Chapter 6 Romania

In: Roma Voices in History
Open Access

6.1 First Steps

6.1.1 A Manifesto of the Gypsies

Un manifest al ţiganilor

Țiganii din Homorod au ținut o mare întrunire la care a[u] luat parte 700 până la 800 țigani, cari au dat în vileag următorul apel:

Rugăm pe frații noștri țigani din comitatul Târnavei mari a lua parte la marea adunare țigănească ce se va ține Joi în 16 Ianuarie st. n. în sala Schlosser din Cohalm, la ceasurile 9 înainte de amiazi.

Scopul adunărei noastre este de a spune lumii tot ceeace am suferit de sute de ani noi țiganii.

Vom alege un comitet țigănesc care va fi obligat a recurge la onoratul Comitet Național Român din Sibiiu și a ruga pe Onoratul Comitet Național Român a ne lua și pe noi țiganii sub scutul Domniei lor.

Vă rugăm, fraților de a lua parte în număr cât se poate de mare la prima noastră adunare țigănească de care adunare atârnă soarta tristei noastre vieți.

Fraților! Nu băgați în seamă nici o osteneală.

Toți țiganii din împrejurimile noastre să fie la această adunare, tineri și bătrâni.

Această adunare este autorizată de Consiliul Național Român din Cohalm.

Comitetul Aranjator, Tiganii din Homorod.

A Manifesto of the Gypsies

The Gypsies from Homorod [1] held a large assembly of 700 to 800 Gypsies, who made the following appeal [2]:

We ask our Gypsy brothers in the county of Târnava Mare to take part in the great Gypsy assembly that will be held on Thursday, January 16 N[ew] S[tyle] [3] in the Schlosser Hall in Cohalm [4], at 9 o’clock in the morning.

The goal of our assembly is to tell the world everything what we, the Gypsies, have suffered for centuries.

We will elect a Gypsy committee that will be obliged to resort to the honourable Romanian National Committee in Sibiu [5] and ask the honourable Romanian National Committee to take us, the Gypsies, under their protection.

We urge you, brothers, to take part as many as possible in our first Gypsy assembly, on which depends the fate of our sad life.

Brothers! Get over any trouble!

All the Gypsies in our surroundings, young and old, should come to this assembly.

This assembly is authorised by the Romanian National Council in Cohalm [6].

Preparatory Committee, Gypsies in Homorod.

Notes

1. Homorod – a town in Transylvania.

2. This article from the February 9, 1919 has made a confusion between cause and effect and wrongly presented the manifesto as being the result of an assembly in Homorod, a locality close to Rupea. In reality, the Preparatory Committee of the Gypsies in Homorod only drafted the Manifesto.

3. St[il] n[ou] or ‘New Style’ refers to the Gregorian calendar which replaced the Julian in Roman Catholic countries beginning in 1582. This change was implemented in Orthodox countries much later. Romania adopted new style dating for its civil calendar in 1919 when April 1st became April 14th, 1919. The Romanian Orthodox Church continued to use the Julian calendar until October 1924. Before the 1918 Union, various provinces which were to become part of Greater Romania had different calendars (Banat, Transylvania and Bukovina, already the Gregorian calendar while the Old Kingdom and Bessarabia used the Julian calendar). Hence, in 1919, in order to avoid any misunderstanding, the Roma organisers still had to specify the new style dating.

4. Due to its multi-ethnic population, the town had different names: Kőhalom (Hungarian), Rupea, Cohalm (Romanian), Reps, Räppes, Kuhalme (German) etc.

5. The organisers confused The Central Romanian National Council (Consiliul Național Român Central) with the Governing Council (Consiliul Dirigent). The former was a political body of the Romanians in Transylvania that announced and organised the convening of the Great National Assembly in Alba Iulia, which voted the resolution of the Union of Transylvania with the Romanian Kingdom, while the latter served as the provisory Transylvanian government until the final Union with the Romanian Kingdom (between December 2, 1918 – April 4, 1920). Besides, the latter institution was based in Sibiu and received the Resolution of the Gypsy assembly.

6. The local Romanian National Councils functioned under the leadership of the Central Romanian National Council and ceased their activity on the 6th of February 1919.

Source: [No Author]. (1919). Un manifest al ţiganilor. Gazeta Poporului, An 2. No. 6, 1919, February 9, p. 8.

Prepared for publication by Petre Matei.

Comments

The first Roma political manifestation was the Assembly held in Rupea on the January 16, 1919. It benefitted from a large presence of approximately 700-800 participants but remained largely a local event as it targeted only the Roma from one county (Târnava Mare). The Assembly formulated concrete demands: equal rights; settling the nomads; assistance for invalids and widows; land distribution and to be present in communal representation. These claims cannot be easily characterised as either ‘social’ or ‘ethnic’. ‘Social’ requests as land distribution, nomads’ sedentarisation and assistance can be seen also from the perspective of the equal treatment they claimed. Besides, they explicitly asked equal rights and communal representation. Moreover, by electing a committee, they went a step further from participative to representative. Shortly thereafter, the committee presented the Assembly resolution to the Transylvanian Governing Council (Consiliul Dirigent) in Sibiu which took action to address their requests. On January 27, 1919, the Secretary-General of the Governing Council mandated the prefect of Târnava Mare County to inform the Gypsy representatives on the envisioned measures: “Please notify the representatives of the Gypsies [deleted in original], George Molnar and George Critaoiu [in other documents, he appeared as Crițean], that: 1. All citizens will be equally entitled; Gypsies will not be treated differently; 2. Colonisation of nomads will be solved at a more appropriate time; 3. The invalids and their widows will be taken care in accordance with the invalids and widows of all citizens; 4. Minorities will also be represented in the communal representation; 5. Their demand for land redistribution was transposed to the Agricultural Department” (see Matei, 2010a, pp. 467-487; 2011, pp. 135-152; 2013, pp. 449-450).

Other Gypsy Assemblies followed in April 1919. On the whole, their manifestations evolved from: 1) the Assembly of the Gypsies from Târnava Mare county at Rupea on 16 January 1919 through; 2) the local Assemblies on 25-27 April 1919 held in several Transylvanian localities and counties to; 3) the National Gypsy Assembly of Dumbrăveni on April 27, 1919.

Circumstances were then propitious. Between 1916-1918, Romania had allied itself with the Entante and fought against the Central Powers. After the First World War, as part of the victorious alliance, Romania hoped to obtain the territories inhabited by Romanian majorities. Besides, on December 1st, 1918, The Romanian National Assembly in Alba Iulia had endorsed the Union of Transylvania to Romania. However, despite certain advantages, neither the Union nor the Transylvanian borders were yet settled and had to be first internationally acknowledged. The Paris Peace Conference (1919-1920) was to bring about the recognition of the new political and territorial realities. Until then, the Romanians could only hail the recognition of the Union by different ethnical groups whose support was well received and seen as a means of substantiating Greater Romania. Overall, representatives of different minorities held assemblies where they adhered to the Union while also claiming certain rights.

It was this need for legitimacy that fostered political action among the Gypsies. At a time when their support seemed to count, the Gypsy elites saw the opportunity and became politically alert. The rallying of the Gypsies occurred against the backdrop of evident affinity for the Transylvanian Romanians, with whom they shared the same (rural) habitat and the same “Romanian” denominations – Orthodox and Greek-Catholic. The relatively important number of Transylvanian Gypsies was capitalised on in the competition among the principal ethnic groups living in Transylvania: the Romanians, the Germans, and the Hungarians.

As the Gypsies were in no position to effectively press for these rights, but rather depended on the benevolence of the new administration, they were pleading instead with the Romanians by invoking their ‘Romanianism’. To ensure that they would get their rights, the Roma had to be convincing and pragmatic. The demands formulated in the Assembly of Rupea, in the local assemblies of April, and eventually in the Gypsy National Assembly at Dumbrăveni (April 27, 1919) were similar in structure: a public demonstration of loyalty towards the Romanians and support for the Union, followed by demands for civil rights, equal treatment, and land.

Petre Matei

6.1.2 Gypsy Assemblies

a) The Gypsy Assembly of Ucea de Jos

Onorabilă Adunare Naţională Ţâgăniască în Ibaşfalău,

Onorată Şedinţă,

Noi supuşi aparţinători ai comunei Ucia de Josu, plasa Arpaşiul de Josu, judeţul Făgăraş şi jur, de relegiune gr[eco] or[ientali] şi gr[eco] cat[olici] de profesiune zileri şi neguţători.

Voim a ne depune următoarea rugare după cum urmează.

I. Prima dată din inimile no[a]stre dăm laudă bunului Dzeu şi Maiestăţi[i] sale Regelui nostru Ferdinand căci ni[-]au eliberatu din jugul barbarilor mag[h]iari. Trăiască Regele nostru Ferdinand. Trăiască onorabila nostră Regină Maria. Trăiască guvernul român. Trăiască România mare lângă care cerem alipirea no[a]stră cu trup şi sufletu.

Totodată declarăm a ne supune la toate condiţiile cerute din partea mai marilor noştri şi a guvernului român, dând armată ca şi până acum.

Tot odată

Rugând pe Iubitul nostru Rege şi guvernul român a ne livida şi nouă următoarele:

A avia drept egal cu naţiunea română. Cia mai pauperă naţiune suntem, dară în tot diauna ni[-]am dat sălinţa din cât am pututu şi am împlinitu to[a]te cererile din partia guvernului şi le vom împlini şi de în’nainte. Noi drepturi la pădure n[-]am avutu, avere de pământ asemenia, cei mai puţini abia avem pământu propriu cât ni[-]am edificat un bordei (casă). Pe când fără acestea nu putem sta în naintea lipselor noastre.

Sperând că umilita no[a]stră rugare nu veti lua[-]o la ria considerare, rămânem cei mai plecaţi servi în puternicind pe membri noştri den credere a participa la marea adunare aranjată pe Duminica Tomi[i] în Ibaşfalău.

Rămânem mai plecaţi servi,

Ucia de Josu, la 25 Aprilie 1919.

În faţa no[a]stră: Avram Milia, Ion Floca, Gheorghe Furdui.

La membri: Gheorghe Humagiu şi Adam Floca, Gheorghe Humagiu.

The Honorable Gypsy National Assembly in Ibaşfalău [1],

Honourable Session,

We the subjects of the commune of Ucia de Jos and nearby, district Arpaşiul de Jos, county of Făgăraş, Gypsies of Greek-Orthodox [2] and Greek-Catholic faiths, by profession day labourers and tradesmen.

We want to address our request as follows:

First of all, from our hearts, we praise the Good Lord and His Majesty, our King Ferdinand [3] for freeing us from the yoke of the Hungarian barbarians [4]. Long live our King Ferdinand. Long live our honourable Queen Maria [5]. Long live the Romanian government. Long live the Greater Romania with which we ask for Union with body and soul.

At the same time, we declare we submit to all the conditions set by our superiors and the Romanian government, going to the army just as before.

At the same time

We ask our beloved King and the Romanian government to grant us the following:

To be equal in rights to the Romanian nation. Although the poorest nation, we have always done our best and fulfilled all the demands of the government and we will continue to do so. We have never had rights to forest or land property, most of us have barely enough land of their own to build a hovel (house). Without all these we will not be able to stand up to our needs.

Hoping that you will consider our humble demand, we remain the most faithful subjects and depute our trustworthy members to attend the great assembly decided on Saint Thomas Sunday [6] in Ibaşfalău.

Your faithful subjects,

Ucia de Josu, on April 25, 1919.

In front of us: Avram Milia, Ion Floca, Gheorghe Furdui.

Members: Gheorghe Humagiu and Adam Floca, Gheorghe Humagiu.

b) The Gypsy Assembly in Moşna

Protocol

Luat în adunarea generală a ţiganilor greco-catolici şi greco-orientali din comuna Moşna, plasa Mediaş, judeţul Târnava mare, ţinută în 26 april 1919 fiind de faţă subscrişii:

Obiectul

Punct I. Alegerea celor 2 membri ca delegaţi ai adunării generale dela Elisabetopol ce se va ţinea în 27 aprilie la Dumineca Tomei.

Adunarea cu aclamare denumeşte pe Nicolae Duca şi Gerasim Samu ca delegaţi şi representanţi ai adunării generale a ţiganilor din comuna Moşna.

Punct II. Adunarea generală hotărăşte alipirea cu drag la regatul României şi îndrumă delegaţii a tâlmăci sentimentele lor de alipire la Regatul României mari.

Punct III. Adunarea generală a ţiganilor din Moşna se roagă de conducătorii adunării din Elisabetopol să înainteze o rugare cătră Consiliul Dirigent din Sibiu să binevoiască a face dispoziţii în grabă ca să capete ţiganii din Moşna deocamdată în arendă în preţ moderat dela atotstăpânitori saşii din comună, căci ei cer pe un jugăr de pământ 600 cor. /adecă şase sute coroane/ ba nici aşa nu vreau să ne dee zicându-ne “mergeţi acum la România să vă dee pământ”.

Totodată

Se roagă adunarea generală cătră Consiliul Dirigent din Sibiu să binevoiască a lua în considerare, când se va în părţi pământul şi pe ei, fiindcă aceleaşi jertfe şi aceleaşi miserii şi neajunsuri am îndurat ca orişicare alţii şi acelaşi sânge am vărsat pentru causa mare a dreptăţii ca şi celelalte popoare din ţară, deci să fie împărtăşiţi de aceleaşi [indescifrabil] ca şi celelalte popoare conlocuitoare cu ei din ţară.

În comuna Moşna 70 familii de ţigani nu au un petec de pământ şi ne avându nici căpăta dela saşi nici pe bani.

Nemai având adunarea generală alte objecte de discutat şedinţa se închee.

Moşna la 26 aprilie 1919.

Vasile Tătar, adm[inistrator] par[ohial].

Stoica Rusu, Petru Şelariu, Ştefan Boldizgar, Nuţu Avram, Brezere Mihăilă, Motică Samu, [indescifrabil] Ion, [indescifrabil] Tudor, Ion Coscodariu, Lazăr [indescifrabil], Stoica Florea, Lazăr Boldi, George Bolcei, Rupa Stoica, Niculae Aldea, Boiaş Andronic, Ion Bolcei, Avram [indescifrabil], Susana Cercea, Fritzi [indescifrabil], Mateiu Samu,[indescifrabil] George, Ana [indescifrabil], Ion Moldovean, Ana Feisan [indescifrabil], Samu Niculae, Baldi Laurenţiu, Stoica George, Nicolae Duca, Lazăr Moldoveanu, Gerasim Sasu, Pavel Moldovean.

The Minutes

Taken in the general assembly of the Greek-Catholic and Greek-Oriental Gypsies from Moșna commune, Mediaș district, county of Târnava Mare, held on April 26, 1919, in the presence of the undersigned:

The object

Point I. The election of the 2 members as delegates to the Elisabetopol general assembly to be held on April 27th, on Saint Thomas Sunday.

The assembly chooses by acclamation Nicolae Duca and Gerasim Samu as delegates and representatives of the general assembly of the Gypsies in Moşna.

Point II. The General Assembly dearly acknowledges the union with the Kingdom of Romania and advises its delegates to express their feelings of attachment to the Kingdom of Greater Romania.

Point III. The General Assembly of the Gypsies of Moşna asks the leaders of the Elisabetopol Assembly to address a request to the Governing Council in Sibiu to rapidly dispose that the Gypsies in Moșna will get land, for now on lease, at moderate prices, from the almighty Saxons of the commune, because they pretend 600 crowns [7] for a juger of land [8] (that is six hundred crowns), and even so they do not want to give us land and instead they say to us “go now to Romania to give you land”.

At the same time

The General Assembly requests the Governing Council in Sibiu to take also them [the Gypsies] into account when land is redistributed, because we made the same sacrifices and endured the same miseries and difficulties as everybody else and the same blood we shed for the great cause of justice as all the other peoples of the country, so that they shall be shared the same [illegible] as all the other peoples coexisting with them in the country.

In the commune of Moşna 70 Gypsy families have no land of theirs and cannot obtain any from the Saxons even for money.

As the General Assembly has no other subjects to discuss, the meeting ends.

Moşna on April 26, 1919.

Vasile Tătar, parish administrator [9].

Stoica Rusu, Petru Şelariu, Ştefan Boldizgar, Nuţu Avram, Brezere Mihăilă, Motică Samu, [illegible] Ion, [illegible] Tudor, Ion Coscodariu, Lazăr [illegible], Stoica Florea, Lazăr Boldi, George Bolcei, Rupa Stoica, Niculae Aldea, Boiaş Andronic, Ion Bolcei, Avram [illegible], Susana Cercea, Fritzi [illegible], Mateiu Samu, [illegible] George, Ana [illegible] Ion Moldovean, Ana Feisan [illegible], Samu Niculae, Baldi Laurenţiu, Stoica George, Nicolae Duca, Lazăr Moldoveanu, Gerasim Sasu, Pavel Moldovean.

Source: ANIC, fond. Consiliul Dirigent. Administraţia judeţeană şi comunală, dos. 79/1919, f. 49-49v.

Prepared for publication by Petre Matei.

Notes

1. Due to its multi-ethnic background, as in many other cases, this town had different names: Ibaşfalău, Dumbrăveni (Romanian), Elisabethstadt, Elisabetopol (German) and Erzsébetváros (Hungarian).

2. In original ‘Greek-Oriental’, it means here Christian Orthodox. In other documents, “Greek-Oriental” was used with the same meaning.

3. Ferdinand I (1865-1927) was King of Romania between 1914-1927. Although he was a member of the German imperial family of Hohenzollern, Romania fought in WWI against the Central Powers. At the end of the war, Romania included Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania, and Ferdinand was crowned king of “Greater Romania”.

4. On April 16, 1919, an open conflict had started between Hungarians and Romanians over Transylvania and continued in several phases (by May 1, 1919, the Romanians occupied the east bank of Tisza and in August 1919, Budapest). References to the “Hungarian barbarians” are to be seen against this backdrop.

5. Maria of Romania (1875-1938) was Queen of Romania between 1914-1927. Born into the British royal family, she married, in 1892, the Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania. After the outbreak of World War I, she acted as a nurse in military hospitals, caring for wounded soldiers. She became immensely popular with the Romanian people.

6. The Octave Day of Easter.

7. The Krone or Korona (Romanian, coroană) was the official currency of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1892 until 1918.

8. Iugăr = old unit of area used in Transylvania, equivalent to 0.5775 ha.

9. Probably the same “parish administrator” drafted also the protocol (which bore the stamp of the local Greek-Catholic Church of Moșna).

Comments

Between the 25th-27th of April, the Gypsies’ political efforts became more complex and their assemblies more representative. Although the Assembly in Rupea benefitted from hundreds of participants, it remained rather local (limited to the county of Târnava Mare). At the end of April, Gypsy assemblies took place in different Transylvanian localities from several counties. Local communities listed their desiderata and elected their own delegates for the National Gypsy Assembly in Dumbrăveni. Such assemblies were organised at Iclodul Mare (Solnoc-Dobâca County), Criş, Şeica Mare and Moşna (Târnava Mare County), Ucea de Jos (Făgăraş County), Tălmăcel and Avrig (Sibiu County), Velț and Dumbrăveni (Târnava Mică County). For each of the aforementioned localities, protocols or credentials were issued by the Gypsies assemblies or local authorities. We assume that there were four more Gypsy assemblies in the localities of Soroştin (Sibiu County), Apold, Copşa Mare and Şoala (Târnava Mare County), as we find the names of the Gypsy representatives from these localities in the nominal table with the participants in the Dumbrăveni General Assembly (April 27, 1919).

As we cannot reproduce in detail all the documents issued by the Gypsy assemblies (due both to lack of space and to their repetitive character), we limit ourselves to the most relevant documents issued by the assemblies in Ucea de Jos (April 25, 1919) and Moșna (April 26, 1919). A reason for selecting the protocol of Ucea de Jos is that both its structure and content are similar to the protocols issued by other assemblies (Tălmăcel, Avrig, Blăjel, Velţ and Dumbrăveni). This situation can be explained partly by the active role played by Gheorghe Humagiu, the representative of the Ucea de Jos assembly. He took the protocol from his own locality and used it as a model for other assemblies where he participated (Tălmăcel, Avrig, Blăjel, Velţ and Dumbrăveni). Given that most Gypsy participants were illiterate (their ‘signatures’ consisted mainly in thumbs impressions or in crosses next to their names), Humagiu drafted these claims as a “writer of name[s] and request”. However, there were also assemblies whose demands bore a striking resemblance to others, even in the absence of Gheorghe Humagiu. Such similarities are probably due to the existence of some Gypsy leaders from different counties able to act in a concerted manner, agreeing on a pattern before the first assemblies were held. This initial draft served as a starting point, being proposed to the assemblies and approved. Slightly different was the situation in Moșna, where the assembly claimed immediate help. Here, the participants complained about the lack of land and, accusing the Saxons’ refusal to lease them land at a reasonable price, they demanded that the Dumbrăveni assembly intervene with the Governing Council for granting land, initially leased and then redistributed for good. Because in many of these localities the Gypsies did not have their own land, their assemblies placed a great emphasis on land redistribution.

The documents issued by these assemblies followed largely the same pattern: adhering to the Union, the Roma claimed equal rights and land redistribution. At the same time, they declared themselves sedentary, economically useful and of Orthodox or Greek-Catholic faith (regarded then in Transylvania as Romanian denominations), manifested their loyalty to the Romanian royal family and to the Romanian government. While stressing their closeness to the Romanians, they distanced themselves from the Hungarians. The Roma assemblies took place during the military hostilities between Romanians and Hungarians for Transylvania. On the night of 15th-16th April 1919, the Hungarian military attacked the Romanian positions. The Romanians counter-attacked and within days they broke the Hungarian front, occupied several cities (Oradea, Salonta, Debrecen) and advanced to the Tisza River. By May 1st, 1919, the Romanians controlled the entire east bank of the Tisza River. Consequently, the Roma borrowed the anti-Hungarian phraseology from the Romanian media and used it in their protocols: the “Hungarian barbarians” or the “Hungarian yoke” appeared thus as a counter-balance to the Romanians (King, Queen, Government, etc.) presented as saviours.

Petre Matei

6.1.3 The Memorandum from Dumbraveni

Memoriu

Compus în adunarea Ţiganilor români locuitori în părţile ardelene ale României Mari, ţinută la April 27, 1919, în oraşul Ibaşfalău pe baza convocatorului publicat în ziaristica română şi primit din partea acestei adunări, conform procesului verbal luat în această adunare, cu aprobarea autorităţilor politice competente.

Subsemnaţii, reprezentanţi ai Ţiganilor români transilvăneni ca urmaşii înaintaşilor noştrii cari de veacuri au locuit pe pământul Ardealului şi laolaltă cu celelalte popoare şi îndeosebit cu naţiunea Româna au adus toate jertfele recerute pentru susţinerea şi înaintarea acestei ţări şi patria noastră iubită, îndemnaţi de dragostea noastră faţă de neamul românesc şi faţă de noua noastră patrie România Mare, declarăm sărbătoreşte şi pentru totdeauna, şi totodată ne şi rugăm cu supunere ca să ni se împlinească şi nouă, celor oropsiţi până acuma, dorinţele noastre.

I. Atât noi cât şi urmaşii noştri să fim consideraţi ca cei mai supuşi şi credincioşi fii şi cetăţeni ai României Mari, conform punctului I al hotărârii aduse în adunarea naţională românească ţinută la Alba Iulia la 18 Nov./1 Dec. 1918.

II. Ca fii şi cetăţeni ai marii Naţiuni Române, nevoind şi neputând fi consideraţi ca popor străin în ţară străină, după cum am fost consideraţi de veacuri, ne rugăm:

1. Să fim primiţi în sânul marelui popor român nu numai cei cu limba, port şi datine româneşti ci şi ceilalţi locuitori de origine ţigănească care şi-au pierdut acest caracter, aflători în toate ţinuturile Ardealului, Banatului şi părţile Ţărei ungureşti alipite acuma la România Mare.

2. De asemenea, ne rugăm ca de aci înainte, în toate actele oficiale româneşti, să nu se mai folosească pentru noi şi următorii noştrii numirea (porecla) ca batjocură [ţigan], ci aceasta, dacă nu se şterge cu totul chiar din uzul oficial, să se circumscrie cu o altă numire care se va afla de corespunzătoare.

3. Conform hotărârei p[unctului] III a Adunării Naţionale Româneşti dela Alba Iulia, să fim şi noi consideraţi întru toate egali în drepturi cât şi în datorinţe cu ceilalţi români din România Mare, prin urmare să fim şi noi şi următorii noştri instruiţi, administraţi şi judecaţi în limba şi după legile româneşti. Să fim primiţi la toate oficiile de stat şi bisericeşti-culturale şi nu ca până acum în Ungaria.

4. Conform legilor ce se vor aduce pentru împroprietărirea celor fără pământ să fim şi noi şi următorii noştri împărtăşiţi din pământul care se va împărţi (arător/păşune/pădure) între cetăţenii Români, vrednici pentru aceasta spre a putea avea şi noi şi următorii noştri vatra noastră şi moşia care să ne lege pentru totdeauna de moşia românească pentru care şi înaintaşii noştri au muncit, pătimit şi sângerat şi pentru care şi următorii noştri vor aduce toate jertfele ce li sa cere. Până la executarea acestei legi ne rugăm ca să fim luaţi în seamă şi sub ocrotirea la exarendarea moşiilor (păşunat şi arător) precum şi la întreprinderile muncitoreşti-industriale.

III. Până la îndeplinirea acestor dorinţe îndreptăţite, legale, pentru liniştea şi asigurarea noastră ne rugăm ca să fim şi noi, Ţiganii barem în Ardeal reprezentaţi în Marele Sfat Naţional Românesc prin trei reprezentanţi aleşi din această adunare a noastră şi anume: 1. D-l Ionel Câmpeanu teolog [indescifrabil] şi profesor, mijlocitorul şi protectorul nostru binoevoitor care desi nu aparţine poporului nostru ţigănesc, s’a aratat vrednic de încrederea noastră şi suntem convinşi că şi pe viitor ne va ajuta pana la împlinirea dreptelor noastre dorinţe; 2, Gheorghe Humagiul locuitor din Ucea de Jos, jud. Făgăraş şi 3 Gheorghe Criţean din Braşov.

Dat în Adunarea Naţională a Ţiganilor.

Preşedinte Gheorghe Humagiul.

Niculae Velţan, Notar.

Memorandum

Presented by the assembly of the Romanian Gypsy inhabitants from the Transylvanian parts of Greater Romania, held on April 27, 1919 in the city of Ibaşfalău on the basis of the convocation published in the Romanian newspapers and received from this assembly, with the approval of the competent political authorities.

The undersigned representatives of the Transylvanian Romanian Gypsies as descendants of our ancestors who have lived on the land of Transylvania for centuries and together with the other peoples and especially with the Romanian nation brought all the sacrifices for the support and advancement of this country and our beloved homeland, encouraged by our love for the Romanian people and for our new homeland, Greater Romania, we declare solemnly and forever, and at the same time we pray with obedience that the requests of ours, so far forsaken, will be too fulfilled,

I. Both we and our descendants shall be considered as the most loyal and faithful sons and citizens of Greater Romania, according to the first point of the resolution taken by the Romanian national assembly held in Alba Iulia on 18th November / 1st December 1918.

II. As sons and citizens of the great Romanian nation, unwilling and unable to be considered as foreign people in a foreign country, as we have been for centuries, we request:

1. To be accepted as part of the great Romanian people not only those with Romanian language, habits and customs, but also the other Gypsy inhabitants who have lost this character, living in all the regions of Transylvania, Banat and in other parts of Hungary, now attached to Greater Romania.

2. We also request that from now on all the official Romanian documents shall no longer use the derogatory appellation (nickname) of Gypsy for us and our descendants, and if this is not completely erased from the official use, it shall be replaced with another appellation deemed appropriate.

3. According to the third point of the Resolution of the Romanian National Assembly of Alba Iulia [1], to be treated as equal in rights and duties with the other Romanians within Greater Romania, thus to be ourselves and our descendants taught, administered and judged in the Romanian language and according to the Romanian laws. To have access to all state and confessional-cultural offices and not as it happened so far in Hungary.

4. According to the laws that will be passed for the land redistribution to the landless people, we and our descendants shall be shared also from the land that will be redistributed (arable land/pasture/forest) between the Romanian citizens worthy of it in order to have for ourselves and for our descendants our own hearth and estate that will forever link us to the Romanian land for which also our forefathers worked, suffered and bled, and for which our descendants will bring all the sacrifices they are to be asked for. Until this law is enforced, we request that we will be taken into consideration when the large estates (pasture and arable land), as well as the industrial enterprises, are leased.

III. Until the fulfilment of these justified, legitimate requests, for our own peace and reassurance, we ask, to be represented, at least the Gypsies in Transylvania, in the Great Romanian National Council [2] by three representatives elected in our Assembly, namely: 1. Mr. Ionel Câmpeanu theologian [illegible] and professor, our mediator and benevolent protector who, although not a Gypsy himself, proved to be worthy of our trust and we are convinced that he will continue to help us to the fulfilment of our legitimate requests; 2, Gheorghe Humagiu resident of Ucea de Jos, Făgăraș county and 3 Gheorghe Critean of Braşov.

Presented in the National Assembly of the Gypsies.

Gheorghe Humagiu, President.

Niculae Velțan, Notary [3].

Notes

1. The third point of the Resolution referred to the fundamental principles proclaimed for the new state: national freedom, possibility to be instructed and administered in their own language, to be represented, equal rights, religious freedom, press freedom, radical land reform, etc.

2. The Great Romanian National Council (Marele Sfat Național Român), elected by the National Assembly on December 1st, 1918 had a legislative role until the final union with Romania.

3. 22 participants signed.

Source: ANIC, Colecţia Facsimile, f. 1322.

Prepared for publication by Petre Matei.

Comments

On the whole, 89 delegates of the Gypsies from 15 localities situated in five counties participated in the so-called National Gypsy Assembly held in Dumbraveni. 41 participants came from Dumbraveni, 12 from Velţ, 6 from Şoala and Moşna each, 3 participants from Şeica Mare, Copşa Mare, Avrig, Tălmăcel each, 2 from Apold, Ucea de Jos, Homorod, Cața and 1 participant from Iclodu Mare, Soros, Cris and Blăjel each. The Assembly elected its chairman (Gheorghe Humagiu from Ucea de Jos), the notary (Niculae Velteanu from Şeica Mare), a committee to verify the delegates’ credentials, as well as a committee in charge of drafting the minutes and the resolutions. The latter committee made proposals that were then sanctioned by the assembly.

From the very beginning, the participants declared themselves as representatives of the Romanian Gypsies. The assembly insisted on stressing their closeness to the Romanians, but also on their long history in Transylvania and on the legitimacy of their requests.

The rights could be obtained only with the consent of the Romanians, whose sympathy had to be won. At that time, as a Gypsy movement was not self-sufficient, the imperative demand for rights would have been counterproductive. From this perspective, we should, we think, interpret such cautious and pragmatic formulations.

The Gypsies’ adherence to the Union was presented as the first step on their way to becoming full-fledged citizens of Greater Romania. The Assembly called also for a similar treatment also for the other Gypsies who allegedly lost their “Romanian” features. Most likely, this mention meant the Hungarian Gypsies.

The Gypsy delegates knew the Alba Iulia resolution and referred to it in order to justify their demands. Interestingly enough, the Gypsies invoked point III of the Alba Iulia Assembly Resolution (the right of minorities to be taught, administered and judged in their own language), but surprisingly at first sight they opted openly for the Romanian language instead. This distinguishes them clearly from other ethnic groups in the same region with a greater degree of cultural autonomy who, in their attempts made in 1919 and later, insisted on obtaining the right to use their mother tongue. However, the Gypsy option for Romanian was perfectly valid back then. Given that many of them were linguistically assimilated (with Romanian or Hungarian mother tongue) or spoke different Gypsy dialects, it was the Romanian language that united them to a greater extent than a hypothetical Gypsy language could (as it was not yet possible to create and impose a standardised Gypsy language). Besides, what counted to this assembly was obviously also to win the goodwill of the Romanian administration and public opinion. They succeeded in this, as their option for the Romanian language was warmly appreciated in the Romanian press.

Another request was to have the derogatory appellation ‘Gypsy’ eliminated from the official use or at least replaced with another appellation deemed more convenient. However, it is interesting that the organisers did not think yet to use the ethnonym ‘Roma’ which started to be used publicly by the new organisations only years later (in 1933). In 1919, their events continued to be called Gypsy, e.g. ‘The National Gypsy Assembly’, etc.

