A People Uncounted
Synopsis: A history of the Romani people in Europe and their fate under
the Nazi regime. It’s common knowledge (at least I hope it is) that the
Nazi death machine affected more than just the Jewish population of
Europe. Also caught in the steamroller were homosexuals, the disabled,
Communists, Poles, Soviets, political dissenters and the
Romani, commonly referred to as Gypsies.
Europe and then examining their fate under the Nazi regime.
“Gypsies” were so called because they were thought to have come
from Egypt, although India is a more likely origin. Their dark skin
cast them as the “noble savages” of Europe, while laws preventing
them from owning property enforced their nomadic lifestyle. They
continue to face racism today, but it was the Nazis, with their
“final solution to the Gypsy question,” that managed to do the
most damage to this far-flung, nationless race.
As a call for remembrance, this is a powerful document. Yeger
tracks down numerous Romani survivors of the camps, uncovering
horrible stories of abuse. One woman breaks down as she recalls
eating human flesh to survive. Another man tells of a nightmarish
encounter with the infamous Angel of Death, Josef Mengele.
The film is not trying to shoulder aside memories of the Jewish
Holocaust; merely to add another chapter to the Nazis’ list of crimes
against humanity. Modern Romani have even suggested Parrajmos
as an equivalent to the Hebrew word Shoah, and a label for the half
million or more of their people slaughtered in the camps.
That’s technically a countable number, but large enough to feel
impersonal. This is just one reason why the eyewitness accounts
collected in this film cry out to be heard.