Oral History

Theresia Seible and Rita Prigmore describe research on twins

Theresia Seible, Gypsy mother of twins born under Nazi doctors’ supervision, and Gypsy twin Rita Prigmore describe research on twins.

[Photo credits: Getty Images, New York City; Yad Vashem, Jerusalem; Max-Planck-Institut für Psychiatrie (Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Psychiatrie), Historisches Archiv, Bildersammlung GDA, Munich; Bundesarchiv Koblenz, Germany; Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes, Vienna; Kriemhild Synder: Die Landesheilanstalt Uchtspringe und ihre Verstrickung in nationalsozialistische Verbrechen; HHStAW Abt. 461, Nr. 32442/12; Privat Collection L. Orth, APG Bonn.]


We were treated as though we just didn't exist. As if we just weren't there. You know, it is terrible when a person's dignity is taken away from them. You are nothing anymore. We are people, not animals they can study. Why should we do it? We resisted. It went on for a year like this, back and forth. Our house was always being watched by the SS. They came with cars, took us to various clinics. They always had one pretext. Always our Gypsy blood.

Dr. Professor Heyde, he did all the same medical research on Gypsies, on Jews, even on soldiers, on retarded people. We were identical twins, Gypsy twins, two little girls born on the third, third, 1943 in a clinic, research clinic. When my mom had to bring us in, they did all this research. And at that time when they went back to check on us and there was only one in there, and then she found out that my sister, Rolanda, was in the bathtub, where the nurse took her, and she had a bandage around her head.

When I got halfway up the stairs, a young nurse met me and she said: Are you looking for something?” And I said, "Yes, where are the newborns?” She said, “The twins are just on the left here.” Then I grabbed the child and heard my father say in Sinti, “For Heaven’s sake, leave the pillow and the blanket! That’s stealing! They’ll have a reason to arrest us!" I grabbed the child as she was and ran halfway down the stairs. My father ran toward me, took the child, put her under his coat and fled. I went back up and my mother hit one of the nurses. There was a lot of chaos as she tried to shove my mother back and shut the door. She didn’t know we already had one child. At that moment, another nurse came as if sent from God and said to the doctor: “Tell the woman you took the child into the operating room and brought it out dead! What have you done with the child? The woman wants to see her dead child!” And that’s when my arms just, I just cannot describe this to you.


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