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State Policies towards Roma / Gypsies under Communism.

The end of the Second World War and
the subsequent years brought radical
change to the countries of Eastern Eu-
rope. Local Communist parties came to
power in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hun-
gary, Romania, Bulgaria Yugoslavia and
Albania within the active support of the
Soviet Union and established full control
in all spheres of public life. A new type
of state-political system was established,
which according to its own phraseology
was dened as “socialist”. Overall social
and economic changes were carried out,
part of them directly concerned with
“Gypsies”, who in various degrees and
in different periods were also a target of
active Government policy.
Elena Marushiakova, Vesselin Popov
General Framework and Specific Features | Sedentarization of Itinerant Roma | Speed up Integration
Cultural and Historical Heritage | Organizations. The “Roma Movement” in Yugoslavia | Public Integration
and/or Assimilation
State Policies
under Communism
When the so-called “socialist bloc” in
Eastern Europe is mentioned, frequently
the impression is that it refers to a mono-
lithic totalitarian system, directly under
Moscow rule, where a common policy
dominated in all spheres. To a certain
extent this was the case, yet quite a lot
of differences and specic features in the
separate countries remained. The monoli-
thic unity of the countries in Eastern Euro-
pe, ruled by Communist parties broke up
as early as the late1940s in Yugoslavia. In
the 1950s Albania also set out on its own
course. In spite of remaining a member
of the Warsaw Treaty and Comecon in
many aspects Romania demonstrated to
a lesser or smaller extent a certain “inde-
pendence”. Within certain nuances, this
also emerged in the remaining countries
of Eastern Europe. [Ill. 1]
In fact it is not possible to speak
of the existence of some kind of general
model for the countries of Eastern Eu-
rope especially in the sphere of internal
national policy. On the surface, on the
ideological level there was total unity,
and each country declared that its natio-
nal policy was based on the “principles
of Marxism-Leninism”; nevertheless in
practice matters were quite different.
Most generally speaking there
were two models of national policy in
Ill. 1
Countries that have been totally governed on
communist principles:
Countries that are still communist today:
1 / 8
The end of the Second World War saw the emergence over a large part of Europe of what was ofcially
called the “socialist” bloc, where a considerable number of Roma in Europe lived. In line with the new
Communist Ideology overall social and economical changes took place in these countries, affecting the
entire population, Roma included. In spite of the common ideological parameters the policies towards
“Gypsies” were not identical, there were differences, based on models from the past and own national
strategies. The main aim of the policies of the states was integration in society, which in some countries
reached a stage of a striving towards assimilation.
Sedentarization of Roma is a typical
example of the combination of common
and specic policies within state poli-
cies in East European countries. What
is common in this case, is that processes
of sedentarization (or at least signicant
limiting of nomadism) of itinerant Roma
were unfolding throughout the examined
period in whole Eastern Europe. These
processes in the separate countries
however are with own peculiarities in
the forms of state policies that directed
them and differences in the time of their
The initial positions of the pro-
cesses of sedentarization in the countries
of Eastern Europe also differ. Of course
Eastern Europe, which could be dened as
“ethno-national” and as “post-imperial”.
The former dominated in Poland, Hun-
gary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania
(Czechoslovakia could also be included
in this group albeit with some reservations
it was a federal state, made up of two
countries). These countries constituted
one nation (in Czechoslovakia two) which
was the basis of the formation of a nation
state, and “minorities” (the remaining
smaller communities, whatever terms
are used to dene them in the various
countries). The second model (“post-
imperial”) is typical for the Soviet Union
and Yugoslavia. Here, at least ofcially,
there was no “main” nation and minori-
ties, but a complex hierarchical structure
of national/ethnic communities with or
without their own state/administrative
formations, unied in a new, “higher”
type of formation “the Soviet people”
and “Yugoslavs”.
The different approaches of state
policy towards Roma in the countries of
Eastern Europe however do not mean that
we cannot draw any common principles,
regularities and models in their realiza-
tion. These common characteristics of a
state policy towards Roma, whatever the
differences and specics in their realiza-
tion, are indicative in general for Roma
in Eastern Europe over the xed period
(between the end of the Second World
War and the “wind of change” from the
end of the 1980s).
