After a general overview of the persecution of Gypsies (Roma) during World War II, this thesis focuses on the situation of Gypsies on the territory of Serbia and Croatia. The two republics are chosen because of their unique structures during the years 1941 to 1945. Both republics had puppet regimes set up by Germany; however, Croatia was an ally to Germany and strove to mirror the Third Reich in all its policies. The regime's head, Ante Pavelic, was known as one of the most brutal and merciless men on the territory of Yugoslavia, and with him Croatian paramilitary forces committed great atrocities in concentration camps established in Croatia.

Serbia was divided up among Germany and its allies, and its racial policies varied depending on the occupying forces. In Croatia, all Gypsies were annihilated, but in Serbia many survived because of the protection provided by local peasantry and occupying forces from Hungary, Bulgaria or Italy.

The thesis points at four main findings: (1) the negligence toward the Gypsies' plight and persecution; (2) the fact that, according to Nazi definitions, the persecution of Gypsies was based on their race rather than their style of living; (3) the fact that there were multiple concentration camps throughout the territory of Yugoslavia, with the most brutal camp at Jasenovac in Croatia; and (4) the fact that the Holocaust was far more than a Jewish phenomenon.

Examining the two regions and highlighting them, the thesis proves that the fate of Gypsies in German-occupied territories of Yugoslavia was the same as the fate of Jews, that they were persecuted under superficial excuses, but with racial sentiments as the primary motivation. This new material, along with little known facts, documents, and stories show how marginalized Gypsies have been since the end of the war, and how little scholarly attention has been paid to their suffering. These new and some unpublished materials also help depict the brutality of Jasenovac, the Auschwitz of the Balkans, and prove that the atrocities during World War II were not committed only by German soldiers, but that they reached their peak among people of other nationalities as well.

Finally, the thesis claims that Gypsies deserve to be placed in the study of the Holocaust along side of Jews, and to receive the rights and remembrance that Jews have been afforded.



College and Department

Humanities; Germanic and Slavic Languages



Date Submitted


Document Type





Gypsies, Yugoslavia, Holocaust, World War II, Jasenovac, concentration camps, survivor's stories, Ante Pavelic, Josip Broz Tito, political persecution, Final Solution, minorities, Roma and Sinti, Hitler, Drazo Artukovic, human rights