The Nazi genocide perpetrated on the Sinti and Roma is unparalleled in the centuries-old shared history of these minorities and the majority in society. And yet, the crime itself was not without preconditions. Indeed, an attitude of prejudice and resentment towards the Sinti and Roma is deeply rooted in European history.
Any attempt to portray the history of the Sinti and Roma faces the fundamental problem that all sources handed down to us have traditionally been one-sided. Nearly all the testimonies that have been preserved reflect the prejudiced and usually disparaging view adopted by the majority of society. Traditional images of the ‘gypsy’ play out across a spectrum that ranges from stigmatisation to romantic idealisation.
In the course of their social emancipation, the Sinti and Roma have countered the power of majority society’s gaze with their own view and their own history. Historical private and family photos belonging to the Sinti and Roma are therefore an integral part of this exhibition. These first-hand accounts portray people in their individuality and personality, crucially counterbalancing the ‘gypsy’ clichés that continue to prevail to this day.