Sedentarization of itinerant Roma
In some eastern European regions Roma still work in professions which do not require a permanently xed abode. Itinerant crafts have to a certain
extent outlived the measures of the Communist regimes to sedentarize the Roma and the general trend towards sedentarization. Up to the day, for
example, there are bearleaders, presenting their animals to the tourists on Black Sea cost, and horsedealers.
Ill. 8 (provided by the authors)
General Framework and Specific Features
Sedentarization of Itinerant Roma
Ill. 2 Coppersmith, Bulgaria, in 1956.
(by G. Lükö, from Fraser 1995, p. 280)
Ill. 3 Ursari (bear leader), Bulgaria.
(by Rolf Bauerdick, from Guy 2001, p. 328)
Ill. 4 Charcoal makers, Bulgaria.
(by Rolf Bauerdick, from Guy 2001, p. 328)
Ill. 5 Metal traders from Meteol, Romania.
(from Djurić 1992, Ohne Heimat ohne Grab, table 8)
Ill. 6 Horse trader, Romania.
(from Djurić 1992, Ohne Heimat ohne Grab, table 4)
Ill. 7 Brickmakers from Craiova, Romania.
(from Djurić 1992, Ohne Heimat ohne Grab, table 11)
it is impossible to cite precise data, ho-
wever we can assume that over 3/4 of
the Roma in Poland and at least 2/3 of
the total Roma population in the Soviet
Union were (semi-)nomads. At the other
end were Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia,
where itinerant Roma, subject to govern-
ment policy were fewer than 5% of the
total Roma population. In the remaining
countries the relative share of nomadic
Roma varied in between, i.e. in Romania
and Yugoslavia the itinerant Roma were
not more than 1/3, and in Hungary and
Albania not more than 1/4 of the total.
In most East European countries
sedentarization of nomadic Roma was
done by virtue of a Government act
or party decision (which was one and
the same). The Soviet Union, where a
special law banned an itinerant way of
life, was the rst country to undertake
an active policy for resolving the “pro-
blem” of nomadic Roma. On October
5, 1956, the Presidium of the Supreme
Soviet of the USSR issued a decree on
“The Inclusion of Itinerant Gypsies in
Labor Activities”. The same model was
applied in Bulgaria, where a decree on
“The Resolution of the Issues of the Gy-
psy Minority in Bulgaria” was adopted
by the Council of Ministers 1958. In
Czechoslovakia a law on “Settlement
of Itinerant Persons” was passed in the
same year; the nuances are insignicant
essentially. In Poland, after the unsuc-
cessful attempt in 1952 on the part of
the Government to persuade itinerant
Roma to settle voluntarily in the free
western territories (after the deportation
of the German population), the Ministry
of the Interior issued a resolution on the
obligatory sedentarization of itinerant
“Gypsies” in 1964. In Romania special
measures towards the sedentarization
of itinerant “Gypsies” began after 1977
when the Central Committee of the Ro-
manian Communist Party adopted a pro-
gram for their social integration, where
sedentarization is one of the aspects,
however not the most important one.
In the remaining countries in
Eastern Europe sedentarization of
nomadic Roma was not an act of any
special policy towards them, rather it
ran within the framework of the general
legislation (the requirement for a xed
place of residence, a xed work place
etc). In Hungary this process took place
during the second half of the 50ties, and
in Albania and Yugoslavia in the 1960s
and 1970s.
It should be noted that the state
policies towards sedentarization of no-
No doubt the question of the way the issue of sedentarization of no-
mads in Eastern Europe is seen today is interesting. In many scien-
tic and human rights publications this policy is seen as the peak
of the repressive policies of the Communist parties towards Roma.
This view is also shared by some present day Roma activists, who
however come from Roma groups settled for centuries. Generally
speaking in Eastern Europe Roma themselves and especially for-
mer traveling Roma have a positive attitude towards measures for
settlement. These are best expressed by those who lived through
the events. The positive attitude is stronger for instance in Bulga-
ria or in the countries of the former Soviet Union than in Czecho-
slovakia and Poland, where sedentarization was accompanied by
repressive measures (conscation of horses and property).
