1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany: Attacks on Sinti and Roma double

June 17, 2024

German authorities documented more than 1,200 attacks on Sinti and Roma over the past year. Prejudice and discrimination are to be found on the streets as well as at government agencies.

A Sinti and Roma flag
Sinti and Roma face discrimination from society and government agencies Image: Michal Cizek/AFP

According to the Antiziganism Reporting and Information Center (MIA)— a federal data tracking agency — the number of attacks on Sinti and Roma registered in Germany nearly doubled in 2023, to 1,233 — up from 621 in 2022.

Speaking of the dramatic jump at the report's presentation in Berlin, Romani Rose, head of the Central Council of Sinti and Roma in Germany, said, "This causes us great concern against the backdrop of history."

Germany is home to some 150,000 German Sinti and Roma, as well a further 100,000 Roma migrants.

Sinti and Roma were among those people singled out for extermination by the Nazis during the Holocaust, with some 500,000 killed.

Insults, threats, prejudice and discrimination

Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus of the Green Party called anti-Roma sentiment a "sad part of everyday life" for those affected and demanded society and government treat it with the same urgency as racism and anti-semitism

Federal Antiziganism Representative Mehmet Daimagüler was especially critical of police, who were a focus of the report.

Three of the ten "extremely violent" incidents documented in the 2023 index involved police; and in one, the use of police dogs on handcuffed detainees.

MIA Chair Silas Kropf called for fundamental changes among police in order to combat systemic discrimination.      

(l to r) Chairman of the Central Council of Sinti and Roma in Germany Romani Rose, MIA Chairman Silas Kropf, and Federal Antiziganism Representative Mehmet Daimagüler hold up copies of a report on anti-Roma crime during a press conference in Berlin on Monday, June 17, 2024
'Shameful' that there is no public outcry over anti-Roma attacksImage: Metodi Popow/picture alliance

Daimagüler noted that the underlying prejudice evident in police attitudes toward Roma and Sinti, as well as a lack of trust of Roma and Sinti for police, had also led to an underreporting of discriminatory incidents.

Nevertheless, Kropf said the higher number of reported incidents did not necessarily reflect an increase in incidents — of which official numbers may only represent a small number of actual cases — but rather to the greater ease with which they can now be reported online, via mail or telephone in six German states.

In all, authorities recorded 50 violent attacks, 10 of which were characterized by "extreme violence," 46 threats, and 27 instances of property damage. Evidence of neo-Nazi motivation was found in 89 cases.

Prejudice baked into the German administrative system

MIA Chair Kropf said a rightward lurch in society, the failure of politicians to call out anti-Roma discrimination, and the deep-seated prejudices baked into the German administrative state were ultimately driving the numbers.

The study found discrimination most frequently occurred at schools, places of residence, and government agencies. Roma monuments and graves have often been targeted — with swastikas recently painted on the home of a Holocaust survivor, for instance — and racist chants and incitement are common.

Kropf implored the federal government to renew financing of the MIA — which was created in October 2021 — so that it can continue to get a more realistic idea of scale of anti-Roma sentiment in German society.

Federal Antiziganism Representative Mehmet Daimagüler said lack of public outcry over anti-Roma discrimination was "shameful," asking, "Where is society's indignation?"

My family was murdered - Sinti and the Holocaust

js/lo (AFP, dpa, epd, KNA)