Updated - 08 - 13 - 2013
CallsFor Your Support
<>   Please request that we " ROMA become a Member State of the United Nations titled  Roma/Gypsy  "  by E-mailing the United Nations:
Subject: Vuk Jeremic
<>Example: Dear Secretary General Vuk Jeremic;
Please alow the Roma/Gypsy people to have their own member state titled "  Roma/Gypsy "
E-mail address:  nbsp;    and stating the above.

Every culture enriches our lives with its own unique beauty and wisdom. Yet we all share the same hopes and dreams, the same need for love, home and kinship. These are the common threads that bind us together as one family in one world.
Please remember in your prayers the soul of Stephen J. Lush II who passed to eternal rest July 10, 1996 at 1:30 P.M. C.S.T., U.S.A.
       Also those unfortunate souls worldwide that have no food, shelter, warmth, nor transportation today! God go with you, giving you many of God's blessings.

János Bogdán-1963-1999
            Principal and creator of the Gandhi High School in Pécs, Hungary. The first Roma/ Gypsy minority  high school founder died in a car accident,  January 9, 1999. Bogdán was born in a traditional Beash Roma environment in the village of Görgeteg, Southeast Hungary.

Another light flickers in the night!

We Sympathize With The World In The Birth To Eternal Life, SEPT.5th, 1997 OF
Who was born in Skoplje, Yugoslavia of Albanian Boyash Roma/Gypsy parents.
She was named Agnesh Goaksa Bojakshiya.
      Spread Love everywhere you go:  first of all in your own house.  Give Love to your children,  to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness;  kindness in your face,  kindness in your eyes,  kindness in your smile,  kindness in your warm greeting." -Mother Theresa!  In Her Esteemed Honor We Say
" Desegregation, Integration Now and Forever  !  "

Who passed Friday, November 27TH, 1998 AT 12:30 p.m. c.s.t., U.S.A.
* Another Angel Gets Her Wings !  *

  In Loving memory of  Mary "Lucille" Jensen whom God took in her sleep the morning of February 24, 2000. She was born May  24th, 1915, lived 84 years and nine months of an exemplary, Christian life, helping us for many years.

March 24th, 2000-Captain Frank Tooby of the Church Army passed away. He was well over 90. Capt. Tooby was the missioner to the Romani folk in the New Forest for a large number of years, prewar, and just after. Frank, along with all the Roma missioners, travelled in a horse drawn mission van, working as a social worker and a religious missioner. Young Romani folk who never met him, still know all about him. He was buried at Boldre in the New Forest on 30th March. A great loss to all who knew him.

VOLUME XLII * No. 162 *  Hungarian Quarterly   by Károly Bari

The Holocaust in Gypsy Folk Poetry

In the Gypsy communities of old it was everybody's duty to make known one's observations and experiences relating to the hostile manifestations of the world. The troupes of itinerant Gypsies always left signs behind them wherever they went, for other clans. Ribbons in coded colours or dolls fashioned into certain forms from dark rags were tied to roadside bushes, and ancient Gypsy runic signs carved into the trunks of trees, in order to tip off caravan-dwellers who came by later to any lurking dangers.

The constant sense of being under threat, the mistrust of the environs, was in no way unfounded. Living by a set of autochthonous customs that differ from those of the prevailing societies, Gypsies have been persecuted since their first appearance in Europe. Awareness of persecution is deeply rooted in their thinking and has put forth a strong, vigorous shoot on which the buds of fear and caution have not withered to the present day, as a folk adage recorded in our own days shows: "Don't believe strangers, because they smile to your face but behind your back make laws to hang you!" That injunction, fused in centuries of experience, precisely captures the dread with which Gypsies have continually had to live since fleeing from India's Islamic wars during the tenth century.