Another factor is much more important when we assess the po-
licy of sedentarization of nomadic Roma. At the time from the
1950s to the 1970s in countries of Eastern Europe a serious
crisis had begun to affect the nomadic way of life. Due to chan-
ging social and economic conditions the nomads themselves had
to seek possibilities to settle (or to lead a semi-nomadic way of
life) and new strategies for economic realization. The active in-
terference of the state came at an appropriate historical moment
(which is a rare event in the history of state policies towards
Roma) and substantially assisted the natural development of the
community and its integration (for example through the provisi-
on of loans and subsidies for the building of dwellings).
ROMANI EMPLOYMENT Ill. 9 (world bank study xxxx)
Bulgaria (1983)
Poland (1968)
Yugoslavia (1985)
2-3 / 8
The high employment level of Roma in many Com-
munist countries did not mean social integration.
Most often the Roma were employed as workers in
factories, being restricted to the lowest positions.
Serving as a “flexible and compliant reserve pool
of unskilled workers”, their position was “akin to
that of migrant workers in the West, needed for their
labour but undesired as citizens - whith the major
difference that this was their own country.”
(quotations from Will Guy, The Czech lands and Slovakia: Another
false dawn?, in: Guy 2001, p. 293)
87.5 34.9 10.2 83.9 5.9
65 30
20 50 30
“When enforcing settlement [1964] the authorities simply neg-
lected to prepare any plans to enable Roma to start a new life.
There were no decent ats for them, no employment and nothing
that would enable them to adjust gradually to wider society and
to change their previous living patterns. Where they were al-
located council ats among ‚ordinary people‘, conicts soon
appeared. [...] In the years that followed, after the Roma had
been sufciently discouraged from resuming their travels, the
authorities virtually lost interest in them. This was when Roma-
ni patterns of adjusting to their new lives were established. The
Roma took to dealing in foreign currency and valuables - mainly
gold, cars, antiques and carpets. Those who had relatives ab-
road had more opportunities for making a living by smuggling
goods or selling cars stolen in Western countries.”
Ill. 11 (from Lech Mróz, Poland: the clash of tradition and modernity, in:
Guy 2001, pp. 257-258)
The policy directed towards the public
integration of Roma dominated in East
European countries, however its realiza-
tion had a variety of forms. Two approa-
ches exist, both of them topical to this
day: the “mainstream one” and the “spe-
cial one”. With the former what is ab-
sent are special state measures for social
integration of Roma, and they are trea-
ted within the framework of the existing
mainstream policies towards the whole
population. The latter approach towards
the Roma is that towards a separate
community with specic problems,
which presuppose specic measures for
their resolution.
The rst approach is typical abo-
ve all for the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia,
Poland and Albania where there are no
special government programs for Roma
(in the USSR and Poland there is one
exception – the program for sedentari-
zation of itinerants). The only sphere
of public life, where the principle of the
mainstream policy for Roma was not
applied, was the preservation and deve-
lopment of their ethno-cultural identity.
The Romen Theatre in the USSR is one
of the most famous sights of Moscow;
there are over 100 Roma musical and
dance ensembles, under various insti-
tutions, Roma music was recorded and
had a very large circulation, together
with “Gypsy” folklore. The situation in
Yugoslavia with the active support of
the state is similar. The situation is so-
mewhat similar in Poland, although on a
more limited scale. [Ill. 11]
In the remaining four countries
(Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania
and Bulgaria) there was a “special”
approach in the state policy for public
integration of Roma. The presence of
such an approach does not exclude the
“mainstream approach”, and in many
cases public integration of Roma took
place within its framework, but in
others the state took the decision on the
need of special measures as well. The
sedentarization policies for Roma were
only one of the examples in this plan.