An important demand concerned the land redistribution which, they motivated, would have strengthened their attachment to Romanians. Until the expected land reform, they were demanding more rapid land lease facilities.

They also asked to be granted free access to all public and religious offices. Finally, the last request was that three persons nominated by the Gypsy National Assembly were to be accepted as deputies within the Marele Sfat National (the provisory Parliament of Transylvania). These three persons were not included however in the provisory Parliament (which shortly thereafter ceased its activity).

Petre Matei

6.2 Professional Organisations

6.2.1 The Gypsy Musicians Progress

Ţiganii lăutari au un “Conservator”

Progresăm!

Aţi auzit de conservatorul ţiganilor lăutari? Este într-adevăr o revelaţie, pe care o prezentăm în cele ce urmează.

Seara târziu, întâmplarea te-a aruncat într’unul din restaurantele modeste ale Capitalei. Îţi sorbi liniştit cafeaua şi prin fumul de ţigară întruchipezi calde imagini de vis. Tresări. Un bărbat cu chipul bronzat şi vioara sub braţ ţi-a răsărit la câţiva paşi. Se înclină. Pauza care urmează o socoteşte drept încuviinţare si arcuşul începe să alunece pe coarde lin, unduios, melancolic, îngăimând o poveste de iubire care nu mai poate reînvia decât pe note. Astfel trece cântăreţul pribeag dela masă la masa şi oamenii dornici încă de duioşie ascultă cu o frântură de religiozitate cântecul de dragoste, din poezia căruia se desprinde tot mai clar imaginea părinţilor şi bunicilor noştri.

Dacă radio a apărut ca un factor puternic de concurenţă, tradiţia nu poate fi înăbuşită. Ani îndelungaţi încă ne vor mai suspina la ureche cântecele de inimă albastră. Dar de pe urma prăbuşirilor ies veşnic forţe noui la iveală. Rasa care poartă beţia melodiei în sânge nu vrea să piară şi s’a aşezat la munca. Fiii lăutarilor au astăzi un conservator al lor. Veţi bănui poate că la mijloc e o simplă glumă.

Copiii şi tineretul au început să înveţe notele sub conducerea unui profesor şi’n ochii lor negri, ca smoala citeşti pasiunea ţelului urmărit cu înfierbântare.

– “La Viena, Budapesta şi Londra sunt bande celebre de lăutari, plătiţi regeşte. De ce să nu ne formăm şi noi taraful nostru de pomină?”… mi s’a destăinuit, cu dinţii strânşi un muzicant.

Şi-am pornit nu fără curiozitate să vizitez şcoala răsărită ca din pământ, fără fonduri, fără subvenţii, fără local propriu, cu singura bază de statornicie: sufletul pus la înfăptuirea ideii.

La “Junimea Muzicală”

O încrucişare de drumuri cu numirea La pompă pe Dudeşti. Se vede că acum un deceniu sau două de aici îşi furnizau apă locuitorii de pe Raion, Foişor, Barbă Rasă si alte străzi împrejmuitoare. Azi în acest loc e o staţie importantă de vehicule. Tramvaiele fac o curbă şi cu vuet metalic, prelung, pornesc din nou spre centru. Firme de un comic sugestiv răsar: la “Gogoaşa înfuriată”, bodega “La doi minori” …

Lângă farmacia din colţ e o mică cafenea – locul de reuniune al lăutarilor de pe Dudeşti. Am intrat înăuntru. – Ochii negri plini de pătrundere m’au privit nu fără oarecare curiozitate. La mijloc o masă mare de biliard. Tachiştii şi-au oprit o clipă jocul. Le-am cerut lămuriri despre şcoală. Cineva schiţează un gest spre o încăpere de deasupra tavanului. O femeie grasă cu basma galbenă şi gâtul împodobit cu salbă mă conduce acolo. E cucoana Sita, stăpâna localului.

Cum eşim în tindă ne isbeşte zdrăngănitul arcuşurilor pe coarde. S’ar crede că o mare de viori s’au luat la întrecere şi scoate in acelaş timp fiecare o notă diferită. Vocile copilăreşti pline de sonoritate şi veselie măresc vacarmul. O linişte profundă însă îşi face loc cum păşim pragul umilei încăperi, fără altă mobilă decât tabla, scaunele şi suporturile notelor. Profesorul încearcă să-mi releve pe cel mai bun elev. După cum băiatul ţine arcuşul simţi pe artistul din el. Instrumentul geme, suspină, înalţă un imn liniştei şi notele se pierd pe nesimţite spre zări depărtate.

– Cum a luat fiinţă Junimea muzicală? întreb pe dascăl.

– Un muzicant de-al nostru, Nenea Fănică Niculescu, absolvent al conservatorului, văzând halul nenorocit în care trăiesc lăutarii de pe Dudeşti, s’a gândit să le vină în ajutor atât pe tărâm cultural cât şi pentru ajutor la înmormântare, punând bazele unei societăţi. Din cei de faţă fiecare a contribuit cu cât a putut şi chiar în aceeaş seară ne-am prezentat bărbatului cucoanei Siţa cu suma de 72 lei, ce reprezenta primul fond. Imediat am plănuit înfiinţarea unei şcoli de muzică unde toţi fiii de lăutari să înveţe note, alăturând şi o secţie pentru tineret şi lăutari mai în vârstă pentru perfecţionarea diferitelor bucăţi muzicale. Fondul Junimei Muzicale a prosperat şi dela 72 lei cum am pornit la drum – a ajuns în 1932 la suma de 49.567. Preşedinte de onoare l-am proclamat pe d. Alfred Paximade, în urma ajutorului ce ni l-a adus.

Poate că dascălul ar mai fi urmat cu destăinuirile dacă pe la uşă nu s’ar fi ivit fel de fel de chipuri curioase.

– Sunt cei bătrâni, cari învaţă şi ei … Acum după amiază s’au adunat la ora de “ansamblu”.

Cobor jos. In fundul cafenelei stau laolaltă tot felul de instrumente: viori, bas, ţambal etc. Muzicanţii vor să arate ce pot şi tot sub conducerea profesorului atacă un marş. Şiragul notelor par strigăte de izbândă. Cu figuri aprinse şi gesturi înfierbântate îşi continuă vijelios cântarea. La final s’a făcut o tăcere largă, plină parcă de un suflu de măreţie. Bogăţia sângelui îşi arătase puterea.

– Dacă scriţi ceva despre noi … mi s’a adresat unul la plecare — să nu ne exageraţi mizeria.

Aţi servi atunci pe cei cari venind să ne angajeze ne aruncă în nas că murim de foame şi nu ne vindem munca pe preţurile de nimic, pe care ni le oferă.

Margareta Nicolau

The Gypsy musicians [1] have a “Conservatory”

Progress!

Have you heard of the Gypsy fiddlers’ conservatoire? It is indeed a revelation, which we are going to present in what follows.

Late in the evening, you might find yourself in one of the modest restaurants of the Capital. You are peacefully sipping your coffee and through the cigarette smoke, you are day-dreaming, of warm, dreamlike images. You shudder. A man with a tanned face and a violin under his arm showed up just a few steps away from you. He leans. He takes the next pause as a nod and the bow begins to smoothly glide on the violin chords, telling of a love story that can come alive only in notes. Thus wanders the musician from table to table and the people still eager for tenderness are almost religiously listening to the song of love, from whose poetry the image of our parents and grandparents becomes clearer and clearer.

Although radio has emerged as a strong competitor [2], tradition cannot be stifled. Blue heart songs will be played into our ears many years from now. From crisis new energies incessantly surface. This race, having music in its blood, refuses to perish and is set to do something about it. Today, the fiddler’s sons have their own conservatoire. You might think that this is nothing but a joke.

Children and youth began to learn the notes under the guidance of a teacher and in their eyes, black as night, you see the passion of the ardently pursued aim.

– “In Vienna, Budapest and London, there are famous bands of fiddlers who are royally paid. Why wouldn’t we form our own band?” … a musician told me, with his teeth clenched.

So, being curious, I went to see the school that appeared all of a sudden, without funds, without subsidies, without its own place; instead, the only basis for stability was the soul put into accomplishing this idea.

At “Junimea Muzicală” [3]

A crossroad by the name of La pompă pe Dudeşti [At the Pump on Dudeşti str]. One-two decades ago, this was probably the place providing water to the inhabitants of Raion, Foişor, Barbă Rasă and other surrounding streets. Today in this place there is an important public transport station. The tramways turn here with a long, metallic vet and start again towards downtown. Firms with funny names appear: at the Gogoaşă înfuriată (Angry Donut), bodega Doi Minori (Two Minors) …

Next to the corner pharmacy, there is a small café – the meeting place of the Dudeşti fiddlers. I walked in. Black, sharp eyes looked at me, not without curiosity. In the middle, a large pool table. The players stopped for a moment. I asked for clarification about the school. Someone makes a gesture toward a room above. A fat woman with a yellow shawl and a necklace leads me there. She is madam Sita, the mistress of the place.

As we get out to the porch, the rattle of arches on bows strikes us. As if a large number of violins compete and simultaneously produce a different note. Childish voices full of sonority and joy increase the turmoil. However, a deep silence followed as we crossed the threshold into the humble room, with no other furniture than the table, the seats and the music note stand. The teacher tries to show me the best student. As the boy holds the arch you can feel the future artist. The violin weeps, sighs, devotes a hymn to silence and the notes are lost in the distance.

– How did the Junimea muzicală appear? I ask the teacher.

– Seeing the musicians on Dudeşti [4] in dire straits, Fănică Niculescu, a musician of ours and a graduate of the Conservatory, decided to come to their aid, both culturally, but also for funeral assistance, setting up this organisation. From those present, everyone contributed as much as possible and on the very same evening we went to Sita’s husband [5] with the sum of 72 lei, as the first fund. Immediately we planned to set up a music school where all the fiddlers’ sons would learn the notes, and create a section for younger and older musicians to perfect their music. The Junimea Muzicală fund has flourished, and from 72 lei as we started – it reached 49,567 in 1932. For the help he gave us, we proclaimed Mr. Alfred Paximade [6] as our Honorary President.

The teacher was likely to keep confessing had not all sorts of curious faces appeared at the door.

– These are the adults, who also learn … Now, in the afternoon, they gather for the “ensemble” class.

I go downstairs. In the back of the café there are all kinds of instruments: violins, bass, dulcimer etc. The musicians want to prove what they can, and under the leadership of their teacher, they start playing a march. The notes sound like victories. With bright faces and exalted gestures, they continue playing. In the end, a deep silence, full of a breath of greatness. The richness of their blood had shown its strength.

– If you write about us … one person told me as I was leaving – do not exaggerate our misery.

It will serve only those coming to hire us, throwing in our face that we die of hunger, but we will not sell our work on the very low prices they offer us.

Margareta Nicolau [7]

Notes

1. The original uses the term ‘lăutari’ – from ‘lăuta’ (lute). It is an old designation for musicians in the Romanian lands, which is adopted by Roma musicians and gradually becomes a (self)appellation of many of them (Marushiakova & Popov, 2013a, p. 77).

2. After the First World War, both radios and gramophones became more accessible to the public due to their decreasing prices. This turned them into a serious competitor for the Roma musicians. Their traditional customers (especially pubs’ owners) began to renounce their services. However, despite the optimistic tone of this article, the situation did not improve and in 1937 a Roma activist wrote about the disappearance of the Roma musicians: “Those fiddlers who took overseas the fame of the Romanian songs. […] Nowadays one prefers the hits, the [gramophone] discs and foreign songs. […] Today, fox-trot, rumba, tango, carioca and other dances imported from blacks and red skins are preferred. The radio and the gramophones are now replacing the fiddlers’ bands from the pubs. We are not against the progress, but we are simply making it clear that we, the Roma fiddlers, are starving, we will remain buried in the darkness of oblivion. And it’s a shame. It is a pity because we have been the ones who for generations have kept all the folklore, folk music, Romanian ballads and the songs that made happy on wedding parties, feasts and so on the grandparents and great-grandparents of all those who now despise the fiddlers” (Țara Noastră, 1937e, p. 2).

3. Junimea Muzicală (Musical Youth), was recognised as a legal entity in 1927.

4. Dudești, neighbourhood in Bucharest, then home to a numerous Jewish and Roma population.

5. Sita’s husband, a certain Constantin Urziceanu, was the owner of the café and cashier of Junimea. In 1933, he will become cashier for both Junimea and the new General Association of Gypsies in Romania.

6. The Roma organisations used to resort to different non-Roma personalities whom they declared honorary presidents for their support. Alfred Paximade was only one of them, but his case is interesting as he continued to serve as a honorary president also for other Roma organisations (as of October 1938).

7. Margareta Nicolau authored several articles on Roma. As gratitude, in October 1933, she was elected as the honorary president of the women section of the organisation run by G. A. Lăzurică.

Source: Nicolau, M. (1933a). Ţiganii lăutari au un “Conservator”. Progresăm! Realitatea Ilustrată, An. 7, No. 323, 1933, April 6, pp. 11, 13.

Prepared for publication by Petre Matei.

Note 1 written by Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov.

6.2.2 The Founding of the General Association of Gypsies in Romania

[Direcţia Generală a Poliţiei]. Secţia I-a.

1 septembrie 1933.

Referat

“Asociaţia Generală a Ţiganilor din România” a luat fiinţă din iniţiativa arhimandritului Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu, în luna aprilie a.c., când acesta, luând contact cu comitetul societăţii lăutarilor “Junimea Muzicală” (recunoscută persoană juridică prin sentinţa no. 18/1927, a Trib[unalului] Ilfov, Secţia I, civ. cor., cu sediul în str. Vulturului no. 147), a hotărât formarea unui comitet provizoriu din membrii comitetului de conducere al Soc[ietăţii] “Junimea Muzicală”, sub preşedenţia sa, care să primească înscrierile în asociaţie, să încaseze taxele de înscriere şi să redacteze statutele.

Sediul provizoriu al acestei asociaţii este tot în str. Vulturului no. 147, la cafeneaua lui Constantin Urziceanu, casierul Asociaţiei şi al Soc[ietăţii] “Junimea Muzicală”.

Din membrii mai importanţi ai comitetului provizoriu de conducere semnalăm pe: Iancu Panaitescu, preşedintele Societăţii “Junimea Muzicală”, domiciliat în str. Labirint no. 189; M. Niculescu, str. Vulturului 113 şi Şt. Salomea, din str. Trinităţii no. 70, ambii vice-preşedinţi la aceeaşi societate, toţi lăutari.

Scopul asociaţiei a fost redat in extensor, în manifestele intitulate “Apel către toţi ţiganii din România”, care s-au împărţit în propaganda făcută de arhimandritul Şerboianu în ziua de 27 august a.c., prin cartierele mărginaşe ale Capitalei.

Punctele mai însemnate din acest program sunt: editarea unei gazete; înfiinţarea de cursuri pentru adulţi; înfiinţarea de biblioteci, atenee, spitale, căminuri, cantine, a unei universităţi ţigăneşti; colonizarea ţiganilor nomazi etc.

În asociaţie nu s-au înscris până în prezent decât 3[00]-400 ţigani, dintre care majoritatea sunt din Bucureşti şi din judeţele Sibiu, Vlaşca şi Teleorman.

Suma strânsă din taxele benevole, de înscriere – variind între 5-20 lei –, se ridică la circa 2,000 lei.

Dorinţa de reclamă a conducătorilor asociaţiei, unită cu dorinţa de reportagii senzaţionale a unor cotidiene din capitală, a făcut ca cei dintâi să declare numărul înscrişilor la câteva mii, iar ziarele să înregistreze câteva zeci de mii.

La 15 septembrie a.c., membrii comitetului de conducere al asociaţiei se vor prezenta la Trib[unalul] Ilfov, spre a cere ca “Asociaţia Generală a Ţiganilor din România” să fie recunoscută ca persoană juridică. Se speră că până la acea dată se vor putea strânge fonduri suficiente pentru tipărirea statutelor asociaţiei.

În ceea ce priveşte “Congresul ţiganilor”, însuşi arhimandritul Şerboianu afirmă că ştirea este din domeniul fanteziei, ziarul care a publicat-o făcând aceasta din dorinţa de a avea un reportagiu de senzaţie.

Arhimandritul Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu, în etate de circa 50 ani, domiciliat în Bucureşti, str. Turnu Roşu no. 11 (Şoseaua Crângaşi), este originar din Costeşti- Argeş. Licenţiat al Facultăţii de Teologie din Bucureşti, a slujit ca diacon la Capela Română din Paris în anii 1909-1911, după care venind în ţară a fost numit paroh la Biserica Kalinderu din Capitală. Între anii 1923-1927 a fost plecat în America, de unde revenind în ţară, rătăceşte ca monah prin mănăstirile oltene, în special la Cozia şi Stânişoara.

În anul 1929 pleacă la Paris, unde îşi tipăreşte lucrarea sa intitulată “Les Tsiganes” şi care are ca subtitlu: “Histoire – Ethnographie – Linguistique – Grammaire – Dictionnaire”, într-un volum de 397 pagini, în Editura Payot, Paris (lucrarea se găseşte de vânzare la “Cartea Românească” şi costă 280 lei).

În urma publicării acestei cărţi, este ales membru corespondent la “The Gypsy Lore Society” (Societatea londoneză pentru studiul vieţii şi istoriei ţiganilor), care îi inspiră – pentru prima dată – ideea de a încerca organizarea ţiganilor în România.

Propaganda pentru captarea a cât mai multor membri în asociaţie merge foarte greu, cu toate că arhimandritul Şerboianu vorbeşte perfect ţigăneasca, iar ca să capete deplina încredere a ţiganilor se dă drept ţigan. Această greutate este datorită faptului că ţiganii stabili – la care propaganda prinde – sunt săraci, iar nomazii, care sunt bogaţi, din cauza nestabilităţii lor, nu sunt susceptibili de a primi ideea de asociaţie.

Arhimandritul Şerboianu pretinde că a expus această idee de asociere a ţiganilor şi domnului ministru Gusti, care înţelegându-l, l-a încurajat, îndemnându-l să ducă la bun sfârşit acţiunea sa.

Asupra faptului dacă părintele Şerboianu este sau nu arhimandrit, cerând relaţiuni la Cancelaria Sf. Patriarhii, ni s-a răspuns că nu a fost “sfinţit” în acest rang în cuprinsul Arhiepiscopatului Bucureşti, dar că – se poate – să fi fost sfinţit de Episcopia de Argeş sau a Noului Severin.

Arhimandritul Şerboianu, fiind întrebat asupra acestui lucru, a răspuns evaziv, că “arhimandritul” nu constituie o treaptă preoţească care să necesite o nouă sfinţire, ci este un grad onorific, neprecizând cine i l-a dat.

Comisar Şef, Dim. D. Gheorghiu [m. p.].

[General Direction of the Police]. Section I.

September 1, 1933.

Report

The General Association of Gypsies in Romania was founded at the initiative of Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu in April this year, when he, by contacting the committee of the fiddlers’ society Junimea Muzicală (Musical Youth), recognised as a legal entity by the decision no. 18/1927 of the Tribunal of Ilfov County, Section I, civ. corp., headquartered in 147, Vultur Street, decided to set up a provisional committee formed by the members of the management committee of Junimea Muzicală Society, under its chairmanship, that receives the enrollments in the association, collects the registration fees and drafts the statutes.

The provisional headquarters of this association is also on 147, Vultur Street, at the café of Constantin Urziceanu, the cashier of Junimea Muzicală Association and Society.

Among the most important members of the provisional management committee we mention: Iancu Panaitescu, president of the Junimea Muzicală Society, domiciled in 189, Labirint Street; M. Niculescu, 133, Vultur Street and Ştefan Salomeia, 70, Trinităţii Street, both vice-presidents of the same society, both fiddlers.

The purposes of the association have been reproduced in large in the call titled Appeal to All Gypsies in Romania, which was distributed by Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu, on August 27, in the periphery neighbourhoods of the Capital.

The most important points in this program are: editing a gazette; setting up courses for adults; founding libraries, athenaeums, hospitals, dormitories, canteens, a Gypsy university; the colonisation of nomadic Gypsies, etc.

Until now, only 300-400 Gypsies have been enrolled in the association, most of them are in Bucharest and in the counties of Sibiu, Vlaşca and Teleorman.

The sum collected from the voluntary registration fees – varying between 5-20 Lei – amounts to about 2,000 Lei.

The desire of the association’s leaders to advertise for them, together with the rush of some daily newspapers in the Capital for sensationalism, made them declare the number of the enrolled as being several thousand, and the newspapers speak of tens of thousands.

On September 15, the members of the association’s management committee will appear before the Ilfov Tribunal to demand that the General Association of Gypsies in Romania be recognised as a legal entity. It is hoped that until that date sufficient funds will be raised to print the association’s statute.

Regarding the “Congress of the Gypsies”, Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu himself states that the news is in the field of fantasy, the newspaper that published it doing this in the desire to have a sensational reportage.

Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu, aged about 50 years, domiciled in Bucharest, 11, Turnu Roşu Street (Şoseaua Crângaşi), originated from Costeşti-Argeş. A graduate of the Faculty of Theology in Bucharest, served as deacon at the Romanian Chapel in Paris in 1909-1911, after which he returned to the country and was appointed a parish priest at the Kalinderu Church in the Capital. Between the years 1923 and 1927, he went to America and then returned to the country, wandering as a monk in monasteries in Oltenia, especially at Cozia and Stânişoara.

In 1929, he went to Paris, where he printed his work with the title Les Tsiganes that has the subtitle Histoire - Ethnographie - Linguistique - Grammaire - Dictionnaire, in a volume of 397 pages in the Payot Publishing House, Paris (the book is for sale at Cartea Românească Bookshop for 280 Lei).

Following the publication of this book, he was chosen as a correspondent member of the Gypsy Lore Society (a society in London for the study of the life and history of Gypsies), which inspired – for the first time – the idea of trying to organise the Gypsies in Romania.

The propaganda for gathering as many members as possible in the association goes very badly, although Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu speaks Romani language perfectly, and in order to obtain the full confidence of the Gypsies he presents himself as a Gypsy. This difficulty is due to the fact that the settled Gypsies – who are susceptible to propaganda – are poor, and nomads, who are rich, because of their instability are not susceptible to accept the idea of an association.

Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Serboianu claims to have exposed this idea of associating the Gypsies to Mr. Minister Gusti [1] as well, who accepting this idea encouraged him, urging him to complete his actions.

About the inquiry if Father Şerboianu is Archimandrite or not, we asked for relations at the Chancellery of the Holy Patriarchate, which answered that he was not ordinated in this rank in the Archdiocese of Bucharest, but that he may have been ordinated by the Bishopric of Argeş or by that of Noul Severin.

Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu, being questioned about this, replied elusively that the “Archimandrite” is not a priestly rank requiring a new ordination, but an honorary degree, not specifying who gave it.

Chief Commissioner, Dim. D. Gheorghiu.

Notes

1. Dimitrie Gusti (1880-1955), sociologist, philosopher, university professor, was Minister of Public Instruction, Cults and Arts in 1932 and 1933.

Source: ANIC, fond. Direcţia Generală a Poliţiei, dos. 34/1922-1938, f. 30-32.

Published in: Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 21, pp. 94-96.

Prepared for publication by Viorel Achim.

Comments

There were several types of Roma organisations that co-existed. Traditional organisations (specific to a narrow segment) overlapped with increasingly modern organisations (initially restricted spatially or professionally). Such local organisations brought together the Roma with similar interests and/or professions. Already in the early 1920s, the Roma from Făgăraş had their own burial society. Similarly, in 1924, the Roma from Şercaia established their own society. In 1926, the society Înfrăţirea Neorustică (Neo-Rustic Brotherhood) in the village of Calbor, Făgăraş County, was founded by the Gypsy peasant Naftanailă Lazăr. This was an organisation for mutual aid. It was established and functioned according to the model of the neighbourhood associations (Nachbarschaften) of the Saxons in Transylvania and was concerned with the improvement of the economic and cultural level of the Gypsies.

An impulse for organisational modernisation was the need to adapt. The Gypsies’ traditional trades and crafts had played an important role in the traditional Romanian economy but in the context of modernisation and industrialisation, some of their economic activities became obsolete. The industrial production competed or eliminated the products and services offered by Roma or in rural areas, there were also non-Roma craftsmen who tended to substitute them. These transformations led to efforts to identify solutions. One way was to organise. Gradually, their associations grew and became embedded within larger organisations. A special case in this phase of local organisation is that of the musicians’ associations. Comparatively, they were better educated and had already a long tradition of organising themselves. After the First World War, confronted with difficulties due both to changing musical tastes and to the increasing use of radio and gramophones, the Roma musicians resorted to organisations to regulate competition or to determine the authorities not to issue authorisations to foreign musicians etc. The idea of joining in larger formations was gaining ground. Already in February 1933, the President of the Musicians’ Union approached the local (Roma) musicians’ associations in Braila and Moldova suggesting “an action throughout the country to organise the musicians to fight for dismantling the military orchestras and the diseurs singing in pubs” (see Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 19, pp. 53). However, these unifying efforts continued to target only the interests of a narrow professional category of musicians that did not represent all Roma.

This changed in 1933, when the first associations claiming to represent all the Roma in the country started to appear: The General Association of Gypsies in Romania (1933), The General Union of Roma in Romania (1933), The Association of the General Union of Roma in Romania (1934). The first central organisation relied heavily on Junimea Muzicală, a local professional association of the Roma musicians from Bucharest. Created in 1927, Junimea Muzicală was one of the numerous local attempts to adapt by offering mutual help and training both to the younger and older generations of musicians. For Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu, Junimea Muzicală was a makeshift solution, which he used as a sort of a launching ramp. Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu had a high opinion of the musicians, whom he knew well organised. He wrote: “musicians are the elite class of Gypsies. They have in the cities where they live their own houses, a corporation, a club and a café” (see Popp Şerboianu, 1930, pp. 55).

In April 1933, Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu approached the committee of Junimea Muzicală and in May 1933 he formed the provisional committee of the future General Association of the Gypsies in Romania. This was constituted in the mould of Junimea Muzicală. Its president was Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu while other important members of the committee were recruited mainly from the president and vice-presidents of Junimea Muzicală (Iancu Panaitescu, M. Niculescu and St Salomea). Besides, just like as Junimea Muzicală, the new organisation continued to be hosted by the same café owned by Constantin Urziceanu who served as a cashier for both organisations. This committee was to receive the enrollments in the association, to collect the registration fees and to draft the statutes. The goals of this Association were reproduced in the Appeal to All Gypsies of Romania manifestos that were spread at the end of August in Bucharest and in Craiova (see below 6.3.2.).

Later, when other central organisations became more important and started to compete, Junimea Muzicală tended to diminish in influence, as its role was reduced again to its primarily professional character. The more important organisations run by G. A. Lăzurică or Gh. Niculescu had already better means at their disposal and different agendas. However, they continued to pay attention to the Roma musicians’ plight, interceding with different authorities on their behalf.

Petre Matei

6.3 National Organisations

6.3.1 G. A. Lăzurică on Popp Șerboianu’s Book

“Les Tziganes”. O carte interesantă despre ţigani

Sesizat de o scrisoare şi o nuvelă semnată de mine şi publicată in “Adevărul Literar” din 9 Aprilie a. c., P. S. S. Arhimandritul Calinic I. Pop Șerboianu, m’a onorat cu o vizită. Nu cunoşteam pe această cinstită persoană bisericească. Îi reţineam însă numele ca autor al unei valoroase lucrări scrisă în limba franceză, lucrare intitulată: “Les Tziganes. Histoire- Ethnograghique-Liguistique-Grammaire-Dictionnaire”, editată de Librăria Payot din Paris.

Ca ţigan, am cetit această lucrare despre care presa străină în unanimitate, a vorbit elogios. În afară de ziarul “Dimineaţa” care în numărul din 11 Decembrie 1929 s’a interesat de opera Arhimandritului Calinic Şerboianu, presa română nu s’a ocupat deloc.

Citez câteva ziare străine care au recenzat cartea “Les Tziganes”: “Books Abroad” din Oklohama în numărul din 1 Iulie 1931; “Times Literary Suplement” din Londra, în numărul din 8 Ianuarie 1931; “Neue Pariser Zeitung”, în numărul din 31 Decembrie 1930; “Revue de Paris” din 15 Iulie 1931, sub semnătura: J. Poirier; “Justificatif de la Revue de Sociologie” în numărul din Ianuarie-Martie 1931; “Journal de Geneve” din 17 Mai 1930; “Revue des questions scientifiques” din Ianuarie 1931, sub semnătura: F. Hulselmans; “Larousse Mensuel” din Aprilie 1931, sub semnătura: Albert Dauzat; “The American Historical Review” din Washington, în numărul din Aprilie 1931, precum şi publicaţiunile: “Revue generale des Sciences pures et appliquees”; “La Geographie”; “Argus de la Presse”; “Le Journal” şi “Correspondant” care, sub semnătura d-lui A. Vincent, laudă mult cartea şi face o comparaţie între ea şi opera lui Pittard, autorul lucrării: “Les Tziganes de Balkans”.

P. S. S. Arhimandritul Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu, ţiganofil şi deplin cunoscător al limbei, istoriei şi datinelor ţigăneşti, a crezut că adresându-mi-se va căpăta izvoare nouă de cimilituri, poezii şi cântece ţigăneşti. Mărturisesc că n’am putut să-i fiu prea mult de folos, pentru că minoritatea noastră ţigănească s’a asimilat atât de mult cu populaţia autohtonă incât e pe cale să-şi piardă şi limba şi obiceiurile. Ba, i-am adus chiar o mustrare pentrucă în cartea “Les Tziganes” a scris că în România trăesc numai 300.000 de ţigani, când in realitate ei numără până la 800.000. Si autorul, roşind, mi-a răspuns:

– N’am voit să arăt că în România sunt cei mai mulţi ţigani din Europa …

Dar lucrul acesta îl ştie marele statistician A. Thesleff care, în lucrarea sa publicată la Helsingfors in anul 1901, sub auspiciile lui “Gipsy Lore Society” în oficialul “Report on the Gipsy Problem”, constată că chiar la 1901 în România trăesc cei mai mulţi ţigani.

Ca ţigan, sunt recunoscător P. S. S. Arhimandritului Calinic Șerboianu, pentru interesul ce-l poartă rasei oacheşe din Europa şi pentru ocaziunea ce mi-a dat de a discuta cu d-sa două ore în limba ţigănească cultă.

Păcat că editurile la care s’a adresat nu au căzut de acord să publice opera Les Tziganes în româneşte, căci, sunt sigur, volumele s’ar vinde şi ar îmbogăţi literatura română cu o lucrare foarte interesantă.

G. A. Lăzurică

“Les Tziganes”. An interesting book about Gypsies

My letter and the short story signed by me and published in the Adeverul Literar of April 9, Current Year [1], captured the attention of the Archimandrite Calinic I. Pop Șerboianu [2], who honoured me with a visit. I did not know this honourable church personality. But I remembered his name as the author of a valuable work written in French, entitled Les Tziganes. Histoire – Ethnograghique – Liguistique – Grammaire – Dictionnaire, published by Payot Publishing House in Paris.

As a Gypsy, I read this work about which the foreign press unanimously spoke apologetically. Apart from the newspaper Dimineaţa, which in the issue of December 11, 1929 expressed interest in the work of Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu, the Romanian press did not pay any attention to it.

I mention a few foreign newspapers that reviewed the book Les Tziganes [3]: Books Abroad in Oklahoma in the issue of July 1, 1931; Times Literary Suplement in London, in the issue of January 8, 1931, Neue Pariser Zeitung in the issue of December 31, 1930, Revue de Paris of July 15, 1931, under the signature: J. Poirier; Justificatif de la Revue de Sociologie in the January-March 1931 issue; Journal de la Geneve of May 17, 1930; Revue des questions scientifiques in January 1931, under the signature: F. Hulselmans; Larousse Mensuel in April 1931, under the signature: Albert Dauzat; The American Historical Review in Washington, in the April 1931 issue, as well as the publications: Revue general des sciences pures et appliquees; Argus de la Presse, Le Journal and Correspondant which, under the signature of A. Vincent, praise the book and compare it to Pittard’s work, Les Tziganes de Balkans [5].

