”

Yet this ethnic group did in fact have an influence ( einfluss )on the German culture even till this day. Based on blood sampling with modern technology some 40% of Germans can trace back their heritage to Roma Lineage, making the culture of Germany interesting in a total different perspective.

Famous for craftsmanship, artisans, musicians, their music influenced the works of Beethoven, Johannes Bach among others even the modern Jazz and Tango.

When the House of Habsburger took over the rule, letting Roma’s live freely during that reign, it seemed to some, these Roma people were magical, dancing by campfires, playing ( Spielen )violins and singing beautiful songs, especially in cultural capitals such as Vienna and Budapest, during the 18th and 19th centuries.

After World War II, many migrated to the US, yet unlike the Jews, returned to Germany and other countries, the fear and persecution was too much for them, the ones that did stay in America integrated within Native Americans, often hiding identity or rather claiming to be native Americans.

Many don’t want to admit but the Roma’s had a great influence on many cultures within Europe, for most its still a difficult life, in recent events Germany extradited several thousands of them back to Kosovo and while like a recent reader of mine indicated, every nation on this planet has a dark side, and I personally believe one can overcome many things including dicrimination among so many issues and events that take place, the gypsies till this day  are still a shunned ethnic group, which is not so different  from their humble beginnings in the 14th century.

gypsies- Zigeuner

Receiving- bekommen

influence- Einfluss

Actions- Aktionen

Playing- Spielen

meaning- Bedeutung

To learn the German words- click here

4 Responses to “Gypsies- Zigeuner”

  1. Deborah 6 November 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    Hello a friend would like to know if the genetic haplotypes have actually Been done. He says the Indian ancestry for European peoples is well established be it Celtic, Ayrian, Russo Swedish or Iberian. A cultural change doesn’t necessarily show on genetics.

    I have had a look at one link on this so far although needs deciphering.

  2. mary 7 November 2010 at 6:04 am #

    There are peoples and whole countries in this world that constantly complain about discrimination, but the Roma or Gypsies are certainly Not one of them, even though they have very good reason to.

    I remember the Gypsies coming knocking on our door a few times a year to trade. (that was in Germany) It was always women who came around with their kids and they were just as poor or poorer than we were.

    The main thing they wanted was linens of all sorts: bed sheets, table cloths and curtains. The main thing they traded were all kinds of handmade and crocheted doilies, table cloths and pillow covers and other decorative items.

    I was a little kid back then and I remember looking at the Gypsy kids and just dying of curiosity and wanting to play! But before we knew it our moms were done trading and we parted ways. I always wonder what happened to all these people we met at our door for just a few minutes…

  3. mary 7 November 2010 at 6:06 am #

    Wanted to add to the previous comment: this took place in the mid 1970s.

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