Romanian Gypsies


Figure 1.--This photo was taken by Queen Mary of Romania who was interested in photography. It was used in her 18916 book, "My Country". It shows a Gypsy mother with her children.

Romania has a substantial Gypsey or Roma population. The modern term for gypsey is Roma, a derivation showing the Romanian origins of many European gypsies. Gypes were able to move within the Byzantine Empire and it is during this period that the first gypsies reached the Balkans. Gypsies reached Wallachia (1385) and Moldavia (1370) even before the Ottoman Turks. The first gyopsies secured letters of protection from the King of Hungary. This provided legal status. Gradually the situation for gypsies deteriorted. Cultural differences soon gave rise to disputes between gysies and local residents. Gypsies in Romania as in other countries gradually adopted Christianity as well as took on Romanian names, and learned Roomanian. They have not lost the Rom language and use it when speaking among themselves. They also maintain their Rom music and customs in often tight-knit communities. As a result, a substantial Rom population did not integrate within Romanian society. The Rom arrived in Romania during the feudal era. As a result they became slaves or serfs to the landowners with few rights. An estimated 250,000 Roma were enslaved in the various regions which now make up Romania. They were required to work in Orthodox monasteries and for both landowners and local princes. The Rom were not emancipated until Romania began moving toward indeopendence (1851-56). Mant Romanian Rom speak a version of Romanian called Bayesh. An estimated 40 percent Romanian Gypsies still speak Romany. Some still live in traditional carts which can still be seen on Romanian roads. Most Romanian gypsies now live in urban areas, towns and villages. Some are The majority live in the towns and villages. Some are fully integrated into the life of the towns and villages. Some gypies have decorated their homes in destinctive ornate styles. Others live in shacks or decrepit houses on the perifery of the village. Romania currently has the largest Roma minority in Europe. We have seen varying estimates with numbers rngeing from 0.5-2.0 million. I'm unsure why there is such a substantial desperity. Many Romanians complain about their "disruptive" behavior Government statistics show an usually high involvement with crime. Roma spokesmen attribute this to poverty and the prejudice of Romaiabns which mkes it difficult for tem to find decent paying jobs. Many Romanian gypsies have moved to other European coutries, a migration facilitated by the EU open borders policies. The migration of Romanian Roma began with the fall of Comminist governments in Eastern Europe. Because of the prejudice toward Roma in Romania, many found that begging was un prductive,. Romaniian gypsies found that the take from begging was far greater in other countries (Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany). The Roma have helped give Romania a bad name throughout Europe. Many Eropeans associate Romanians with the Roma. Varying national regulations has affected the migration and as aresult, large numbers of Romanian Roma have moved to Czechoslovakia (Slovakia and the Czech Republic).

Historical Background

Romania has a substantial Gypsey or Roma population. The modern term for gypsey is Roma, a derivation showing the Romanian origins of many European gypsies. Gypes were able to move within the Byzantine Empire and it is during this period that the first gypsies reached the Balkans. Gypsies reached Wallachia (1385) and Moldavia (1370) even before the Ottoman Turks. The first gyopsies secured letters of protection from the King of Hungary. This provided legal status. Gradually the situation for gypsies deteriorted. Cultural differences soon gave rise to disputes between gysies and local residents. Gypsies in Romania as in other countries gradually adopted Christianity as well as took on Romanian names, and learned Roomanian. They have not lost the Rom language and use it when speaking among themselves. They also maintain their Rom music and customs in often tight-knit communities. As a result, a substantial Rom population did not integrate within Romanian society. The Rom arrived in Romania during the feudal era. As a result they became slaves or serfs to the landowners with few rights. An estimated 250,000 Roma were enslaved in the various regions which now make up Romania. They were required to work in Orthodox monasteries and for both landowners and local princes. The Rom were not emancipated until Romania began moving toward indeopendence (1851-56).