[Ill. 14]
In Bulgaria the “Resolution of
the Issues of the Gypsy Minority in
Bulgaria” (which we already cited)
was adopted in 1958, and followed in
1978 by the decree “On the Further
Improvement of Work among Bulga-
rian Gypsies, for Their More Active
Inclusion in the Building of the Deve-
loped Socialist Society”; the Romanian
Communist Party prepared a “Program
for the Social Integration of Gypsies”;
and in Czechoslovakia following
the events of 1968 and the adoption
of a new Constitution – in 1972 the
“Conception on the Overall Public and
Cultural Integration of Gypsies” was
Speed up Integration
Cultural and Historical Heritage
madic Roma did not always lead to the
desired results. In the Soviet Union part
of the Roma, ofcially settled, continued
with their old way of life up to the 1960s
when they gradually began to turn to
new economic activities. The itinerant
way of life generally is dying out (ho-
wever not entirely disappearing) with
most of the Roma in Yugoslavia. In Bul-
garia separate Roma groups, in spite of
owning a dwelling and nominally with
regular employment, continue to travel
during the warm seasons (which was the
traditional model of nomadic way of life
in the Balkans). The policy of sedentari-
zation had the least results in Romania,
where in 1977 the census ofcially de-
clared 66.500 nomadic Roma and where
the model of a seasonal nomadism has
survived to this day in various Roma
groups. [Ills. 2-10]
Ill. 12
„Gypsy best-workers of socialist labour“. Soa, end of the 1940s,
in the middle Schakir Paschov, then MP in Bulgaria.
(from the Archives of Studii Romani, Soa, Bulgaria)
Sterilization in Czechoslovakia is usually seen as a drastic example of
a “special” policy towards Roma in Eastern Europe – in this case what
is cited is the decree issued by the Ministry of Health on February 29,
1972, allowing voluntary sterilization of women, who had given birth to
more than four mentally retarded children, accompanied by financial
encouragement. This decree, in theory in line with the “mainstream”
principles of the policies (i.e. not directly addressed towards Roma),
repeated (in a milder way) similar state norms and practices of Switzer-
land and the Scandinavian countries. The example, however, illustrates
that theoretically “mainstream” policies may lead to “special”, in many
cases discriminating results in practice rather than on the privileged
members of a given society, restrictions tend to be imposed on the alrea-
dy restricted. In the case of “voluntary” sterilization in Czechoslovakia,
more than half of the women subjected to sterilization in the 1970s were
Roma women.
Ill. 14 (provided by the authors)
Differences in state policy of the sepa-
rate countries are frequently determined
or at least inuenced by earlier cultural
and historical models. In fact the exami-
ned East European countries took shape
in the 19th and 20th century, based on
three empires – the Ottoman Empire,
the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the
Russian Empire, each of which offered
three different models of state policy
towards Roma. The specics of these
main models and their inuence on later
historical stages could be traced with the
example of housing policy in the diffe-
rent countries of Eastern Europe.
The old imperial cultural and his-
torical specics of the three empires are
directly reected in the various models
of resettlement of settled Roma (which
in the Ottoman Empire and Austro-
Hungarian Empire prevail considerably
over nomadic Roma). In the Ottoman
Empire (respectively Bulgaria, Albania,
and most of Yugoslavia and Romania)
Roma live within the area of the sett-
lement, in their own ethically determi-
ned quarters, called “mahala”, like the
remaining ethnic communities. In the
Austro-Hungarian Empire (respectively
Hungary, Czechoslovakia, large parts of
Romania and smaller parts of Yugosla-
via and Poland) Roma live in settlements
of their own, beyond the connes of the
settlement, sometimes kilometers away,
in the so called “ciganytelep” in Hunga-
ry, “osada”, “kolonia” in Slovakia, “ko-
lonia”, “tigania” in Romania, “osada”
in Southern Poland etc. In the Russian
Empire (respectively the USSR and part
of Poland) Roma most often live mixed
with the remaining population, usually
in one or several tens of houses one next
to the other (with the exception of Trans-
carpathia where the Austro-Hungarian
model prevails).
The respective state policy to-
wards Roma in the countries of Eastern
issued, further developed and amended
in 1976. As a whole all these party and
government documents contain several
main directions, which the special state
policy towards “Gypsies” should follow.
