The Roma Inside the Warsaw Ghetto’s Walls

The experience of the Roma within the Warsaw Ghetto– the space of indirect extermination– has been relatively little studied. In writings that touch on the Holocaust’s effects on the Roma, the context most frequently addressed is that of the death camps. It therefore seems particularly important to excavate traces of the Roma presence in the Warsaw Ghetto. Since the release of Jerzy Ficowski’s book Cyganie na polskich drogach,1 Biuletyn Głównej Komisji Badania Zbrodni Przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej 1992, vol. XXXIV.] in which the subject of the Roma in the Ghetto was discussed for the first time, no texts have appeared in Polish to expand upon Ficowski’s findings. This is primarily a result of the fact that documentation of the fate of the Roma in the Ghetto remains sparse. Unlike the Jews, who produced many personal writings, preserved today in large part through the work of the Oneg Szabat group, the Roma did not write down their war stories and did not pass them on to succeeding generations. Those stories thus did not function as an essential element of their identity. This was conditioned by their culture, which, in keeping with romanipen – Roma tradition, was not directed toward remembrance of the past.