World War II (1939-45)

Romania attempted to remain neutralafter the outbreaknof World War II (1939). Sivier seizure of northeastern Romania (1940), forced the Romanians to seek protection from the NAZIs. The Germans forced the country into the Axis (1941). Romanian participated in the Batbarossa invasion of the Soviet Union as a German ally. The Romnian Army was committed in the Ukraine. Romanian Gypsyes were targeted during World War II, but not to the same extent as the Jews. There was never any anti-Gypsey laws passed. The major Romanian action targeting the Gypsies was ordered by Marshal Ion Antonescu on his own initisative. He personally ordered the deportation of Gypsies to the Romanian-occupied Ukranine (1942). This was a Romanian operation and not carried out under German pressure. The Romanians who killed Jews in occupied territories appeared to be also willing to carry out Gypsey killing operations. The Romanians deported 25,000 Gypseys to camps in the Ukraine. The orders targeted nomadic Gypsies, but settled Gypsies and even soldiers in uniform on home leave as well as Gypsey-looking Romanians were caught up in the sweep. Plans involved depoting more, but were cancelled. Armed Gypseys in the Army may have been a factor here. There were no further deportments. The deportments were disruptive, but the termintion probably reflected the increasing awarness that the Grrmans were losing the War. The termination of the deportments,however, did not help those already deported. The camps were theoretically work camps, but the failure to provide food, clithing and shelkter suggests that littlke cin the way of beneficial work was performed. On the other hand,the deportations created labor shortages, especially agrivulturallbor, in the areas from which they were deported. The SS reportedly executed 11,000 of these unfortunate people at the Trihati camp. Many also died of typhoid, starvation and maltreatment. Only about 6,000 survived and managed to make it back to Romania.

Communist Era


Language

Many Romanian Rom speak a version of Romanian called Bayesh. An estimated 40 percent Romanian Gypsies still speak Romany.

Demographics

Romania currently has the largest Roma minority in Europe. We have seen varying estimates with numbers rngeing from 0.5-2.0 million. I'm unsure why there is such a substantial desperity. Some Rom still live in traditional carts which can still be seen on Romanian roads. Most Romanian gypsies now live in urban areas, towns and villages. Some are The majority live in the towns and villages. Some are fully integrated into the life of the towns and villages. Some gypies have decorated their homes in destinctive ornate styles. Others live in shacks or decrepit houses on the perifery of the village.

Social Conditions

Many Romanians complain about their "disruptive" behavior Government statistics show an usually high involvement with crime. Roma spokesmen attribute this to poverty and the prejudice of Romaiabns which mkes it difficult for tem to find decent paying jobs. Many Romanian gypsies have moved to other European coutries, a migration facilitated by the EU open borders policies. The migration of Romanian Roma began with the fall of Comminist governments in Eastern Europe. Because of the prejudice toward Roma in Romania, many found that begging was un prductive,. Romaniian gypsies found that the take from begging was far greater in other countries (Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany). The Roma have helped give Romania a bad name throughout Europe. Many Eropeans associate Romanians with the Roma. Varying national regulations has affected the migration and as aresult, large numbers of Romanian Roma haved moved to Czechoslovakia (Slovakia and the Czech Republic).

Reader Comments

A reader tells us, "When I was in Romania during 2005 I saw many gypsies, the women often in long colorful dresses. Many live in Transylvania in villages with names like Stolzenburg and Frauendorf where they now occupy the former houses of the German Saxons who had left for Germany. I shall not forget the young gypsy woman walking home from the market carrying a live chicken by the feet with the head down, nearly touching the ground. Primitive and cruel. In Bucarest I saw the palace of the gypsy king and these people had some celebrities among them, especially their musicians like the guitarist Django Reinhardt who became world famous. I have heard that Charley Chaplin and Elvis Presley also had gypsy blood."

Sources

Queen Mary of Romania. My Country (Hodder and Stoughton: London - New York - Toronto, 1916).






HBC





Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main Gypsey page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing national pages:
[Return to the Main Romanian page]
[Return to the Main countries page]
[Australia] [Belgium] [England] [France] [Germany] [Ireland] [Italy] [Japan] [Korea] [Mexico] [New Zealand] [Scotland] [United States]



Created: 1:34 AM 2/7/2008
Last updated: 4:50 PM 2/7/2008