Only for a short while were European countries well-disposed towards the caravans of Gypsies, calling themselves 'pilgrims', who were furnished with papal safe-conducts. Starting with excommunications in Bologna in 1422, hostility towards Gypsies intensified to the point where veritable manhunts and massacres by fire and sword were launched against them. The change in attitude is most vividly illustrated by the connotations of a word used in connection with the Gypsies. In fifteenth-century Germany, the life of the nomadic Gypsies was compared with the freedom of birds, often using the attributive vogelfrei. By the time of the rabid persecutions of the sixteenth century, however, vogelfrei no longer denoted that the Gypsies were 'free as birds' but 'gallows fodder for predatory birds'. A string of countries did all in their power to make this a reality by introducing edicts ordering their discrimination and elimination.

In 1500, Maximilian I outlawed Gypsies throughout the Holy Roman Empire, which gave a licence to capture and kill them. In England, according to some sources, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, 18,000 'Egyptians' were hanged purely on account of their race. Frederick William I of Prussia issued a decree in 1725 under which any Gypsy man or woman caught within the territory of his realm was to be executed without trial. On July 20th, 1749 the Spanish military, on the orders of Ferdinand VI, carried out a round-up of all Gypsies who could be found, a total of 12,000, and put them to death.

This unbounded hostility was presumably elicited by a moral system avowed by the caravans, on their travels from country to country, which saw all modes of acquiring food as permissible. Gypsies therefore had no respect for private property, whilst their very mode of life differed provocatively from that of societies that had adopted Christian norms. Attempts were made to justify the hostility by attributing to them a range of grave crimes-kidnapping, espionage, cannibalism, spreading heresy-in order to give the punitive measures a semblance of ineluctability.

The most terrible of all the genocidal campaigns in history is linked with Hitler and the Nazis. Between 1942 and 1945 around 600,000 Gypsies were killed in or en route to death camps. Some 50,000 Gypsies were dispatched from Hungary alone, very few of whom managed to survive. These deportations started in 1944. Gypsies rounded up in the Transdanubian region, to the west, and in the Budapest area were taken to a selection camp set up in the fortness of Komárom (Komarno) and transported onwards, mainly to Auschwitz and Dachau and their satellite camps. Mrs József Székely, a Gypsy woman from Zalaegerszeg who survived, recalled the horrific events as follows:

The Arrow-Cross men and the police came on November 3rd. They told us to get ready to leave along with the children, because they were escorting us to a new workplace. Except that they didn't take us to work but led us to the railway station, packed us into wagons and transported us to Komárom. When we reached Komárom, the men were separated from the women and children. We were there for three weeks. The Arrow-Cross men continually beat and kicked us-the children as well. If they went looking for food, they were thrashed
with clubs. Some had arms broken, others both legs, so badly were they beaten. We had to sleep amongst worms, in filth, in pools of water. The
children died one after the other; those who were still babes in arms all perished. Many old people also died, starved to death. The Arrow-Cross men just tossed their bodies onto carts with pitchforks and took them off somewhere... We were deported... The next stop for the Gypsies then was Dachau.

For the most part, the Gypsy transports were murdered on arrival. Those who were not taken straight to the gas chambers were subjected to the horrific tortures of inhuman medical experiments. Gyula Balogh, from the Rákospalota district of Budapest, who was shunted around many of the concentration camps before finally managing to escape from Buchenwald and make his way back home on foot, is unable to erase the memories of what he experienced:

There was water around the camp and it was fenced off with electrified barbed-wire. They carried out a selection. Those who were made to stand to the left were killed. An SS officer said to us, 'You lot have come here but there is no way back, you are going nowhere from here!'... Every week we were lined up naked for medical examination. Each time they tortured us, injected us with something or other... Ugh! That Mengele! The very ground should spit him back, refuse his body! The world has never seen his like for cruelty!

The body of Gypsy folklore that perpetuates the Holocaust in the folk memory fulfils the same function as those warning signs left beside the highway by the caravans of old. It conjures up the polymorphous faces of hatred like a row of admonitory dolls and utter the names of the prejudices whose tentacles reanimate the dark host of effigies time and time again.

