The Roma are an interconnected ethnic and cultural group that migrated out of India more than ten centuries ago. In the Czech Republic, they may have been present since the 15th century. Although relations within Czech lands began honorably, they quickly disintegrated into enmity and within a century Czechs could kill the Roma with impunity. Legislation restricting Roma movement came about in 1927 with Law 117: the “Law on Wandering Gypsies,” which stated that the Roma were now required to seek permission to stay overnight in any given location. In the run-up to World War II, parallel restrictions to those enforced upon Jewish populations were placed upon the Roma: the same references to their difference, and a belief in their sub-humanity. Though their numbers were smaller, the Roma of Central and Eastern Europe suffered the same fate as 6 million Jews. In camps such as Lety, Hodonin, and Auschwitz I, they were interned and murdered by the thousands. After the war only 583 of the Roma returned to Czech lands out of the more than 8,000 sent to Roma-specific camps. With the decimation of industrial populations in the Czech and Slovak lands after WWII, there was a window for rural Roma populations to enter. With historic knowledge of blacksmithing and tinkering, they were able to take part in the re-industrializing of the Czech lands. However, within a few years they were relegated to wasted ghettos and their children were routinely sent to schools for the mentally impaired.
Lucero, Florinda and Collum, Jill
"Human Rights in Russia and the Former Soviet Republics: The Roma: During and After Communism,"
Human Rights & Human Welfare: Vol. 7:
1, Article 47.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.du.edu/hrhw/vol7/iss1/47
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