His Holiness, Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu, a sympathiser of Gypsies [6], with a perfect knowledge of the Gypsy language, history and customs, believed that by approaching me he would get new sources of Gypsy riddles, poems and songs [7]. I confess that I could not help him too much, because our Gypsy minority assimilated so much into the native population that it is about to lose its language and customs. I have even reproached him for writing in his book Les Tziganes that only 300,000 Gypsies live in Romania, while in reality they count up to 800,000. And the author, blushing, answered:

– I did not want to show that Romania has the most Gypsies in Europe …

But this was well-known to the great statistician A. Thesleff [8] who, in his work published in Helsingfors in 1901 under the auspices of the Gypsy Lore Society in the Report on the Gypsy Problem, found that already in 1901 most Gypsies lived in Romania.

As a Gypsy, I am grateful to his holiness Archimandrite Calinic Șerboianu for his interest in the Gypsies of Europe and for the occasion he gave me to discuss with him for two hours in High Gypsy language [9].

It is a pity that the [Romanian] publishing houses to which he addressed did not agree to publish the Les Tziganes in Romanian, for I am sure the volumes would sell and enrich the Romanian literature with a very interesting work.

G. A. Lăzurică [10]

Notes

1. G. A. Lăzurică was referring to his own article When the Watchmen were Guarding (Adevărul Literar și Artistic, 1933a, pp. 5-6) where he wrote a letter to the newspaper’s direction in which he declared himself a Gypsy and attached a short story about the arrival of Roma in Moldova: “I’m not ashamed to say that I am a Gypsy, just the way so many great musicians and industrialists from Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Italy [are not ashamed], who are of the same race as me. […] We think about a more developed culture, to manifest ourselves in a different field than in music playing, day labouring or blacksmithing”.

2. For biographical details on Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu (1882-1941) see below, in the Comments section.

3. G. A. Lăzurică, famous also for creating in October 1933 the first organisation in Romania using the term ‘Roma’, preferred to identify himself as a Gypsy until September 1933.

4. G. A. Lăzurică could not have known all these reviews unless mentioned to him by Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu. Most probably, this was the beginning of their partnership.

5. Eugène Pittard (1867-1962), a Swiss anthropologist who developed a strong interest in Roma. Here, G. A. Lăzurică was referring to Pittard’s recent book (Pittard, 1932).

6. In April 1933, G. A. Lăzurică did not yet have any problems with Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu not being a Gypsy. Only later, in September-October 1933, when they became rivals, he attacked Popp Șerboianu as non-Roma and non-Orthodox.

7. Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu manifested an old and constant interest in such riddles and poems (some published already in his book from 1930).

8. Arthur Thesleff (1871-1920), a Finnish botanist and researcher of the Gypsies. He conducted researches in Finland, Sweden, Russia, Hungary and the Balkans.

9. ‘Limba țigănească cultă’ literally translates to ‘cultivated Gypsy language’.

10. Lăzurică’s name often appears in the source materials as either G. A. Lăzurică, Gheorghe A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică, Gheorghe A. Lăzăreanu-Lăzurică, George Lăzărică, or even simply as G. A. L. in some of his authored articles. While all of these variants may appear in different source materials and were sometimes used interchangeably to refer to the same author, for simplicity purpose, in the comments and notes to our chosen sources, his name will be unified as G. A. Lăzurică. For further biographical details on G. A. Lăzurică (1882-1941) see below, in the Comments section.

Source: Lăzurică, G. A. (1933b). “Les Tziganes”. O carte interesantă despre ţigani. Adevărul Literar și Artistic, 1933, May 21, p. 8.

Prepared for publication by Petre Matei.

Comments

“Les Tziganes”. An Interesting Book on Gypsies is the second article published by G. A. Lăzurică in the journal Adevărul literar și artistic. It is important as it documents how the initiators of the Roma movement met. Lăzurică’s coming out as a Gypsy (he declared himself a Gypsy and started writing “Gypsy literature”) drew Archimandrite Calinic I. Șerboianu’s attention who approached G. A. Lăzurică and the committee of Junimea Muzicală. On the May 3, 1933, a provisional committee of the future General Association of the Gypsies in Romania was constituted with I. Popp Șerboianu and G. A. Lăzurică as president and secretary, respectively.

Both I. Popp Șerboianu and G. A. Lăzurică played an important role in the interwar Roma movement, initially as partners (from April to August 1933), then as rivals (in September 1933, G. A. Lăzurică started his own General Union of Roma in Romania with the support of the Romanian Orthodox Church).

The explanations later invoked by G. A. Lăzurică to sabotage Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu’s association vary considerably. One should distinguish between pretenses and serious reasons. One pretext was that I. Popp Șerboianu used the term ‘Gypsies’ instead of ‘Roma’. This cannot be the real reason as G. A. Lăzurică himself had used exclusively “Gypsy”, he was proud of being a ‘Gypsy’, talked about ‘Gypsies’, etc. (for further details see Matei, 2012, pp. 57-62). Another pretext was that I. Popp Șerboianu was not of Gypsy descent. Again, this allegation is true, but we have to understand the context. When questioned by the Police, I. Popp Șerboianu declared that although he was not a Gypsy, he pretended to be one because he wanted thus to win the trust of the people he hoped to organise. At the first meeting with G. A. Lăzurică, I. Popp Șerboianu did not pretend to be more than a sympathiser of the Gypsies. Interestingly, not being a Gypsy himself did not jeopardise his position as a president (at least not in the beginning, and not in the eyes of Lăzurică, who continued to be his partner). Things changed in August-September 1933 when apart from G. A. Lăzurică’s own ambitions, the argument that really mattered became visible: I. Popp Șerboianu, formerly an Orthodox Archimandrite, was suspected of having converted to the Greek-Catholic Church and thus of creating this Association in order to convert the Gypsies (most of them Orthodox) to Catholicism. Consequently, the Orthodox Church encouraged an Orthodox alternative: the General Union of the Roma in Romania, whose leader was G. A. Lăzurică. In this way, the Orthodox Church hoped not only to stop eventual conversions to Catholicism but also to expand its missionary work among the Gypsies belonging to other denominations, especially in Transylvania where many were Greek-Catholic. G. A. Lăzurică entered into an unequal partnership with the Orthodox Church. However, G. A. Lăzurică himself was interested in the subsidies and other forms of support he hoped to get from the Orthodox Church to develop his organisation outside Bucharest (for further details see Matei, 2010b, pp. 159-173).

Petre Matei

In this source the following important individuals, initiators of the first Roma national organisations are mentioned:

1. Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu, was born on the 16th of October,, 1883 at Şerboieni in Argeş County, in Southern Romania. His father was an Orthodox priest, and he stated that he had been the fifth generation of priests in his family. At the beginning of the 20th century, he became a student at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Bucharest, from which he graduated in 1909. In 1909, on November 16th, he was appointed deacon at the Romanian Orthodox Chapel in Paris, where he served until July 1910. He tried (but did not succeed) to pursue his doctoral studies at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Bucharest in 1914. Before the outbreak of the First World War, he wrote for the journal Culture. A Journal for Church Singers in Romania. After the war ended, he taught French, Greek and Latin at the Theological High School in Curtea de Argeş. In 1929, he began a longer journey for the purpose of his studies, which included Italy, Albania, Macedonia and France. In 1930, in Paris, he managed to publish his famous work dedicated to the Gypsies (Popp-Şerboianu, 1930). After his arrival from France (1931), he began to organise the Gypsies in Romania. Thus, in April 1933, he founded (without registering it legally) the General Association of Gypsies in Romania. (cf. Rotar, 2014, pp. 513-518).

2. G. A. Lăzurică (official name “Lăzărescu”; “Lăzurică” – a Romani nickname from his grandfather), of Gypsy origin, a graduate of the Higher School of Commerce, initially dealt with the storage of wood in partnership with his brother. Starting from 1933 – he was the author of some Roma historical novels, reviews, articles and reports in Romanian national newspapers: Adevărul literar și artistic; Universul and Roma newspapers: Țara Noastră (Bucharest); Timpul (Craiova). He lived in Bucharest city (at Sârbească street, No. 8), where he rented a single room, which was also the headquarters of the General Union of the Roma in Romania.

Ion Duminica

6.3.2 An Appeal to All Gypsies in Romania

[Before August 27, 1933].

Apel

Către toţi ţiganii din România

Fraţi Ţigani,

Trăim de veacuri pe pământul ospitalier al ţării româneşti, pe care-l iubim ca pe însuşi trupul şi sufletul nostru. Din neamul ROMILOR sau al ţiganilor, cum ni se spune, n-au ieşit niciodată trădători şi vânzători de ţară; nu am făcut comploturi contra nici unei autorităţi de stat şi nu am fraternizat cu nici un vrăşmaş al neamului românesc.

Ne-am jertfit şi noi pentru această Românie Mare; i-am dat oameni de seamă, pe care istoria-i aminteşte cu recunoştinţă şi – după putinţă – ne’ndeplinim toate datoriile de cetăţeni. Totuşi, nici un alt neam nu este mai umilit, mai urgisit şi dispreţuit, mai nebăgat în seamă şi amărât ca neamul nostru ţigănesc.

Pentru a arăta lumii întregi că dorim o soartă mai bună şi că nu merităm atâta dispreţ, am luat iniţiativa întemeierii unei Asociaţii Generale a Ţiganilor din România, al cărei program – pe scurt – este următorul:

CULTURAL

1. Apariţia unei gazete.

2. Înfiinţarea cursurilor serale de adulţi, în toată ţara.

3. O universitate populară, ţigănească.

4.Înfiinţarea de biblioteci şi muzee şcolare, cum şi unul naţional.

5. Înfiinţarea grădinilor de copii mici, ca să nu mai hoinărească pe drumuri, când părinţii sunt duşi la lucru.

6. Publicarea de cărţi pentru luminarea minţilor, în ceea ce priveşte apărarea sănătăţii, a bunului trai, istoria neamului ţigănesc şi altele.

7. Conferinţe educative, muzică, strângerea cântecelor noastre bătrâneşti şi tot felul de povestiri; şcoli de dans pentru jocurile noastre etc.

8. Înfiinţarea de burse în ţară şi străinătate pentru elevii merituoşi.

9. Înfiinţarea a tot felul de ateliere pentru meseriile potrivite firii neamului nostru şi bazare în toată ţara pentru desfacerea diverselor produse.

10. Înfiinţarea de şcoli ambulante pentru ţiganii nomazi şi încadrarea lor în Asociaţie.

11. Înfiinţarea de atenee, cinematografe şi căminuri culturale etc.

12. Ajutorarea elevilor săraci cu cărţi, haine şi mâncare.

ASISTENŢA SOCIALĂ

1. Înfiinţarea unei asistenţe juridice, pentru apărarea tuturor împricinaţilor în procese.

2. Asistenţă medicală gratuită pentru bolnavi şi cercetarea lor acasă.

3. Ajutor gratuit pentru toate nevoile religioase.

4. Înfiinţarea unui mare cămin popular, unde fiecare ţigan sărac, fără casă, ori străin de localitate, poate să doarmă şi să mănânce până i se găseşte de lucru.

5. Înfiinţarea de cantine populare în toate cartierele sărace din Capitală şi din celelalte oraşe ale ţării.

6. Înfiinţarea unui spital al ţiganilor; dispensarii medicale pentru lehuze; aziluri de bătrâni şi invalizi; societăţi de ajutor mutual reciproc, în caz de moarte, căsătorii, pagube şi începere de negustorie sau alte meserii; oficii pentru procurarea de lucru, plasare şi informaţiuni; băi populare, colonii şcolare, adăposturi pentru copii mici etc.

7. Stăruinţa, pe toate căile legale ca Primăria Capitalei şi autorităţile în drept să ne dea terenuri în jurul Capitalei şi în fiecare oraş şi sat din ţară şi să construiască pe ele case-tip pentru cei fără locuinţă proprie şi plătibile-n cursul a 20-30 de ani.

8. Stăruinţa de a coloniza pe toţi ţiganii nomazi, dându-li-se pământul necesar în diferitele părţi ale ţării, Asociaţia luându-şi întreaga răspundere pentru statornicirea şi buna lor îndreptare, stârpind furtul şi cerşitoria.

[9.] Asociaţia va îngriji ca orice muncă agricolă sau de altă natură să nu mai fie speculată de cei interesaţi şi va face ea însăşi contracte colective, conform legilor ţării, supraveghind respectarea obligaţiunilor de ambele părţi, condiţiile de trai şi higienă etc.

10. Organizarea în bresle a tuturor categoriilor de muncitori şi recunoaşterea lor ca meseriaşi, cu drepturile corespunzătoare, la Casa generală a Asigurărilor Sociale.

11. Înfiinţare de tribunale judeţene şi a unei Curţi Supreme de judecată pentru rezolvarea chestiunilor privitoare la cununii, divorţ, înmormântări şi tot felul de infracţiuni ce ar necinsti neamul nostru şi care vor fi judecate de Sfatul Bătrânilor, în frunte cu vătavii respectivi şi potrivit tradiţiei noastre.

12. Femeile fac parte, de drept, din Asociaţie şi vor fi folosite în toate operile culturale şi de asistenţă socială. Cele cu ştiinţă de carte au aceleaşi drepturi ca şi bărbaţii şi vor putea fi admise şi în Sfatul Bătrânilor, după normele ce se vor stabili.

13. Copiii de la 8 ani în sus şi tinerii de ambele sexe până la 21 de ani vor avea o organizaţie separată, unde vor fi pregătiţi şi instruiţi în toate problemele vieţii.

14. Politica este cu desăvârşire interzisă pentru membrii Asociaţiei şi nu vor face decât politica intereselor noastre, indicată de Comitetul Suprem al Asociaţiei.

Cel ce s-ar abate de la indicaţiunile Asociaţiei va fi exclus din ea; va fi socotit ca lepădat de neamul nostru şi nu i se va da nici un sprijin la vreme de nevoie.

Acesta este, foarte pe scurt, programul nostru, care cheamă la nouă viaţă milionul de ţigani-români ce trăieşte pe pământul României.

Fraţi Ţigani,

Grăbiţi-vă de vă înscrieţi imediat în Asociaţia generală, care este singurul sprijin al vieţii noastre de astăzi şi mâine.

Fiţi solidari, unindu-vă în cugete şi simţiri, căci nu trăim numai pentru noi, ci şi pentru copiii noştri şi pentru generaţiile viitoare.

Cele 27 mii de înscrieri, sosite nouă până astăzi, din diferitele colţuri ale ţării, sunt o dovadă şi ne arată deplin marele entuziasm cu care a fost îmbrăţişată ideea noastră.

Nu plecaţi urechea la cei ce voiesc să vă abată din drumul cel drept şi să vă rătăcească, cu ameninţări sau făgăduinţe.

De-i veţi asculta, să ştiţi că vă va ajunge blestemul tuturor morţilor noştri, împuşcaţi şi spânzuraţi de nedreptăţile veacurilor trecute, în multe ţări din lume

De răspundeţi însă cu drag la chemarea ce v-o facem, Dumnezeu să vă binecuvânteze pe voi, pe copiii voştri şi casele voastre.

Comunicaţi în scris orice păsuri şi nevoi aveţi şi trimiteţi adeziunile de înscriere în Asociaţie, pe adresa:

Asociaţia Generală a Ţiganilor din România, Bucureşti IV – Str. Vultur no. 147.

Cu Dumnezeu înainte,

Preşedintele Asociaţiei, Arhimandrit Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu.

An Appeal

To all Gypsies in Romania

Gypsy Brothers,

We have lived for centuries in the hospitable land of the Romanian country, which we love as our own body and soul. From the nation of the ROMA or Gypsies, as we are called, there have never been traitors and betrayers of their country; we did not plot against any state authority and we did not fraternise with any enemy of the Romanian nation.

We also sacrificed ourselves for this Greater Romania; we gave to the country important people that history remembers with gratitude and – as far as possible – we have fulfiled all our citizens’ obligations. However, no other nation is more humiliated, more accursed and despised, more ignored and bitter than our Gypsy nation.

In order to show the entire world that we do not deserve such contempt, we have taken the initiative to establish a General Association of Gypsies in Romania [1], whose program – in short – is the following:

CULTURAL

1. The issuing of a gazette.

2. The establishing of adult evening classes throughout the country.

3. A popular university for Gypsies.

4. The establishing of school libraries and museums, as well as a national museum.

5. The establishment of kindergartens so that the children do not roam the roads when their parents are at work.

6. The publication of books for the enlightening of minds, for health protection, good living, the history of the Gypsy people and other [books].

7. Educational lectures, music, the gathering of our old songs and all sorts of stories; dance schools for our dances etc.

8. The establishment of scholarships in the country and abroad for meritorious students.

9. The establishment of all sorts of workshops for the trades appropriate to the nature of our nation and markets across the country for selling various products.

10. The establishment of ambulatory schools for nomadic Gypsies and their enrolment in the association.

11. The establishment of athenaeums, cinemas and cultural centres, etc.

12. Supporting the poor students with books, clothes and food.

SOCIAL ASSISTANCE

1. The establishing of legal assistance to protect all litigants.

2. Free medical assistance for sick people and their consult at home.

3. Free help for all religious needs.

4. The establishing of a large people’s home, where every poor Gypsy, homeless or stranger from the locality can sleep and eat until he finds work.

5. The establishing of people’s canteens in all poor neighbourhoods in the Capital and other cities of the country.

6. The establishing of a hospital for Gypsies; medical dispensaries for postpartum women; nursing homes for the elderly and the disabled; mutual aid societies in case of death, marriages, damages and opening of a trade or other crafts; offices for job placement and information; popular baths, school colonies, shelters for small children, etc.

7. The insistence, via all legal means, that the Capital City Hall and competent authorities provide us with land around the Capital and in every town and village in the country and build on them standard houses for those without their own dwelling, which would be payable over 20-30 years.

8. The insistence to colonise all nomadic Gypsies by giving them the necessary land in the various parts of the country, and the Association to take full responsibility for their settlement and their proper correction, cutting off the theft and begging.

[9.] The Association will ensure that any agricultural or other work is no longer speculated by those interested and will make collective contracts, in accordance with the laws of the country, supervising the compliance with obligations from both sides, living and hygiene conditions, etc.

10. The organisation in guilds of all categories of workers and their recognition as tradesmen, with corresponding rights, at the General Office of Social Insurance.

11. The establishment of county courts and of a Supreme Court to resolve the matters concerning marriage, divorce, funeral, and all kinds of crimes that would dishonour our nation and which will be judged by the Elders Council headed by the respective vătafi [2] and according to our tradition.

12. The women are legally part of the Association and will be used in all cultural and social assistance work. The literate ones have the same rights as the men, and they can be admitted in the Elders Council, according to the norms that will be established.

13. Children aged 8 and older and youngsters of both sexes up to 21 years of age will have a separate organisation where they will be prepared and trained in all life issues.

14. Politics is completely forbidden to members of the Association and will only serve the politics of our interests, indicated by the Supreme Committee of the Association.

Whoever deviates from the Association’s indications will be excluded from it; he will be reckoned as rejected by our nation, and no support will be given to it in times of need.

This is very briefly our program, which calls for the new life the million Romanian Gypsies living on Romania’s land [3].

Gypsy Brothers,

Hurry to join the General Association, which is the only support for our lives today and tomorrow.

Be solidary, united in your thoughts and feelings, because we live not only for ourselves but also for our children and for the future generations.

The 27 thousand enrolments to date from the different corners of the country [4] are proof and show us fully the great enthusiasm with which our idea has been embraced.

Do not leave your ear to those who want to turn you from the right path and to get you lost with threats or promises.

If you listen to them, you may know that the curse of all our dead shall be on you, of those shot and hanged by the iniquities of past ages, in many countries of the world

If you answer gladly to the call we are giving to you, God bless you, your children and your homes.

Communicate in writing any wishes and needs you have and submit your membership adhésions to the Association at:

The General Association of the Gypsies in Romania, Bucharest IV – 147, Vultur Street.

With God ahead,

The President of the Association, Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu.

Notes

1. For the General Association of the Gypsies in Romania, see Achim, 2004, pp. 154 ff.; Achim, 2010, pp. 85-102; Matei, 2010b, pp. 161 ff.

2. In some parts of Romania, the leader of the traditional Gypsy local community was called vătaf (pl. vătafi).

3. Here, and also in other cases in the documents presented below, the figures concerning the number of Roma (Gypsies) in Romania vehiculated by the Roma organisations were exaggerated.

4. This figure is much exaggerated, at that moment the General Association of Gypsies in Romania having only a few hundred registered members. When it comes to the number of members, Roma organisations have always communicated aberrant figures.

Source: AND MB, fond. Prefectura Poliţiei Capitalei, dos. 123/1933, f. 4, 9, 103; ANIC, fond. Direcţia Generală a Poliţiei, dos. 34/1922, f. 30.

Published in: Scurtu,, 1999, pp. 180-182; Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 21, pp. 96-99, annex.

Prepared for publication by Viorel Achim.

6.3.3 A Call for a Meeting by the General Association of Gypsies in Romania

[Septembrie 1933].

Asociaţia Generală a Ţiganilor din România Chemare.

Fraţi Ţigani,

De sute de ani, noi, ROMII sau ŢIGANII, cum ni se mai spune, îndurăm toate umilinţele din partea tuturor; suntem urgisiţi, dispreţuiţi, nebagăţi în seamă şi amărâţi, mai mult decât oricare neam ce trăieşte pe pământul ţării româneşti.

A vrut bunul Dumnezeu ca la vremea ce El a găsit de cuvinţă să ne trimită un mântuitor în persoana preotului arhimandit Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu, ţigan de origină, şi care înţelege durerile neamului său; nu se leapădă de el; vrea să-l îndrumeze pe drumul civilizaţiei, al năzuinţelor curate şi ferite de otrava politicianismului josnic şi să ajungă ca numele de “ţigan” să fie rostit cu cinste, iar nu cu dispreţ.

Acest preot este şi un mare învăţat, el a scris despre neamul nostru ţigănesc cărţi de valoare în limbile franceză, engleză şi nemţească şi stă în legătură cu toţi ţiganii din lume, care ne vor ajuta şi pe noi la orice nevoie vom avea, căci ei sunt mai bogaţi decât ai noştri şi mai cu ştiinţă de carte.

Fraţi Ţigani,

Acest preot învăţat a venit la noi cu ideea să înfiinţăm o mare Asociaţie, în care să fie cuprinşi toţi ţiganii din România, şi ne-a spus că numai acolo unde este unire este şi putere.

Ne-a înfăţişat şi un program al Asociaţiei, care cuprinde lucruri mari pentru neamul nostru şi care a fost publicat şi prin diverse gazete.

Totuşi, ca la orice bun început, s-au găsit şi oameni răi, puşi în slujba diferiţilor politicieni, care caută să amăgească neamul nostru; să ne împrăştieze prin neunire şi să-i facă a crede că sunt mai multe asociaţii cu ţigani şi nu numai una. Aceşti oameni răi nu se sfiesc să arunce pe spatele Asociaţiei noastre şi a energicului preot ce ne conduce tot felul de insulte şi calomnii, numai şi numai ca să ne împiedice de la drumul bun pe care am apucat şi să ne ţină tot în starea de robie josnică, în care am trăit până acum.

Fraţi Ţigani,

Nu daţi ascultare nimănui decât Asociaţiei Generale a Ţiganilor din România, recunoscută în mod legal de tribunalele ţării româneşti şi condusă de învăţatul preot arhimandrit Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu, în frunte cu un comitet, al cărui sediu central este în strada Vultur 147 şi al cărei secretar general este dl. Lache Gheorghe, din strada Braşoveni (Tei) 48.

Vă chemăm deci la O MARE ADUNARE care se va ţine Duminică, 8 Octombrie a.c., la orele 9 dimineaţa, în sala d-lui IONICĂ PALADE, din str. Teiu-Doamnei 48 (Tei), iar nu în sala “Ileana”, din Câmpul Moşilor, cum s-a anunţat de unii.

Fraţi Ţigani,

Veniţi în număr căt se poate de mare, ca să arătăm tuturor că noi suntem uniţi în cugete şi simţiri şi că nu mai voim să fim calul de bătaie al nimănui, acolo veţi auzi pe cei mai de seamă oameni din neamul nostru, avocaţi, doctori, studenţi etc., expunând programul nostru şi sfătuindu-vă numai de bine.

Noi nu ne luptăm nici pentru politică, nici pentru biserică, ci pentru nevoile noastre, pentru izgonirea întunericului şi a nedreptăţii în care trăim de veacuri, să nu vă amăgească cei care vă făgăduie toate bunătăţile pământului şi pe urmă vă dau sabia şi urgia.

Unde este preotul, acolo este Dumnezeu, deci nu vă lăsaţi amăgiţi de acei care vă cinstesc numai din buze, iar cu inima stau departe de voi.

Veniţi în numele dreptăţii, al iubirii de neamul nostru şi al nădejdii unor zile mai fericite, veniţi Duminică, 8 Octombrie 1933, ora 9 dimineaţa, în sala d-lui IONICĂ PANDELE, Teiu-Doamnei 48 (Tei).

Cu Dumnezeu înainte şi cu ochii atenţi la duşmanii ce ne pândesc pe toate cărările ca să ne ţie în robie şi întuneric.

Asociaţia Generală a Ţiganilor din România, cu sediul în Bucureşti, str. Vultur 174, sect. IV.

Răspunzător: Arhim[andrit] C. I. Popp Şerboianu, str. Turnu Roşu, 11.

[September 1933].

Call of General Association of the Gypsies in Romania [1].

Gypsy Brothers,

For hundreds of years, we, the ROMA or GYPSIES, as we are called, have endured all humiliation, from everyone else; we have been accused, despised, ignored and unhappy, more than any other nation living on the land of the Romanian country.

The good God wanted to send us a saviour when the time was right, a saviour in the person of the priest Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu, of Gypsy origin, who understands the pains of his people; he doesn’t deny them; he wants to guide them towards civilisation, towards pure aspiration that are protected from the poison of despicable politicism so that the name “Gypsy” will be spoken with honour, not with contempt.

This priest is also a great scholar, he has written about our Gypsy people valuable books in French, English and German [2], and he is in touch with all the Gypsies around the world, who will also help us with anything we shall need, because they are richer than our own and educated.

Gypsy Brothers,

This learned priest came to us with the idea of organising a large Association, in which all the Gypsies in Romania would be included, and told us that only where is love there is power.

He also presented a program of the Association, that envisages great things for our nation and that was published in various newspapers [3].

However, as in any good beginning, there are also bad people, employed by various politicians, who seek to deceive our nation; to scatter us through conflict and to make us think there are more Gypsy associations and not just one. These evil people do not hesitate to cast insults and slanders at our Association and at this energetic priest who leads us only to prevent us from the good road that we have begun to go and to keep us still in this state of despicable slavery in which we have lived so far [4].

Gypsy Brothers,

Do not listen to anybody other than the General Association of Gypsies in Romania, legally recognised by the courts of the Romania country [5] and led by the learned priest Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu, along with a committee whose headquarters are in 147, Vultur Street and whose general secretary is Mr. Lache Gheorghe, from 48, Braşoveni Street (Tei).

So we call you to a LARGE MEETING which will be held Sunday, October 8, this year, at 9 a.m., in Mr. IONICĂ PALADE’s Hall (48, Teiul Doamnei Street), and not in “Ileana” Hall in Câmpul Moşilor, as some people announced [6].

Gypsy Brothers,

Come in as many numbers as possible to show everyone that we are united in our thoughts and feelings and that we no longer want to be the punching bag of anybody. There you will hear the most prominent people in our nation, lawyers, doctors and students etc., explaining our program and advising you for the better.

We neither fight for politics nor for church, but for our needs, to cast out the darkness and the injustice in which we have lived for centuries, to not be deceived by those who promise you all the good things of the earth and then give you the sword and the wrath.

Where the priest is, there is also a God, so do not be deceived by those who honour you only by words and keep their hearts closed.

Come in the name of justice, of the love for our nation and of the hope for better days, come on Sunday, October 8, 1933, at 9 a.m., in IONICĂ PANDELE’s Hall, 48, Teiu-Doamnei Street (Tei).

With God ahead and keep careful eyes on the enemies who are lurking on all our paths to keep us in captivity and in the dark.

The General Association of the Gypsies in Romania, with the headquarters în Bucharest, 174, Vultur Street, sector IV.

Responsible: Archimandrite C. I. Popp Şerboianu, 11, Turnu Roşu Street.

Notes

1. For the General Association of the Gypsies in Romania, see Achim, 2004, p. 154 sq.; Achim, 2010, pp. 85-102; Matei, 2010b, p. 161 ff.

2. Reference to some of the publications by Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu, most important being the book (1930).

3. See the previous source. At the time, press articles about the General Association of the Gypsies in Romania program appeared. Timpul newspaper in Craiova reproduced almost entirely the Appeal (Timpul, 1933a, pp. 1-2).

4. Reference to G. A. Lăzurică who in the meantime, left the General Association of Gypsies in Romania, whose general secretary he was, and set up another organisation called the General Union of Roma in Romania, which had a quasi-identical program to that of the General Association of the Gypsies in Romania.

5. The General Association of Gypsies in Romania, under Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu’s leadership, failed to obtain the status of a legal entity. The ‘legal recognition’ that is spoken about here must refer to the authentication of the constitutive act in court.

6. G. A. Lăzurică, as president of the General Union of Roma in Romania, also announced a Roma meeting for October 8, 1933. About this meeting, see below. The announcement was likely to create confusion among the Roma.

Source: AND MB, fond. Prefectura Poliţiei Capitalei, dos. 123/1933, f. 10.

Published in: Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 25, pp. 103-104.

Prepared for publication by Viorel Achim.

6.3.4 A Call for Participation at a Roma Congress in Bucharest, October 8, 1933

Uniunea Generală a Romilor din România

Fraţi Romi,

Ne adresăm vouă nu cu titulatura de “ţigani”, pentru că este o denumire falşe şi batjocoritoare, ci pe numele nostru adevărat de “romi”, adică oameni, iubitori de libertate, jocuri şi muzică – un dar pe care vi l-a lăsat Dumnezeu. Acest lucru trebuia să-l ştie acel preot care se intitulează “arhimandrit” şi “preşedinte” al Asociaţiei Generale a Ţiganilor din România, titluri însuşite fără drept şi prin uzurpare, din care cauză a şi fost izgonit din asociaţie şi serviciile bisericeşti, fiind acuzat de catolicism şi duşman al religiei noastre ortodoxe. E vorba de CALINIC ŞERBOIANU.

Fraţi Romi,

Numărăm în ţara românească aproape un milion de suflete, împrăştiate pe tot cuprinsul ţării, la sate şi la oraşe, îndeplinind cu sfinţenie toate îndatoririle de cetăţeni, adică: plătim dări, facem armată, avem meserii bine definite, suntem asimilaţi elementului românesc, vorbind aceeaşi limbă şi păstrând aceeaşi religie creştină-ortodoxă. Ba suntem păstrătorii cântecelor, jocurilor, baladelor şi datinilor româneşti, ca nişte harnici şi pasionaţi cronicari şi colecţionari.

Suntem patrioţi şi dinastici, nu suntem trădători de ţară, nu dezertăm de la datorie, nu pactizăm cu inamicii ţării şi nu ne lăsăm influenţaţi de curente extremiste, care sunt dăunătoare statului român.

Acestea sunt calităţi care acopăr puţinele noastre defecte şi, recunoscându-le, trebuie să recunoască şi concetăţe cravings for wandering in the blood nii noştri că nu noi greşim mai mult în faţa legilor.

Suntem totuşi dispreţuiţi, huliţi şi consideraţi ca o paria a societăţii, fiind lipsiţi de drepturi egale ca oameni şi cetăţeni.

Trăim în prezent sub apăsarea unui materialism feroce, iar criza economică şi financiară noi o simţim mai mult.

Meseriile noastre sunt acaparate de străinii care ne concurează şi ne azvârle în braţele şomajului.

E timpul ca să ne mişcăm, să ne organizăm şi să ne manifestăm ca un organ puternic, având ca scop unic apărarea intereselor noastre sociale.

Nu intenţionăm să constituim un nou partid politic, căci, din păcate, avem destule în ţara românească şi răsar ca ciupercile alte noi.

Vrem însă ca uniţi într-un bloc să putem cere organelor conducătoare realizarea dezideratelor noastre drepte şi legale, fără sacrificii mari şi fără să dăuneze cu nimic ţării noastre, înţelegând să luăm parte la necazuri, ca şi la bucurii, alături de concetăţenii noştri români.

Vrem să arătăm că în manifestaţiile noastre nu ignorăm şi scopul cultural şi spiritual prin care să cucerim simpatia opiniei publice, a presei şi a factorilor competenţi, mai dovedind că la noi există mai puţină ţigănie decât în manifestaţiunile cotidiene şi străine nouă.