I do not aim to give a comprehensive survey of all the folklore genres that draw on the subject of the persecution of the Gypsies, just to present
briefly what one might call the typical features of one particular genre, and the diversity of its textual material. In showing the origins of that
material, it will become manifest how the Lager songs, despite their improvisatory character, are pollenated by many existing genres and how the generalizing power of the processes of tradition interweaves the separate strands of individual tragedies into a testimony of communal validity.

It is an archaic form of song poetry, the dirge or zhalvini gilyi, that is best fitted to expressing the camp experiences. The genre is constructed
from stereotyped elements of a lament character that form part of the folk lyrical tradition, but the features of the genre offer an opportunity for
the insertion of improvised new textual units that narrate individual fates. The improvised song performances of survivors never mention the tortures suffered in the concentration camps, presumably because the pain and fear that these caused is indescribable. What marks texts referring to the death camps is their dry factual tone. In line with the traditions of the style, the place designated for destruction and the figures of the incomprehensibly cruel soldiers are limned only sketchily, without any details of the louring bodies of prejudices as background. The weight of the inexpressible feelings is borne by formulaic strophes adopted from related genres. Dirges and chanted supplications may be pinpointed as the source of these borrowed elements, but one can also discern the hallmarks of cursing songs from the most archaic stratum of folk poetry. The passages from the dirges that were taken over into the Lager songs are those that palliate the diffuseness of the expressions of pain with devices honed and perpetuated in ancient rites in such a way as to make them acceptable to the conventions of the community. Two noteworthy motifs must be mentioned in that connection: the sending of a message and the survivor's plaints of being left all alone, because in interpreting them one can point to the most typical components of the Gypsy camp songs.

A common method of forming texts in the poetry of funeral rites of archaic Gypsy communities was for the keener to evoke the relationship between the deceased and the mourners in dramatic form. This imitation dialogue of the dirge generally opens with a description of the emotional shock of the wailing lamenters. That is followed by texts, spoken on behalf of the deceased, which describe the world beyond the grave from which the dead person sends a message back to those who have stayed alive. Transmission of the message is usually entrusted to a bird, in reference to the belief that birds are symbols of the soul and according to which only the soul departing the human body is capable of mediating between the real world and the transcendental sphere. The same corpus of beliefs invests the loan motif in the opening strophes of the camp songs. As a result, the German concentration camp whence the prisoner sends his or her message becomes a metaphor for the realm of the dead. That metaphorical character is reinforced by a mode of textual composition in which only the despairing message is formulated but the message remains unanswered. There is never a response from those outside the camp. The world of those selected to live does not hear, or has no wish to hear, the calls of those in trouble, has no wish to help the Gypsies-at least that is what may be inferred from the telling absence of traces of such texts.

Following his capture, Adolf Eichmann, organizer of the transports for the Head Office for Reich Security (Reichssicherheitshauptamt) of the SS, is reported as having said to the Israeli investigating judge: "Intervention on behalf of the Gypsies was impossible from any side at all. Obviously, the prejudice against this group was the strongest..." Eichmann's words, sadly, bear out and underscore the sense that Gypsy survivors had of the outside world's passivity, manifested in these folklore texts by this striking absence. The horrific freight of this metaphorical absence signals that they were aware nobody felt pity for them and their plaints were merely the death rattle of a fate that had already been sealed.

Units of particular content in the Lager songs are stanzas, rooted in cursing songs of magical function, which call on a supernatural force, or on
God the All-Holy Himself, to punish the Germans and Hitler. The ritual pronunciation of curses was once a living custom amongst Gypsies but during the era of witchcraft trials, and under their impact, texts of this set of customs sank to the bottom of consciousness, only to resurface on the rare occasions where the affinity became close.

Texts deriving from slave songs of the Transylvanian Gypsies form a similarly important stratum amongst the motivic components. The most widely distributed is a chanted supplication begging for a change of season so that Spring may come round again and green grass cover the tracks of the escaped slave. From the fourteenth century onwards, the Gypsies of Moldavia and Wallachia were held as slaves by the boyars and treated much as livestock.The Romanian liberal writer Mihail Kogalniçeanu wrote in 1837 of hisrecollections:

During my younger years, on the streets of Jassy, I saw so-called human beings with chained hands and feet, some also with metal collars around their foreheads and necks. They were cruelly whipped and then thrown naked into a freezing river or tortured with smoke till they choked. Such was the despotism to which the wretched Gypsies were subjected... Neither populace nor Church nor guardians of the law showed any pity towards them...

