When Rolf S. comes to a school for an educational workshop, the 70-year-old first asks whether the students know Sinti and Roma. Most say no. “But when I ask them how they imagine Sinti and Roma, many prejudices come out blank. That we are not sedentary, steal, that we cannot be trusted, that we are liars, school dropouts.” Rolf S. is frightened again and again.

If he had come out as a Sinto earlier, many would have reached for their wallets. Today, some put their cell phones in their pockets. “Or they say: You’re not like them at all!”

S. is deputy chairman of the state association of German Sinti and Roma in Schleswig-Holstein, but prefers not to be given his full name. His daughter doesn’t want everyone to know that she is Sintezza. The minority is often equated with poverty. “And yes, there are Sinti and Roma who live in miserable conditions, which is also a result of discrimination. But that’s not the majority,” says S., who himself worked in a managerial position in the construction industry before retiring. His daughter has studied, his son is a civil servant.

In Germany, tackling prejudice is increasingly perceived as a task for the state. Since March, the federal government has had the lawyer Mehmet Daimaguler as an Antiziganism Commissioner, who is based at the Ministry for Family Affairs. He became particularly well-known as a representative of the private prosecutor in the NSU trial.

In Brandenburg, the fight against antigypsyism could soon become a state goal – alongside the fight against antisemitism. The Jewish educationalist Michael Brumlik, among others, had spoken out in favor of this in advance. He said to the “taz”: “It corresponds to the special historical responsibility of Germany and also of the state of Brandenburg to treat anti-Semitism and antiziganism equally in a state constitution.”

Around 500,000 people fell victim to the Nazi genocide of the Sinti and Roma, known as Porajmos in Romany. The federal government only recognized him in 1982, but many victims still had to wait decades for recognition and compensation.

A two-thirds majority is needed for the constitutional amendment in the Brandenburg state parliament, which the supporters, according to their own statements, could achieve exactly. If the application goes through, Brandenburg would be the second federal state after Schleswig-Holstein to lead the fight against antigypsyism in the constitution.

Antiziganism representative Daimagüler tells WELT that he hopes that the step “could have a signal effect for other federal states.” Because: “Many of the areas in which antiziganism is evident are within the competence of the federal states.”

A survey by WELT of the justice ministries of the federal states showed that none of them are planning to anchor the fight against antigypsyism as a state goal like Brandenburg. However, the Berlin Senate Department for Justice announced that they were “in close contact with the communities in the capital” on the question. In Bremen, on the other hand, a motion was already passed in the first reading to include a general anti-fascism clause in the state constitution.

And for Hamburg, the deputy parliamentary group leader of the Greens, Lena Zagst, says that the parliament is currently examining “a formulation to anchor our commitment against all forms of group-related enmity in the preamble.” One wants to avoid emphasizing individual forms of discrimination before others. In addition, several federal states have already concluded administrative agreements with an association representing the interests of the Sinti and Roma.

Herbert Heuss, Scientific Director of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, demands that the federal states should appoint representatives against antigypsyism so that more action can be taken to combat antigypsyism. Heuss believes that they could work with Sinti and Roma self-representatives and would be suitable contacts in the event of incidents.

“So far, people who are affected by antigypsyism have rarely reported to the anti-discrimination offices of the federal states due to a general skepticism towards the authorities.” This is due to the long history of discrimination, even long after the end of the Second World War .

Heuss considers better education to be particularly important. “The topic should be included in the curricula as a mandatory requirement, otherwise teachers will not deal with it.” The Leipzig authoritarianism study from 2020 shows how deeply antigypsyism is still rooted, according to which two years ago 41.9 percent of those surveyed said that they had problems have if Sinti and Roma are in their area. “There has been an awareness of antigypsyism at the political level for a number of years,” says Heuss. “Now it has to reach the general public, that will take time.”

Rolf S. from the State Association of Sinti and Roma in Schleswig-Holstein says that a lot has changed since the fight against antiziganism was included in the state constitution in 2012. The association receives more financial resources for its work, members meet representatives of the state parliament and the city of Kiel once a year, which has improved the exchange.

The pensioner still hears about bad experiences with the authorities to this day. “It happens again and again that some believe they can scold us from above because it is assumed that we don’t know the law anyway.” However, he also has the feeling that it is slowly becoming less – “maybe also because of more younger people Employee”.

“Kick-off Politics” is WELT’s daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.