They stand for the provision of full and
lasting employment, the solution of the
problems of housing and health, encom-
passing in the educational system of
Roma children and the improvement of
their educational level, the promotion of
Roma culture etc. [Ill. 12]
Nevertheless there is also a num-
ber of specic points of emphasis in
state policies of the separate countries,
especially in the specic realization of
the main spheres mentioned. In Bulgaria
new boarding schools began to be esta-
blished since 1961, and from 1966 on
part of the schools where Roma children
prevail were transformed into “General
Secondary Schools with Strengthened
Labor Training”. In Romania special
measures were directed towards redu-
cing the number of children in Roma
families (allowances were only given to
families with up to 5 children), owing
to the great number of Roma children
abandoned in nursing homes and or-
phanages. In Hungary in 1961 special
measures were envisaged against the
discrimination of Roma in Hungarian
society, and the housing program of
1964 envisaged liquidation of 2.500
Roma separate settlements. In Czecho-
slovakia a government decree of 1965
also envisaged the destroying of Roma
quarters, chiey in Eastern Slovakia,
and dispersing of Roma living there to
Slovak villages and towns and to the
industrial regions of the Czech Socialist
Republic. [Ill. 13]
4-5 / 8
“[The] Government Decree 502/
1965 introduced a planned pro-
gramme for transferring Roma from
overcrowded settlements in Slova-
kia and dispersing them to suitab-
le locations in the Czech lands. A
maximum permissible portion of
Roma per community was set at 5
per cent [...].
As a Romani spokesman sardoni-
cally commented: ‚They plannd the
numbers for each village - horses,
cows and Gypsies‘ [...].”
Ill. 13 (from Will Guy, The Czech lands and
Slovakia: Another false dawn?, in: Guy 2001,
p. 291)
Organizations. “Roma Movement” in Yugoslavia
Public Integration and/or Assimilation
An important feature of the state po-
licy towards Roma in the countries
of Eastern Europe is the attitude to
Roma organizations. In fact, the very
establishment and development of such
organizations was not possible without
the approval and active support of the
state and party structures. [Ill. 15]
Against this background, the
push for self organization and eman-
cipation, which gradually had evolved
among Roma in Western Europe,
leading to the founding of various or-
ganizations and nally to the begin of
the later so-called “Romani Movement”
from the 70s onwards, did not lead to
comparable results in the East. Still,
there have been more or less singular
and short-term iniciatives in Bulgaria
and in Czechoslovakia. In Hungary,
considerable cultural activities were
carried out.
The situation in Yugoslavia is
a specic case. In an 1969 article in
the “Vecherni Novosti” newsletter in
Belgrade, Slobodan Berberski, Rom
and Communist functionary of long
standing, political prisoner, resistance
ghter from the WW2, member of the
Central Committee of the Union of Yu-
goslav Communists (UYC), announced
that Yugoslav Roma would create their
own organization, which had the main
aim to assist Roma to achieve the status
of a “nationality” (at that time Yugosla-
via had a complex state legislation and
hierarchic system, dividing the commu-
nities into different categories – ethnic
groups, nationality, nation).
After the creation of the “Rom
Association” in 1969 the process of
building up branches in the various
republics began, and after that in the
separate towns, together with creation
of other Roma associations (cultural,
sports, etc.). In the 1970s over 60
Roma organizations existed and their
number was constantly on the increa-
se. Various initiatives, largely cultural
events (involving Roma ensembles, fes-
tivals), were supported by the Yugoslav
state; books were published in Romani,
Roma TV and radio broadcasts began
(in Kosovo). In 1986 existing Roma
associations united in a Union of Roma
Associations in Yugoslavia.
When state policies towards Roma in
Eastern Europe during the so-called
“socialist period” are mentioned, as-
sessments remain to this day in the
spirit of the “cold war”. These policies
as a whole and in their concrete mani-
festations are seen as synonymous to
one of the numerous crimes of totalita-
rian regimes. It is difficult today, seen
from the point of view of ideological
clichés, to find an objective and all
sided analysis of these state policies in
their breadth.