Slavery for the Gypsies of Romania came effectively to an end only in the mid-nineteenth century, after the Crimean War, with their manumission in 1856. Memories of that servitude were preserved in a broad corpus of epic and lyric tradition, including sung historical ballads, the supplicatory sections of which were appropriated and built into the Lager songs. The singer would see the escapes from slavery that had been evoked so often during communal song performances as completely identical to the situation of his or her own escape from the concentration camp, so it was quite natural that lines of supplication and formulaic texts born of a fear that had already crystallized in folklore practice should be taken over as reflecting the singer's own feelings.

The most common components of the zhalvini gilyi are those giving voice to loneliness and to the pain of those who have lost members of their family. They express the defencelessness that these tragedy-scarred souls feel in the world, describing the grief, homelessness and misery that have become their lot. Pertinent here as a gloss is that in Gypsy thinking the blood ties of clan signify a person's greatest security, so that loss of one's family is equated in archaic consciousness with the community's vulnerability and loss of ability to defend itself. These two contents, intertwined and mutually amplifying, are present in the motifs of self-lamentation of Gypsy survivors of the Holocaust. The various generic features presented in the foregoing are well illustrated by a Lager song collected in Transylvania:

Little bird, o little birdie,
Fly far away, carry the news,
Tell how I'm in constant terror,
tell how I'm in constant terror!
German lager, how hard it is,
German lager, how hard it is,
The prison guards are so evil,
The prison guards are so evil!

Hey there, hitler, curses on you.
May God trample upon your face
like people walk upon the streets,
like people walk upon the streets.

Machine guns are barking away,
Machine guns are barking away,
My pursuers are getting close,
My pursuers are getting close.

God, give me some of your fortune,
Give a little bit of your own,
Help me get onto trackless tracks,
Help me pass along trackless tracks.

God, send me a drop of rainfall,
God, send me a drop of rainfall,
Mingle it up well with snowflakes,
Mingle it up well with snowflakes!

Mingle it up with snowflakes,
Mingle it up with snowflakes,
So the green shoots of grass may grow,
So the green shoots of grass may grow!

Cover the trail of my footprints,
Cover the trail of my footprints,
So I may find tranquillity,
So I may find tranquillity!

God, oh God! How you have thrashed me,
God, oh God! How you have thrashed me,
Perhaps nobody more than me,
Perhaps nobody more than me!

German lager, German lager,
There a gun was always barking,
All my family was wiped out,
All my family was wiped out!

I've lost all my family,
I've lost all my family,
Oh, what can I do, all alone,
Oh, what can I do, all alone!

Following ancient Gypsy performance customs, songs about the Lagers are always presented before, and with participation from, an audience. The community joins in the singing of familiar, formulaic stanzas and hums along an accompaniment to improvized text passages that the performer fashions from his or her own past. The song melodies are particularly poignant and sad, bearing out in full the thesis that human song has a universal expressive aspect. The German concentration camps, in the words of the ballads, were the 'killing grounds' of peoples, 'global cemeteries', and what is articulated in the songs of the survivors is that once a person finds himself or herself inside the barbed-wire, there can be no more hope, any more than there can be crying, because the pitilessly searing sun of suffering and destruction scorches the very wells of tears.

As yet no memorial has been raised to the Gypsy victims of the Holocaust. No one has yet asked the forgiveness of Gypsy survivors, or offered any form of compensation for the crippling of their bodies and souls. My aim in writing this has been to offer words of remembrance for them too.

Translated by Tim Wilkinson

                                Károly Bari is a Gypsy poet and painter, author of several volumes of poems collections of Gypsy folk tales.

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