De aceea vă chemăm stăruitor să participaţi la: PRIMUL MARE CONGRES AL ROMILOR, care va avea loc irevocabil în SALA ILEANA din Câmpul Moşilor, la Bucureşti,

în ziua de 8 Octombrie a.c., la orele 10 dimineaţa.

Veniţi la acest Congres în număr cât mai mare şi cu curajul oamenilor care n-au nimic ce să-şi impute, ca cetăţeni dornici de o viaţă nouă, înfruntând vitregia vremurilor grele.

Lăutari, geambaşi, fierari, potcovari, meşteri lăcătuşi, spoitori, rudari, văcsuitori, strângători de fiare, vânzători de ziare şi haine vechi, hornari, mici comercianţi şi alţi meseriaşi romi, veniţi cu toţii să ascultaţi pe reprezentanţii voştri cei mai calificaţi, aleşi din clasa intelectuală, ca: publicişti, avocaţi, profesori, medici şi arhitecţi, care vă vor arăta care sunt necazurile voastre, cine sunteţi, ce vreţi şi ce puteţi voi.

Să nu lipsească nici o femeie intelectuală din neamul romilor, pentru ca ele să dea un imbold fraţilor, părinţilor şi soţilor lor în marea luptă de emancipare ce se începe.

Facem un apel călduros către toţi romii care au parvenit prin muncă şi abnegaţie ca să nu-şi renege neamul, ci să vie în mijlocul nostru, încurajându-ne, iubindu-ne, ca o chemare a sângelui. Nu ne dispensăm nici de prezenţa concetăţenilor noştri români, invitându-i la congres ca observatori, pentru a vedea şi auzi că nu depăşim cu nimic de la programul nostru iniţial: moral, social, cultural şi spiritual.

Fraţi Romi,

Congresul nostru mai are un scop. El vă dă prilejul ca uniţi într-un singur glas, într-o singură bătaie de inimă, să ne manifestăm pentru Ţară, Rege şi Patriarh; să salutăm presa românească ce a susţinut şi pe toţi acei oameni de bine care ne-au încurajat şi ajutat în lupta noastră.

Dumnezeu să ne binecuvânteze această luptă şi să pedepsească pe trădătorii cauzei noastre

Rugăm ca toate comunicările şi adeziunile să se trimită pe adresa de mai jos:

Uniunea Generală a Romilor din România, cu sediul în Bucureşti, strada Sârbească, 8.

Preşedinte, G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică; Secretară, Florica Constantinescu.

The General Union of the Roma in Romania

Roma Brothers,

We are addressing you not with the name “Gypsies”, because this is a false and mocking name, but with our true name of “Roma”, meaning people, lovers of freedom, dances and music – a gift that God has given you. This should have been known by the priest who calls himself “Archimandrite” and “President” of the General Association of Gypsies in Romania [1], titles obtained without right and by usurpation, for which he was expelled from the association and the church services, being accused of Catholicism and enemy of our Orthodox religion. It’s about CALINIC ŞERBOIANU.

Roma Brothers,

We are almost a million souls scattered all over the country, in villages and towns, fulfilling completely all civic duties, that is, we pay taxes, we do the military service, we have well-defined trades, we are assimilated in the Romanian element, we speak the same language and preserve the same Christian-Orthodox religion. We are the keepers of the Romanian songs, dances, ballads and customs, as hardworking and passionate chroniclers and collectors.

We are patriots and faithful to the [royal] dynasty, we are not country traitors, we do not desert our duty, we do not pact with the enemies of the country, and we do not let ourselves be influenced by extremist currents that are harmful to the Romanian state.

These are qualities that cover our few defects and, recognizing them, our fellow citizens have to admit that we are not more in the wrong with the laws than others.

We are, however, despised, blasphemed and regarded as the pariah of the society, being deprived of equal rights as men and citizens.

We are currently living under the pressure of fierce materialism, and the economic and financial crisis [2] affects us more [than others].

Our trades are captured by strangers [3] who compete us and thrust us into the arms of unemployment.

It is time for us to make a move, organise and manifest ourselves as a powerful organ, with the sole purpose of defending our social interests.

We do not intend to build a new political party, because, unfortunately, there are enough already and they multiply like mushrooms after the rain.

We want, however, to be united so that we would be able to ask the ruling organs for our righteous and legal desiderata, without great sacrifices and without harming our country, by understanding to take part in tribulations, as well as in joy, together with our Romanian fellow citizens.

We want to show that in our manifestations we do not ignore the cultural and spiritual purpose so that we can win the sympathy of the public, of the press and of the competent factors, proving that there is less ţigănie [4] by us than in the daily manifestations, which are alien to us.

That is why we urge you to participate in THE FIRST LARGE CONGRESS OF ROMA, which will take place irrevocably in ILEANA HALL in Câmpul Moşilor [5], in BUCHAREST, on October 8, current year, at 10 a.m.

Come to this Congress in the greatest possible number and with the courage of a person who has nothing to impute, as citizens eager for a new life, facing the brink of difficult times.

Fiddlers, horse dealers, blacksmiths, farriers, locksmiths, tinsmiths, Rudari, shoeblacks, scrap-iron collectors, newspapers and old clothes sellers, horns, small merchants and other Roma craftsmen, all come to listen to our most qualified representatives, chosen from the intellectual class: publicists, lawyers, teachers, doctors and architects, who will show you what our troubles are, who you are, what you want and what you can want.

Let there be no intellectual woman in the Roma nation that does not come so that they give an impetus to their brothers, their parents and their spouses to come too, in the great emancipation struggle that begins now.

We make a warm appeal to all Roma who have reached a good situation through work and abnegation not to deny their nation, but to come into our midst, encouraging us, loving us, as a call of the blood. Nor do we dispense with the presence of our Romanian fellow citizens, inviting them to the congress as observers, to see and hear that we do not go beyond our original moral, social, cultural and spiritual program.

Roma Brothers,

Our congress still has a purpose. It gives you the opportunity to unite in one voice, in one heartbeat, to manifest ourselves for the Country, King and Patriarch; to welcome the Romanian press and all those good men who have encouraged and helped us in our struggle.

God bless us in this fight and punish the traitors of our cause.

We ask that all communications and membership applications be sent to the address below:

The General Union of Roma in Romania [6] headquartered in Bucharest, 8, Sârbească Street.

President, G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică; Secretary, Florica Constantinescu.

Notes

1. For the General Association of the Gypsies in Romania, see Achim, 2004, p. 154 ff.; Achim, 2010, pp. 85-102; Matei, 2010, pp. 161 ff.

2. Reference to the great economic crisis of 1929-1933, which seriously affected Romania.

3. The protection of the Romanian workers against immigrant workers was a widely discussed topic in the Romanian press and politics of the 1930s. It was also taken over by the Roma organisations and press, which explained the crisis through which some professions specific to the Roma passed through the competition of foreigners, little by market and technology evolution.

4. Here the Romanian word ţigănie is used as meaning ‘scandal’.

5. A neighbourhood in Bucharest at that time.

6. For the General Union of the Roma in Romania, see Achim, 2004, p. 155 ff.; Achim, 2010, pp. 85-102; Matei, 2010b, p. 162 ff.

Source: AND MB, fond. Prefectura Poliţiei Capitalei, dosar 123/1933, f. 3; ANIC, fond. Direcţia Generală a Poliţiei, dos. 34/1932, f. 47.

Published in: Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc 27, pp. 106-107.

Prepared for publication by Viorel Achim.

6.3.5 The Congress of the Gypsies

Congresul Țiganilor

Există tot felul de asociații, uniuni și societăți. Există o asociație a moașelor, o societate a învățătorilor fără slujbe, o uniune a contabililor și una a agenților sanitari. Nu e categorie de cetățeni, care să nu fie grupată într-o asociație. De ce nu ar avea și țiganii asociația lor? Or această asociație există și are sediul în strada Vultur nr. 147, unde ne-am prezentat președintelui. Nu mică ne-a fost surprinderea, când am văzut că președintele țiganilor este un arhimandrit, cu părul roșu cărunt, anume Părintele Calinic I. Pop Șerboianu …

Ce ne spune Președintele Țiganilor

L-am întrebat pe Sfinția-Sa, în ce scop a strâns pe țigani în această asociație. Părintele Șerboianu ne-a declarat că disprețul ce se arată pe nedrept acestui neam, a determinat pe Sfinția-Sa să înceapă o acțiune pentru gruparea țiganilor, în scopul de a obține o serie de revendicări, de ordin cultural și social.

– Care anume sunt aceste revendicări?

– În primul rând asigurarea instrucției și educația masei țigănești, apariția unei gazete, înființarea de cursuri serale, o universitate populară țigănească, biblioteci, grădinițe de copii, ș.a. Dorim să ținem conferințe educative, să strângem folclorul țigănesc, să înființăm ateliere, școli ambulante pentru nomazi, un cămin al țiganilor, atenee, cinematografe, etc. În fine, să le dăm asistență juridică și medicală gratuită, ajutor pentru nevoile religioase, cantine, un spital al țiganior, oficii pentru procurarea de lucru, băi populare, colonii școlare …

Un alt deziderat al asociației țiganilor este colonizarea țiganilor nomazi, dânduli-se pământul necesar în diferite părți ale țării, pentru statornicirea și buna lor îndreptare, stârpindu-se furtul și cerșetoria.

Vom vedea însă îndată cum primesc țiganii aceste încercări de ridicare a neamului lor. Deasemeni un punct nevralgic este cererea de a se recunoaște judecățile și sentințele sfaturilor batrânilor, format din vătafii țiganilor.

Programul țigănesc este foarte înaintat; el oferă chiar drepturi de egalitate cu bărbații, femeilor cu știință de carte, și le admite în sfatul bătrânilor.

Părintele Șerboianu subliniază că politica este cu desăvârșire interzisă membrilor asociației.

Mijoacele de luptă

Aflăm că ar exista în România un milion de țigani și că ar fi înscriși în asociație vre-o 30000. Nu știu întrucât aceste cifre sunt exacte. Un fapt interesant este însă că au dat adeziunea lor unele personalități de vază, medici, ofițeri, profesori universitari, care nu-și reneagă obârșia țigănească. Arhimandritul Șerboianu ne arată apoi că mijloacele pentru realizarea acestor revendicări constau în primul rând în propaganda membrilor din comitet prin țigănie, mici adunări locale pe cartiere, întruniri în diferite orașe cu o populație țigănească mai însemnată și, în fine, pregătirea țiganilor în vederea ținerii unui mare congres general, care va avea loc în curând, fie la Ardeal la Miercurea Ciucului, regiune unde există un important centru țigănesc, fie la Bucureștii-Noi.

– Dar cum faceți ca țiganii să afle de acțiunea asociației, și cum îi convocați la adunări?

– N-avem nevoie să tipărim invitații speciale. Svonul despre tot ceeace privește neamul țigănesc se răspândește ca fulgerul prin țigănie, dintr-un capăt la altul al țării, ba trece și hotarul, odată cu cetele nomade. E acelaș fenomen care se petrece în Africa, unde nu există nici telegraf, nici gazete, și totuș sălbatecii află imediat tot ce se petrece și ceeace îi interesează, de la sute de kilometri.

Un turneu prin țigănie

Ca să ne convingem de seriozitatea acestei mișcări, am rugat unii membrii din comitetul asociației generale a țiganilor, să ne permită a-i însoți în propaganda ce fac prin cartierele țigănești. Astfel, am ajuns la marginea Bucureștilor, spre lacul Tei, pe o stradă plină de gunoaie, ca un maidan. Defilăm aici prin două rânduri de cazane de rufe, sub presiune, în care se fierbe “porumbelul fierbinte”, cu care se alimentează Capitala. Uzina aceasta de porumbel fiert, e înconjurată de mici magazii, în care se depozitează tot felul de sdrențe și de gunoaie, pe care țiganii le vând fabricilor de hârtie, de zahăr etc. (Nu știți poate că la fabricarea zăharului slujesc oasele pe care țiganii le strâng în gropile periferice, unde cotigele primăriei aruncă gunoaiele Capitalei?…).

Îndată ce ne facem apariția, mari contingente de dănciuci, batalioane minuscule de asalt, în cămăși cafenii, – sau fără nici un fel de cămașe, – ne înconjoară. Câțiva țigani maturi ascultă predica părintelui, dar nu dau semne de prea mare entuziasm. Înainte de-a adera, ei trebuie să obțină consimțământul șefilor lor și al sfatului bătrânilor.

Adunarea din acest cartier este în adevăr originală; ea e formată dintr-o mână de țigani, câteva femei și un poșidic de draci negri, care ascultă cu cea mai mare seriozitate, apelul pe care arhimandritul Șerboianu îl citește. Foarte multă disciplină, și, când se produce un vag început de tumult, îndată unul dintre țigani, rostește solemn:

– Vă rog tăcere, aici nu e Parlament!

Adunarea nu are loc într-o sală, ci în curtea unui lăutar.

Lăutarii se plâng de concurența radiofoniei, iar gospodarii de origine faraonică, cer pavarea străzii lor:

– De cîte ori cerem să se paveze strada și să se curețe gunoaiele, primăria zice că, ce avem noi nevoie de curățenie, fiindcă suntem țigani și vom murdări la loc. Dar a încercat oare cineva să ne curețe și nouă strada, ca să vadă ce vom face pe urmă?

După cum am văzut, este necesară adeziunea șefilor țigăniei, pentru începerea acestei campanii de realizări și ținerea congresului general. Or, se pare că sunt unii șefi care nu au interesul ca țigănia să înceapă a fi emancipată. În adevăr, unii dintre acești șefi utilizează pe țigani ca pe niște robi, la triajul gunoaielor din gropile Capitalei și valorificarea acestui rebut. Acești șefi sunt antreprenorii unor astfel de afaceri de gunoaie, și probabil că ei cred că își vor pierde lucrătorii, atunci când vor fi emancipați. Să nu se creadă însă că pierderea ar fi mică pentru ei. Țiganii dintr-un anumit cartier ne spun că șeful lor a făcut mare avere, că este milionar de pe urma acestui negoț imund, și că sunt de pomină chefurile pe care le face acest nabab al gunoaielor. Nunta fetei sale a avut o strălucire extraordinară:

– “A fost și muzică militară!” …

Un alt punct dificil, după câte ne spun țiganii, este intențiunea de stabilizare a nomazilor:

– Țiganul nomad are în sânge dorul de ducă, și chiar dacă l-ai lega în lanțuri, el va fugi. În schimb, cei care s-au așezat din tată în fiu, și au devenit, de pildă, proprietari la periferia Capitalei, pe aceia ar fi greu să-i mute cineva de la locul lor, chiar dacă li s-ar da terenuri de către Primărie în altă parte.

În fine, mai trebuie să se pronunțe suprema jurisdicțiune țigănească, sfatul bătrânilor, și nu se știe dacă acest matur corp va încuvința congresul și acțiunea de civilizare a țiganilor …

The Congress of the Gypsies

There are plenty of associations, unions and societies. The association of midwives, the society of teachers, the union of accountants, and one more of medical orderlies, and so on. There are no categories of citizens without of some kind of association. Why should there not exist the Association of the Gypsies as well?

Well, this association exists already. The office of the association is situated at the Vultur street, number 147 [in Bucharest city], where we introduced ourselves to the president [of this association]. You could imagine how surprised we were that the president turned out to be an Archimandrite with red grey hairs. His name is Father. Calinic I. Pop Șerboianu …

What the President of the Gypsies tell us

I asked His Holiness what was the scope in uniting Gypsies in the association? Father Șerboianu declared that it was the unjustified contempt to this people, demonstrated by the society, which encouraged him to try to group the Gypsies with the scope to put forward some cultural and social claims.

– What exactly are these claims?

– First of all, to offer the possibility for teaching and education for the Gypsies, establish a Gypsy newspaper, evening classes, a popular Gypsy University, libraries, kindergartens, etc. We want to organise educational conferences, to collect the Gypsy folklore, to establish workshops, schools on wheels for nomad, a hostel for Gypsies, an athenaeum, cinemas, etc. Finally, we want to provide free legal and medical assistance, to help in their religious needs, to establish canteens, a hospital for Gypsies, offices for employment opportunities, public baths, residential schools …

Another wish of the association is to settle the nomadic Gypsies, to give them necessary plots of land in different parts of our country with the purpose of their settlement and the improvement of their behaviour in positive direction, eliminating theft and begging.

We will soon see how the Gypsies welcome these attempts for the uplifting of their people. Moreover, the request to recognise the decisions of the counsels of elderly, formed by the Roma bailiffs, is a sore point too.

The Gypsy program is very advanced; it offers even the equal rights to literate women, and they are also allowed to join the counsels of the Gypsy bailiffs. Father Șerboianu stresses that political activity is strictly forbidden for members of the association.

Means of struggle

We find out that one million Gypsies live in Romania and that about 30000 of them became members of the association. Though, I do not know if these numbers are exact. An interesting fact is that some officers, physicians, university professors, some well-known people that do not relinquish their Gypsy origin, joined the association.

Archimandrite Șerboianu shows us then that the means to achieve these goals first of all consist of propaganda among the Gypsies, of small local meetings in camps, of the association committee presentations in the cities with higher percentages of the Gypsy population. Finally, these measures should prepare the Gypsies for the Great General Congress [1] which will take place soon, either in Ardeal in Miercurea Ciuc, an important centre of the Gypsies, or in the Bucureștii Noi [2].

– But how do you make sure that Gypsies know about the association, and how you convene them at meetings?

– We do not need to type special invitations. Rumours about anything that concerns the Gypsy people spread as lightning among them all over the country, and even cross borders with the nomadic camps. This is like in Africa where without any telegraph or newspapers the savages immediately find out what’s going on and what is interesting for them, from hundreds of kilometres away.

A Journey through the Gypsy areas

To convince ourselves of the seriousness of this project we asked some members of the association committee to allow us to join them in their propaganda tours to the Gypsy camps. So, we have arrived to the Bucharest’s suburbs at ‘Tei lake’, to a street full of garbage [3] like a ‘maidan’, i. e. garbage ramp. We are walking through the two lines of laundry boilers where, under the pressure the ‘hot corncobs’, the Romanian capital feeds itself. This factory of boiled corn is surrounded by small shops, where lots of rags and garbage are deposited, and which the Gypsies then sell to paper factories, sugar factories, etc. (you probably do not know that in the production of sugar are used the bones collected by the Gypsies in the dumps of the capital’s suburbs?).

As soon as we arrive there, a lot of ‘dănciuci’ [4], i. e. Gypsy child beggars, tiny assault battalions in brown shirts, – or even without any shirts, – surround us immediately. A few adult Gypsies are listening to the priest but not with great enthusiasm. They have to receive the permission of their chiefs and of the council of elders to join the association. The meeting in this camp is really something original; it consists of a handful of Gypsies, a couple of women, and a great number of ‘black devils’ that listen with the greatest seriousness to the appeal read by the Archimandrite. The discipline is high; if a slight hubbub emerges, one of the Gypsies immediately speaks with a solemn voice:

– Please be quiet, this is not the Parliament!

The meeting does not take place in any hall, but right in the yard of a lăutar.

The lăutars complain about the competition of the radio, while the householders of “the pharaonic origin” ask for the paving of their streets:

– How many times have we asked to pave the street and to remove the trash. The city administration answers us why we need cleanness, as we are Gypsies and we will immediately litter it again. But did anybody actually try to clean the street to see what we will do after?

As we saw, first of all the organisers need to make the Gypsies’ chiefs become the members of the association to be able to start this campaign for holding the general congress. Though, it looks like some chiefs have no interest to start for the Gypsies to be emancipated. Actually, some of these chiefs treat the Gypsies like slaves, for the triage of garbage at the Capital City’s dumps, and to profit from the surplus. These chiefs are the managers of the garbage business, so they probably are afraid to lose their workers if the Gypsies are emancipated. Do not think that this would be a small loss for them. The Gypsies from the camp tell us that their chief has made a great fortune, that he is a millionaire from this trade, and that the celebrations organised by this “King of garbage” are well known. His daughter’s wedding had an extraordinary pomposity:

– “The military orchestra played at the wedding!” …

Another sore point, from what the Gypsies told us, is the intention to settle the nomads:

– The nomadic Gypsy has in the blood the craving for wandering, so even if you chained him he would run away. On the other hand, those who are settled from the generations and, for example, became householders in the capital’s suburb, they would not want to leave their houses and occupations even if they were endowed with some plots of land in the other parts of the country.

Finally, the supreme jurisdiction of the Gypsies, the counsel of the elderly, still has to make its decision and it is not known if this ‘mature body’ will approve the congress and the action for the civilisation of the Gypsies …

Notes

1. The idea of organising a Congress of the Gypsies was not a fictional perspective for Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu; the importance of activities towards the preparation and organisation of a National or International Congress of the Gypsies, as well as the grandeur of these events, were perceived by him five years earlier. In 1928, he published a detailed report from the National and International Congresses of Romanian Intellectuals: Teachers (from primary schools) and Professors (from secondary schools), which were permanently financially humiliated by Romanian politicians (see Popp Șerboianu, 1928, p. 1).

2. The Congress of Romanian Roma (national Congress) took place on the 8th of October, 1933, in Bucharest (Ileana Hall), convened and chaired by G. A. Lăzurică (see above).

3. Actually, Roma communities were often based in specific locations in various peripheral districts of interbellum Bucharest. The inhabitants of Bucharest did not often know how life was lived in the peripheral slums; at the same time, it is attested that a lot of Roma citizens who lived on the outskirts of the city had not seen the central boulevard Calea Victoriei (see Realitatea Ilustrată, 1933d, pp. 18-19). The informal name of one of the most famous Romani urban neighbourhood in interwar Bucharest was ‘Valea Plângerii’ (The Valley of Sighs), which was divided into small sectors, where garbage and debris were deposited– and everything that the big city considered unnecessary. The main ‘attraction’ there was a monument made up of garbage with a height of 20-30 meters (see Ilustrațiunea Română, 1934b, p. 19).

4. According to a version provided by Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga (1871-1940), the word ‘Danci/Dănciuci’, i.e. Danciu, is the diminutive from the princely name Dan I (Voivode of Walachia, 1383-1386). The first documentary attestation of Romanian Gypsies was at 1385, when those were indirectly mentioned as the submissive servants of the Wallachian ruler Dan I (see Iorga, 1939, p. 285).

Source: [A. B.] (1933b). Congresul Țiganilor. Realitatea Ilustrată, An. 7, No. 345, 1933, September 7, pp. 10-11.

Prepared for publication by Ion Duminica.

Comments

The published article analyses the process of starting the Roma Emancipation Movement in Romania, in 1933. It brought to the attention of the Romanian readers of the daily newspapers the existence of a Gypsy association in Bucharest city (on Vultur street, 147), whose president was Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu, alongside the Gypsy program and its relevant objectives: to establish a Gypsy newspaper, evening classes, schools on wheels for nomadic Gypsies, the foundation of a popular Gypsy University, libraries, kindergartens, a hostel, an athenaeum, a cinema, canteens, a hospital, offices of employment opportunities, public baths; to organise the educational conferences; to collect the Gypsy folklore; to provide free legal and medical assistance; to help in religion needs, etc. One of the modern issues in the Roma history can also be found in this very advanced program, which aimed among other things to provide even the equal rights for literate women, who would also be allowed to join the counsels of the Gypsy bailiffs.

Some of these objectives would be provided in the following years, by different actors. For example, during the interwar period (1934-1941), six Roma/Gypsy newspapers were published in Romania (see Annex II). But the main objective which was planned to be achieved in the nearer future was the organisation of a Great General Gypsy Congress. The need to convene the Congress of the Gypsies was promoted daily through small meetings in different peripheral parts of Bucharest city, where one could find temporary camps of Gypsy nomadic groups from all over Romania, as well as settled Gypsy inhabitants who lived in those urban neighbourhoods. In the article, between the lines, the challenges and issues which would be faced by the new literate leaders of the Romanian Gypsies are also exposed: such as the direct opposition to the process of Gypsy cultural emancipation from rich Roma leaders (called the “Kings of garbage”); the unknown final decision to be adopted by wise Roma elders, members of the Supreme Justice Romani courts; the problem of cultural emancipation through the voluntary settlement of nomadic illiterate Gypsies in a different part of Romania, which, it is said by the journalist, have had the “cravings for wandering in the blood” for centuries.

Ion Duminica

6.3.6 After the Congress of Roma

După Congresul “Romilor”

După congresul istoric din sala Ileana care a întrunit pentru întâia oară, țigani din toate unghiurile țării, hotărâți să lupte pentru o soartă mai bună în jurul unui singur “steag” – fruntașii mișcării au pornit în vizite protocolare. Astfel au vizitat redacțiile ziarelor și publicațiilor care au sprijinit dintr-un început dintr-o firească simpatie această categorie de “oameni necăjiți”.

Așa ne-am pomenit și noi, cu președintele “Asociațiilor țiganilor din România”, G. A. Lăzurică, însoțit de secretara generală și prezidenta secției feminine, – d-ra Florica Constantinescu.

Conducătorii mișcării țiganilor sunt oameni hotărâți să ducă o luptă dârză pentru redeșteptarea țiganilor și organizarea lor într-o mare și puternică asociație, pentru ca strânși uniți să dobândească o îmbunătățire a stării morale și materiale a acestei categorii de cetățeni. Lăzurică se ocupă de țigani – țigani de toate categoriile, iar d-ra Constantinescu de țigănci și de copiii lor.

– Avem și începuturi, ce e drept, destul de modeste, dar destul de lămurite pentru a învedera scopurile pe care le urmărim. Iată de pildă “prima grădiniță a copiilor de țigani”, pe care am inaugurat-o de curând și care este un început de realizare. Nu vom lăsa copiii țiganilor noștri pe străzi și maidane, pradă murdăriei, bolilor și atâtor deprinderi rele.

– Dar în congres, ce ați discutat?

– Am pus mai întâi bazele “Asociației”. Apoi am discutat atâtea nevoi care frământă lumea “noastră”, umilă, nesocotită, batjocurită și totuși muncitoare, credincioasă și folositoare țării. Suntem aproape 900,000 țigani, cei mai mulți trăind din munca lor fără să supere pe cineva și cu atât mai puțin bugetul public: lingurari, fierari, meșteri-lăcătuși, spoitori, vânzători de ziare, lăutari, văscuitori de ghete, strângători de vase, hârtii, cârpe, fiare-vechi, florari, devotați ai atâtor îndeletniciri pe cât de umile, pe atât de onorabile. Țiganii sunt creștini ortodocși, dinastici, vorbesc limba românească și mai presus de toate sunt elemente de ordine; dovadă că în mijlocul lor nu prind curentele extremiste. Ei merită deplină solicitudine a cârmuitorilor care trebuie, cel puți de aci înainte, să-i trateze pe picior de egalitate cu ceilalți cetățeni cărora li se reclamă aceleași îndatoriri civice.

La congres, țiganii s-au plâns de diferite nevoi, privind criza prin care trec mai toate categoriile de muncitori. Criza i-a lovit și pe ei, destul de crud, în afară de unele împrejurări în care chiar îndeletnicirile lor au fost aproape suprimate.

Astfel radio și jaz-band-urile au lăsat aproape muritori de foame pe acei minunați lăutari pe care îi cunoașteți și dv.; cucoanele cu chetele și “florile de binefaceri” au desființat florăresele cântate de poeți și zugrăvite de pictori; astrologii, “prezicătorii” și atâți farseuri, – ghicitoarele cu ghiocul; industria mare și mijlocie, – îndeletnicirile atâtor fierari și meșteșugari pricepuți …

– Și pentru toate acestea ați găsit soluții?

– Am discutat și s-au emis felurite păreri. Cea mai bună a fost aceea ca și țiganii să-și strângă rândurile, pentru ca prin solidaritate să obțină mai mult decât ar putea avea, izolați … Poate că, așa uniți, dacă nu vor izbuti să facă altceva, să dobândească dreptul de a nu mai fi socotiți obiect de batjocură în școală, armată, societate. Țiganul este și el om ca toți ceilalți oameni, și cel puțin de acum încolo cere să fie tratat la fel ca ceilalți.

– Dar pe “romelele” dv. cum le veți organiza?

– În secțiune separată, pe centre și subcentre, în carul unui întreg program care tinde – ca și programul general al “Asociației” – la ridicarea morală, spirituală și materială a țigăncei noastre. Vom încerca să facem operă de educație, cultură și asistență mai întâi în mic, apoi cu ajutorul oamenilor de bine, în mare. “Cei mari” ne vor da desigur sprijinul, pentru că ceeace nădăjduim să facem nu este de cât un lucru bun și folositor.

After the Congress of the “Roma” [1]

After the historical Congress in the Ileana Hall that had, for the first time, united the Gypsies from all over the country and made them decide to struggle for their better future under a common “flag”, the leaders of this public association started doing protocol visits. Thereby they visited some publishers and newspapers’ editors that from the very beginning had demonstrated their sympathy to this category of “troubled people”.

That’s the way we also found ourselves in front of the president of the Associations of the Gypsies of Romania, Mr. G. A. Lăzurică, accompanied by the Secretary General and the president of the Women’s Branch of the association, Ms. Florica Constantinescu.

The leaders of the Gypsy movement are people determined to fight fearlessly for the revival of the Gypsies, and for their organisation in a large and powerful association as only united they can achieve the goal of empowerment of the moral and material state of this category of citizens.

Mr. Lăzurică deals with Gypsy men, with all categories of Gypsy men, while Ms. Constantinescu works with Gypsy women and their children.

– We already have some achievements, albeit modest but clear enough to highlight the purposes we are pursuing. For example, we have the “first Kindergarten of the Gypsy Children” which we have recently opened [2]. We will not let the children of our Gypsies remain on streets and squares to be prey to dirt, sickness and so many bad habits.

– And what have you discussed during the Congress? [3]

– First of all, we established the association. Next, we discussed so many needs that hurt “our” world, humble, reckless, mocked and yet hard-working, faithful and useful to the country. There are almost 900,000 Gypsies; the majority of them live off their labour without bothering anyone and even less so the public budget: lingurari (spoon-makers), fierari (blacksmiths), meșteri-lăcătuși (locksmiths), spoitori (tinsmiths), vânzători de ziare (newspapers’sellers), lăutari (traditional folk musicians), văscuitori de ghete (shoe cleaners), strângători de vase (junkmen that collected old crockery), ragmen – gatherers of paper, rags, and scrap metal, the flower sellers, as well as people devoted to many other occupations, as humble as they are honourable.

Gypsies are Orthodox Christians, royalists, Romanian speaking and, above all, are the elements of order, proven through the fact that among them you find no extremist movements. They deserve the utmost solicitude of the powers who must at least, from now on, treat them on equal footing with the other citizens who bear the same civil duties.

During the Congress, the Gypsies complained of various needs concerning the crisis through which all categories of workers are now passing. The crisis hit them too, and quite severe, besides some circumstances in which even their trades were almost suppressed. Thus, radio and jazz bands made lăutari, whom you also know, almost to die of hunger; Ladies from the high Romanian society (cucoanele) with fundraising and “flowers of charity” have abolished the flower-girls (florăresele) that were so much sung by poets and painted by painters; the astrologers, “soothsayers”, and so many fraudsters did the same with fortune-telling by shells; the large and medium enterprises for a lot of smiths and other skilful artisans … [4].

– Have you found the solution for all these troubles?

– Well, we discussed it and suggested different opinions. The best proposal was that Gypsies have to close ranks because through solidarity they will get more than if they were isolated … Maybe in this way, united, even if they will not succeed with something else, they at least will achieve the right to not be treated as an object of mockery in the schools, in the army, as well as in the society in general [5]. The Gypsy is a man like all others, thus at least from now on he will be treated equally.

– And how you will organise your “Roma women’?

– We will do it in a separate section, in centres and sub-centres, which, like the general program of the Association, will be targeted towards the moral, spiritual, and material development of our Gypsy woman. We will try to organise an educational, cultural work [6], and supportive work, first on a small level and then, with the help of good men, on a larger level. The ‘big men’will of course give us their support, because what we hope to achieve is nothing else but good and useful work for everybody.

