The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies
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The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies

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Roaming the countryside in caravans, earning their living as musicians, peddlars and fortune-tellers, the Gypsies and their elusive way of life represented an affront to Nazi ideas of social order, hard work, and racial purity. They were branded as "asocials", harassed, and eventually herded into concentration camps where many thousands were killed. But until now the story of their persecution has been overlooked or distorted. In "The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies", Guenter Lewy draws upon thousands of documents - many never before used - from German and Austrian archives to provide the most comprehensive and accurate study available of the fate of the Gypsies under the Nazi regime. Lewy traces the escalating vilification of the Gypsies as the Nazis insigated a widespread crackdown on the "work-shy" and "itinerants". But he shows that Nazi policy towards Gypsies was confused and changeable. At first, local officials persecuted Gypsies, and those who behaved in Gypsy-like fashion, for allegedly anti-social tendencies. Later, with the rise of race obsession, Gypsies were seen as a threat to racial purity, though Himmler himself wavered, trying to save those he considered "pure Gypsies" descended from Aryan roots in India. Indeed, Lewy contradicts much existing scolarship in showing that, however much the Gypsies were persecuted, there was no general programme of extermination analogous to the "final solution" for the Jews. Exploring in heart-rending detail the fates of individual Gypsies and their families, "The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies" makes an important addition to our understanding both of the history of this mysterious people and of all facets of Nazi terror.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 154 x 228 x 22mm | 399.16g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 20 halftone and line illustrations
  • 0195142403
  • 9780195142402
  • 892,078

