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Romani people
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Sinti and Roma people, 1941

The Sinti (also Sinta or Sinte; masc. sing. Sinto; fem. sing. Sintesa) are a Romani people of Central Europe.[1] They were traditionally itinerant, but today only a small percentage of the group remains unsettled. In earlier times, they frequently lived on the outskirts of communities. The Sinti of Central Europe are closely related to the group known as Manouche in France. They speak the Sinti-Manouche variety of Romani, which exhibits strong German influence.


"Sinti" may be derived from "Sindhi", the name of a people of Sindh, Pakistan as the original Roma migrated from South Asia according to a recent Estonian and Indian study,[2] a notion popular among the Sinti themselves. However, the vast majority of scholars and anthropologists claim that there is no known basis for the comparison, meaning that they did migrate from India, but not necessarily from Sindh.[3]


The Sinti arrived in Germany and Austria in the Late Middle Ages along with Romani from the Indian Subcontinent,[4] eventually splitting into two groups: Eftavagarja ("the Seven Caravans") and Estraxarja ("from Austria").[5] They arrived in Germany before 1540.[6] The two groups expanded, the Eftavagarja into France, Portugal and Brazil, where they are called "Manouches", and the Estraxarja into Italy and Central Europe, mainly what are now Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania,[dubious ] the Czech Republic and Slovakia, eventually adopting various regional names.[citation needed] In Italy they are present mainly in Piedmont region (where in Piedmontese they are called Sinto, although the word for Romani people is sìngher, as the Italian zingaro), with some communities in Veneto and Emilia Romagna as well.

Johann Trollmann, a German Sinti boxer

The Holocaust[edit]

Sinti and Roma had migrated to Germany in the late 15th century. Nonetheless, they were still generally accused of being beggars and thieves, and by 1899, the police kept a central register on Romani people. Considered by the National Socialists to be racially inferior (see Nazism and Race), Sinti and Roma were persecuted throughout Germany during the Nazi period – the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 often being interpreted to apply to them as well as the Jews. Adolf Eichmann recommended that the "Gypsy Question" be "solved" simultaneously with the Jewish Question, resulting in the deportation of the Sinti to clear room to build homes for ethnic Germans.[7] Some were sent to Poland, or elsewhere (including some deported to Yugoslavia by the Hamburg Police in 1939[8]), others were confined to designated areas, and many were eventually murdered in gas chambers[9].

In concentration camps, the Sinti were forced to wear either a black triangle, indicating their classification as "asocial",[10] or a brown triangle, specifically reserved for Romani people.

Notable Sinti[edit]

Django Reinhardt was a guitarist who fused traditional dance hall musettes with American jazz in 1930s and 1940s. Along with Stéphane Grappelli and the other members of the Quintette du Hot Club de France, founded the style of music known as "Gypsy jazz".

Other notable Sinti musicians include Schnuckenack Reinhardt, Drafi Deutscher and the jazz guitarists Jimmy Rosenberg and Paulus Schäfer. The Sinto Häns'che Weiss produced a record in Germany in the 1970s in which he sang about the Poraimos (Romani Holocaust) in his own language. Many younger Germans first learned about this part of Holocaust history as a result of this recording. Titi Winterstein and several members of Reinhardt's clan still play traditional and modern Gypsy jazz. The jazz keyboardist Joe Zawinul was also of Sinti descent.

Marianne Rosenberg, a very popular Sinti/Roma-German singer, is considered "the 'Cher' of Germany."[citation needed] She is the daughter of Auschwitz survivor Otto Rosenberg, who in 1936 at nine years of age was placed in a concentration camp where his father, his grandmother, and all of his siblings were murdered by the Nazis. She sings mainly in German but has sung in English, French, Italian, and the Sinti language. She finished tenth in the German preselection for the 1975 Eurovision song contest with "Er gehört zu mir". Her biography Kokolores is a bestseller in Europe.[citation needed]

Oto Pestner is a Slovenian Sinti singer involved with the New Swing Quartet, which sang mostly jazz and swing classics. Pestner also sings gospel and Slovenian folk music.

Sinti notable for their sporting achievements include Johann Trollmann, who won the 1933 light-heavyweight boxing championship of Germany but was stripped of the title by the Nazis, who could not tolerate a "non-Aryan" champion; Trollman was murdered in a concentration camp in 1943 by another inmate.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Martha Verdorfer: Sinti & Roma (in German)
  2. ^ Nelson, Dean (3 December 2012). "European Roma descended from Indian 'untouchables', genetic study shows". Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  3. ^ Yaron Matras, 'The Role of Language in Mystifying and Demystifying Gypsy Identity' in: Nicholas Saul, Susan Tebbutt, The Role of the Romanies: Images and Counter-images of "Gypsies"/Romanies in European Cultures, Liverpool University Press (2004), ISBN 978-0-85323-679-5, p. 70.
  4. ^ "Europe invented 'gypsies,' says German author". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Nicholas Saul, Susan Tebbutt, p. 182
  7. ^ Burleigh, The Racial State, p122.
  8. ^ Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman, The Racial State: Germany 1933–1945 (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 117.
  9. ^ Davis, Mark (5 May 2015). "How World War II shaped modern Germany". euronews.
  10. ^ Shapiro, Paul A.; Ehrenreich, Robert M. (2002). Roma and Sinti: under-studied victims of Nazism : symposium proceedings. Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. p. 24. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
  11. ^ "A Fight for Memory  –Monument Honors Sinti Boxer Murdered by the Nazis". Der Spiegel International. 30 June 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2011.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]