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  • 10
    DEC

    The Answer to ”the Gypsy Question”: Anti-Roma Propaganda in the Press of the District of Galicia and the General Government 1941-1944

    Advanced seminar arranged by the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University.

    Speaker: Piotr Wawrzeniuk, Swedish Defence University.
    Discussant: Andrej Kotljarchuk, Södertörn University.
    Chair: David Gaunt, Södertörn University.

     

    The draft of the article to be discussed constitutes the first study of anti-Roma propaganda in the press of the
    District of Galicia in particular and General Government in general. The propaganda was formulated centrally in Cracow, and then adapted for local audiences and needs at the regional propaganda departments in the districts. Dailies and periodicals in Polish, Ukrainian and German are studied. As propaganda has to work with preconceptions, the author identifies well-established stereotypes from the interwar time and beyond, before analyzing the dailies and periodicals of the occupation period. Compared to interwar times, however, Roma were depersonalized and demonized in completely new manner. While it was possible to learn from inter-war outlets that there were various Roma groups and traditions, any differences between Roma of various origins and ways of life disappeared during the war time.

    According to the propaganda, the main problem with Roma from which all problems emanated was that they were inborn wanderers, and thus unable to adapt to society. The subjects on Roma radicalized over the period studied, with Roma being mentioned in parallel with Jews in 1942. However, compared to massive anti-Semitic propaganda, the notes and articles on Roma were few. The appearance of anti-Roma sentiments in the press went in parallel with harsher persecution of Roma, notably the peak of shootings in 1942-1943. As it appeared in the press, the “solution of the Gypsy question” promised a quick cure for the problem that has amassed over the centuries, disrupted the functioning of the contemporary societies, and threatened to follow Europe into the bleak future, if not resolved immediately.

    The notices and articles on Roma contained negative labelling (wanderers, aliens, thieves, vectors), ephemeral promises of a better future (once Roma would disappear), and presupposed a common “we”/”us” between the readership, the authors, and – sometimes – the general European public, a community from which Roma and Jews were excluded. The public was obliged to act, or face the consequences – destabilization of society and a Soviet victory. The material indicates there was a centrally orchestrated anti-Roma propaganda that radicalized over time, towards solving of “the Gypsy question” in the way similar to the Jewish one. The results point at genocidal plans towards Roma on behalf of the Nazi authorities. Somewhat surprisingly, the uniform propaganda effort on the GG and on the (district) DG level did not yield same consequent genocidal policy on
    Roma in all districts.
     

    Piotr Wawrzeniuk is Assistant Professor of Military History at the Swedish Defence University in Stockholm. In 2012–17, he headed the project “The Roma Genocide in Ukraine 1941–1944: History, Memory, Representations” at Södertörn University, Sweden. His research interests have encompassed contemporary Ukrainian military culture, Polish military assessments of small states in the interwar period, the Ukrainian cooperative movement in Austrian Galicia and interwar Poland, Swedish colonists in the Ukraine in the nineteenth century, and the Uniate Church in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

    Tid och plats

    När: måndag 10 december kl. 13:00-14:30

    Vad: högre seminarium

    Var: Room MA 796, CBEES, Södertörn University

    Arrangeras av: The Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University.

    Evenemangsspråk: engelska