|SICSA The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism ACTA The Analysis of Currenet Trends in Antisemitism |
A Special Research Unit of SICSA
(Full Text) ACTA no. 9 (1996)
Antigypsyism in the Political Culture of the Federal Republic of Germany:A Parallel with Antisemitism? by Gilad Margalit
Abstract This article analyses the recent wave of ethnic hatred directed against Romanies (Gypsies), in the political culture of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). This ethnic hatred is designated here as antigypsyism. Differences and similarities between contemporary antigypsyism, antisemitism, and xenophobia will be discussed, with a preliminary survey of antigypsy patterns, and its various manifestations since 1945. Antigypsyism in the political culture of the FRG was mitigated under the influence of the Allies' reeducation policy during their occupation of Germany, just as revelations of antisemitism had been. This enlightened trend progressively gained power in the FRG after 1945. Nevertheless, hostile assertions and actions directed towards Romanies, as well as statements indicating implicit and explicit "understanding" of the motivation for their persecution under the Nazis were observed. Such statements were found not just among extreme Right groups, or in the private sphere (as was also largely the case with postwar antisemitism), but prevailed on the fringes of mainstream circles as well, at least during the 1950s. Antigypsyism played only a marginal role in the political agenda of the contemporary German extreme Right. It is certainly not comparable in its depth or dimensions to the central and profound role played by antisemitism in the German extreme Right Weltanschauung. Nevertheless, traditional antigypsyism, and especially the Nazi persecution of the Romanies, gave this ethnic hatred a unique character different from general xenophobic feelings. Antigypsyism has borrowed traditional as well as post-Holocaust antisemitic patterns, and, surprisingly, even has a certain amount of antisemitic content. Like antisemitism, antigypsyism was delegitimized in the political culture of the FRG, and contemporary public appearances are restricted to extreme Right circles.