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The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0195142402
ISBN-10: 0195142403
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Nationalist Socialist dream of a pure society demanded elimination not only of the Jews but of all those who challenged the homogeneity of a racial and cultural utopia. Europe's Gypsies presented a particular problem for the race-obsessed Nazis: on the one hand they were viewed as antisocial liars and thieves, as "work-shy" and as wanderers without a homeland. Yet they supposedly descended from "Aryan" roots in India. Hence Lewy finds policies concerning them to be often contradictory and fluctuating. A professor emeritus of political science at UMass (Amherst), Lewy has plumbed the archives and, through meticulous documentation and a painstaking reconstruction of events, arrived at a startling new interpretation of the Nazi policy toward the Gypsies. Lewy argues that in contrast to the Final Solution of the "Jewish Question," the Nazis had no comparable plan to exterminate the Gypsies. And when the latter were sent to the concentration camps for extermination, it was not solely because of their biological existence, like the Jews, but because their wandering way of life challenged the social and cultural construct of the Third Reich. An important facet in the Gypsies' fate, according to Lewy, was ordinary Germans' insistence on measures against them, something the Nazi regime did not have to foster. Lewy shows how Nazi persecution of the Gypsies evolved through the 1930s: at first, local officials were responsible for measures of control and harassment; eventually, the racial laws written against Jews were directed against Gypsies. Lewy traces this sequence of events in detail; his theory may be controversial, but he argues his case carefully. 20 b&w photos. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

This book by Lewy (emeritus, political science, Univ. of Massachusetts) addresses an important need in the historiography of the Nazi era. His systematic study of the persecution of the Gypsies places their story in the context of German racial law. Since many Gypsies lived an indigent life and were often shunned as thieves, they were initially classified as "work shy" by the Nazis. As Nazi racial laws further defined "racial pollution," the Gypsies found themselves stigmatized as a foreign element potentially dangerous to the Aryan racial utopia. Of particular interest is Lewy's analysis of how some Gypsies managed to survive by being classified as "socially adjusted," meaning they had jobs and permanent residence, and therefore could avoid deportation (although not sterilization). Based on solid archival sources, this should become the standard work on the subject. Recommended for most public and academic libraries.
-Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; 1 edition (May 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195142403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195142402
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.8 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,046,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 50 people found the following review helpful By V.L. Reyes-Wimberly on May 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I find this book personally insulting and full of revisionist conclusions. As a Romani who lost Grandmother and many Aunts and Uncles in the Porrajmos (the devouring in Romany)I am outraged that once again we, the victims of this insanity are blamed for the crimes committed against us. That ANY victims of the Holocaust are essentially blamed for their own demise is cruel and unjustified. I also contest, and detest, Mr. Lewy's conclustion that the Roma people were not racially marked for extermination: this is both absurd and untrue as withnessed by the nazi's own words, we were "lives unworthy of life, we were criminals due to our genetics, Germany must be cleansed of the Gypsy plague" etc. An inaccurate book full of racial sterotypes, the gist of which was used by the nazi's as justification for the extermination of the Roma in the first place and is still being used to justify the persecution of Roma today. Horrid book.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful By tpandle on May 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I originally was excited to see this book come out and hoped that it would bring to greater attention the overlooked genocide of the Roma. However, investigation of the book itself proved not only disappointing, but even disturbing.
Lewy _appears_ to present a very scholarly and thoroughly-researched work, and yet the many strange and significant gaps in his text can only suggest that he had an unspoken agenda: to actually deny the genocide of the Roma during the Holocaust .
Further, at least as far as I could find, he does not seem to have made any effort whatsoever to include in his research the work of Romani scholars and historians. This would seem to have been an obvious place to start. And while apparently standing as a defender of the persecuted, he actually writes about the Roma in prejudicial and condescending ways.
... Instead, that description accurately belongs to "The Gypsies During the Second World War." For anyone who's truly interested, _this_ is the work that should "become the standard work on the subject."
...
I hope that readers who came to this Amazon page with an interest in this subject will investigate The Gypsies During the Second World War, vol. 1 & 2, and the works of Ian Hancock.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on July 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an absorbing, well-written and quite readable text book by a noted 20th century historian, Guenter Lewy, and it constitutes a disturbing, graphic and poignant overview of the Nazi campaign against the gypsy population of central Europe. The German national socialist regime, always in search for helpless, infirm and unwell sectors of the population to scapegoat and persecute, found in the gypsies an ideal target by way of a collection of powerless, rootless, and socio-politically unsavory groups of individuals to prey upon. Yet this persecution has not been widely publized or recognized until now largely because of the nature of the gypsy population, i.e. due to their own lack of social and political visibility, no one has paid a lot of attention to their plight or to the multitude of ways in which they were persecuted, along with Jews and other political groups by the Nazis.
This book remedies that egregious oversight, painting a vivid, quite compassionate picture of the gypsies' dilemma, and at the same time marshaling a damning indictment of the general campaign of mistreatment, disenfranchisement, torture, and murder conducted by the Third Reich against all subjugated peoples both in greater Germany and also in the countries conquered as they pushed both east and west during the prosecution of the war. According to the author, the policy seemed to evolve as the Nazis encountered such groups in their conquests, and whatever policies as emerged did so more in relation to the local officials' negative views of the gypsies as being thieves, trouble-makers and undesirables than due to any overall pre-planned approach.
Of course, this sort of insight shouldn't come as a total surprise to students of Third Reich social policies.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen VINE VOICE on August 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book with great expectations when Oxford University Press published it in 2000; unfortunately, I have found upon reading it (at long last), it leaves much to be desired. So much so that I couldn't help wondering whether the authors who signed their names to rave accolades on the dust jacket of the hardbound edition even read the entire book.

For starters, Lewy's explanation of the Rom's "mysterious" 13th to 14th century arrival in Europe is completely laughable. Yes, as Lewy notes, the Rom originated in India. But there, his accuracy ends. Rom myths alone cannot explain their history of traveling (nor could mythology of any people be cited as historical fact).

As K.S. Lal has noted in his books on the Muslim conquest of the subcontinent (Legacy of Muslim Rule in India and Muslim Slave System in Medieval India), it was Islamic practice to subject entire conquered populations to slaughter and mass deportation as slaves --- and India's Muslim conquerors deported millions of Indians as slaves --- as well as destroying tens of thousands of Hindu temples and building mosques over their ruins.

Equally important, as Ian Hancock has so ably noted in his scholarly works on the Rom (e.g., Pariah Syndrome: An Account of Gypsy Slavery and Persecution and
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