Review quote

"Lewy's study is an extremely important addition to the study of the persecution of the Gypsies during the Nazi period, a subject that has been little researched until now...Lewy's meticulously researched and methodically presented study is based on the study of primary documents in archives and in various governmental agencies. The book includes some photos and reproductions of documents and an extensive bibliography."--Multicultural Review"Guenter Lewy's The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies is an outstanding achievement. It will become the standard work on the subject. It documents and analyses an aspect of Nazi criminality that hasn't received sufficient attention and corrects some unfounded statements. It is a work of great compassion and exemplary scholarship."--Saul Friedlander, Department of History, Tel Aviv University and University of California, Los Angeles"Lewy's account of Nazi measures against the powerless Gypsies is unsurpassed in the English language. It tells a story in painstaking, footnoted detail that is totally bizarre. This book is a platform for much reflection."--Raul Hilber, author of The Destruction of the European Jews"In his level-headed way Guenter Lewy challenges many stereotypes about the Gypsies, exploring their culture including their 'ritual purity'. He also argues that despite all Nazi crimes against them the Third Reich's policy towards them lacked the single-mindedness of its murderous assault on the Jews. Meticulously researched, this book is innovative and courageous in its conclusions."--Klemens von Klemperer, Department of History, Smith College"A moving account of the fate of a small people caught in a maelstrom."--Kirkus"The tragic story of the Gypsies during Nazi Germany is presented in this comprehensive volume, which provides details on the fates of individuals and families...Lewy contradicts existing scholarship in showing that however much they were persecuted, there was no general program of extermination that was comparable to the 'final solution' of the Jews."--The Topeka Capital-Journal"In The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies, Lewy...draws upon thousands of documents--never before used--from German and Austrian archives to provide the most comprehensive and accurate study available of the fate of the Gypsies under the Nazi regime."--Gadfly Online"The sterling value of Mr. Lewy's book rests on his research of the available sources including 29 German and Austrian archives at federal and other levels...These...give the book the air of social history at its soberest but best"--Washington Times"Lewy has written a major work on the Nazi persecution of the Gypsies which is accessible to the general reader as well as to scholars."--The Philadelphia Inquirer"Based on solid archival sources, this should become the standard work on the subject."--Frederic Krome, Library Journal"A startling new interpretion 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...His theory may be controversial, but he argues his case carefully."--Publisher's Weekly"[E]specially welcome. Mr. Lewy's account id the most comprehensive treatment of the subject in English to date."--Tom Gross, Wall Street Journal"A reasoned, academic overview of the often historically neglected Nazi persecution of the gypsies. The book is very accessible to the general reader, filled with poignant details of individual and community struggles with the growing Nazi terror."--ForeWord"Our understanding about the persecution of the Gypsies by the Nazis has been fairly limited until now. To date, there has been only one work on the subject in English and it is highly inadequate. Part of the reason for this paucity of information is that there were few Gypsy intellectuals, and not one Gypsy was called to testify at any of the tribunals that followed the war. Moreover, many of the experiences in the camps...violated a number of Gypsy tabus so that the survivors were reluctant to discuss what had transpired. Outsiders who sought to penetrate this wall of silence were generally rebuffed...Drawing on documentary material from twenty-nine Austrian and German archives, the National Archives and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum..., Lewy has written a groundbreaking work. By examining the decrees promulgated in Berlin and determining how these policies were implemented at the local level, he has provided a detailed account of the persecution of the Gypsies."--Together "Lewy's study is an extremely important addition to the study of the persecution of the Gypsies during the Nazi period, a subject that has been little researched until now....Lewy's meticulously researched and methodically presented study is based on the study of primary documents in archives and in various governmental agencies. The book includes some photos and reproductions of documents and an extensive bibliography."--Multicultural Review"Guenter Lewy's The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies is an outstanding achievement. It will become the standard work on the subject. It documents and analyses an aspect of Nazi criminality that hasn't received sufficient attention and corrects some unfounded statements. It is a work of great compassion and exemplary scholarship."--Saul Friedlander, Department of History, Tel Aviv University and University of California, Los Angeles"Lewy's account of Nazi measures against the powerless Gypsies is unsurpassed in the English language. It tells a story in painstaking, footnoted detail that is totally bizarre. This book is a platform for much reflection."--Raul Hilber, author of The Destruction of the European Jews"In his level-headed way Guenter Lewy challenges many stereotypes about the Gypsies, exploring their culture including their 'ritual purity'. He also argues that despite all Nazi crimes against them the Third Reich's policy towards them lacked the single-mindedness of its murderous assault on the Jews. Meticulously researched, this book is innovative and courageous in its conclusions."--Klemens von Klemperer, Department of History, Smith College"A moving account of the fate of a small people caught in a maelstrom."--Kirkus "Lewy's study is an extremely important addition to the study of the persecution of the Gypsies during the Nazi period, a subject that has been little researched until now....Lewy's meticulously researched and methodically presented study is based on the study of primary documents in archives and in various governmental agencies. The book includes some photos and reproductions of documents and an extensive bibliography."--Multicultural Review "Guenter Lewy's The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies is an outstanding achievement. It will become the standard work on the subject. It documents and analyses an aspect of Nazi criminality that hasn't received sufficient attention and corrects some unfounded statements. It is a work of great compassion and exemplary scholarship."--Saul Friedlander, Department of History, Tel Aviv University and University of California, Los Angeles "Lewy's account of Nazi measures against the powerless Gypsies is unsurpassed in the English language. It tells a story in painstaking, footnoted detail that is totally bizarre. This book is a platform for much reflection."--Raul Hilber, author of The Destruction of the European Jews "In his level-headed way Guenter Lewy challenges many stereotypes about the Gypsies, exploring their culture including their 'ritual purity'. He also argues that despite all Nazi crimes against them the Third Reich's policy towards them lacked the single-mindedness of its murderous assault on the Jews. Meticulously researched, this book is innovative and courageous in its conclusions."--Klemens von Klemperer, Department of History, Smith College "A moving account of the fate of a small people caught in amaelstrom."--Kirkus "Lewy's study is an extremely important addition to the study of the persecution of the Gypsies during the Nazi period, a subject that has been little researched until now....Lewy's meticulously researched and methodically presented study is based on the study of primary documents in archives and in various governmental agencies. The book includes some photos and reproductions of documents and an extensive bibliography."--Multicultural Review "Guenter Lewy's The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies is an outstanding achievement. It will become the standard work on the subject. It documents and analyses an aspect of Nazi criminality that hasn't received sufficient attention and corrects some unfounded statements. It is a work of great compassion and exemplary scholarship."--Saul Friedlander, Department of History, Tel Aviv University and University of California, Los Angeles "Lewy's account of Nazi measures against the powerless Gypsies is unsurpassed in the English language. It tells a story in painstaking, footnoted detail that is totally bizarre. This book is a platform for much reflection."--Raul Hilber, author of The Destruction of the European Jews "In his level-headed way Guenter Lewy challenges many stereotypes about the Gypsies, exploring their culture including their 'ritual purity'. He also argues that despite all Nazi crimes against them the Third Reich's policy towards them lacked the single-mindedness of its murderous assault on the Jews. Meticulously researched, this book is innovative and courageous in its conclusions."--Klemens von Klemperer, Department of History, Smith College "A moving account of thefate of a small people caught in a maelstrom."--Kirkus "Lewy's study is an extremely important addition to the study of the persecution of the Gypsies during the Nazi period, a subject that has been little researched until now....Lewy's meticulously researched and methodically presented study is based on the study of primary documents in archives and invarious governmental agencies. The book includes some photos and reproductions of documents and an extensive bibliography."--Multicultural Review"Guenter Lewy's The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies is an outstanding achievement. It will become the standard work on the subject. It documents and analyses an aspect of Nazi criminality that hasn't received sufficient attention and corrects some unfounded statements. It is a work of greatcompassion and exemplary scholarship."--Saul Friedlander, Department of History, Tel Aviv University and University of California, Los Angeles"Lewy's account of Nazi measures against the powerless Gypsies is unsurpassed in the English language. It tells a story in painstaking, footnoted detail that is totally bizarre. This book is a platform for much reflection."--Raul Hilber, author of The Destruction of the European Jews"In his level-headed way Guenter Lewy challenges many stereotypes about the Gypsies, exploring their culture including their 'ritual purity'. He also argues that despite all Nazi crimes against them the Third Reich's policy towards them lacked the single-mindedness of its murderous assault on theJews. Meticulously researched, this book is innovative and courageous in its conclusions."--Klemens von Klemperer, Department of History, Smith College"A moving account of the fate of a small people caught in amaelstrom."--Kirkusshow more

About Guenter Lewy

Guenter Lewy is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of many books, including "The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany" and "Religion and Revolution" (OUP 1974)show more

Rating details

43 ratings
3.6 out of 5 stars
5 12% (5)
4 51% (22)
3 28% (12)
2 5% (2)
1 5% (2)
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