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The Sinti (also Sinta or Sinte; masc. sing. Sinto fem. sing. Sintisa) are a Romani (gypsy) people of central Europe. Traditionally itinerant, 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. The Sinti-Manouche dialects form the Northwestern branch of the Romani dialects, contrasting with the Northeastern dialects of the Polska Roma and related groups, and the various southern dialects spoken by the Roma of southeastern Europe.
The origin of the name "Sinti/Sinte" is uncertain. It can be shown to have been adopted in the 18th century, possibly from a German-based secret language. That "Sinti" may be derived from "Sindhi", the name of a people of the Sindh region in South Asia, is a notion popular among the Sinti themselves, but others have claimed that there is no basis for the comparison.
The Sinti arrived in Germany and Austria in the Late Middle Ages, eventually splitting into two groups: Eftavagarja ("the Seven Caravans") and Estraxarja ("from Austria"). These two groups then expanded, the Eftavagarja into France, 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. In Italy they are present mainly in Piedmont region (where in Piedmontese they are called Sinto, although the word for Gypsies is sìngher, as the Italian zingaro), with some communities in Veneto and Emilia Romagna as well.
Sinti and Roma had migrated to Germany in the late 15th century and converted to Christianity. Nonetheless, they were still generally accused of being beggars and thieves, and by 1899, the police kept a central register on Gypsies. 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. Some were sent to Poland, or elsewhere (including some deported to Yugoslavia by the Hamburg police in 1939), others were confined to designated areas, and many were eventually gassed.
In concentration camps, the Sinti were forced to wear either a black triangle, indicating their classification as 'asocial', or a brown triangle, specifically reserved for Romani people.
Perhaps the most famous (and influential) Sinti musician is the guitar virtuoso Django Reinhardt, who fused traditional dance hall musettes with American jazz of the day (1930s and 40s) and, 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”. (Reinhardt's recordings refer to him as a Gypsy.)
Other notable Sinti musicians include Drafi Deutscher and the jazz guitarists Jimmy Rosenberg and Paulus Schäfer. The Sinto Häns'che Weis 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 all over Europe. 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. She is the daughter of Auschwitz survivor Otto Rosenberg. Marianne has had pop hits from the early 70's at 14 throughout 2011 with her latest CD, She sings mainly in German but has sung in English, French, Italian and the Sinti language. She placed 10th at the 1975 Eurovision with "Er gehört zu mir". Her Biography book Kokolores is a best seller in Europe.
Oto Pestner is a notable Slovenian Sinti singer. He is known for his involvement with the New Swing Quartet, which sang mostly jazz and swing classics. Pestner also sings gospel and Slovenian folk music.
- Martha Verdorfer: Sinti & Roma (German)
- 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.
- Burleigh, The Racial State, p122.
- Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman, The Racial State: Germany 1933–1945 (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 117.
- Shapiro, Paul A.; Ehrenreich, Robert M. (2002). Roma and Sinti: under-studied victims of Nazism : symposium proceedings. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,: Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. p. 24. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
- "A Fight for Memory –Monument Honors Sinti Boxer Murdered by the Nazis". Der Spiegel International. 30 June 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
- Walter Winter, Struan Robertson (Translator). Winter Time: Memoirs of a German who Survived Auschwitz. Hertfordshire Publications, (2004), ISBN 1-902806-38-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Romani people.|
- Non-Jewish Victims of Persecution in Nazi Germany on the Yad Vashem website
- Wege nach Ravensbrück (Ravensbrück concentration camp: Memories of surviving female Sinti) (German)
- F. N. Finck, Lehrbuch des Dialekts der deutschen Zigeuner (1903) on Internet Archive (German)