Notes

1. The term ‘Roma’ was intensively promoted by the new Roma elite following the end of the Roma Congress after October 1933. At the same time, this word was not fully accepted by the Romanian public opinion. For this reason, it is often used in quotation marks. After 1933, the terms ‘Țigani/Cingari’ (Gypsies) had become a mockery for the new revived, illuminated Roma elite from Romania, because it was presumed to resemble their humiliated and inferior Indian origin (cingari = is considered the name of a lower-ranking social statute people living today in India). Thus, through the Roma newspapers published in Romania, for the culturalisation of the Roma and non-Roma population, the representatives of the new Roma elite started to promote the meanings of the names by which the Roma themselves wanted to be defined: Manuș = Man; Kalo = Black; Sințo = Ours Man; Rom = Male (see Glasul Romilor, 1941, p. 2).

2. Concerning more detailed information about daily working issues of the first Roma kindergarten in Romania, at Bucharest, Teiul Doamnei Street, see Ilustrațiunea Română, 1933b, pp. 4-5.

3. For details about the official agenda, speakers, discussed issues, elected governing bodies, future purposes which would be supported through Romani solidarity after the first national Congress of Romanian Roma, see Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 28; 31, pp. 107-108; 110-112.

4. Concerning the alarming disappearance of traditional Roma handicrafts which could no longer compete with the modern, technical and scientific progress, and other causes – which in their turn generated the poverty and misery of the Roma community, see Glasul Romilor, 1938c, p. 3.

5. In the interwar period, Roma people were often mocked and discriminated through Romanian popular fairy tales, which created for them the image of brain-hampered, illiterates, people left behind of society (see Cultura Poporului, 1928, p. 2).

6. The first major Festival of Art and Culture of the Roma in Europe was organised in Bucharest during two Sundays (18-25 March, 1934, in the “Omnia” Cinema Theater Hall; boulevard Schitul Măgureanu, No. 4). Following it, one can see three main activities included in the planned program for the first European/Romanian Festival of Art and Culture of the Roma: a) the Conference on the Origin, History and Emigration of Roma in Europe, held by Mr. G. A. Lăzurică (the Voivode of the Roma); b) the stage play in one act, Rivalii (Rivals), with the subject taken from the life on the front in which the patriotism and the spirit of humanity of the Roma soldier during the wartime was shown (the author of this original piece – Mr. Gal, a Roma publicist); c) the Gypsy theatrical wedding, accompanied by ancient Gypsy songs and dances, of Indian origin, as well as tasting traditional dishes and reflecting the Gypsy customs (see Năstasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 41, p. 127).

Source: [No Author]. (1933a). După congresul “Romilor”. Ilustrațiunea Română, An. 5, No. 43, 1933, October 18, p. 9.

Prepared for publication by Ion Duminica.

Comments

After the Congress of the Roma, a new Roma elite emerged, ready to assert itself on the realm of promoting the Roma emancipation movement. This is a stage of promoting the positive image of Roma leaders, rather than offering concrete solutions to solving the Roma issues, which was quite mottled at that time. Firstly, the primary achievements recently obtained by Roma leaders from Romania were outlined: the unfolding of the first Roma Congress in Romania; the opening of the first kindergarten for Gypsy children in Bucharest city; the establishment of Women branch inside of Roma Association. On the secondary level, an amalgam of Roma issues specific to the various professional categories of the supposedly 900,000 Romanian Roma was exposed. The tendentious solution promoted by Roma leaders to solve these problems was related to the development of a strong solidarity between members of the Roma Association. Also, new Roma intellectuals were hoping for a financial support from the side of Roma ‘Big bosses’ and Roma ‘Good men’. As subsequent events would show, this hope for financial support for the Roma emancipation movement was pragmatic or naive. For the time being, after the unfolding of the Roma Congress, in the interbellum Romanian society, two selected representatives of the new Roma intelligentsia (in accordance with gender equality criteria) started their protocol visits and propaganda of the social-cultural euphoria for the Roma revival.

Ion Duminica

6.3.7 The Statute and Regulations of the General Union of the Roma in Romania

[November 16, 1933].

Uniunea Generală a Romilor din România.

Act Constitutiv

Se înfiinţează în Bucureşti “Uniunea Generală a Romilor din România”, cu sediul provizoriu în strada Sârbească nr. 8, din iniţiativa d-lui G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică.

Scopul acestei Uniuni este: cultural, social şi spiritual, înlăturând de la început orice substrat politic, şi în această Uniune se încadrează orice cetăţean rom, indiferent de profesia şi activitatea sa publică.

Pentru ca să fie sprijinită cu simpatie de presă, de autorităţile publice şi de opinia publică, în Uniunea Generală a Romilor din România vor putea intra ca membri de onoare şi concetăţeni români, pentru a ne cunoaşte păsul, să ne aprecieze şi să încurajeze acţiunea noastră de redeşteptare.

Şi întrucât d-l G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică, publicist, rom de origină, luptător devotat cauzei noastre, a desfăşurat o vie activitate pentru binele neamului nostru, îi cunoaştem programul său, program expus şi la Congresul Romilor de la 8 octombrie a.c., însuşim acest program, ne solidarizăm cu dânsul, luptând pentru apărarea intereselor noastre de breslaşi şi cetăţeni modeşti ai ţării, prin căi legale.

Acest program este arătat pe larg în statutul alăturat.

Existenţa legală a Uniunii se consideră de la data legalizării acestui act de către Tribunalul Ilfov şi organele în drept.

Ne legăm să fim patrioţi, dinastici şi ortodocşi, să luăm parte la bucuriile şi necazurile ţării noastre, respingând orice uneltiri viclene, dăunătoare statului şi bisericii noastre.

Voim să dăm pildă că noi, romii, suntem cei mai dornici de o viaţă nouă, emancipându-ne printr-o intensă activitate culturală dusă prin atenee populare, şezători artistice, literatură originală şi prin morală, adaptând tot ce este folositor cauzei noastre, pentru a nu mai fi consideraţi o paria a societăţii.

Ţintim ca printr-o atitudine demnă, prin publicitate şi intensă propagandă, să obişnuim pe concetăţenii noştri români a nu ne mai denumi “ţigani”, ci “romi”– adevăratul nostru nume –, care înseamnă “om” iubitor de libertate.

Ne legăm să păstrăm din tată în fiu muzica, jocurile, datinile şi cântecele populare româneşti, ca nişte harnici cronicari.

Comitetul central de conducere a Uniunii este acela prevăzut în alăturatul tablou, valabil pe cinci ani, cu drept de prelungire pentru d-nii G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică preşedinte şi Nicolae Gh. Lache, ca secretar general.

Recunoaştem ca membri de onoare ai Uniunii pe următoarele persoane: I.P.S. Patriarh Dr. Miron Cristea, pe d-nii miniştri ai Muncii, Justiţiei şi Şcoalelor, pe d-nii Şt. Brăiloiu, Pr. Const[antin] Dron, Aurel Crăciunescu, Adrian Maniu, Mihail Sevastos, Ion Teodoru, Margareta Nicolau, Dr. Ilie Rădulescu, Alex. F. Mihail, Pamfil Şeicaru, Nae Ionescu, Richard Franasovici, pe dl. Prim-preşedinte al Tribunalului Ilfov, pe dl. Prim-procuror al Tribunalului Ilfov, şi pe dl. Prefect al Poliţiei Capitalei.

Pe dl. Mihail Berceanu îl alegem ca preşedinte de onoare.

Făcut azi, 16 noiembrie 1933.

Preşedinte active … [signatures]: G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică; Prim Vice-Preşedinte Apostol Matei; Vice-Preşedinte Ion Niculescu; Vice-Preşedinte Ion Paraschiv; Vice- Preşedinte Gheorghe V. Creangă; Secretar General Niculae Gh. Lache; Casier Central Nicolae Niculescu; ajutor Niculae Matei; Prim-cenzor Sotir I. Niculescu; Cenzor Gh. Niculae, Ion Costache, Ioniţă Gheorghe; Cenzor supleant Păun Nicolae, Efta N. Ion; Secretar de şedinţă Gheorghe Dumitru; Prim consilier Gheorghe G. Păun; Consilier Vasile Busuioc, Călin Niculae, Anghel Marin, Stoica Vasile, Ion Simion; Supleant consilier Marin Ionescu, Simion Marin, Gheorghe Niculescu; Membru în Comitet Stan Niculae, Costache N. Gheorghe, Radu Cristache, Gh. Niculescu, Tudor Gheorghe, Gheorghe Şerban, Constantin Gheorghe.

Redactor şi martor pentru identitate Avocat … [signature] Ilie Borugă, Strada Italiană 13, L.S.

Statutul şi Regulamentul Uniunei Generale a Romilor din România

Statut

Art. 1. Se înfiinţează în Bucureşti pe ziua de 16 noiembrie 1933, conform actului constitutiv, “Uniunea Generală a Romilor din România”, cu sediul în strada Sârbească nr. 8, provizoriu.

Art. 2. Această Uniune este condusă de un comitet central ales pe termen de 5 ani, conform hotărârii luate la Congresul ţinut la 8 octombrie a.c. în Bucureşti, comitet compus din preşedintele activ, un prim vice-preşedinte, 2 vice-preşedinţi, un secretar general, un casier, un secretar de şedinţă, un prim cenzor, patru cenzori şi doi supleanţi, un prim-consilier, cinci consilieri şi doi supleanţi, un bibliotecar-arhivar şi 5 membri.

Art. 3. Uniunea va putea înfiinţa şi o secţiune feminină pentru educaţia şi sprijinirea roamelor, care se va conduce separat.

Scopul Uniunii

Art. 4. Scopul Uniunii este: cultural, social şi spiritual.

a) Pe terenul cultural, Uniunea va activa organizând şezători şi festivaluri artistice, membrii săi se vor manifesta pe ogorul literar, artistic şi muzical, pentru a arăta că posedă talente în aceste ramuri de activitate;

b) Pe terenul social, Uniunea va stărui pe lângă toţi oamenii de bine şi pe lângă toate forurile competente ca să realizeze următoarele deziderate:

Să obţie un teren în Bucureşti pe care să clădească o mare construcţie în care să funcţioneze o grădiniţă pentru copiii romi, un ateneu popular, o bibliotecă, un azil pentru lehuze, un contencios, un dispensar şi un cămin pentru adăpostul romilor veniţi temporar din provincie sau pentru cei urgisiţi de soartă.

Să stăruie la organele în drept pentru a pune stavilă imigraţiei meseriaşilor străini, care concurează pe meseriaşii romi sau chiar români, în branşa zidăriei, salahoriei, hornăriei, potcovăriei şi lăutăriei.

Să intervie în mod paşnic şi pe căi legale la autorităţi pentru a fi indulgente cu florăresele, văxuitorii şi negustorii ambulanţi romi care voiesc să-şi câştige o pâine în mod cinstit, fără a mări numărul şomerilor.

Să se stăruiască pentru nomazi ca să fie fixaţi pe terenuri mărginaşe, la oraşe sau la sate, astfel că nemaiumblând vagabonzi, nu vor mai putea să se dedea la furturi, necinstind neamul romilor, ca o paria a societăţii.

Să se încadreze toţi lăutarii ca breslaşi, pentru ca plătind cotizaţii la Casa Centrală a Asigurărilor Muncitoreşti, ei să poată beneficia de ajutorare în caz de boală, de bătrâneţe sau deces.

Să se fixeze de organele în drept două staţiuni de vară, climaterice şi balneare, pentru copiii romi, care vor fi trimişi cu colonia la cură de aer, de soare sau nămol, fiind ştiut că aceşti copii dau numărul cel mai mare de decese, din cauza mizeriei în care trăiesc, fiind seceraţi de tuberculoză şi alte maladii.

Să se întroneze o egalitate de tratament şi faţă de romi, fără să se mai facă distincţie de rasă, cu ironii şi atitudini dispreţuitoare, deoarece romii sunt şi ei cetăţeni cu îndatoriri de a plăti dări către stat, fac armată, sunt dinastici, asimilaţi elementului românesc, sunt ortodocşi şi repugnă orice curent subversiv sau extremist.

Să se intervină ca tinerii cu talent muzical remarcabil să fie primiţi în Conservator, să li se dea şi lor burse pentru a se perfecţiona în străinătate.

Să fie ajutaţi doi reprezentanţi ai romilor din România ca să participe la Congresul Internaţional al Romilor, ce se va ţine în Franţa sau oriunde se va ţine, şi, în interesul statului român, doi membrii din comitetul Uniunei să obţină două permise gratuite pe C.F.R. ca să poată să viziteze oraşele sau satele cu populaţie compactă de romi, spre a-i sfătui la ordine, morală şi muncă cinstită.

După ce Uniunea va fi recunoscută persoană morală şi juridică, membrii ei să poată beneficia de o reducere pe C.F.R., spre a putea veni în Capitală la procesiuni religioase, manifestări culturale şi congrese.

[c)] Pe terenul spiritual: Toţi membrii Uniunii să lupte pentru biserica noastră ortodoxă, dispreţuind sectele ce încearcă să corupă sufletele noastre.

Să cerem Sf. Patriarhii ca să indice o biserică din Capitală unde romii se vor reculege în ziua de Sf. Maria (15 august), mergând în procesiune religioasă.

Să sfătuim pe nomazi ca să-şi boteze copiii, ei să se căsătorească legitim şi religios, formând o bază a familiei şi societăţii.

Să dăm o lectură de cărţi religioase, recomandând ca fiecare rom să aibe în casa sa o icoană, o biblie, unde vor găsi adevărul şi-şi vor primeni sufletele.

Art. 5. Având grija generaţiilor de mâine, trebuie să ne îngrijim ca toţi copiii noştri să înveţe carte şi meserii, pentru a înfrunta mai cu temei lupta grea a vieţii.

[Art. 6 lipseşte]

Art. 7. În Uniune nu se admit ca membri decât romi, iar ca onorifici numai acei cetăţeni care au dat dovadă că iubesc neamul romilor, ajutându-i moraliceşte şi materialiceşte.

Art. 8. Orice membru care a suferit o condamnare definitivă şi a executat-o, va fi exclus din Uniune.

Fondurile Uniunii

Art. 9. Fondurile Uniunii se vor compune din taxe de înscriere, cotizaţiuni, donaţiuni, subscripţii, ajutoare şi din venitul şezătorilor, serbărilor, balurilor şi fructificarea fondurilor.

Art. 10. Toţi membrii Uniunii sunt obligaţi la înscriere să verse suma de 10 lei o dată pentru totdeauna, precum şi o cotizaţie săptămânală de 7 lei, sub luare de chitanţă. […]

Art. 12. Membrii Uniunii sunt de patru categorii: activi, fondatori, onorifici şi aderenţi. . […]

Administraţia Uniunii

Art. 14. Administraţia Uniunii cade în sarcina întregului comitet central, sub controlul cenzorilor şi sub directiva preşedintelui. […]

Art. 17. În faţa justiţiei şi autorităţilor, Uniunea va fi reprezentată numai de preşedintele activ şi de secretarul general şi numai prin delegaţii speciale de prim-vice-preşedinte şi vice-preşedinţi. […]

Retribuţiuni

Art. 20. Niciun membru din consiliu sau din comitetul executiv central nu va fi retribuit cu vreun salar pe termen de un an, în afară de preşedinte, vice-preşedinte, secretar general şi casier şi aceasta numai după ce Uniunea va avea fonduri fructificate. […]

Drapelul şi insigna

Art. 23. Drapelul Uniunii se compune din culorile naţionale cu pajura ţării, purtând în fiecare colţ câte un semn distinct, reprezentând: o vioară, o nicovală, un compas şi o mistrie cu ciocan, semne ale artei şi meseriilor romilor din România.

Dispoziţiuni generale

Art. 24. Adunările ordinare se fac săptămânal sau lunar, iar cele extraordinare de două ori pe an şi Congresul o dată pe an.

Art. 25. Aceste adunări se fac prin convocarea preşedintelui activ sau la cererea înscrisă a cel puţin 50 de membri aderenţi, considerându-se adunări valabile numai acelea care numără jumătate plus unul din numărul total al membrilor aderenţi din Capitală.

Art. 26. Insigna Uniunii va fi purtată numai de membrii cu cotizaţiile la zi.

Art. 27. Fiecare membru este dator să desfăşoare o intensă propagandă pentru dezvoltarea muncii, activând în cadrul programului ei.

Art. 28. La decesul unuia dintre membrii fondatori, activi sau aderenţi cu cotizaţiile la zi, ceilalţi membrii sunt obligaţi să însoţească carul funebru şi să facă gardă drapelului ce va fi trimis în acest scop.

Art. 29. Uniunea va înfiinţa comitete şi filialele în toate părţile ţării.[…]

Art. 33. În limita fondurilor, Uniunea va putea acorda ajutoare oamenilor săraci pentru cazuri nenorocite, cu aprobarea membrilor de comitet. […]

Art. 35. Statutul de faţă reprezintă legea membrilor Uniunii şi orice abateri de la dispoziţiunile sale atrage excluderea.

Art. 36. Toţi membrii sunt obligaţi să aibe o atitudine cuviincioasă faţă de preşedinte şi consiliu, contrariu vor fi excluşi din Uniune.

Art. 37. Sub nici o formă, nimeni nu va putea cere înlăturarea preşedintelui activ de la conducerea Uniunii atât timp cât dânsul îşi impune autoritatea sa de conducător şi reprezentant al nostru. […]

Art. 39. Toţi membrii, indiferent de categoria lor, trebuie să asiste la adunările ordinare şi extraordinare într-o ţinută curată.

Art. 40. Se consideră renegat acel membru care lucrează contra intereselor Uniunii şi a semenilor săi. […]

Regulament

Art. 1. Prin membrii fruntaşi din comitet se înţelege: preşedintele activ, secretarul general, casierul, prim-vice-preşedintele, vice-preşedinţii, consilierul referent, primul consilier şi primul cenzor.

Art. 6. La data publicării prezentului act constitutiv, cu statutul şi regulamentul lui, 1 martie 1934, neexistând nicio gestiune de controlat şi nimic de imputat […].

Art. 8. Actualul comitet al Uniunii este compus din următoarele persoane: Preşedinte onorific, d. Mihail Berceanu, deputat, prim-ajutor de primar al municipiului Bucureşti; preşedinte activ, d. G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică, publicist, misionar al Bisericii Române Ortodoxe şi Voievod al romilor din România; prim-vicepreşedinte, Apostol Matei, proprietar, constructor autorizat; vicepreşedinţi: Gh. V. Creangă, maestru fierar, proprietar, Gh. Niculescu, proprietar, comerciant; secretar general şi casier central, d. Nicolae Niculescu, comerciant, proprietar; Dumitru Gh. Oprea, proprietar şi comerciant, consilier referent; ajutor casier, Niculae Matei, proprietar, meşter zidar; bibliotecar-arhivar, Mihail Gh. Creangă, student; secretar de şedinţă, Ioan Dumitrescu, viorist; prim consilier, Vasile Stănescu-Bulgaru, şef de orchestră; prim censor, Vasile Stoica, pensionar şi proprietar; consilieri: G. G. Păun, Scarlat Niculae şi Dumitru Baban; cenzori: Apostol Stănescu, Nic. Gh. Alecu, Iordache Banu, Nic. Gh. Rugu şi I. Marin Griţoi; consilier referent, A. Ionescu, muzicant; membri în comitet: I. Păun, Gh. N. Costache, Păun Gheorghe, Stoica Niculae, D. Stoicescu, Tudor Gheorghe, Costică Florea, Gheorghe Anghel, Nica Nicolae, Ilie M. Ion, Manolide Ene, Oprea Marinescu, Voicu Ştefan, Matei Rădulescu, Alex. Mitoi.

Secţiunea Feminină

Preşedintă de onoare: d-na Margareta Nicolau, ziaristă; Preşedintă activă: d-şoara Petruţa Gr. Niculescu, artistă mezzo-soprană, absolventă a Conservatorului; Silvia Gr. Niculescu, pianistă, absolventă a Conservatorului; vice-preşedinte: Marta G. Lăzurică, corespondentă de limbi străine, secretară generală; Elvira Zâmbreşteanu şi Maria Nicolae Matei, membre în comitet; El. Nedelescu, consilieră; Dorina Constantinescu, consilieră referentă; Olimpia Tatoiu, pedagogă, secretară de şedinţă.

La organizaţiile din provincie: Gh. D. Başno-Brăila, preşedinte al organizaţiei jud[eţului] Brăila; Velţan Nicolae, preşedinte al organizaţiei din Crişana; Naftanailă Lazăr, preşedinte al organizaţiei din Ardeal; Gh. Romcescu, preşedinte al organizaţiei judeţului Prahova; Ilie D. Săvulescu, preşedinte al organizaţiei judeţului Muşcel; I. Niculescu-Gărăilă, preşedinte al organizaţiei jud[eţului] Ilfov.

Aceşti preşedinţi de filiale şi regiuni, ca şi ceilalţi preşedinţi de organizaţii judeţene, sunt de drept membri în comitetul central al Uniunii.

În comitetul central vor mai putea intra şi alte persoane care se vor dovedi demne, muncitoare şi devotate cauzei romilor.

Cererea de personalitate juridică a Uniunii s-a introdus la Trib[unalul] Ilfov, formând dosarul nr. 1001 din 1934, cu prim termen la 27.II.1934, Patriarhia Română intervenind la autorităţile în drept pentru a da aviz favorabil, deci în termen de maxim două luni această formalitate va fi îndeplinită, după care va urma cererea de recunoaştere şi ca persoană morală prin Parlamentul Ţării.

Comitetul va putea fi restrâns după acordarea personalităţii juridice, când nevoia va cere.

Tribunalul Ilfov, Secţia Notariat

Proces-verbal nr. 32.620.

Anul 1933, luna Noiembrie 16.

Înaintea noastră, A. Balş, supleant, Tribunalul Ilfov, Secţia de Notariat, asistat de d. grefier P. Veliciu s-au prezentat astăzi, 16 noiembrie 1933, în pretoriul Tribunalului, d-lor: G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică, M. Apostol, I. Niculescu, I. Paraschiv, G. Creangă, N. Lache, M. Nicolae, S. Niculescu, G. Niculae, I. Costache, Gh. Ioniţă, N. Păun, I. Efta, Dumitru Gheorghe, Gh. Păun, V. Busuioc, N. Călin, M. Anghel, V. Stoica, I. Simion, M. Ionescu, M. Simion, Gh. Niculescu, S. Niculae, Gh. Costache, R. Cristache, Gh. Niculae, Gh. Tudor, Gh. Şerban şi C. Gheorghe.

Identitatea am constatat-o prin martorul I. Borugă, avocat din Bucureşti, personal cunoscut nouă, care ne-a declarat că d-lor, sus-zişii, sunt cei semnaţi în acest act constitutiv, cerând părţile prin petiţia înregistrată la nr. 32.304 autentificarea prezentului act în dublu exemplar, la care se alătură şi statutele.

După ce am vizat ambele exemplare, am citit acest act din cuvânt în cuvânt, în auzul părţilor, care ne-au declarat că acest act este făcut cu consimţământul d-lor, şi că unul din cele două exemplare este semnat de Simion Marin, Gh. Niculescu, Gh. Costache, Gh. Nicolae şi Tudor Nicolae prin punere de deget, declarând că nu ştiu carte, iar de celelalte părţi şi martor prin proprii semnături. D. I. Borugă ne-a declarat că d-sa a scris şi redactat actul după voinţa părţilor.

În urmă, Simion Marin, Gh. Niculescu, Gh. Costache, Gh. Nicolau şi Tudor Nicolae au pus degetul în dreapta numelui lor, iar celelate părţi şi martor au subscris, în prezenţa noastră exemplarul ce se va păstra la dosar.

Noi, luând act de declaraţiunea părţilor, autentificăm prezentul act constitutiv al Uniunii Generale a Romilor din România, actul fiind scris pe coală de lei 27, anulat timbru mobil de lei 27, duplic. 27.

Preşedinte L.S … [signature indescifrabil]; Grefier … [signatures indescifrabil].

[November 16, 1933].

The General Union of the Roma in Romania.

Constitutive Act

The General Union of the Roma in Romania is established in Bucharest, with its provisional headquarters in 8, Sârbească Street, at the initiative of Mr. G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică [1].

The purpose of this Union is: cultural, social and spiritual, removing from the beginning any political substratum, and in this Union any Roma citizen can be included, irrespective of his profession and public activity.

In order to be supported with sympathy by the press and by public authorities and public opinion, in the General Union of Roma in Romania our Romanian country fellows can also be able to enter as honorary members, to know our agenda, to appreciate us and to encourage the action of our revival.

And since Mr. G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică, a journalist of Roma origin, a fighter dedicated to our cause, carried out a living activity for the benefit of our people, we know his program, a program also exhibited at the Roma Congress on October 8, current year, we accept this program, we solidarise with him, struggling to defend our interests of guilders and modest citizens of the country by legal means.

This program is broadly shown in the attached statute.

The legal existence of the Union is considered as of the date of legalization of this act by the Ilfov County Tribunal and the bodies in law.

We are bound to be patriotic, loyal to the royal dynasty and Orthodox, to take part in the joys and tribulations of our country, rejecting any cunning schemes, damaging our state and our church.

We want to give an example that we, the Roma, are most eager for a new life, emancipating us through an intense cultural activity carried through popular athenaeums, artistic seatings, original literature and morality, adopting everything that is useful to our cause, so that they are no longer considered a social pariah.

We aim, through a dignified attitude, through publicity and intense propaganda, to get our Romanian fellow citizens accustomed to not calling us ‘Gypsies’, but ‘Roma’ – our true name – meaning ‘man’, lover of freedom.

We are bound to keep from father to son, as hard-working chroniclers, the Romanian music, dances, customs and folk songs.

The central committee of the Union is the one presented in the table below, valid for the next five years, with a right of extension for Mrs. G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică, president and Nicolae Gh. Lache as general secretary.

We recognise as honorary members [2] of the Union the following people: His Highness Patriarch Dr. Miron Cristea [3], the ministers of Labour, Justice and Schools [4], Mrs. Ştefan Brăiloiu, priest Constantin Dron, Aurel Crăciunescu, Adrian Maniu, Mihail Sevastos, Ion Teodoru, Margareta Nicolau, Dr. Ilie Rădulescu, Alexandru F. Mihail, Pamfil Şeicaru, Nae Ionescu, Richard Franasovici, First President of the Ilfov County Tribunal, First Prosecutor of the Ilfov County Tribunal, and the Prefect of the Capital Police.

We chose Mr. Mihail Berceanu [5] as a honorary president.

Written today, November 16, 1933.

Active president … [signatures]: G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică; Prime vice-president Apostol Matei; Vice-president Ion Niculescu; Vice-president Ion Paraschiv; Vice- president Gheorghe V. Creangă; General secretary Niculae Gh. Lache; Central cashier Nicolae Niculescu; Assistant cashier Niculae Matei; Prime censor Sotir I. Niculescu; Censor Gh. Niculae, Ion Costache, Ioniţă Gheorghe; Alternate censor Păun Nicolae, Efta N. Ion; Meeting secretary Gheorghe Dumitru; First counsellor Gheorghe G. Păun; Counsellor Vasile Busuioc, Călin Niculae, Anghel Marin, Stoica Vasile, Ion Simion; Alternate counsellor Marin Ionescu, Simion Marin, Gheorghe Niculescu; Committee member Stan Niculae, Costache N. Gheorghe, Radu Cristache, Gh. Niculescu, Tudor Gheorghe, Gheorghe Şerban, Constantin Gheorghe.

Editor and witness for identity, Lawyer … [signature] Ilie Borugă 13, Italiană Street, L.S.

The Statute and Regulations of the General Union of Roma in Romania

Statute

Article 1. It is established in Bucharest, on November 16, 1933, according to the constitutive act, the General Union of the Roma in Romania, headquartered, provisionally, in 8, Sârbească Street.

Article 2. This Union is headed by a central committee elected for a term of five years, in accordance with the decision taken at the congress held on October 8, current year, in Bucharest, a committee consisting of an active president, a prime vice-president, 2 vice-presidents, a general secretary, a cashier, a meeting secretary, a prime censor, four censors and two alternate censors, a first counsellor, five counsellors and two alternate counsellors, a librarian-archivist and 5 members.

Article 3. The Union can set up a section for women for the education and support of Roma women, which will be led separately.

The purpose of the Union

Article 4. The purpose of the Union is: cultural, social and spiritual.

a) In the cultural field, the Union will act by organizing artistic seatings and festivals, its mmbers will manifest themselves on the literary, artistic and musical fields to show that they have talents in these activity branches;

b) In the social field, the Union will insist on all honest people and all competent forums in order to achieve the following desiderata:

To obtain land in Bucharest to build a large building with a kindergarten for Roma children, a popular athenaeum, a library, a shelter for postpartum women, a legal office, a dispensary and a shelter for the Roma who come temporarily from the country or for those accursed by fate.

To insist on the organs in law to put an end to the immigration of foreign craftsmen, who compete with Roma or even Romanian craftsmen, in the branching of masonry, day labour, chimney sweep, farriery, and fiddler [6].

To intervene peacefully and in legal ways with the authorities so that they be indulgent with the Roma florist women, shoeblacks, and street vendors who want to earn a living without increasing the number of the unemployed.

To stand for the nomads so that they will be settled on the land on the outskirts of towns, or in villages, so that they, once they do not wander anymore, will no longer commit theft, dishonouring the Roma nation, as a pariah of society.

All fiddlers should be enrolled in guilds, for paying contributions to the Central Office of Workers Insurance, they can benefit of relief in case of sickness, old age or death.

The bodies in low should establish two summer resorts, climatic and balneary, for Roma children who will be sent in the camp for air, sun or mud baths, knowing that these children give the highest number of deaths because of the misery they live in, being overtaken by tuberculosis and other diseases.

Equal treatment for the Roma should also be enthroned, without any distinction of race, with ironies and despising attitudes, because the Roma are also citizens with obligations to pay taxes for the state, they do the military service, are faithful to the dynasty, they are assimilated to the Romanian element, are Orthodox and rebuke any subversive or extremist current.

To intervene so that young people with remarkable musical talent are admitted to the Conservatory and they receive scholarships abroad.

Two representatives of Roma from Romania should be supported to participate in the International Roma Congress to be held in France or where this will be held, and in the interest of the Romanian state two members of the Union’s committee to obtain two travel permits on the railway, to be able to visit the towns or villages with a compact Roma population to advise them on order, morality and honest work.

Once the Union is recognised as a moral and legal entity, its members may benefit from a reduction on C.F.R. in order to be able to come to the Capital for religious processions, cultural events and congresses.

[c)] On the spiritual field: All members of the Union should fight for our Orthodox Church, despising the sects that are trying to corrupt our souls.

Let us ask the Holy Patriarchate to point out a church in the Capital where the Roma will recoil on Saint Mary’s Day (August 15), going into the religious procession.

Let us advise nomads to baptise their children, to conclude legal and religiously, forming a basis for family and society.

Let us encourage reading religious books, recommending that each Roma have in his house an icon, a Bible, where they will find the truth and renew their souls.

Article 5. Thinking about the generations of tomorrow, we must ensure that all our children be schooled and learn trades to face on the hard struggle of life.

[Article 6 is missing in original]

Article 7. As members of the Union only Roma are admitted and as honorary members only those citizens who proved that they love the Roma people by helping them morally and materially.

Article 8. Any member who has suffered a final conviction and has executed it shall be excluded from the Union.

Union’s funds

Article 9. The Union funds will consist of registration fees, monthly fees, donations, subscriptions, aids, and income from seatings, celebrations, balls and fund fruition.

Article 10. All members of the Union when they enrol are obliged to pay a fee of 10 Lei once and for all, as well as a weekly fee of 7 Lei, and receive for them a receipt. […]

Article 12. The members of the Union are of four categories: active, founding, honorary and adherent. […]

Union’s management

Article 14. The Union’s management falls under the responsibility of the entire central committee under the control of the censors and under the direction of the president. […]

Article 17. In relation to the justice and authorities, the Union will be represented only by the active President and by the General Secretary and only by special delegates by the prime vice-president or the vice-presidents. […]

Remuneration

Article 20. No member of the council or the central executive committee shall be remunerated with any one-year salary except for the president, vice-presidents, general secretary and central cashier, and only after the Union will have fruited funds. […]

Flag and badge

Article 23. The Union flag is made up of the Romanian national colours with the coat of arms of the country, bearing in each corner a distinctive sign, representing: a violin, an anvil, a compass and a trowel with a hammer, signs of the art and professions of Roma in Romania.

General dispositions

Article 24. The ordinary meetings are held weekly or monthly, the extraordinary ones twice a year and the Congress once a year.

