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About a million Roma (Gypsies) lived in Europe before World War II. The largest Romani community—of about 300,000—was in Romania. This film shows a Romani (Gypsy) community in Moreni, a small town northwest of Bucharest. Many Roma led a nomadic lifestyle and often worked as small traders, craftsmen, merchants, laborers, and muscians.
This film excerpt from Groß-Stadt Zigeuner (1932) by filmmaker László Moholy-Nagy shows a Romani (Gypsy) campsite near Berlin, Germany, in the last year of the Weimar Republic. Although Roma (Gypsies) had faced persecution in Germany even before the Nazi rise to power in 1933, the Nazis regarded them as racial enemies to be identified and killed. Tens of thousands of Roma were killed by the Einsatzgruppen in eastern Europe or were deported to killing centers in occupied Poland.
Germany and its Axis allies invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941. The Germans probably shot this film after they occupied southern Slovenia following the Italian armistice in 1943. The film was found in the Ustasa (Croatian fascist) archives after World War II and shows the dismal living conditions that Roma (Gypsies) endured in occupied northern Yugoslavia.
Eva Justin was an assistant to Dr. Robert Ritter, the Third Reich's "expert" on Roma (Gypsies). She studied these Romani (Gypsy) children as part of her dissertation on the racial characteristics of Roma. The children stayed at St. Josefspflege, a Catholic children's home in Mulfingen, Germany. Justin completed her study shortly after this film was taken. The children were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where most were killed.