The main problem here is to
come to a precise distinction and to
establish the relations between two
interrelated and frequently overlapping
Bulgaria was declared a unitary (one-nation) state with no
other nationality in it; “the Bulgarian Turks” were ascribed
Bulgarian origin, forced to assume Turkish identity in the Ot-
toman Empire. As no “scientic” justication like that could
be found in connection with Roma, in order to prove their
Bulgarian origins, ofcially they ceased to exist. There was no
mention of Roma in public places, in the media and academic
publications, and in a number of places along railway lines
and motorways Roma quarters were hidden behind concrete
walls. This absurd policy failed to achieve any result and did
not help in the successful integration of Roma in the Bulgarian
nation; on the contrary, the opposite effect was achieved.
Ill. 16 (provided by the authors)
Europe is in line with these historically
determined circumstances. In Hungary
and Slovakia the tendency is towards a
total liquidation of separate established
Roma settlements, the steps in Hungary
being more effective (about 2.500 “ci-
ganytelep” existed in Hungary, most of
which were destroyed). In Romania the
state policy in the housing sphere is va-
ried and not consistent, as is the variety
and historical heritage in various regions
of the country. In Bulgaria the existing
decrees for the removal of the Roma
quarters were not followed by any se-
rious activities, while in Yugoslavia and
Albania there is no special state policy
towards Roma, as well as in the Soviet
Union and Poland.
“In spite of inter-ethnic and political tensions follo-
wing the death of Tito in 1980, the rst Roma had been
elected to town councils and Sait Balić from Niš beca-
me a member of the Serbish National Prliament. Four
years later there were already fty-three elected Roma-
ni members of town or provincial councils in addition
to the one seat in the Serbian Parliament [...].
In 1981 the rst bilingual radio programme in Roma-
ni and Serbian had been broadcast from Belgrade, en-
titled ‚A šunen romalen‘ (Listen, Roma) and the series
continued until 1987.”
Ill. 15 (from Donald Kenrick, Former Yugoslavia: a patchwork of
destinies, in: Guy 2001, p. 406)
processes the processes of social
integration and assimilation. In the
course of history many peoples, who
lived surrounded by alien nations,
passed their way from social integrati-
on to assimilation (as a natural process
or as the outcome of a certain state po-
licy). Following the logic of this model
(which by no means is universal), and
applying it towards Roma, each state
measure in Eastern Europe directed to-
wards Roma could be regarded a step
aiming at assimilation.
Bulgaria is the only country in
Eastern Europe where the policy of
integration of Roma ends in a direct
policy of full and unconditional assi-
milation. Attitudes to Roma here are
subordinated to the policy towards the
Turkish minority. A decision of the
Politburo in 1962 notes “the negative
tendencies of Turkification” among
Bulgarian Muslims, “Gypsies” and
Tatars; what followed gradually was a
policy of “encouragement” of changing
Turkish-Arabic names with Bulgarian
names. The last stage of this policy
was connected with the so-called “re-
vival process” in the winter of 1984-
1985 when mass action, involving the
Security services forced all Turks, Bul-
garian Muslims (Pomaks) and muslim
Roma to change their names. In fact
this “revival process” was in effect
a forced assimilation, carried out by
force to its last phase. [Ills. 16-17]
Assimilatory tendencies towards
Roma could be found in state policy
in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and to
a certain extent in Romania. In the
1950s and 1960s more or less openly
there was talk of “natural assimilation
of Gypsies” in Hungarian society. In
the 1970s the logic of state policy was
already different, assuming a construc-
tive spirit, to put it in modern terms.