Article 25. These meetings are held at the active president’s convening or at the written request of at least fifty adherent members, and valid meetings are considered only those with a participation of half plus one of the total number of adherent members from the Capital.

Article 26. The Union badge shall be carried only by the members with the fee paid up to date.

Article 27. Each member is obliged to carry out intense propaganda for the development of work, activating within its program.

Article 28. At the death of one of the founding, active or adhering members with up-to-date fees, the other members are obliged to accompany the funeral carrier and to guard the flag that will be sent for this purpose.

Article 29. The Union shall establish committees and branches in all parts of the country. […]

Article 33. Within the fund limits, the Union can provide aids to the poor people for miserable cases with the approval of the committee members. […]

Article 35. This statute is the law of the Union’s members and any deviations from its provisions entail exclusion.

Article 36. All members are bound to have a proper attitude towards the president and council, otherwise they will be excluded from the Union.

Article 37. Under no circumstances will anyone be able to demand the removal of the active president from the leadership of the Union as long as he imposes his authority as our leader and representative. […]

Article 39. All members, regardless of their category, must attend the ordinary and extraordinary meetings in a decent dress.

Article 40. The member who works against the interests of the Union and its peers is deemed to be a renegade. […]

The Regulations

Article 1. The leading members of the committee are the active president, the general secretary, the cashier, the first vice-president, the vice-presidents, the advisor counsellor, the first counsellor and the first censor. […]

Article 6. At the date of publication of this Constitutive Act, with its statute and regulations, March 1, 1934, there is no management to be controlled and nothing to be imputed […].

Article 7. The Women’s Section will act within the Union’s program and under the directive of the [Section’s] president, in agreement with the active president of the Union, who has a decisive say.

Article 8. The current committee of the Union is composed of the following persons: Honorary President, Mr. Mihail Berceanu, deputy, first aid of mayor of the Bucharest City [7]; active president, Mr. G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică, publicist, missionary of the Romanian Orthodox Church and Voivode of the Roma in Romania [8]; first vice-president, Mr. Apostol Matei, owner, authorised builder; vice-presidents, Mrs. Gh. V. Creangă, master blacksmith and owner; Gh. Niculescu, owner and merchant; general secretary and central cashier, Mr. Nicolae Niculescu, merchant, owner; Dumitru Gh. Oprea, owner and merchant, advisor counsellor; cashier assistant, Nicolae Matei, owner and master mason; librarian-archivist, Mihail Gh. Creangă, university student; meeting secretary, Ioan Dumitrescu, violinist; first counsellor, Vasile Stănescu-Bulgaru, head of orchestra; first censor, Vasile Stoica, retired and owner; counsellors: G.G. Păun, Scarlat Niculae and Dumitru Baban; censors: Apostol Stănescu, Nic. Gh. Alecu, Iordache Banu, Nic. Gh. Rugu and I. Marin Griţoi; advisor counsellor, A. Ionescu, musician; members of the committee: I. Păun, Gh. N. Costache, Păun Gheorghe, Stoica Niculae, D. Stoicescu, Tudor Gheorghe, Costică Florea, Gheorghe Anghel, Nica Nicolae, Ilie M. Ion, Manolide Ene, Oprea Marinescu, Voicu Ştefan, Matei Rădulescu and Alex. Mitoi.

The Women’s section

Honorary President: Mrs. Margareta Nicolau, journalist; Active President: Miss. Petruţa Gr. Niculescu, mezzo-soprano artist, graduate of the Conservatory; Silvia Gr. Niculescu, pianist, graduate of the Conservatory; Vice-President: Marta G. Lăzurică, foreign language translator, General Secretary; Elvira Zâmbreşteanu and Maria Nicolae Matei, members of the committee; El. Nedelescu, counsellor; Dorina Constantinescu, advisor counsellor; Olimpia Tatoiu, educator, meeting secretary.

At organisations in the country: Gh. D. Başno-Brăila, president of Brăila county organisation; Velţan Nicolae, president of Crişana organisation; Naftanailă Lazăr, president of Transylvania organisation; Gh. Romcescu, president of Prahova county organisation; Ilie D. Săvulescu, president of Muşcel county organisation; I. Niculescu-Gărăilă, president of Ilfov county organisation.

These branch and region presidents, as well as the other presidents of county organisations, are rightfully members of the Union’s central committee.

In the Central Committee may also enter other people who are considered worthy, hardworking and devoted to the cause of Roma.

The application for legal personality of the Union was filed with the Ilfov Trib[unal], forming the file no. 1001 from 1934, with the first term on 27.02.1934, the Romanian Patriarchate interfering with the lawful authorities to give favourable opinion, so within maximum two months this formality will be fulfilled, followed by the request for recognition as a moral person by the Parliament of the country.

The Committee may be reduced after granting the legal personality when the need so requires.

The Tribunal of Ilfov [county], Notarial Section

Minutes no. 32.620.

1933, November 16.

Before us, A. Balş, alternate [judge], Ilfov Tribunal, Notarial Section, assisted by Mr. registrar P. Veliciu, came today, November 16, 1933, in the Tribunal courtroom, Mrs. G. A. Lăzărescu-Lăzurică, M. Apostol, I. Niculescu, I. Paraschiv, G. Creangă, N. Lache, M. Nicolae, S. Niculescu, G. Niculae, I. Costache, Gh. Ioniţă, N. Păun, I. Efta, Dumitru Gheorghe, Gh. Păun, V. Busuioc, N. Călin, M. Anghel, V. Stoica, I. Simion, M. Ionescu, M. Simion, Gh. Niculescu, S. Niculae, Gh. Costache, R. Cristache, Gh. Niculae, Gh. Tudor, Gh. Şerban and C. Gheorghe.

Their identity has been proved by the witness I. Borugă, a lawyer in Bucharest, a person known to us, who declared that those mentioned above are the persons signed in this constitutive act, the parties asking by the petition registered under no. 32.304, the authentication of the present act in two copies, plus the statutes.

After checking both copies, we read this act word by word in the presence of the parties, that declares that this act is made with their consent, and one of these two copies is signed by Simion Marin, Gh. Niculescu, Gh. Costache, Gh. Nicolae, and Tudor Nicolae by putting the finger, they declaring that they are illiterate, and by the other parts and witness by their own signatures. Mr. I. Borugă declared that he wrote and drafted the act according to the will of the parties.

Finally, Simion Marin, Gh. Niculescu, Gh. Costache, Gh. Nicolau, and Tudor Niculau, as well as the other parts and the witness signed in our presence the copy that will be kept in file.

We, acknowledging the parties’ declaration, authenticate the present constitutive act of the General Union of the Roma in Romania, the act being written on a sheet of 27 Lei, cancelled stamp of 27 Lei, duplication 27 [Lei].

President, L.S. … [signature indecipherable]; Registrar … [signature indecipherable].

Notes

1. G. A. Lăzurică, cooperated with Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu at the establishment of the General Association of Gypsies in Romania (April 1933), and was general secretary of the organisation. In September 1933, he left the General Association of Gypsies in Romania and set up the General Union of Roma in Romania. He was the general president of this organisation and at the same time he took the title of ‘Voivode of Roma in Romania’. In 1934, he was taken down from the UGRR leadership by Gheorghe Niculescu. G. A. Lăzurică continued to play an important role in the Roma movement, working with different groups. In 1935 he founded the Civic Organisation of Roma in Romania (Organizaţia Cetăţenească a Romilor din România), whose president he was. He was honorary president of the association the Revival of the Roma Men and Women in Romania (Redeşteptarea Romilor şi Romniţelor din România). In 1937, in view of the parliamentary elections of that year, he collaborated with the National Christian Party, of fascist orientation. It was G. A. Lăzurică who called for the use of the term ‘Roma’ instead of ‘Gypsy’ and imposed it in his organisation’s name.

2. In general, the honorary members of the General Union of the Roma in Romanian who appear on this list, as well as others who have obtained this quality later, were personalities of the time, some of them in the cultural and the media fields. Many of them had nationalist and right-wing political orientation.

3. Miron Cristea (1868-1939), theologian, patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church (1925-1939), Prime Minister of Romania (1 February 1938 – 6 March 1939). As early as 1933, the Romanian Patriarchate supported, including financially, the General Union of the Roma in Romania, which, through some of its leaders, made Orthodox missionary among the Roma (see Matei, 2010b).

4. At that moment Minister of Labour, Health and Social Welfare was C. D. Dimitriu, Minister of Justice – Victor Antonescu and Minister of Instruction, Cults and Arts – Constantin Angelescu.

5. Mihail Berceanu (1882-1957), a university professor and a politician, has held various positions: deputy mayor of Bucharest, prefect of Ialomiţa county, under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, etc.

6. The protection of the Romanian workers against immigrant workers was a widely discussed topic in the Romanian press and politics of the 1930s. It was also taken over by the Roma organisations and press, which explained the crisis through which some professions specific to the Roma passed through the competition of foreigners, little by market and technology evolution.

7. According to the Report preserved in Police Archive about Association General Union of the Roma in Romanian the proposed and elected committee for 5 years was with different composition, including Honorary President Grigoraş Dinicu, and Honorary President Margareta Nicolau, and Acting President of Women’s Section Florica Constantinescu (Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 80, p. 187).

8. The title of ‘Voivode of the Roma in Romania’ taken by some Roma leaders in the 1930s was an invention by them. Until that time, the title of voivode was never used by the Gypsies in Wallachia and Moldavia and then in Romania. The heads of the local Gypsy communities, where they existed, were called vătaf (pl. vătafi), bulibaş (pl. bulibaşi) etc., but not a voivode, and a Gypsy leader at the level of the entire country or region did not exist. In the 1930s, G. A. Lăzurică and Gheorghe Niculescu, both presidents of the General Union of the Roma in Romania, proclaimed themselves ‘Voivode of Roma in Romania’. Marin I. Simion, a head of the Association of the Gypsies of Oltenia, called himself the ‘Voivode of the Gypsies of Oltenia’.

Source: AND MB, fond. Prefectura Poliţiei Capitalei, dos. 123/1933, f. 56-65.

Published in: Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 38, pp. 117-125.

Prepared for publication by Viorel Achim.

6.3.8 The Artistic and Cultural Festival of the Roma

[Martie 1934].

Uniunea Generală a Romilor din România.

Fraţi Romi,

Concetăţeni Români,

Uniunea Generală a Romilor din România, împlinind aproape 1 an de existenţă, în care timp a organizat pe romii din întreaga ţară şi a izbutit să realizeze lucruri modeste, dar frumoase până în prezent, porneşte acum la o intensă manifestaţie artistico-culturală.

De aceea, s-a hotărât organizarea primului şi unicului în România, şi chiar în Europa, a unui MARE FESTIVAL ARTISTIC-CULTURAL, dat sub patronajul d-lui Gabriel Marinescu, Prefectul Municipiului Bucureşti, cu următorul

Program:

1. Conferinţă despre “Originea, istoria şi emigraţia romilor în Europa”, conferinţă ţinută de dl. G. A. Lăzurică (Voievodul romilor).

2. “Rivalii”, piesă într-un act, cu subiect luat din viaţa de pe front, în care se arată patriotismul şi spiritul de umanitate al soldatului rom în timp de război; piesă originală de dl. Gal, publicist rom.

3. Defilare alegorică a breslaşilor romi.

4. Quartet muzical: pian, violoncel, vioară primă şi secundă.

5. Voce: mezzo-soprană şi tenor, cu bucăţi italiene şi populare româneşti.

6. O nuntă ţigănească, cu cântece şi dansuri ţigăneşti vechi, de origină indiană, precum şi aspect de datini şi obiceiuri ţigăneşti.

Festivalul este organizat de dl. G. A. Lăzurică, preşedintele Uniunii Romilor, în folosul grădiniţelor de copii romi. Programul se va executa numai de diletanţi romi.

Suntem încredinţaţi că semenii noştri romi, precum şi concetăţenii noştri români, ne vor sprijini, asistând la acest festival care are loc în Sala Teatrului Cinema “Omnia”, din B-dul Schitul Măgureanu nr. 4.

Duminecile de la 18 şi 25 martie c., ora 10 dim[ineaţa] precis.

Comitetul.

[March 1934].

The General Union of the Roma in Romania.

Roma brothers,

Romanian fellow citizens,

The General Union of the Roma in Romania, having almost one year of existence, during which time it has organised the Roma from all over the country and managed to achieve modest but beautiful things until now, is now starting an intense artistic and cultural manifestation.

Therefore, it was decided to organise the first and only one in Romania, and even in Europe GREAT ARTISTIC AND CULTURAL FESTIVAL, Under the patronage of Mr. GABRIEL MARINESCU, Prefect of the Bucharest City, with the following

Program:

1. Conference on the Origin, history and emigration of the Roma in Europe, conference held by Mr. G. A. Lăzurică (Voivode of Roma).

2. The Rivals, theatre play in one act, with a subject taken from the life on the front, showing the patriotism and the spirit of humanity of the Roma soldier during the war; original play by Mr. Gal, a Roma publicist.

3. Allegorical march of Roma guilders.

4. Musical quartet: piano, cello, violin, first and second violin.

5. Voce: mezzo-soprano and tenor, with Italian pieces and Romanian pieces.

6. A Gypsy wedding, with old Gypsy songs and dances, of Indian origin, as well as aspects from the Gypsy customs and traditions.

The festival is organised by Mr. G. A. Lăzurică, president of the Union of Roma, for the benefit of the kindergartens of Roma children. The program will be executed only by Roma amateur artists.

We are confident that our Roma fellowmen, as well as our Romanian fellow citizens, will support us by attending this festival, which takes place at “Omnia” Cinema Theatre Hall, on 4, Schitu Măgureanu Blvd.

Sunday, March 18 and March 25, current year, exactly at 10 a.m.

The Committee.

Source: AND MB, fond. Prefectura Poliţiei Capitalei, dos. 123/1933, f. 54.

Published in: Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 41, p. 127.

Prepared for publication by Viorel Achim.

6.3.9 The Roma from Romania Have Met

Romii din România s-au întrunit

[…] trecută a avut loc, in parcul “Boreli” din calea Dudești, sfințirea dreapelului organizației din sectorul II Negru a Uniunii romilor din România. Festivitatea s-a deschis l-a ora 12, primul luând cuvântul domnul Tache Pantazescu, președintele culorii de negru. Domnia sa face un amplu expozeu al scopului urmărit de asociație. Domnul avocat Ilie Diaconu, președintele de onoare al Uniunii, ocupându-se de rosturile Uniunii, spune că aceasta urmărește ridicarea romilor din sărăcia și ignoranța în care se sbat. Se vor înființa școli, orfelinate și dispensare. Se va inființa o bancă cooperativă, unde romii să poată găsi cu ușurință împrumuturi la cazuri de nevoie. La ora 12 și jumătate sosește arhimandritul Ilie Scriban.

După slujba sfințirii drapelului, arhimandritul Scriban a ținut o scurtă alocațiune prin care îndeamnă poporul rom la unire.

Domnul Constantin Georgescu spune că vine în mijlocul romilor ca reprezentant al patriarhiei. Domnia sa dă citire apoi unei scrisori din partea părintelui C. Dron, prin care acesta își scuză lipsa și regretă că nu se află printre romi, fiind reținut la Sinaia.

Domnul avocat Petrovici, vorbește în numele domnului Tancu-Iași. Domnul Gheorghe Niculescu, președintele general al Uniunii, luând cuvântul, face o documentată expunere a năzuințelor urmărite de romi.

După aceea, încredințează drapelul președintelui sectorului II Negru, domnul Tache Pantazescu. Au mai luat cuvântul domnii Moti Cristea, președintele romilor din Târnava Mare; I. Grigore, vicepreședinte al organizației de Vlașca; Gh. Alecu, vice-președinte al Sectorului II Negru; Niku Gogu vorbește în numele romilor de la Buftea; Sbanghiu Al., domnișoara Nușa Costea, avocatul Șerbănescu și alții. Întrunirea a luat sfârșit la ora 2 după care a vut loc un banchet.

The Roma from Romania have met

[…] the flag of the II Black Sector branch of the Union of the Roma of Romania [1] was consecrated in the “Boreli” Park, Dudești str., last … [2]. The celebration started at 12 noon with the speech of Mr. Tache Pantazescu, the President of Black Sector branch [3]. He makes a comprehensive presentation of the goals of the Association. Mr. Ilie Diaconu, a lawyer, the Honorary President of the Association, speaking about the joints of the Association, pointed out that its aim is to aid Roma to escape from their present experience of poverty and ignorance [4]. Schools, orphanages and dispensaries, as well as a cooperative bank where the Roma could easy receive the loans they need, will be set up.

The Archimandrite Ilie Scriban is coming at 12:30 noon. After he had consecrated the flag, he delivered a short speech, calling for the unification of the Roma [5].

Mr. Constantin Georgescu says that he comes in the midst of the Roma as a representative of the patriarchy. Then he read a letter of the Father. C. Dron; the last-mentioned apologises for his abscence and regrets that he is not among the Roma, being detained in Sinaia.

Mr. Petrovici, a lawyer, speaks on behalf of Mr. Trancu-Iasi. Mr. Gheorghe Niculescu, the President-in-Office of the Association [6], and in his speech makes a documented exposure concerning the aspirations pursued by the Roma.

Next, Mr. Tache Pantazescu entrusts the flag of the branch. Thereafter some other persons gave their speeches, such as: Mr. Moti Cristea, the President of the Roma of Târnava Mare county; Mr. I. Grigore, the Vice-President of the Vlașca branch; Mr. Gh. Alecu, the Vice-President of the II Black Sector branch; Mr. Niku Gogu spoke on behalf of the Roma community of Buftea; Mr. Sbanghiu Al., Mrs. Nușa Costea, Mr. Șerbănescu, a lawyer, et al [7]. The meeting had ended at 2pm with a banquet.

Notes

1. Association General Union of Roma from Romania was the first Roma organisation officially registered by Romanian authorities, under the presidency of the Gh. Niculescu, by the sentence nr. 117 issued through the Court of Ilfov at November 30, 1934. Central headquarter of the Association was in Bucharest city, street Sf. Anton, nr. 10 (see Năstasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 52, pp. 139-150).

2. A fragment of deleted text […]. The author might have been writing ‘last week’ or ‘last Sunday (or another day)’, but there was a misprint that meant part of the text was missing in the published article.

3. During 1935, in Bucharest, four sectorial branches of the Association General Union of Roma from Romania were set up: I Yellow Sector branch; II Black Sector branch; III Blue Sector branch; IV Green Sector branch. The launch of their activity was done through a festive gathering at which the organisation’s flag was sanctified. This article reproduces briefly the launch of one of the 60 branches of the Association General Union of Roma from Romania (II Black Sector branch, Bucharest), which took place after these were officially registered on 30.11.1934 (see Glasul Romilor, 1935, p. 2).

4. The tragedy of Roma living in misery, hunger, and cold were regularly addressed in interwar Romanian daily newspapers. Unfortunately, the authors only highlighted these issues through shocking pictures taken with the excluded Roma living at peripheral quarters, without providing any solutions to lessen their tragedy. At the same time, there was also a lack of will or actions initiated by the Romanian authorities in solving these Roma interbellum issues (see Realitatea Ilustrată, 1935a, p. 3).

5. The call for the unification refers more to the Roma leaders and less to the various Roma communities that were dispersed across the Romanian territory. After 1933, many intrigues and disputes between the three prominent Romanian Roma leaders were attested: Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu, G. A. Lăzurică and Gh. Niculescu. They blamed each other for their lack of dignity and faith, the rush for wealth and political power, wickedness and swindle (see Năstasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 56, pp. 153-154). At the same time, they mutually labelled each other as the self-proclaimed illiterate Voivode of the Roma, renegade of the Roma, etc. (see Țara Noastră, 1937a, p. 4).

6. Gheorghe Niculescu, president of the Association General Union of Roma from Romania, entrepreneur-retailer of flowers in Bucharest and counsellor at the Ministry of Labour and Council of the Shopkeepers (see Năstasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 80, pp.184-189).

7. The author of the article unfortunately presents only the names of those who spoke without specifying the content of the speeches.

Source: [No Author]. (1935b). Romii din România s-au întrunit. Realitatea Ilustrată, An. 9, No. 460, 1935, November 13, pp. 10-11.

Prepared for publication by Ion Duminica.

Comments

This source material is a report concerning a planned Roma gathering in Bucharest city, published in one of the most popular Romanian weekly magazines of the interwar period. After the official registration of the Association General Union of Roma from Romania on the November 30, 1934, in every published issue of their newspaper Glasul Romilor it was envisaged a publishing space for describing the events organised at these kinds of meetings. From the beginning, the emphasis was placed not on a comprehensive content of the event organised by the Roma elite but, rather, on the public image of the Roma leaders, through their eye-catching gala costumes. According to the personal views of some representatives of these new Romanian Roma elite, the fastest way for the integration of Roma leaders within the high society was to be done through the wearing of the gala costume in official meetings, and for the news of these events to be published in famous Romanian magazines. However, the ambitions of the new self-made Roma leader and businessman, the great fighter of the Roma people, Gh. Niculescu, had begun to increase, so the coverage of Roma events in the Roma newspaper managed by him, Glasul Romilor, became less interesting for Romanian journalists. Sometimes these local or regional events were artificially labelled in Roma and Romanian newspapers as “the Roma Congress which was ruled by Roma Voivode from Romania”. However, no Roma organisation and no Roma leader were able to reproduce the magnitude of the Roma Congress in Romania in the same manner as G. A. Lăzurică had done on October 8, 1933. Nevertheless, despite their intrigues and mutual disputes, each of the three prominent Roma leaders, namely Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu (initiator of the movement), G. A. Lăzurică (organiser of the first Roma Congress) and Gh. Niculescu (who succeeded to officially register a Roma nationwide organisation) has an important mark in the Romanian interbellum history concerning the Roma emancipatory movement.

Ion Duminica

6.3.10 Roma Brothers!

Frați romi!

Ceasul emancipărei si redeșteptărei neamului Rom, a sunat. La anul 1854 marii bărbați de stat ai timpurilor, s’au gândit la îmbunătățirea soartei romilor, la scăparea lor din robie, și au înfăptuit marele act al “Desrobirei Romilor”.

De-atunci și până în prezent însă, nu s’a mai gândit nimeni la soarta noastră. Am fost lasați în voia soartei, la fel cum e o barcă pe voia valurilor furtunoase ale mărei, aruncată din val in val, din talaz in talaz, fără de nici un sprijin, fără de nici un ajutor, fără de nici o destinație.

De atunci au trecut zile multe, luni, anii; am îndurat toate intemperiile; am îndurat toate necazurile; am îndurat totul, cu voința si răbdarea de care suntem caracterizați, însă soarta noastră a rămas tot neschimbată.

Nu s’a gândit nimeni s’o amelioreze! Nu s’a gândit nimeni să ne scoată din întunerecul în care eram! Nu s’a gândit nimeni la o îmbunătățire a vieții noastre de toate zilele! Nu s’a gâsit nimeni până acum, să se scoboare în mijlocul nostru și să ne cerceteze nevoile și să ne dea sfatul lor. Am fost lăsați în umbra vremurilor și ne-am târît viața, fără de nici o directivă, fără de nici o speranță, fără de nici un ideal pentru îmbunătățirea situației noastre.

Frați Romi!

Ne-am făcut totdeauna datoria către Țară și Rege. Am fost și vom rămâne Dinastici și credincioși Tronului până la moarte.

Dintre frații nostri nu s’a găsit până acuma nici un trădător de țară. Am fost totdeauna buni cetățeni.

Merităm deci și noi o soartă mai bună. Meritam și noi ca să fim auziți de cei ce conduc destinele scumpei noastre țări, și să-și plece putin urechia și la doleanțele noastre drepte. Merităm să fim auziți și ajutați.

Frați Romi!

Dumnezeu care are în grija și in paza lui pe toți oamenii, a avut grije și de noi.

O mână de oameni, plini de încredere și cu o voința de fier, s’au ridicat în mijlocul nostru, și au pus bazele temeliei de mâine. Acești oameni au înțeles ca numai prin voința și muncă cinstită vor putea îndrepta situația în general a neamului nostru Rom. Acest manunchiu de oameni, sub conducerea vajnicului luptător al cauzei Romilor, Domnul Gheorghe Niculescu, președinte activ a pus bazele Uniunei generale a Romilor din România, cu sediul central în piața sf. Anton, 10, iar pe firmamentul Uniunei stă scris: “Emanciparea și redeșteptarea tuturor Romilor din România, pe tărâmul social, cultural, moral, economic și spiritual.”

Trăiască Comitetul Uniunei generale a Romilor din Romania. Trăiasca președintele Central al Uniunei, Gheorghe Niculescu, luptătorul neobosit al cauzei Romilor din România.

N. Lengheschu-Cley

Roma brothers!

The time for the emancipation and the revival of Roma has arrived. In 1854, the great statesmen of the time thought about improving the fate of the Roma, releasing them from bondage, and carrying out the great act of the “Release of Roma from slavery”.

From then until now, however, no one has thought of our fate. We were left in the will of fate, just as a boat is in the stormy waves of the sea, thrown from wave to wave, from the threshing floor to threshing floor, without support, without help, without a destination.

Since then, many days have passed, months, years; We have endured all types of weather; We have endured all sorrows; we have endured everything, with the will and patience we are characterised with, but our fate has remained unchanged. No one thought to improve it! Nobody thought of getting us out of the darkness we were in! No one has ever thought of an improvement in our everyday life! No one has ever joined within our midst to investigate our needs and give us their advice. We have been left in the shadow of times and we have lived our lives, without any directive, without hope, without any ideal to improve our situation.

Roma brothers!

We have always done our duty – to the Land and the King. We have been and will remain dynastic and faithful to the Throne, until death. Of our brethren, no traitor of the country has ever been found. We have always been good citizens. So we deserve a better fate. We also deserve to be heard by those who lead the destinies of our dear country and to lend their ears also to our rightful wishes. We deserve to be heard and helped.

Roma brothers!

God, who cares and protects all people, has also taken care of us. A handful of people, full of confidence and with an iron will, stood up from within our midst, and laid the grounds for tomorrow’s foundation. These people understood that only by will and honest work would they be able to correct the general situation of our Roma people. This small group of people, under the leadership of the stark warrior for the Roma cause, Mr. Gheorghe Niculescu, the active president, laid the foundations of the General Union of Roma in Romania, headquartered in Sf. Anton, 10, and on the Union’s stamp it is written: “The emancipation and reawakening of all Roma in Romania, on the social, cultural, moral, economic and spiritual ground”.

Long live the Committee of the General Union of Roma in Romania.

Long live the Central President of the Union, Gheorghe Niculescu, the tireless warrior for the Roma cause in Romania.

N. Lengheschu-Cley

Source: Lenghescu-Cley, N. (1934a). Frați romi. Glasul Romilor, An. 1, No. 1, 1934, November 15, p. 1.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This front-page article was published in the first issue of the Roma periodical, Glasul Romilor, in November 1934. As it is, it constitutes the first manifesto of the Association General Union of the Roma in Romania, under the leadership of Gh. Niculescu. The article is an important source material as it is directly presented as a call for the ‘emancipation and re-awakening’ of the Roma people. Furthermore, the article talks about Roma’s faithfulness to the Romanian state, calling them ‘loyal and faithful servants to the Throne’ and highlighting the commitment they have to Romania, as its citizens. All of these themes will re-appear recurrently throughout other issues of the newspaper, as well as within articles in other Roma periodicals of the time (such as Timpul, O Rom, Neamul Țigănesc, Țara Noastră and Foaia Poporului Romesc). The article further underlines and asks that Roma too deserve to be heard by the leaders of their ‘beloved’ country. The goal of the programme is to build the ‘foundations for tomorrow’ and its main aim stated to be the ‘emancipation and re-awakening’ of all Roma in Romania, on a social, moral, economic and spiritual level. All these issues would be explored throughout the subsequent issues of Glasul Romilor. Moreover, particular themes (such as that of Roma unity and loyalty to the country) would be recurrently underlined within other articles authored by N. Lenghescu-Cley. As an example of this, the author would publish, in the penultima issue of the newspaper, a march of the Roma (see below, Document 6.10.2.), which summarises and underlines, in effect, all the elements highlighted in this first article.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.3.11 Our Programme

Programul nostrum

Domnul Gheorghe Niculescu, președintele activ, vorbește pe înțelesul tuturor Romilor, asupra idealului urmărit de Uniunea generala a Romilor din România:

“Scopul urmărit de noi zice d. Niculescu este numai și numai, a veni in ajutorul tuturor romilor săraci. Vom înființa grădinițe de copii, în toate orașele și comunele urbane, unde romii își vor putea trimite copii lor la învățătură în mod gratuit. Vom îngriji ca aceste grădinițe să fie înzestrate cu lemne în timpul ernei, să aibă o cantină pentru micii pensionari, care va funcționa tot în mod gratuit. Vom interveni la autorități și la oamenii de bine, a veni în ajutorul lor, cu hăinuțe, ghete, rufărie și alimente. Apoi vom inaugura cursurile de seară pentru Romii adulți și neștiutori de carte. Prin aceasta vom inaugura prima parte a programului nostru. Vom interveni cu energie pentru stârpirea vagabonzilor și a cerșetorilor, plasându-i pe toți pe la întreprinderi și fabrici și orice fel de servicii, făcând prin aceasta să dispara urâtul obicei ce-l aveau până în prezent- muncind in mod curat și cinstit. Vom creia cooperativele noastre de consum, de unde Romii își va putea procura cu bani puțini cele necesare. Vom creia cantine pentru Romii nevoiași, unde vor avea în mod gratuit hrana de toate zilele. Vom infiinta dispensare unde vor fi cautati toti cei suferinzi si vor avea medicamente gratuit. Vom înființa un birou de asistență socială și un birou de plasare cu legătură în toată țara pentru procurare de lucru. Vom creia o bancă a noastră proprie, de unde fiecare membru va avea cu putință contractarei de împrumuturi bănești. Vom creia fonduri de ajutor de boală și înmormântare, vom creia aziluri, unde bătrânii noștri Romii lipsiți de mijloace vor găsi un adapost, masă și îmbrăcăminte până la sfârșitul vieții lor. Vom creia ateneele noastre, unde cei talentați își vor putea desfășura activitatea artistică și culturală. Vom creia biblioteci de unde se vor putea adăpa la cunoștiințele mai înalte toți romii doritori de ași înalța cunostiințele. Intr’un cuvânt vom îmbrătișa totul pentru ca soarta neamului nostru Rom, să se îmbunătățească, ca să putem sta alături de conaționalii noștrii fără să ne fie rușine, pentru că toți suntem fii ai acestei țări binecuvântate de Dumnezeu și cu toți ne-am făcut și ne facem datoria către Tron, Țară și Biserica creștină ortodoxă.”

Red.

Our programme

Mr. Gheorghe Niculescu, the active president, speaks in a way that all Roma understand, on the ideal pursued by the General Union of the Roma in Romania:

“The goal pursued by us is solely that of coming to the aid of all poor Roma. We will set up kindergartens in all towns and municipalities, where the Roma will be able to send their children for free education. We will make sure that these kindergartens are endowed with wood during the winter, have a small food canteen for retirees, which will also function free of charge. We will intervene with the authorities and the people of good-will, and encourage them to come to their aid, with clothes, boots, laundry and food. Then we will inaugurate evening classes for adult Roma and those who cannot read or write. Through this, the first part of our program will have been set up. We will intervene with energy to eradicate vagabonds and beggars, placing everyone in businesses and factories and any kind of service, thereby eliminating the ugly habit they have had so far – and instead of working in a clean and honest manner. We will create our consumer cooperatives, from which the Roma will be able to buy whatever they need with little money. We will create canteens for the needy Roma in need, where they will have free food every day. We will establish a medical dispensary where all sufferers will be looked after and will have access to free medicines. We will set up a social welfare office and a placement office with connections all over the country, in order to find work placements for people. We will create our own bank, where each member will have the possibility of borrowing money. We will create sickness and funeral aid funds, create shelters, where our elders, deprived of means, will find shelter, meals and clothing until the end of their lives. We will create our own athenaeums, where talented artists will be able to perform their artistic and cultural activities. We will create libraries from where all Roma willing to improve their knowledge will be able to have access to higher knowledge. In one word we will embrace everything so that the fate of our Roma people improves, so that we can sit beside our countrymen without being ashamed, because we are all sons of this God-blessed country and we have all done and continue to do our duty to the Throne, the Land, and the Orthodox Christian Church.”

