On Friday 4th February 2022, we, Roma Support Group, a charity supporting Roma communities living in the UK since 1998, were made aware of Jimmy Carr's joke insinuating that the murder of thousands of Gypsies during the Holocaust period was a positive thing.
Our Roma brothers and sisters were systematically targeted by the Nazi regime since they came to power in 1933. Prior to the Holocaust, Roma in Nazi Germany became subject to the Nuremberg Race Laws (1935), the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Progeny (1933) and were criminalised under the Law against Dangerous Habitual Criminals (1933).
In 1936, Robert Ritter, head of the Racial Hygiene and Demographic Biology Research Unit, concluded in his research that 90% of Roma were carriers of "degenerate" blood and that they should be forcibly sterilised. In the same year, Roma started to be re-settled to camps which became forced labour camps. Roma were later sent to concentration camps and were murdered and experimented on at death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau. Between 220,000 and 500,000 Roma and Sinti people were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Second World War, but some estimates place the death toll as high as 1 million. Not all Roma victims died in camps and many deaths were not registered, meaning it is difficult to obtain an accurate estimate. The romasinti.eu exhibition includes personal
accounts from Roma survivors which reflect the different ways Roma were targeted.
Jimmy Carr’s ‘joke’ (and the eruption of laughter that followed) has not only reduced the death of 500,000 Roma to a ‘laughing’ matter but has revealed the depth of anti-Roma hatred, prejudice and discrimination – the last ‘acceptable’ form of racism – that still exists in our society today. People in our communities do not joke about the Holocaust. We feel hurt and deeply insulted that an outsider would consider doing so.
Romany Gypsies in the UK use ‘Gypsy’ as a term to identify themselves, but it has deeply negative connotations for Roma across the European continent and the Roma population of 200,000 in the UK today.
The impact of the Holocaust has caused generational trauma and the reverberations are ever-present. Between 1936 and 1976, 60,000 Romani women in Sweden were sterilised. In Slovakia, a policy of coercive sterilisation against Roma women began in 1966 under Communist rule and has continued to some extent after 1991 even with the repeal of the policy. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of targeted and disproportionate action against Roma were widespread. Uniformed guarding and freedom of movement restrictions imposed on Roma encampments and villages in Bulgaria, Italy and Slovakia among others mirrored that of Nazi Germany.
We call on authorities to acknowledge the huge level of discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) people in the UK and commit to tackle it.
We make an appeal to Netflix to withdraw Jimmy Carr’s programme, reconsider their work with him and commit to producing programmes aimed at raising awareness on Roma and tackling the issues GRT communities are facing.
For more details or media enquiries please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also our February 2022 newsletter for more reaction and follow-up to Carr's remarks.