The Hungarian state began to support
the integration of Roma in society, as
well as the preservation and develop-
ment of their ethnic culture, however
it did not grant them the status of a
national minority, as it did for other
minority communities. The logical
conclusion of this approach was also
assimilation, however drawn far with
The policy towards Roma in
Czechoslovakia followed quite similar
principles. Here Roma were defined
according to official norms as a com-
munity of a different nature, which
could not be compared with other
minorities, with a different status (“ci-
tizens of Gypsy origin”). The policy
towards Roma was defined as “social
integration” and “acculturation”, ho-
wever in practice this meant (without
directly being formulated so in official
party and state documents) directing
the development towards future assi-
Somewhat similar was the situ-
ation in Romania, where assimilation
of Roma in Romanian society has led
to the emergence of large groups of the
population of Roma origin, who have
lost (entirely or partially) their Roma
identity and ethnic and cultural charac-
teristics. The Romanian State accepted
this process for granted and for that
reason did not pay much attention to
Roma, regarding their problems as so-
cial and not ethnic. [Ill. 18]
It would not be justified to
speak of assimilation attitudes and
tendencies in state policy towards
Roma, even as a long term perspective
in other Eastern European countries.
Actually in Poland and Albania which
are countries based on an one-national
model, the state policy towards Roma
was so insignificant, that it cannot
be seen in this context. Indeed Roma
in Yugoslavia raised the question of
receiving an official status, equal to
other peoples (eventually they were
granted this status shortly before the
break up of Yugoslavia), however the
absence of such a status cannot be in-
terpreted in support of an assimilation
policy. The concept of “Yugoslavism”
presupposed the transformation of all
peoples into a new type of communi-
ty (Yugoslavs), yet this did not mean
preliminary assimilation of Roma into
other nations.
The situation was analogous in
the USSR, where anyway Roma are
quite an insignificant community (in
comparison with the scale in the Soviet
Union) and it would be naïve to speak
”Officials also began to eliminate Gypsy cultural organisations,
though Roma students in Lom created an illegal Gypsy discus-
sion group and a soccer club. Authorities warned the soccer
club members about having separate Gypsy teams and added
that the teams shouldn’t have Gypsy names. Later, team members
were forced to change the names of the squads to Botev, Levski,
etc. (all Bulgarian national heroes). However, the Bulgarian
secret police said that Gypsy teams should not bear the names
of Bulgarian heroes and ordered each team to have five Bulga-
rian members. Consequently, the Gypsy members disbanded the
soccer clubs.
The practical implication of these policies was the destruction
of Roma self-identity through continued forced integration and
Bulgarization. […] In fact, within several years after the promul-
gation of the new constitution, Bulgarian officials began to talk
of a ‘unified Bulgarian socialist nation,’ which one newspaper
claimed was ”almost completely one ethnic type, and is moving
toward complete national homogeneity.” […] Bulgarian Gypsi-
es, however, found ways around some of the new restrictions.
They officially adopted Bulgarian names, which they used for
documents and school, but continued to use their Gypsy names at
home and in the Gypsy community. In addition, when they chose
Bulgarian names, they often picked those of famous politicians,
composers, or music stars.”
BULGARIA: ”COMPLETE NATIONAL HOMOGENEITY” Ill. 17 (from Crowe 1995, p. 25)
6-7 / 8
© COUNCIL OF EUROPE Directorate General IV
ROMBASE - Didactically edited information on Roma
If we consider that we are analyzing
a final outcome from a present day
point of view and that the most impor-
tant criteria is reaching a higher level
of integration simultaneously with the
preservation of ethnic and cultural
characteristics, we can summarize on
the whole that state policies (not a
single policy!), regardless of the aims
set, eventually achieve quite varied
results for the Roma in Eastern Euro-
pe. On the one hand, living conditions
of Roma and their educational level
has seen a rapid improvement in com-
parison with past historic periods, the
degree of their integration has grown,
and considerable strata of relatively
well educated Roma have emerged
etc. On the other hand, however,
the price paid for this integration is
quite high. Many Roma in Eastern
Europe take on the road of social
degradation and marginalization, a
process which considerably expanded
and went in depth after the “wind of
change”. What is indicative is that
these processes are best expressed
and felt strongest in countries with
clearly formulated specific policies
towards Roma (the Czech Republic
and Slovakia, Hungary, Rumania and
Bulgaria) and to a lesser extent where
such policies were limited or simply
absent. The final outcome of the poli-
cies towards Roma in the countries of
Eastern Europe are achieved above all
due to the overall social development
and the “mainstream” policy towards
Roma (the same policy as towards the
remaining citizens), and to a much
lesser extent due to the “specific”
policies towards them as a separate
of a special policy for their assimi-
lation. What prevailed in the Soviet
Union was a state concept of the futu-
re “Soviet people” (a metaphor, ana-
logue of the present day formulation
of the “common European family”),
which presupposed the unification
of all peoples in a qualitatively new
The known policy of “systematization” carried out by Nicolae
Ceausescu in the 1970s and 1980s included mass destruction
of separate urban and rural quarters and of entire villages and
settlement of the inhabitants in new dwellings. This was chiey
realized in Transylvania, which also led to inner migrations of
Roma within Romania proper. However this policy was not chiey
orientated towards Roma, as was considered sometimes, but in
a national aspect was more directed towards a diminution of the
size of the Hungarian minority, and the Roma in this case had
been perceived as representatives of the majority, i.e. of the Ro-
manian nation, hence assimilation aims towards them were left to
take their natural course in the distant future.
