Encyclopaedia on National Socialist Genocide of Sinti and Roma in Europe

Hundreds of thousands of Sinti and Roma were persecuted and murdered under the National Socialist regime in Germany and Europe. The historical knowledge about this genocide is currently being compiled in a large-scale encyclopaedia under the leadership of the Research Centre on Antigypsyism at Heidelberg University. The first contributions to this unique resource are now to be put online. The new portal will be presented to the public in Berlin on 5 March 2024. Joint hosts are the Research Centre and the Topography of Terror Foundation. Expected participants are Romani Rose, Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, and Ambassador Dr Robert Klinke representing the Federal Foreign Office.

"The aim of the Nazi state and its racial ideology was to annihilate the Sinti and Roma minority. Although important special studies have appeared in past decades, knowledge on this topic is still extremely fragmented," explains project head Dr Karola Fings from the Research Centre on Antigypsyism. The online portal gives access to specialist articles, which are not only ordered alphabetically but also allocated to different sections such as genocide sites, personal biographies or the aftermath. Besides photographs, the digital encyclopaedia also features an interactive map. It shows all the sites across Europe about which there is information, including concentration camps, but also places where massacres were carried out. A chronological list gives an overview of all relevant events from 1933 onward.

More than 90 scholars from 25 countries are contributing to the Encyclopaedia documenting the National Socialist genocide of the Sinti and Roma in Europe. The project, launched in summer 2020 for a planned five-year period, is receiving 1.6 million euros in funding from the Federal Foreign Office and has the backing of various cooperation partners and an academic advisory board. The encyclopaedia is intended to comprise around 1,000 articles by the end of 2025 and constitute a milestone in research and educational activity. Published in both English and German, the encyclopaedia on the Nazi genocide - also known as "Sinti and Roma Holocaust" or "Samudaripen" - will first go online when presented on 5 March, and then be available to the public. It is technically based on Open Encyclopedia Systems and was implemented by the Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS) at FU Berlin.

The presentation in Berlin will opened with a greeting from Romani Rose, who is also the managing director of the Documentation and Cultural Center of German Sinti und Roma in Heidelberg, one of the cooperation partners. Likewise welcoming the guests will be Dr Robert Klinke in his function as Special Representative of the Federal Foreign Office for Relations with Jewish Organisations, Issues Relating to Antisemitism, International Sinti and Roma Affairs, and Holocaust Remembrance. Dr Karola Fings will introduce the online encyclopaedia, followed by comments from historian Michael Wildt and educational researcher PD Dr Jane Weiß from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; both are members of the encyclopaedia’s academic advisory board. Dr Andrea Riedle, Director of the Topography of Terror Foundation, will moderate the event. Participation in Berlin is possible in person by registering with  veranstaltungen@topographie.de  or via live streaming.

The Research Centre on Antigypsyism was established at the Department of History at Heidelberg University as the first and so far only academic institution in Europe focusing on this subject. Since 2017 it has engaged in research into the causes, forms and consequences of antigypsyism in European societies, from the Middle Ages until the present day. The academic director is Tanja Penter, a historian of eastern European history at Heidelberg University.

Media representatives are warmly invited to attend the event on 5 March in the Berlin Topography of Terror Documentation Centre, Niederkirchnerstraße 8, beginning at 7pm. Please register by 1 March to  presse@topographie.de  or by phone on +49-30-254509-35.