How will these resources help you? 

The resources in this list have been chosen in order to highlight a history that has been either forgotten or only previously briefly explored. It includes books and lectures about the Romani Holocaust, written by specialists in the field. These specialists are people who have invested decades of research to tell a story no-one wanted to hear. The Romani Holocaust, or ‘The Devouring’ as it is known by the Romanichal peoples, has not been widely discussed historically. It was not ‘recognised’ until 1979 and no Romani person gave evidence at Nuremberg. As a Romani woman myself, I have invested time trying to understand the atrocities my community faced, and I have explored the effect of these atrocities on current community mindsets and behaviours. Growing up, I had no knowledge of the persecution; it was only through the preparation of exhibitions that I began to realise the depth of the injustices. 
Settela’s Last Road

by Janna Eliot, published by Trafford Publishing, (2008), 9781425157029

In this moving piece of fiction, the author has crafted a story whose message should invoke anger for the injustices experienced, yet instead leaves us with feelings of love, and admiration, for our heroine. It also explores the camaraderie between the Gypsies and the Jews.
Simply written, it is a fictional version of the story of Settela, the nine-year old girl who was famously photographed peering between the closing doors of the death-train on the way to the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau. While Settela’s own words are not available to us, research by journalist Aad Wagenaar led him to discover that Settela was not Jewish, but Sinti. Janna Eliot has reconstructed Settela’s desperate story, allowing us the privilege of being able to see life through her eyes.
Although this is fiction, it faithfully represents Senetta’s thoughts and imaginings – her dreams of leading her people to freedom, her fears and her sources of strength in the most extreme situations. It is poignant that the reader knows that these are a child’s dreams of the woman she will never have the chance to become. This is an emotive, simple and unforgettable introduction to the Romani Holocaust and could be read alongside the teaching of The Diary of Anne Frank
Porrajmos: The Romani and the Holocaust with Ian Hancock – Holocaust Living History

published by University of California Television, Youtube, (2014)

This lecture is given by the renowned Romanichal academic Ian Hancock, who has written numerous papers and a book on the subject of the Romani Holocaust. He is widely considered a leading authority on the subject. In this lecture, Hancock looks back into the history of the Romanichal people before Nazi Germany and explores how the Final Solution gave the Nazis ‘permission’ to carry such extreme atrocities. The Nazis were focused on creating a ‘superior race’ in Germany and applied Darwinian eugenics theories to validate this (see timestamp at 22.10). You could discuss the quote that Ian Hancock pulls out from Darwin’s writings in class: how do students react to this and how would such a statement be viewed today?
The Holocaust claimed between approximately 500,000 to 1.5 million Romani lives. This genocide was largely ignored until Ian Hancock and others exposed the extremities of this injustice. As a Romani-born British citizen, activist and scholar, Hancock has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the Romani people during the Second World War. Explore with students why the Nazis selected the Romani People to be part of their Final Solution. 
Gypsies Under the Swastika

by Donald Kenrick and Grattan Puxon, published by University of Hertfordshire Press, (2009), 9781902806808

This small but well-organised book was published in the mid-90s and is arguably one of the first books to bring the Romanichal Holocaust to a wide audience. Romanichal people have been persecuted and mistreated for centuries and this book shines a light onto their hidden and ignored history within the context of twentieth century events, notably their treatment at the hands of the Nazis. Romani survivors did not commit their stories to paper but, in most cases, tried to forget the horrors they had experienced. Some passed on their accounts by word of mouth.
The authors, while not Romani themselves, began to assemble the sparse documentation and to gather eyewitness accounts in 1969. This research was published in 1972 as The Destiny of Europe's Gypsies. Since then, more names have emerged of Romanis who fought with the partisans and of the small number of non-Gypsies who selflessly tried to protect these innocent victims of fascism.
This revised edition contains new illustrations and reference notes with text updated to reflect newly available source material. The authors’ view that the Nazis’ aim was the total annihilation of all Romanichal people has not wavered between the first and second editions.
Within a classroom setting, you could discuss with students why they think that large sections of marginalised people were forgotten, while we know so much more about other victims. 
Never Forget: A Photographic Supplement to the Romani Holocaust

by Robert Dawson, published by self-published, 9781903418826

The 240 photos of Romani people that comprise this book show a historical record of actual events during the Second World War in countries run by the Nazis. While many of the photos portray non-confrontational snapshots in time between soldiers and Gypsies (in the camps or playing music), others capture more harrowing and disturbing events (people being rounded up, loaded onto transport, being lined up to be shot, and lying dead). In light of this forgotten history, most of the photos will never have been in the public view before. With all this in mind, care and sensitivity needs to be exercised when showing the book to students. If you feel it is appropriate for your class, you could divide the class into small groups and ask each group to choose a photo and create a narrative about it. What might have happened in the run-up to the photo being taken, and what might have happened next? Ask them to think about humanising history by considering a person’s individual story. There is also a brief account of the Gypsy Holocaust itself, dismissing some of the myths and proving that the numbers killed must have been more than the official underestimates. 

Audiovisual clip

The Path Towards Auschwitz - Auschwitz Untold: In Colour

published by Channel 4, (2020)

A brief insight into the beginning of the Nazi persecution of GRT communities. Some scenes might be disturbing.

Further materials

Proud Gypsy Traveller by Violet Cannon Access this resource
Danger! Educated Gypsy by Ian Hancock, published by University of Hertfordshire Press, (2010), 9781902806983 Find this book
‘The Descent of Man’, 150 years on by Agustín Fuentes, published by Science, (2021) Access this resource
Gypsies Massacred as Part of the Darwinian Eugenic Holocaust by Dr. Jerry Bergman, published by Answers Research Journal, Vol. 13, (2020) Read this article
Violet Cannon is English Romani, having lived her early childhood on roadside encampments in an 18 ft caravan. Now, as CEO of York Travellers Trust and chairperson of Moving For Change, Violet continually fights for recognition of, and education about, Gypsy and Traveller Communities. She has been awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of York in recognition of her work. 

Text © Violet Cannon, 2024