Ill. 18 (provided by the authors)
Bibliography and Books for Further Reading
Kalinin, Valdemar (2003) Zagadki baltiiskikh tsygan (Rossiya, Estoniya, Litva, Latviya, Polsha). Vitebsk. | Achim, Viorel (1998)
Tiganii in istoria Romaniei. Bucuresti. | Barany, Zoltan (2001) The East European Gypsies: Regime Change, Marginality, and
ethnopolitics. Cambridge University Press. Crowe, David (1995) A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia. New York.
| Davidova, Eva (1995) Romano Drom. Cesty Romu 1945-1990. Zmeny v Postaveni a Zpusobu Zivota Romu c Cechach, na Morave
a na Slovensku. Olomouc. | Gronemeyer, Reimer (1983) Zigeunerpolitik in sozialistischen Ländern Osteureopas am Beispiel der
Länder Ungarn, Tschechoslowakei, Polen. In: Gronemeyer, Reimer (ed.), Eigensinn und Hilfe. Giessen, pp. 43-183. | Guy, Will (Ed.)
(2001) Between Past and Future: the Roma of Central and Eastern Europe. Hatfield. | Marushiakova, Elena / Popov, Vesselin (1997)
Gypsies (Roma) in Bulgaria. Frankfurt am Main.
8 / 8
... Romania was one of the first states in CEE to endorse a policy of sedentarization toward its nomadic and semi-nomadic Roma at the end of the 1940s. Despite the fact that the latter category represented only one-third of the total Roma population (Marushiakova and Popov 2008), it was a constant concern for Romania's administrative authorities because of security and public order threats (Achim 2010). The Central Committee of the RWP considered the semi-nomadic and nomadic Roma to be the most pressing issue, all the more as the construction of a "multilaterally developed socialist society" was incompatible with the persistence of phenomena of "social backwardness," such as nomadism, extreme poverty, or the fact that a part of the population remained outside the political and social framework of the state (Marin 2015a). ...
While many scholarly contributions have documented the socialist state policies deployed toward the Roma from Central and Eastern Europe, less attention was paid to how discourses and policies have aimed to turn the “non-European,” “backward Roma” into reformed and modernized subjects that were supposed to conform to an “European,” sedentary way of life. Thus, I discuss proletarization and sedentarization not as state policies but as programs and technologies of power, specific to a socialist governmentality. The article interrogates the programs, technologies of power and biopolitical regulations that allowed the state authorities to legitimize their intervention in the daily lives of the Roma, with profound depoliticizing effects. I analyze political programs, governmental reports on Roma and ministry regulations as instruments of governmentality through which the governance of the “Roma question” took shape. Special attention is given to data/knowledge production. Finally, the research pinpoints that the micro-scale and the everyday workings of the socialist technologies of power might explain the different trajectories of socio-economic adaptation among Roma groups, which some studies have revealed during post-socialism.
... E.Marushiakova & V. Popov 2013, 4. 98 Helsinki Watch Report 1991, 18. 99 D. Crowe 2016 Helsinki Watch Report 1991, 27. 101CEDIME-SE 2001, 9. 102 V.Achim 1998, 195. ...
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