The Ed[editorial Board]

Source: Niculescu, G. (1934b). Programul nostru. Glasul Romilor, An. 1, No.1, 1934, November 15, p. 1.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

The programme for the General Union of Roma in Romania, under the leadership of Gheorghe Niculescu, is laid out in the above article. Published in the first issue of Glasul Romilor, on the November 15, 1934, the purpose and outlook of the Union are introduced. As such, it is stated that the central aim of the Union is primarily to come to the aid of poor Roma. Some of the main prospects presented are also included within this short manifesto, as the following: the creation of kindergartens in all cities and urban dwellings, where Roma children can receive free education; food cantines for retirees and poor people; evening classed for Roma adults who cannot read or write; interventions to control vagabonds and beggars, setting them all up for work in factories, businesses and any type of work, and placing them into gainful employment; the creation of own consumption cooperatives, health centres and access to free medication; setting up a social work bureau and a job placement centre with connections across the country; the creation of own bank, from which all Roma members can borrow money; setting up funds in times of illness or death; the creation of own cultural centres and libraries.

Interestingly, this programme seems to be almost entirely mirroring the programme set out by the General Association of Gypsies in Romania, founded by Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu in September 1933 and having as its secretary G. A. Lăzurică. The latter’s programme was also published in a Roma newspaper, called Timpul (published in Craiova by Aurel Th. Manolescu-Dolj), in an article titled ‘De la Asociaţia Generala a Țiganilor din Romania din Craiova’ (Timpul, 1933a, p. 1). This connects to the social dynamics between the two organisations’ leaders. As such, G. A. Lăzurică, originally secretary of General Association of Gypsies in Romania, had quit the latter organisation and formed the General Union of Roma in Romania. However, G. A. Lăzurică was removed from the position of President by Gh. Niculescu, who assumed the new leadership, and managed to secure the organisation’s legal recognition in November 1934. G. A. Lăzurică re-joined the General Association of Gypsies in Romania, later re-named the General Association of Roma in Romania (Achim, 1998, pp. 153-159).

These dynamics are important in order to understand the similarities in the demands and the programme of the two organisations. As such, the stated aim is to encompass all aspects that may lead to the improvement of Roma people’s fates, with the purpose of standing proudly alongside their co-nationals, as sons (sic!) of their “God-blessed country”, continuing to do their duty to the throne, country and the Christian Orthodox Church. For an example highlighting the importance of the Orthodox Church in the activities of Roma organisations during the interwar period, see the article written by Niculescu, N., under Religion (Glasul Romilor, 1937a, p. 3).

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.3.12 An Appeal to the Roma from 1936

[Before October 4, 1936].

Asociaţia “Uniunea Generală a Romilor din România”.

Persoană juridică. Sediul: Piaţa Sf. Anton, 10 Loco, Secţia I, Sectorul III Albastru.

Fraţi romi,

Duminică, 4 octombrie 1936, la orele 10 dimineaţa, va avea loc o mare

Adunare a romilor din sectorul III albastru

Ce se va ţine în localul “Leonte” din str. Ferentari no. 91, unde vom avea prilejul să primim în mijlocul nostru pe cel mai mare fiu al neamului nostru rom, în persoana d-lui Gh[eorghe] Niculescu, preşedintele general şi voievod al romilor din România, însoţit de Comitetul Central, împreună cu toţi preşedinţii şi comitetele de sectoare respective ale Capitalei.

Este de datoria noastră, a tuturor romilor din Sectorul III Albastru, să fim la înălţimea datoriei şi să primim cu toată dragostea şi cinstea ce se cuvine acestor îndrumători ai neamului nostru.

Această adunare, având o importanţă de care atârnă viaţa noastră de toate zilele, lăsaţi la o parte orice interese personale, orice fel de ambiţii şi cu mic cu mare, tânăr şi bătrân, veniţi să arătăm conducătorilor noştri că ştim să ne facem datoria atunci când nevoia o cere. Să dăm dovadă că ştim iarăşi să ne respectăm şefii noştri, care luptă pe toate căile legale pentru a ne îmbunătăţi soarta vitregă pe care am avut-o până astăzi.

Fraţi romi,

În aceste timpuri grele, când iarna bate la uşă, iubitul nostru preşedinte general, în dragostea ce o are pentru tot ce e de neam rom, s-a gândit la lipsurile pe care voi le înduraţi şi în de comun acord cu autoritatea respectivă a pus bazele unei mari cooperative care va cuprinde întreaga Capitală şi judeţul Ilfov, înlesnindu-vă procurarea de alimente necesare vieţii de toate zilele şi tot ce e folositor pentru gospodărie, cumpărate pe preţ cu mult mai ieftin, după cum se cumpără astăzi în comerţ.

Tot preşedintele nostru general Gh. Niculescu, în mărinimia sa, s-a gândit că majoritatea dintre noi, în diferite ocazii ce se ivesc, având nevoie de numerar şi neavând cine să-i dea a înfiinţat şi o Casă de Economie şi Credit, unde fraţii romi vor putea face împrumuturi în condiţiuni avantajoase şi cu înlesniri de plată, precum şi alte îmbunătăţiri.

Vor mai lua cuvântul, pe lângă preşedinte general Gh. Niculescu, şi alţi oratori, care vor expune pe larg binefacerile cooperaţiei şi Casei de Economii şi Credit a Romilor din întreaga ţară.

Veniţi dar cu toţi, să ascultăm pe cei care, cu dragoste de frate, vin să ne îndrumeze şi să ne conducă pe calea cea dreaptă la adevărata izbândă.

Gh. Dragomir, Preşedintele secţiei I a Sect. III.

Păun Alexandru, Casier.

Teodor Alexandru, Vice-preşedinte.

Const. Drăghici, Secretar.

[Before October 4, 1936].

The Association General Union of the Roma in Romania.

Legal person. Headquarters: 10, St. Anton Square, Loco Section I, Sector III Blue.

Roma brothers,

On Sunday, October 4, 1936, at 10 a.m., there will be a large

Meeting of the Roma in Sector III Blue

that will be held in Leonte hall in 91, Ferentari Street, where we will have the occasion to receive among us the greatest son of our Roma nation, in the person of Mr. Gheorghe Niculescu, general president and Voivode of the Roma in Romania, accompanied by the Central Committee, together with all the presidents and committees of the respective sectors of the Capital.

It is our duty, of all Roma in the Sector III Blue, to be at the height of our duty and to receive them with all the love and honour that is accountable to these guides of our nation.

This meeting having an importance that our everyday life hangs upon, leave aside any personal interests, any ambition, and small or big, young or old, come to show to our leaders that we know how to do our duty when it is required. Let us prove again that we know how to respect our leaders, who fight in all the legal ways to improve the cruel fate that we have had until today.

Roma brothers,

In these difficult times, when winter knocks on our door, our beloved general president, in the love he has for all that is of Roma nation, has thought about the shortcomings that you will endure and in agreement with that authority he laid the foundations of a large cooperative that will include the entire Capital and the Ilfov County, making it easier for you to buy the food you need for your everyday life and all that is useful for your household, bought at a much cheaper price, than it is nowadays sold in commerce [1].

Also, our general president, Gh. Niculescu, in his generosity, thought that most of us, on various occasions that are emerging, need cash and have no money, and founded a House of Savings and Credit, where Roma brothers can take out loans on advantageous terms and with better re-payment options, as well as other benefits.

In addition to the General President Gh. Niculescu, other speakers will take the floor who will present the benefits of the cooperative and the House of Savings and Credit for the Roma from all the country.

Come, all of you, and listen to those who, with brotherly love, come to guide us and lead us on the right path to true success [2].

Gh. Dragomir, President of Section I of the Sector III.

Păun Alexandru, Cashier.

Teodor Alexandru, Vice-president.

Const. Drăghici, Secretary.

Notes

1. About the founding of consumer cooperatives and the establishment of a Roma bank to provide money loans, Gheorghe Niculescu wrote in the first issue of Glasul Romilor “Our Program” (Glasul Romilor, 1934b, pp. 1-2). On the usefulness of a Roma cooperative, an article was published by Ilie I. Diaconu, head of the General Union of the Roma in Romania, “The Purpose of the Cooperative of Roma” (Glasul Romilor, 1937b, p. 3).

2. The meeting was not held because only 30 members were gathered. The meeting was postponed and a committee was elected to find a location for the cooperative (ANIC, fond. Direcţia Generală a Poliţiei, dos. 34/1922, f. 169; Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 109, pp. 217-218, part one).

Source: ANIC, fond. Direcţia Generală a Poliţiei, dos. 34/1932, f. 170.

Published in: Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 109, pp. 217-218, partea a doua.

Prepared for publication by Viorel Achim.

6.3.13 What We Ask for

Ce solicităm

Programul atât de vast al asociației noastre, pentru a putea fi înfăptuit, cere o mulțime de mari sacrificii.

In parte aceste sacrificii le-am făcut și ne simțim în stare a le mai face și de aci înainte.

Sunt însă unele nevoi pe care cu toată bunăvoința pe care o avem, pentru un moment, nu le putem satisfice decât numai fiind ajutați.

Este adevărat că ori de câte ori am avut nevoie de sprijin moral, autoritățile cărora ne-am adresat ni l-au acordat fără precupețire.

Sprijin material nu am avut însă de la nimeni.

In rândurile cari urmează, vom arăta câteva din lucrurile ce noi dorim să le realizăm și vom ruga în mod respectuos pe conducătorii Țării, ca în caz că vor găsi bune aceste lucruri, să ne acorde ajutoarele ce vor crede de cuviință.

Pentru romii veniți din provincie cu anumite treburi, pentru bătrânii și orfanii romi și pentru cei nevoiași, Asociația dorește să clădească în București un cămin de adăpost. Acest cămin va mai cuprinde: un ateneu popular, o bibliotecă, un cabinet medical, un birou de contencios, o sală și un teren de educație fizică.

Pentru clădirea acestui cămin, avem nevoie de un teren, cărămizi, grinzi, traverse de fier, uși, ferestre, etc.

Cum asociația nu poate suporta toate cheltuielile necesare, facem un călduros apel către autorități de a ne pune la dispoziție terenul necesar pentru ridicarea căminului.

Deasemenea rugăm Onor Primăria Municipiului și Primăriile de sectoare din București, ca să ne ofere în mod gratuit materialul rezultat din dărâmarea clădirilor pe bază de alinieri, exproprieri, etc. … iar din carierele primăriilor, nisip și pietriș.

Dacă în cele scrise până în present am solicitat un sprijin material în cele de mai jos vom cere:

a) Să fim autorizați a înființa un birou de plasare pentru meseriași romi;

b) Primăriile orașelor să ceară d-lor arhitecți și ingineri să angajeze pentru lucrările Domniilor Lor și zidar, fierari, salahori, meșteri și lucrători romi;

c) In toate actele oficiale și cărțile didactice să nu se mai scrie “țigani” nume ce nu ne aparține și care are un sens batjocoritor și disprețuitor, ci “Romi”- denumire adevărată, – fiind cuvânt din limba sanscrită pe care o vorbim;

d) Să fim ajutați ca și până în present în toate manifestările noastre.

Acestea sunt o parte din nevoile noastre asupra cărora avem siguranța că vor privi conducătorii țării și ne vor acorda sprijinul.

What we ask for

The vast program of our association demands many great sacrifices in order to be accomplished.

In part, we have already made these sacrifices and we feel able to do them also from now on.

But there are some needs that, with all the goodwill that we have, for the time being, can only be satisfied if we are helped.

It is true that whenever we needed moral support, the authorities we have addressed gave it to us without issues. We did not, however, receive any material support from anybody.

In the following lines, we will show some of the things that we want to do, and we will respectfully ask the rulers of the country that, in case they will find these suggestions good, they give us the help they see fit.

For the Roma coming from the provinces with certain affairs in the capital city, for the elderly and the orphans and for the needy, the Association wants to build a shelter home in Bucharest. This home will also include: a popular athenaeum, a library, a medical cabinet, a contentious office, a gym, and a sports ground.

To build this home, we need land, bricks, beams, iron sleepers, doors, windows, etc. As the association cannot bear all the necessary expenses, we are making a warm appeal to the authorities to provide us with the necessary land for raising the home.

We also ask the City Hall and the sectorial city halls in Bucharest to offer us, free of charge, the materials resulting from the demolition of buildings on the basis of alignments, expropriations, etc … and from the city halls’ quarters, sand and gravel.

If in what we have written until now we have asked for material support, in what follows we will ask:

a) To allow us to be authorised to set up a placement office for Roma workers;

b) For city halls to ask architects and engineers to employ within their works also Roma builders, blacksmiths, day labourers, craftsmen and Roma workers;

c) In all official documents and didactic books, the name ‘țigani’ should no longer be used, as it is a name that does not belong to us and that has a scornful and contemptuous meaning, but be replaced by ‘Roma’ – a true name, – being a Sanskrit word, the language that we speak. Continue to help us as before, in all of our activities.

These are some of the needs that we have the certainty our country’s leaders will look upon and offer their support.

Source: Radu, N. (1938d). Ce solicităm. Glasul Romilor, An. 3, No. 11, 1938, June 8, p. 3.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This article is important as it lays out some of the material and non-material aid requested at the time by the Association General Union of Roma in Romania from state authorities. All these demands also point to the more general claims laid out not only by the General Union of Roma in Romania (led by Gheorghe Niculescu) but also by the General Association of Roma in Romania (led by Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu and G. A. Lăzurică), in terms of social interventions desired in connection to the improvement in the social conditions and the shift in the economic status of Roma in the country. It thus reflects the interventionist rhetoric of social development as presented by all Roma leaders in interwar Romania, alongside the emphasis placed on the cultural preservation of Roma trades, folklore, artefacts (see the emphasis placed on the constitution of a Roma library and a Roma athenaeum).

The article discusses also the issue of labelling and labels, which was topic discussed also within other articles of the Roma periodicals during the interwar period (cf. Țara Noastră, 1937c, p. 1; Timpul, 1938a, p. 2; Foaia poporului romesc, 1935, p. 3). For a contrasting viewpoint, which takes pride in the term ‘Țigan’, see Neamul Țigănesc, 1934d, p. 3.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.4 Regional Organisations

6.4.1 The Police Report from Turnu Severin

Copie după raportul Poliţiei oraşului T[urnu] Severin nr. 453 din 13 august a.c. către Inspectoratul Regional de Poliţie Craiova.

Avem onoare a raporta că în ziua de 12 august a.c., în grădina Tomescu “Cărbunaru”, pendinte de acest oraş, a avut loc o serbare câmpenească organizată de Uniunea Generală a Romilor din Bucureşti, filiala Mehedinţi, sub prezidenţia d-lui G. Niculescu, preşedinte activ al uniunii, şi sub patronajul d-lui deputat M. Vorvoreanu.

A început la orele 3 ½ p.m. şi au luat parte circa 450-500 romi din Mehedinţi.

Dl. Lenghescu N., membru în această uniune, vorbeşte în numele preşedintelui şi în puţine cuvinte arată însemnătatea înfiinţării acestei uniuni şi progresul pe care l-a făcut această uniune din anul 1933, data înfiinţării, şi până în prezent.

Dl. Marin Simion, preşedintele romilor din Oltenia, mulţumeşte d-lui deputat Marius Vorvoreanu pentru bunăvoinţa ce a avut-o de a veni şi asista la aceste serbări. D-sa roagă pe dl. deputat ca atunci când va fi în parlament să-şi aducă aminte şi de aceşti nenorociţi de romi, ca să fie împroprietăriţi, asigurându-l pe dl. Vârvoreanu, ca şi autorităţile, că de azi înainte toţi romii din România se vor face oameni de treabă.

Roagă totodată pe dl. comandant al Legiunii de Jandarmi Mehedinţi ca să dea voie tuturor romilor meseriaşi care umblă prin satele din judeţul Mehedinţi să-şi poată vinde marfa produsă de ei şi să nu fie stingheriţi de jandarmi.

Dl. deputat Marius Vorvoreanu mulţumeşte vorbitorilor, asigurându-i că va căuta pe cât va fi posibil spre a satisface drepturile romilor din judeţul Mehedinţi, spunându-le totodată că se simte satisfăcut că vede în aceasta romii un popor de solidarizare, şi are convingerea că în scurt timp ei îşi vor schimba ideile avute până în prezent.

Ca final a urmat o mică piesă de teatru şi câteva recitări de poezii.

La ora 8 seara dl. deputat Vârvoreanu a părăsit satisfăcut grădina Tomescu şi serbarea a luat sfârşit în linişte.

Şeful poliţiei … (Băltăneanu).

Copy of the report of the Police of Turnu Severin City No. 453 of August 13, 1934 to the Regional Inspectorate of the Police Craiova.

We have the honour to report that on August 12, this year, in the Tomescu “Cărbunaru” Garden, in this city, there was a field celebration, organised by the General Union of the Roma, from Bucharest, the Mehedinţi branch, under the presidency of Mr. G. Niculescu, active president of the Union, and under the patronage of Mr. M. Vorvoreanu [1].

It started at 3 ½ p.m. and about 450-500 Roma from Mehedinţi county took part.

Mr. Lenghescu N. [2], a member of this union, speaks on behalf of the president and in a few words shows the significance of the establishment of this union and the progress that this union has made since 1933, the date of its establishment, until now.

Mr. Marin Simion [3], the president of the Roma in Oltenia, thanks to Mr. Deputy Marius Vorvoreanu for his goodwill to come and attend these celebrations. He asks Mr. Deputy to remember these poor Roma when he is in Parliament, to be granted land, assuring Mr. Vorvoreanu, as well as the authorities, that from now on, all Roma in Romania will become good people.

He also asks Mr. commander of the Gendarmes Legion Mehedinţi, to allow all Roma tradesmen who walk through the villages of Mehedinţi County, to sell their merchandise and not to be embarrassed by the gendarmes [4].

Mr. Deputy Marius Vorvoreanu thanked the speakers, assuring them that he would seek as much as possible to satisfy the rights of the Roma in Mehedinţi County, while also telling them that he feels satisfied that he sees in this that Roma are a solitary people and is convinced that shortly they will change their ideas so far.

Finally, there was a short theatre play and a reciting of poems.

At 8 o’clock in the evening, Mr. Deputy Vorvoreanu left the “Tomescu” garden satisfied and the celebration ended quietly.

Chief of Police … [signature] (Băltăneanu).

Notes

1. The name of this person appears in the document as “Vârvoreanu.” Marius Vorvoreanu (1886-1935) was a leader of the National Liberal Party, prefect of Mehedinţi County (1922-1926) and deputy of Mehedinţi in the Parliament. He was assassinated (most probably by legionaries) on October 24, 1935.

2. In the text it is mistakenly written ‘Lenghescu I.’ This, in fact, refers to Nicolae Lenghescu-Cley, a Romanian musician of Roma origin, collaborator of Gheorghe Niculescu and editor of the gazette Glasul romilor. He is the author of ‘Roma Anthem’ (Timpul, 1934d, p. 3) and of ‘March of the Roma’ (Glasul Romilor, 1940b, p. 3).

3. Marin I. Simion, poet and journalist, was one of the Roma leaders in Craiova. In 1933, he collaborated with Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Şerboianu at the founding of the General Association of Gypsies in Romania. Together with other people, he created that year the Oltenia Regional Circle of General Association of Gypsies in Romania. The organisation in Oltenia, which later also had other names (e.g. the General Association of the Gypsies of Oltenia), was particularly active and changed its affiliation on several occasions, either to General Association of Gypsies in Romania or to the General Union of Roma in Romania, and sometimes it was independent.

4. In the 1930s, some restrictions were introduced on the movement of nomadic and semi-nomadic Roma through the country (an authorisation issued by the General Inspectorate of the Gendarmerie was necessary, and the number of days in which they could enter a commune was limited), but there were also abuses from the gendarmes. Some of the latter were denounced in the Roma press (cf. Timpul, 1934e, p. 4).

Source: ANIC, fond. Direcţia Generală a Poliţiei, dos. 34/1932, f. 80.

Published in: Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 53, p. 150.

Prepared for publication by Viorel Achim.

6.4.2 The Police Report from Şimian Island

Copie după raportul nr. 1000/935, al Poliţiei Oraşului T[urnu] Severin, către Inspectoratul Reg[ional] de Pol[iţie] Craiova.

Avem onoare a raporta că în ziua de 11 august a.c., orele 15 p.m., a avut loc pe plaja “Lido” din insula Şimian o serbare dată de “Uniunea Romilor din România”, filiala Mehedinţi, unde au luat parte circa 150 persoane, printre care 30-35 romi.

La această serbare a luat parte şi d-l Simion Marin, preşedintele romilor din Oltenia, care a strâns romii într-o parte a insulei şi a început să le vorbească următoarele:

Cu regret constat că romii de la Mehedinţi nu sunt încă organizaţi; am să vin peste câteva zile să organizez fiecare sat. Noi, romii, avem o lege după care ne conducem; cel care nu respectă legea, nu are nici drepturi. Am voit ca să vă ţiu o conferinţă referitoare la dreptul şi rostul romilor în asociaţie; dar fiind numărul prea mic de romi, nu poate să o ţină; însă să-l ascultaţi pe preşedintele vostru, d-l Paraschiv, care luptă în continuu pentru câştigarea drepturilor voastre.

Suntem organizaţi ca şi C.F.R-iştii, preoţii, învăţătorii etc, de 700 ani trăim în România şi am colaborat cu românii în toate împrejurările, cum a fost în război, şi nu s-a găsit nici un rom care să trădeze ţara.

Asociaţia luptă din punct de vedere cultural, economic şi mai lucrează ca toţi romii să capete dreptul la împroprietărire şi de aceea se cere unirea, că numai atunci, când s-ar uni cei 1.250.000 romi, câţi sunt în România, putem să ne reclamăm dreptul la viaţă.

Avem o domniţă a romilor, Eleonora Belcineanu-Craiova, care este bogată şi ajută foarte mult asociaţia şi care actualmente se află în T[urnu]-Severin şi a venit expre pentru serbare şi aceasta numai pentru că ţine mult la romi.

Asociaţia romilor este una din asociaţiile care echivalează cu toate asociaţiile.

Am cheltuit o jumătate milion până am obţinut persoană juridică, din cauză că romii aveau numai caziere de furturi, crime; astăzi nu mai merge, trebuie să ne facem oameni de treabă.

Ca încheiere, vă rog să duceţi vestea şi să faceţi propagandă că romii astăzi sunt egali în drepturi ca orice popor de pe pământ. O să facem un congres general pentru a ne cere dreptul la împroprietărire şi totodată trebuie organizaţi şi căldărarii.

Serbarea a luat sfârşit la ora 20, în linişte.

Şeful Poliţiei … (Băltăneanu).

Copy of the report no. 1000/935, of the Police of Turnu Severin City, to the Regional Inspectorate of the Police Craiova.

We have the honour to report that on August 11th, the current year 1935, at 3 p.m., a celebration given by the Union of the Roma in Romania, Mehedinţi branch, took place on the Lido beach in Şimian island, where about 150 people took part, among which 30-35 Roma.

At this celebration Mr. Simion Marin, the president of the Roma in Oltenia, did also participate, who gathered the Roma in a part of the island and began to speak to them as follows:

I am sorry to note that the Roma in Mehedinţi county are not yet organised; I will come in a few days to organise each village. We, the Roma, have a law that guides us: the one who does not respect the law has no rights. I wanted to hold a lecture on the rights and purposes of the Roma in the association, but the very small number of Roma prevented him from keeping it; but listen to your president, Mr. Paraschiv, who is constantly fighting for your rights.

We are organised like the railway workers, the priests, the teachers [1], etc., we have lived in Romania for 700 years and we have collaborated with the Romanians under all circumstances, as in the war [2], and there has been no Rom to betray the country.

The association is struggling in the cultural and economic fields and is working to ensure that all Roma receive the right to own land property, and that is why unity is needed, because only when the 1,250,000 Roma, that are in Romania, are united can we claim the right to life.

We have a lady of the Roma, Eleonora Belcineanu [3] from Craiova, who is rich and helps very much the association and who is currently in Turnu Severin and has come for the celebration and this only because she loves the Roma.

The Roma association is one of the associations that can be compared with other associations in the country.

We spent half a million Lei before we obtained the legal status [4], because the Roma had only police filed with thefts, murders; today this is no longer working, we have to make ourselves into good people.

As a conclusion, please spread the news and make propaganda that the Roma today are equal in rights with any people on earth. We are going to organise a general congress in which we will ask to be granted land and at the same time the coppersmiths should also be organised.

The celebration ended at 20 o’clock, quietly.

Chief of Police … [signature] (Băltăneanu).

Notes

1. Reference to the very good organisation, with structures at the territorial and national level, which had workers from the Romanian Railways, the church people and the teaching staff.

2. Reference to Roma’s participation in the Romanian army during the First World War.

3. The correct name is probably Elena Belcineanu, a rich woman from Craiova. In 1934, she was elected president of the Gypsy women of the General Association of Gypsies in Romania (Timpul, 1934b, p. 3).

4. The amount of 500,000 lei spent with the organisation’s registration is an obvious exaggeration.

Source: ANIC, fond. Direcţia Generală a Poliţiei, dos. 34/1932, f. 142.

Published in: Nastasă & Varga, doc. 90, pp. 198-199.

Prepared for publication by Viorel Achim.

6.4.3 The Gypsy Life

Viata țigănească

Mișcarea țigănească a luat o mare desvoltare în România, mai ales în Oltenia, cari a încăput pe mâna de fer a Starostelui Marin I. Simion – suprema nădejde de mâine a nației țigănești!

Țigan cu simțuri desvoltate î-și sacrifică timpul pentru ajungerea la apogeul nației țigănești. Lupta nu i-a fost în deșert, căci ca prin farmec a pus stăpânire pe rasa oacheșe din întreaga Oltenie, trecând prea cunoscutul și-n Muntenia, pe valea Dunării înspre T.Măgurele. Răslețele sălașuri de țigani nomazi, vin de peste văi și dealuri să-și vază stăpânul! …

Nici cinci luni n-au trecut dela începere acestei lupte că iată- cum oamenii politici încep să apeleze la voturile lor …

Mulți fruntași politici chiar le-a propus numeroase locuri, pe listele candidaților.

Dar cum “cerul Oltenia!” (sic) al Asociaţia Generala a Țiganilor din România nu are înscris în programul său un rol politic- totuși s-a căzut de acord, că n-ar strica, dacă ar susține ideia politică a unui oarecare partid. Deaceia, avându-se în vedere frumosul trecut al celui mai mare partid politics din țară și cari nu poate fi altul, decât acel al partidului naț. liberal- dăm mai mult ca sigur , că: sfătoșii vor cădea de acord, în sfatul ce are loc azi, să sprijine pe toată linia, candidații acestui partid.

In ceeace privește alegerile comunale, putem spune chiar depe acuma, că se va rezerva un loc de frunte unui membru din Asociație și cari fără îndoială va fi unul din cei mai vajnici luptători din Asociație și cari luptă la “complecta” emancipare a nației țigănești.

Aceasta avându-se în vedere, că ar fi cea mai nimerită persoană ce ar putea reprezenta “cercul Olteniei” și căruia i se datorește ăn cea mai mare parte bunul mers al Asociației. Propaganda ce a susținut-o prin toate județele Olteniei în mai puțin de 3-4 luni a avut un puternic ecou în rândurile țigănimei, cari s-au înregimentat cu zecile de mii în Asociația lor.

Sfătoșii vor aduce pentru azi un omagiu d-lui Manolescu-Dolj, declarândul membru de onoare în Asociaţia Generală a Ţiganilor din România.

The Gypsy life

The Gypsy movement has developed greatly in Romania, especially in Oltenia, in the iron hand of Starost [1] Marian I. Simion – the Gypsy nation’s supreme hope of tomorrow!

A Gypsy with developed senses has devoted all his time to reach to the peak of the Gypsy nation. The struggle was not in vain, because, almost by miracle, he came to lead the handsome race from Oltenia, passing also in Muntenia [2], in the valley of the Danube towards T. Magurele [3]. The dispersed groups of nomadic Gypsies, are now coming over valleys and hills to see their master!…

Not five months have passed since this fight has started that as politicians start to turn to their votes …

Many political leaders have even proposed to them numerous places on their [electoral] lists.

But given that “the Oltenia circle” [4] of A General Association of Gypsies in Romania in Romania does not have a political role in his program – it was nevertheless agreed that it would not hurt to support the political idea of a particular party. Therefore, having in mind the beautiful past of the largest political party in the country, which can be no other than the National Liberal Party – we are more than certain that: the counsellors will agree, in the advisory meeting that is going to take place today, to wholly support the candidates of this party.

As far as the communal elections are concerned, we can already say that a leading position will be reserved to a member of the Association, who will undoubtedly be one of the Association’s most adamant fighters and who struggles to “complete” the emancipation of the Gypsy nation.

This being considered to be the most suitable person that could represent the “Oltenia Circle” and to whom the good progress of the Association is largely due. The propaganda that he sustained through all the counties of Oltenia, in less than 3-4 months, has had a strong echo among the ranks of the Gypsies who registered with their tens of thousands in their Association.

The counsellors will bring homage to Mr. Manolescu-Dolj [5] today, declaring him an honorary member of General Association of Gypsies in Romania.

Notes

1. Starost or starosta is a term (loan word from Slavic) referring to a community elder or a leader.

2. Both Muntenia and Oltenia are geographical regions in Romania.

3. A city in the Southern part of Oltenia, on the Danube, and at the border with Bulgaria.

4. In the text it is actually written ‘cerul Oltenia’, meaning Oltenia sky but this is most likely a misprint.

5. Aurel Th. Manolescu-Dolj was the chief editor of the newspaper Timpul, in which this article was published.

Source: [No Author]. (1933c). Viata țigănească. Timpul, An. 2, No. 19, 1933, December 16, p. 1.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

The above article is important as it talks broadly about the ‘Gypsy movement in Romania’, while nevertheless mentioning the regional developments it has taken in Oltenia and Muntenia. As such, it is stated here that the movement has been particularly developed in Oltenia, under the strong guidance of Marin Simion. His influence has been highlighted to the extent to which, the article writes, politicians have even become interested in the votes of Gypsies. The article highlights the connection between the Oltenia circle of the General Association of Gypsies in Romania and the National Liberal Party, therefore partially contradicting the statement that these associations have no political interest or goal. This is further emphasised when the article states that for the local communal elections there would be a place reserved for a member of the Association, a person seen as fighting for the ‘full emancipation of the Gypsy nation’. While the article does not mention here the name of that person, it does end with a thank you note addressed to the chief editor of the newspaper Timpul who is declared an honorific member of the Association.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.4.4 The House, the School and the Church

Casa, școala și biserica romilor

Mișcarea culturală a Romilor cu toate ironiile ce se îndreaptă în potriva ei, prinde teren pe zi ce trece devening din ce în ce mo realitate de netăgăduit.

Intr-adevăr, cine ar fi crezut până mai eri, că Romii vor fi în stare ca să se unească într-o asociație care să aibă astăzi reprezentanți în toată țara, să aibă o bibliotecă și un ziar.

Demnă de toată lauda, acestei mișcări trebue să i se mai adaoge și alte preocupări și anume:

1. CASA ROMILOR. Romii trebue să întemeeze o casă a lor, un muzeu în care să se strângă și să se păstreze totul ce este demn de păstrat pentru datoria și viața Romilor din România.

In biblioteca acestei case a Romilor, trebuesc colecționate toate documentele privitoare la trecutul lor, cum sunt de pildă: actele de vânzare a robilor Romi, legiurile făcute de domnii țării pentru ei, precum și toate studiile istorice, literare și filologice tipărite în țară și în străinătate, cu privire la aceasta.

In secțiunea etnografică se vor colecționa și expune pentru a fi văzute de vizitatori, tot ceace privește traiul Romilor, costumele și lucrurile eșite din mâna meșteșugarilor romi: fierari, ursari, ciurari, căldărari, etc.

In această cacă ve trebui neapărat să exite o mare arhivă muzicală. Toate cântecele țigănești să fie registrate la fonograf și depuse aci pentru studii.

Nu mai vorbesc de arhiva de folklor în care se vor colecționa toate cântecile, poveștile, credințele și superstițiile Romilor.

Pe temeiul acestora să se elaboreze o mare enciclopedie ilustrată a Romilor, în care să poată găsi oricine tot ceiace privește interesanta și impresionanta problema a Romilor care trebuesc cunoscuți din toate punctele de vedere: antropologic, istoric etnografic, folkloristic și filologic.

2. BISERICA ROMILOR, să nu se pară o glumă. Romii pot și trebue neapărat să-și aibă biserica lor, in care, să slujeasc, preoții lor, în limba lor.

