Roma in Poland
A scan of an image from our picture archive of all things Polish and Poland related – Gypsy women and children photographed with German soldiers in a village near Lodz during the First World War.
Some random facts and observations on Polish Gypsies:
- The Gypsies that live in central and eastern Europe originate in northwestern India and first arrived in Poland in the mid 15th century.
- During the Second World War, the Nazis moved many Gypsies into ghettos, including Warsaw ghetto, and sent others into forced labour, imprisonment and extermination in concentration camps. German SS also murdered Polish Roma in mass executions in forests and secluded places. Estimates put the number of Polish Roma killed during the war at somewhere between 11,000 and 30,000.
- Most Polish Gypsies are Roman Catholics with a minority following the Muslim religion.
- The vast majority of Polish Roma are bilingual – speaking Polish and a dialect of the Romani language, which is an Indo-Aryan language, with roots in Sanskrit. Many Polish gypsies often mix the two languages in a single sentence when communicating with each other.
- Gypsy cultural events and music festivals take place throughout Poland each year.
- The most famous Polish Gypsy is probably the poet and singer Bronisława Wajs (Papusza). A movie called Papusza was made about her life in 2013.
- The vast majority of Polish Roma are no longer nomadic. Most live in south-east Poland, perhaps most notably in and around the city of Nowy Sącz.
- Recent estimates put the Gypsy or Roma population of Poland at between 40,000 and 50,000. However, due to assimilation over time, a larger number of Poles probably have some Roma ancestry somewhere in their past but do not now identify themselves as such.
- Many Polish Gypsies live quite separately from ethnic Poles. They have their own communities and spend much of their time in the company of other Roma.