Zigeuner sein
(Att vara zigenare)

Peter Nestler
Sweden 1970 | 47 Min.
Q&A with: Silvio Peritore

In the Romani lan­guage, Roma means “people.” This film lends a voice to these people, who tell of how they were arrest­ed and locked up in camps and pris­ons, and how 90 per­cent of their fam­i­lies never returned from the death camps. They speak in dialects from Bur­gen­land, Bavaria and Saxony. They live in des­o­late bar­racks on the fringes of cities, where ten people share a room with damp walls. The chil­dren are sick all winter long. Peter Nestler adds more facts with his dark low voice. A camp employ­ee describes his visit to the “gypsy camp” in Birke­nau, which shocks even him (despite his “thick skin”). At the end of the film, a woman wisely and pre­cise­ly sums up all the injus­tice done to these people: It isn’t that they haven’t let them­selves be assim­i­lat­ed in 600 years – no, they haven’t been allowed to be assim­i­lat­ed, up to this very day. Peter Nestler doesn’t try to water this down, either in nar­ra­tive or film. His mile­stone doc­u­men­tary is not only straight­for­ward, but the first to bear wit­ness to the per­se­cu­tion of Sinti and Roma in Ger­many and Aus­tria.