Sophie Ehrhardt performs a racial examination on a Romani woman

Sophie Ehrhardt performs a racial examination on a Romani woman

Sophie Ehrhardt, a German hygienist working with Dr. Robert Ritter, performs a racial examination on a Romani woman. Berlin, Germany, c. 1936-1940.

During the Nazi era, Dr. Robert Ritter was a leading authority on the racial classification of people pejoratively labeled “Zigeuner” (“Gypsies”). Ritter’s research was in a field called eugenics, or what the Nazis called “racial hygiene.” Ritter worked with a small team of racial hygienists. Among them were Eva Justin and Sophie Ehrhardt. Most of the people whom Ritter studied and classified as Zigeuner were German Roma called Sinti. Sinti are a subgroup of Romani peoples. 

In 1935, municipal authorities across Nazi Germany began to force Romani families to move into Zigeunerlager (“Gypsy camps”). Eventually, these camps were centralized under the authority of the Nazi Kripo (criminal police). Ritter and his team regularly examined the individuals in these camps. They sometimes used threats or bribes to force people to cooperate. The creation of these camps was one of the Nazis’ early steps toward the genocide of Romani peoples. Many Romani victims were later deported to concentration camps, ghettos, or killing centers. 

Source Record ID: R 165 Bild-244-71


  • Bundesarchiv

Thank you for supporting our work

We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.