3. ȘCOALA ROMILOR. Ce ar putea fi mai ușor de cât întemeerea a unei școale a Romilor în care dacăli Romi să predea după manuale scrise iarăși în limba lor.

Casa, biserica și școala Romilor nu mai pot aștepta amânare.

Ele trebuesc înfăptuite cât mai curând. Solidaritatea și puterea de jerftă a Romilo, sunt o chezășie că în curând se va porni la lucru.

Pentru a nu întârzia o clipă, toți Romii din țară care țin la ridicarea culturală a neamului lor, sunt rugați a trimite tot ceace socotesc că interesează această chestiune pe adresa subsemnatului.

Deocamdată primim ori ce lucruri pentru întemeierea acestor trei așezăminte culturale ale Romilor, ca: costume, fotografii, cărți, culegeri de cântece și povești precum și ori ce sfaturi, si părei ăn ceiace privește întemeerea casei, bisericei și a școalei.

In numerile viitoare ale gazetei vom tipări răspunsurile și daniile primite și vom reveni pe larg asupra oricărei chestiunei în parte.

Dr. C. S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor.

Redactorul Bibliotecei O ROM.

The House, School and the Church of the Roma

The cultural movement of the Roma, with all the ironies that come its way, catches ground every day, becoming more and more an undeniable reality. Indeed, who would have believed until now that the Roma would be able to join an association that presently has representatives all across the country, has its own library and a newspaper.

Worthy of all praise, several other focuses must be added to this movement, namely:

1. THE ROMA HOUSE. The Roma should set up their own house, a museum in which everything that is worthy of preservation about the duty and life of the Roma in Romania should be collected and preserved.

In the library of this Roma House, all the documents relating to their past should be collected, such as the sale of Romani slaves, the laws made by the princes of the country for them, as well as all historical, literary and philological studies printed in the country and in abroad.

In the ethnographic section, all matters regarding the Roma’s living, the costumes and the work and products made from the hands of the Roma craftsmen: blacksmiths, bear-tamers, horse dealers, basket-makers, etc., will be collected and exhibited, so as to be seen by visitors. In this house, one should necessarily have a great musical archive.

All Gypsy songs should be recorded with the phonograph and submitted for study.

Not to mention the folklore archive where all the songs, stories, beliefs and superstitions of the Roma will be collected.

On the basis of these materials, a large illustrated encyclopaedia of the Roma will be made, in which everyone can find everything concerning the interesting and impressive Roma issue, which should be known from all points of view: anthropological, ethnographic, folkloristic and philological.

2. THE ROMA CHURCH, not to be seen as a joke. The Roma can and must necessarily have their own church in which their priests may serve and preach in their own language.

3. THE SCHOOL OF ROMA. What could be easier than setting up a Roma school in which Roma teachers can teach textbooks written again in their own language.

The house, the church and the Roma school cannot wait postponement. They must be done as soon as possible. Roma solidarity and willingness to sacrifice themselves are a guarantee that soon the work will be done. In order not to have one moment’s delay, all Roma in the country value the cultural uplifting of their people are asked to send everything they think might be of interest concerning this matter to the undersigned. For the time being, we will receive anything that can contribute to the founding of these three Roma cultural settlements, such as: costumes, photographs, books, song collections and collections of stories, as well as advice and guidance about the foundations of the house, the church and the school. In the future issues of the newspaper, we will print the answers and the received items, and we will revisit in large each issue.

Dr. Constantin S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor.

Editor of the O ROM Library.

Source: Nicolăescu-Plopșor, C. S. (1934). Casa, școala și biserica romilor. O Rom, An. I, No. 2, 1934, October 22, p. 1.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This article is authored by C. S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor, a leading historian, ethnologist and archaeologist of the time, who, said to be of Roma descent himself. He has sought to organise and set up a Roma library called, O Rom, which ultimately published two key books in Romani language. His main interest was in collecting Roma folklore, mainly from the region of Oltenia.

He gradually affiliated himself with leading Roma intellectuals from the Oltenia circle, most prominently Marian I. Simion and Aurel Th. Manolescu-Dolj, and began publishing some of his materials in the two newspapers of the region, namely Timpul (led by Manolescu Dolj) and O Rom (director N. T. Ionescu and M. I. Simion). Interestingly, there seems to have been a rupture between C. S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor and Roma leaders from Oltenia, as reflected in the publications of Timpul. For example, in No.No. 38-39, the newspaper proudly advertises Nicolăescu-Plopșor’s attempts to establish the O Rom Library. However, from issue 53 onwards, the newspaper seems to have turned against C. S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor, calling him at times a “Gypsy crook” and seizing to advertise his works.

The article selected above is, in effect, a summary of the plans laid out for the library O Rom and talks about the cultural movement among the Roma. It briefly mentions the existence of a Roma library, set up by C. S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor, and also titled O Rom, and highlights the need for further developments, among which: 1) Roma House; 2) Roma Church; 3) Roma school.

All these suggested developments are formulated in close connection to Nicolăescu- Plopșor’s broader aims to plead for teaching and church services to be held in Romani language as well as his aims to set up a Roma museum. In reality, no such museum was formed, but two bilingual books were published (in Romani and in Romanian), as part of the O Rom Library (Nicolăescu-Plopșor, 1934ab).

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.4.5 The Neo-Rustic Brotherhood

ROMÂNIA.

Cluj, la 24 iunie 1935.

Inspectoratul Regional de Poliţie IV Cluj.

Serviciul Poliţiei de Siguranţă.

No. 22.145/1935.

Domnule Director General,

Avem onoare a vă raporta că în parcul “Regina Maria” din Făgăraş a avut loc o adunare a societăţii Înfrăţirea Neorustică (Neo-Rustic Brotherhood) din Calbor, judeţul Făgăraş, înfiinţată de curând, în ziua de 18 iunie 1935.

Această societate este constituită din ţiganii aflaţi în judeţul Făgăraş, însă numai o parte din ei, şi are ca scop, după cum declară ţiganul Naftanailă Lazăr, originar din comuna Calbor, preşedintele acestei societăţi, lupta pentru revendicările ţiganilor în vederea unui trai mai bun.

La orele 10 dimineaţa s-au adunat în Piaţa Unirii delegaţi din diferite comune din acel judeţ, de unde au plecat în frunte cu muzica în parcul “Regina Maria”, unde s-a ţinut întrunirea. La acest congres au luat parte 1000 persoane.

Au vorbit: Naftanailă Lazăr, Cincan Ioan, precum şi săteanul Ioan Ganea, care în cuvântările lor au căutat să încurajeze pe ţigani, dându-le speranţă că lupta care o duc în prezent va da rezultate pozitive.

Inspector de poliţie … [signature indescifrabil].

Şeful Serviciului … [signature] I. Stănilă.

Domniei-Sale, Domnului Director General al Poliţiei, Dir[ecţia] Sig[uranţei], Bucureşti.

ROMANIA.

Cluj, June 24, 1935.

Regional Inspectorate of Police IV Cluj.

Security Police Service.

No. 22.145/1935.

Mr. General Director,

We have the honour to report that on June 18, 1935, in Queen Maria park in Făgăraş took place a meeting of the society Înfrăţirea Neorustică (Neo-Rustic Brotherhood) from Calbor, Făgăraş County, recently established [1].

This society is made up of the Gypsies in Făgăraş County, but only a part of them, and has the purpose, as the Gypsy Naftanailă Lazăr [2], from Calbor village, president of this society, declared, to fight for the Gypsies’ claims for a better living.

At 10 a.m., delegates from various communes in that county gathered in Unirii Square, from where they went, headed by music, to Queen Maria Park, where the program here attached was carried out [3]. At this congress took part ca. 1,000 persons.

Those who spoke: Naftanailă Lazăr, Cincan Ioan, as well as the villager Ioan Ganea, who in their speeches tried to encourage the Gypsies, giving them hope that the struggle they are currently leading will yield positive results.

Police Inspector … [signature indecipherable].

Chief of Service … [signature] I. Stănilă.

To Mr. General Director of the Police, Security Police Direction, Bucharest.

Notes

1. In fact, the society Înfrăţirea Neorustică (Neo-Rustic Brotherhood) was founded already in 1926 by Naftanailă Lazăr, initially as a mutual aid organisation established according to the model of the neighbourhood associations (Nachbarschaften) of the Saxons in Transylvania (see above). In 1934-1935, the association published a newspaper entitled Neamul Ţigănesc.

2. Naftanailă Lazăr, president of the society Înfrăţirea Neorustică, was one of the most famous Roma leaders in Transylvania. Later, in the General Union of Roma in Romania he was the president of the Transylvanian Organisation [see below, part: National organisations].

3. The programme of the meeting of June 18, 1935 is not in the archive file.

Source: ANIC, fond. Direcţia Generală a Poliţiei, dos. 34/1922-1938, f. 136.

Published in: Nastasă & Varga, 2001, doc. 86, p. 195.

Prepared for publication by Viorel Achim.

6.4.6 To all the Gypsies in Transylvania

Către toți țiganii din Ardeal!

Fraților!

Trăim în vremuri grele. Viața tuturor națiunilor de pe globul pământesc s-a ușurat, numai noi, țiganii trăim mai greu. De soarta noastră nimeni nu se interesează, căci nimeni nu ne vede, nimeni nu ne aude și nimeni nu ne înțelege durerea și jalea. Cu-i ce-i pasă de un țigan, care-i lipsit? Cine aude vaetul lui și cine apleacă privirea la viața lui?

Toate popoarele din lume, au prieteni, toți străinii și păgânii au apărătorii lor, numai noi țiganii, trăim alungați și ocoliți de toți!

Noi nu avem prieteni!

Noi nu avem ocrotitori!

Soarta noastră încă nu a mișcat inima nimănuia.

Fraților!

Cine să ne cunoască durerea noastră, dacă noi tăcem!

Cine să ne ocrotească drepturile noastre la viață, dacă nu ne plângem!

Cine să ne ajute, dacă noi nu ne ajutăm!

Priviți, în jurul vostru câtă nedreptate se face celui mai slab dintre noi și nici unul nu protestăm!

E timpul suprem, ca să ne desmeticim, din nepăsarea noastră și să începem să ne numărăm, să ne cunoaștem, să ne destăinuim durerile și nevoile și să ne apărăm. E timpul ca să nu trăim răsleți, fiecare în bordeiul său, ci să ne unim cu toții, punând toată grija nevoilor noastre în mâna celor mai buni dintre noi, cari să ne apere și să ne călăuzezscă spre o viață mai ușoară, spre un viitor mai frumos!

Care dintre noi vrea să fie ajutat? Cine poate trăi singur, fără ajutorul cuiva?

Corturarul? Lingurarul? Vătrarul? Muzicantul? Funționarul? Liberprofesionistul?

Toți, dar absolut toți sunt la fel de huliți în societate și chiar dacă un timp ni se uită originea, tot batjocoriți rămânem, căci noi ne rușinăm de originea noastră.

Primul pas pe care trebuie să îl facem noi în societate, dacă vrem să impunem respect și stimă, este să nu ne rușinăm, că suntem țigani! Fiecare dintre noi să rostească limpede și curat cuvântul mândru de țigan, ca un protest și o prevenire pentru toți, cari au gustul să glumeasvă (sic) cu noi, că nu nie rușine, că suntem țigani, ba mai mult suntem mândrii. Mândria noastră, transformă mentalitatea noastră și a lumei ce ne înconjoară.

In al doilea rând, trebuie cu tot dinadinsul, să împărtășim o meserie cinstită în societate, pe care s-o învățăm cu temei. Să ștergem cuvântul de cârpaciu de lângă numele nostru și să adăugăm că (sic) stăruința și străduința noastră cuvântul de meșter cinstit și corect.

In al treilea rând, fiecare dintre noi, să caute să pună preț cât mai mare pe sănătatea trupească și sufletească, Să nu mai umblăm murdari și rupți. Femeile noastre să înțeleasă odata, că apa e bună și pentru spălatul trupului, nu numai de băut! Hainele cât de rupte trebuie să fie spălate și câripite. Să se ferească fiecare de boli și bube urâte, căci aceste plăgi, nu strică numai frumusețea trupească, dar le moștenesc și urmașii lor și e păcat de moarte.

Țiganii lăeți, (corturari) să se oprească din pribegia lor și să înceapă o viață de oameni așezați. Copiii lor să urmeze școala și biserica. Feciorii lor, să se înroleze în armată, unde vor primi învățături bune și folositoare.

Țiganii băeși, să înceapă să se organizeze mai departe, timițând copiii la școală și cu toții, să meargă la biserică. Să nu mai bată drumul crâșmelor și judecăților, ci să trăiască liniștiți și cu frica lui Dumnezeu. In fiecare sat să aibă o casă de sfat, unde cei cari știu ceti și scrie, să citească, iar ceilalți să asculte. Să țină contactul cu societatea noastră, trimițându-ne scrisori despre durerile și păsurile lor.

Țiganii de casă, cari sunt înstăriți și cu frumoase gospodării au datoria să nu uite de frații lor, cari zac în suferință. Aceștia să caute să-și dea copiii la școli mai înalte, ca să putem dovedi, că neamul țigănesc, este vrednic de toată încrederea și că fiii săi cei mai buni, cu nimic nu sunt mai pre jos de fiii altor neamuri. Acești țigani, să știe toată lumea, că și-au câștigat independența și stima, numai datorită muncei lor fără preget și stăruinței părinților lor, cari înfruntând greutățile începutului, au răsbit să-și creieze o viață mai bună. Din sânul acestor familii au eșit medici, avocați, ofițeri, ingineri, profesori și artiști renumiți, cari fac cinste breslei lor.

Toți aceștia sunt rugați, să nu-și renege origina lor, căci dacă ei să lapădă de noi, cine ne va mai înțelege și cine ne va mai ajuta în gândul nostru de redeșteptare.

Fraților,

Pentru triumful cauzei noastre, noi cei grupați în jurul “Înfrățirii neorustice”, nu am cruțat nici bani, nici trudă ca să putem veni în jurul fraților noștrii țigani. Am organizat în nenumărate orașe și sate, elementele de progres, pe care le-am cercetat și ajutat. Am organizat serbări culturale pentru frații noștri țigani, la cari participau toți intelectualii români din localitate, admirând uimitoarele noastre progrese și manifestând, cu vie mulțumire pentru rezultatul sforțărilor noastre.

Cum noi nu sumtem oameni, cari să ne oprim la jumătatea drumului, facem prezentul apel, chemând la luptă pe toți frații noștri ori unde s-ar afla ei. Nu vom dezarma până când nu vom strânge în jurul ideii de neam țigănesc, pe toți frații noștri, pe care organizându-i culturalicește îi vom transforma în factori sociali activi, spre binele lor și al Țării.

Animați de aceste gânduri și încrezători în realizarea lor, pe cale religioasă și culturală, dorim tuturora sănătate.

“Înfrățirea neorustică”.

Președ. Naftanailă Lazăr.

To all the Gypsies in Transylvania!

Brothers!

We live in hard times. The lives of all the nations of the world have improved, only we, the Gypsies, live harsher lives. Nobody is interested in our fate, for no one sees us, no one hears us, and no one understands our pain and sorrow. Who cares about a Gypsy who does not have much? Who hears his cries, and who pays attention to him? All peoples in the world have friends, all foreigners and pagans have their defenders, only the Gypsies, are chased away and avoided by all.

We have no friends!

We have no protectors!

Our fate has not moved anyone’s heart yet.

Brothers!

Who can know our pain if we are silent!

Who can protect our rights to life if we do not cry!

Who can help us if we do not help ourselves!

Look around you, how much injustice is done to the weakest of us, and we do not protest!

It is high time to come to our senses, get out of our indifference and begin to count ourselves, to know each other, to tell each other our pains and needs and to defend ourselves. It is time for us not to live separated, each one in his own hut, but to join together, putting all our cares in the hands of the best of us, who will protect us and lead us to an easier life, to a more beautiful future!

Which one of us wants to be helped? Who can live alone without anybody else’s help? The tent-maker? The spoon-maker? The builder? The musician? The functionary? The self-employed?

Every one of us, and I mean every one of us, is just as scorned in society and even if they may forget our origins, we still remain mocked, for we are ashamed of our origin.

The first step we have to do in society, if we want to impose respect and esteem, is not to be ashamed of being Gypsies! Each of us should speak plainly and clearly the proud word of ‘Gypsy’, as a protest and prevention for all who take pleasure in mocking us, that they are not ashamed to be Gypsies, but more, that we are proud of it. Our pride transforms our own mentality and that of the world that surrounds us.

Secondly, we must, of course, take part in honest work in society, and we must learn out trades thoroughly. Let’s erase the word superficial from beside our name and add instead, with earnestness and hard-work, that of an honest and fair craftsman.

Thirdly, every one of us, must put more value on our bodily and spiritual health. Let us not walk dirty and dishevelled. Let our women understand once and for all, that water is also good for washing the body, not only for drinking! Ripped clothing should be washed and sown. Everyone should avoid illnesses and ugly tumours, for these plagues do not spoil only our bodily beauty, but our descendants will also inherit them and this is a deadly sin.

Tent Gypsies [1] should stop wandering and begin a life of settled people. Their children should attend school and the church. Their sons should join the army, where they will receive good and useful teachings.

Beash Gypsies [2] should continue organising themselves further, sending their children to schools and attending church. They should avoid the way of the bars and the courthouses, and live peacefully and with the fear of God. In every village there should be a council house, where those who can read and write should read and write, and the others can listen. They should keep in touch with our society by sending us letters about their pains and their worries.

House Gypsies [3] who are wealthy and have beautiful households have the duty not to forget their brothers who are in distress. They should seek to give their children to higher schools, so that we can prove that the Gypsy nation is worthy of all confidence and that its best sons are in no way inferior to the sons of other nations. These Gypsies, everyone should know, have earned their independence and their esteem, only because of their work and the perseverance of their parents, who have faced the hardships of the beginning and have thrown themselves into making a better life. From among these families there have been doctors, lawyers, officers, engineers, professors and famous artists who honour their trade. We ask all of them not to reject their origin, for if they forsake us, who will understand us and who will help us in our wishes for a re-awakening.

Brothers,

For the triumph of our cause, those of us grouped around the Neo-Rustic Brotherhood did not spare neither money nor labour to be able to come to the aid of our Gypsy brothers. We have organised in countless cities and villages the elements of progress that we have researched and contributed to. We organised cultural festivals for our Gypsy brothers, attended by all Romanian intellectuals in the locality, who admired our stunning progress and showed us gratitude for the outcome of our efforts. As we are not people to stop halfway, we make the present appeal, summoning all our brethren to come to our battle, wherever they are. We will not disarm until we have gathered around the idea of a Gypsy nation, all of our brothers, whom we will organise in a cultural way, and whom we will transform into active social factors, for their own sake and for that of the Country.

Animated by these thoughts and confident in their realisation, on a religious and cultural basis, we wish you best of health.

Neo-Rustic Brotherhood.

President Naftanailă Lazăr.

Notes

1. Originally, ‘Lăeți’ and ‘Corturari’ (from the term ‘cort’, meaning ‘tent’), both designations used for nomadic Gypsies.

2. Originally, ‘Țiganii băeși’, wich is designation of a Romanian-speaking Gypsy group.

3. Originally, ‘Țiganii de casă’ with meaning ‘House Gypsies’

Source: Lazăr, N. (1934a). Către toți țiganii din Ardeal! Neamul Țigănesc. An. 1, No. 1, 1934, February [no day], p. 1.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

The above one-page article is in fact a manifesto published by Naftanailă Lazăr, the President of the Neo-Rustic Brotherhood, from Făgăraș, and a call for unity among those referred to as ‘țigani’, to take matters into their own hands and request their rights by different means.

The author of the manifesto, who also happens to be the President of the Neo-Rustic Brotherhood (founded in 1926), states that the first step to this unity is not to be ashamed of their origin but to be proud to be ‘țigani’. The idea of being proud of one’s origin is exemplary here of the ways in which both Naftanailă Lazăr and other Roma leaders approached the issue of solidarisation and the attempt to create unity among diverse Roma communities. At the same time, the use by Naftanailă Lazăr of the term ‘țigani’ rather than Roma is also relevant here as this would become a distinguishing factor between the ways in which Naftanailă Lazăr approached the problem of labelling and the ways in which other Roma leaders began pleading for the use of the word ‘Roma’ instead of ‘Țigan’ in all official and popular publications. As can be seen from other articles connected to the theme of labelling, a gradual movement towards the adoption of ‘Roma’ over ‘Țigan’ was being promoted by Roma leaders during the 1930s. However, Naftanailă Lazăr maintained the opinion that pride in one’s origin also meant pride in the continuing use of the term ‘Țigan’.

The article presented above is also important as source material as it clearly and unequivocably emphasises the importance of developing and fostering a form of own self-consciousness and belonging. It does so by stating that pride in one’s origin will transform not only people’s own mentalities but also the mentality of the world surrounding them. Secondly, the article tackles the issue of honest and thorough work. Thirdly, the article also advocates the care of the body and the soul. Finally, it encourages different groups of ‘țigani’ to contribute to the cause of the movement.

All these elements are particularly important in order to understand the broader context of the demands laid out by the organisation led by Naftanailă Lazăr, alongside other Roma organisations during the interwar period: namely, the focus placed on the education of children, the emphasis placed on sedentarisation of nomadic groups, the underlining of the importance of the Church, and the necessity for developing a community-wide sense of pride in belonging and origin, all argued to be necessary in order to become full members of the nation-state and obtain a rightful place along with majority Romanians.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.4.7 Who Are We and What Do We Want?

Cine suntem și ce vrem?

Numărăm un milion de suflete în țara românească. Luând ca pildă pe evrei, voim să ne organizăm într-o mare comunitate, ajutându-ne reciproc, formând o forță și aspirând la o viată mai demnă.

Nu suntem un partid politic și mai ales, o grupare minoritară. De aceia, respingem această acuzație și declarăm că pentru viitor nu mai voim să contăm ca o massă (sic) de manevră politică și nici ca niște manechine electorale. Dar pentrucă suntem cetățeni alegători, în viitoarele campanii electorale, vom da o deosebită atenție alegerilor pentru consiliile comunale și județene, pentrucă e vorba de gospodăria comunelor noastre. Și aci avem și noi un cuvânt de spus. Nu e drept ca într-un sat unde Romi sunt în majoritate să nu fie reprezentați în consiliul comunal. Nu e drept ca într-un județ unde romii pot da un aport de 10.000 de votanți să nu fie reprezentați în consiliile județene. Și dacă guvernul nu voește să țină seamă de acest lucru, ne vom abține din aceste viitoare alegeri, pentru ca ținând socoteala de numărul votanților din alegerile trecute, să putem calcula numărul real al voturilor ce ar fi putut da romii. Este o statistică ce ne interesează.

Who are we and what do we want?

We number about one million souls in the Romanian country. Taking as example the Jews [1], we want to organise ourselves in a great community, helping each other, forming a force of our own and aspiring to a more dignified life. We are not a political party, and especially. we are not a minority group. Therefore, we reject this accusation and declare that, for the future, we no longer want to be counted on as a mass for political manoeuvre or as electoral mannequins. But because we are electoral citizens, in the upcoming electoral campaigns, we will pay special attention to the elections for the communal and county councils, because we are speaking here of the organisation of our own towns. And so we also have a word to say. It is not right that in a village where Roma form the majority there are not represented in the communal council. It is not right that in a county in which the Roma can give a contribution of 10,000 voters, they are not represented in the county councils. And if the government does not want to take this into account, we will refrain from these upcoming elections so that, given the number of voters from the previous elections, we can calculate the real number of votes that the Roma could have given. It’s a statistic that interests us.

Notes

1. The connection and the contrasting example with the Jewish community in Romania was often made by Roma leaders for two reasons: 1) the potential for organising oneself would be built on the model of organisational strength of the Jewish community; 2) the desire to present themselves in contrast to the Jewish community, not as a minority and certainly not as a distinctive, dissident group (see also Matei, 2011a, pp. 27-40).

Source: [No Author]. (1934b). Cine suntem și ce vrem? Neamul Țigănesc, An. 1, No. 2, 1934, September 8, p. 2.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman

Comments

The article has the purpose of stating the aims of the organisation. As source material, it is also an important additional example of Naftanailă Lazăr and other Roma leaders at the time attempting to not present Roma as a minority group but, rather, as full electoral citizens of the country. In that sense, the organisation is said to not be a political party, neither a minority group and states that there will be no political minority manoeuvre coming from their midst, nor will they act as electoral puppets. Interestingly, however, the short entry ends by pointing out the upcoming elections and the attention that the leaders would pay in particular to local elections and campaigns. This is said to be especially important in the context in which, even in villages predominantly inhabited by Roma, there were no Roma elected within local councils.

Through this, the article constitutes another example of, on the one hand, the desire to not be perceived as a threatening minority, and, on the other, the importance of political matters and electoral campaigns for Roma leaders, even in the context in which these organisations are deemed to be apolitical.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.4.8 From Our Activity

Din activitatea noastră

Primul meu gând se îndreaptă către frații Romi din județul Făgăraș pe care i-am organizat încă din anul 1926. Îmi permit ca să vă fac un mic istoric al nostru.

Noi, Țiganii am trăit izolați din cauza inculturei și persecuției altor popoare risipindu-se în toată Europa.

După cum spune istoria neamului nostru, la anul 1417 în Europa erau 400.000 țigani robi, iar 200.000 înfundați în cea mai neagră mizerie.

Nimeni nu s-a gândit să ridice starea acestui popor. Dar Domnul a zis și aceia că nu-i mai frumos în lumea aceasta decât a trăi ca frații împreună. Acest mare adevăr și învățătură m-a îndemnat ca Președintele al Societății “Înfrățirea Neorustică” din Calbor, Boholț si jur, ca să formez această Societate, recunoscută persoană juridica de Tribunalul Făgăraș cu decizia No. G. 393 din 1 Mai 1926.

În această calitate am inițiat cu societatea mea să adun pe Romi și prin petreceri, baluri, teatre, conferințe să contribui la cultura și educația lor.

Am contribuit la înlăturarea alcoolismului și altor obiceiuri rele ca lipsa de carte, căsătoriile nelegitime și altele.

Cutreerând aproape toate comunele din Ardeal am avut ocazia să văd zeci de copii care nu frecventează școala, ne interesându-se nimeni de ei.

Acești copii sunt ai lingurarilor ziși Băeși cari au un așezământ stabil apoi sunt Nomazii, care ar putea să se stabilească pe un loc să facă școala și armata tot in folosul statului nostru.

Societatea condusă de subsemnatul a dat producțiuni în Făgăraș, Cincul, Cohalm, Jibert, Șercaia, Vistea, Olteț, Boholâ, Cincsor, Bruia, Merghindeal, Halmeag, Băile Rodbav.

S-a jucat piesa “Cercetașul” episod din luptele de la Mărășești.

La aceste manifestări ale noastre au participat sute de persone dintre care și intelectuali ca Dl avocat M. Derlosea fost primar, Ioan Pica fost prefect, prof. Bentea, prof. Marinescu, ziarist, etc. care prin participarea Dlor ne-au ridicat curajul.

Acestora și tuturor care au contribuit la reușita manifestărilor noastre, le datorăm toată recunoștința pentru incurajarea pe care ne-au dat-o la sforțările noastre.

Vom continua și pentru viitor să aranjăm astfel de producțiuni cu piese de teatru, declamări și coruri ca să ne ridicam și noi alături de alte neamuri.

From our activity

My first thought goes to the Roma [1] brothers in Făgăraş county, whom I have been organizing since 1926. I allow myself to give you a short history of ours.

We, the Gypsies, have lived isolated because of the lack of culture and the persecution of other peoples, being scattered throughout Europe.

As the history of our nation says, in 1417 there were 400,000 Gypsy slaves in Europe and 200,000 buried in the worst of miseries.

No one has ever thought of raising the state of this people. But the Lord also said that there is nothing more beautiful in this world than to live as brothers together. This great truth and teaching urged me as President of the Society of the Neo-Rustic Brotherhood in Calbor, Boholt and I swear to set up this Society, recognised as a legal person by the Făgăraş Tribunal with the decision No. 393 of 1 May 1926.

In this capacity, I initiated with my society to gather the Roma and through parties, balls, theaters, conferences to contribute to their culture and education.

We have helped to remove alcoholism and other bad habits such as illiteracy, illegitimate marriages, and others.

Travelling around almost all the communes in Transylvania, I had the opportunity to see tens of children who were not attending school, and we were not interested in them.

These children are of spoon-makers known as Baesi, who have a stable settlement, then there are the Nomads, who could settle in one place, go to school and the army for the benefit of our state.

The company led by the undersigned has organised productions in Făgăraş, Cincu, Cohalm, Jibert, Sercaia, Vistea, Olteţ, Boholâ, Cincsor, Bruia, Merghindeal, Halmeag and Rodbav [2]. The play ‘The Scout’ was performed, which features an episode from the battles of Marasesti [3].

At these events, hundreds of people participated, among whom intellectuals such as M. Derlosea, lawyer, former mayor, Ioan Pica, prefect, prof. Bentea, prof. Marinescu, journalist, etc. who, through their participation, raised our spirits.

To them and to all who have contributed to the success of our events, we owe all the gratitude for the encouragement they have given to us in our efforts.

We will continue to arrange such productions with theatre pieces, declamations and choirs in the future, so that we can also rise up with other peoples.

Notes

1. Naftanailă Lazăr uses interchangeably the term ‘Roma’ and ‘Țigan’ in his writing. This, once again, is worth mentioning as it connects to his broader view that both terms must be acknowledged with a sense of pride in one’s history and origin.

2. Name of Romanian towns.

3. The Battle of Mărășești was a major battle during the First World War between the German Empire and the Kingdom of Romania, which took place on the Romanian Front. The front was located in Eastern Romania, in Vrancea region. The battle lasted from August 8th until September 3rd when the Central Powers suffered a strategic defeat.

Source: Lazăr, N. (1934c). Din activitatea noastră. Neamul Țigănesc, No. 8, 1934, September 8, p. 2.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This short article constitutes a brief summary of the activities and prospects of the Neo-Rustic Brotherhood. It taps into a historical perspective of Roma/Gypsies in Romania. There are no references or sources given for the numbers cited but the purpose is that of emphasising the marginalised status of these groups throughout history and the necessity to organise themselves in order to shift this historical dynamic. The purpose and activities of the organisation are seen to be primarily cultural but there is a clear emphasis placed, both within this article and others authored by Naftanailă Lazăr within the newspaper Neamul Țigănesc, on the topic of education of children, the removal of so-called ‘bad habits’ (e.g. alcoholism) and the officialising of marriages of cohabiting couples. This goes hand in hand with the educational outlooks of other Roma organisations, such as the General Union of Roma in Romania, and the connection made by the latter with the Orthodox church, including the baptism of children and adults and the religious officialisation of marriages.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.4.9 The Transylvanian Roma

Romii Ardeleni

Trăind tot timpul stăpânirei maghiare sub influența steină și fiind siliți să se magiarizeze, o parte din romii ardeleni și în special cei din jud: Mureș, Ciuc, Odorhei, Trei scaune, Satul-Mare și Sălaj se dădeau până mai acum câtva timp de cetățenie română și de naționalitate maghiară.

Asociația noastră potrivit statutului său, dorind a face din ei buni cetățeni ai țării și slujitori credincioși ai M.S. Regelui și ai patriei a trimis în mijlocul lor delegați ai centrului.

Prin cuvântările ținute cu prilejul adunărilor ce au avut loc în acest scop, delegații noștrii au arătat că deoarece romii trăesc pe pământul României, sunt supuși aceleași legi și se bucură de aceleași drepturi și datorii, nu trebue să se mai considere minoritari, căci fiind asimilați elementului românesc sunt considerați români și ca cetățenie și ca naționalitate.

Mare parte din romii maghiarizați ne-au înțeles. Astăzi ei spun că sunt și de cetățenie și de naționalitate română.

Copiii lor, nu mai urmează cursurile școlilor minoritare.

Am oprit pe frații romi din județele mai sus amintite, precum și din alte județe din Ardeal de a mai participa la adunări și manifestațiuni tulburătoare de ordine și le-am cerut să nu mai treacă în rândul sectanților.

Astăzi ne adresăm fraților Români, spunându-le:

Incurajați-ne, iubiți-ne și vedeți în noi pe singurii cetățeni cari au luat parte alături de voi, la necazurile și bucuriile acestei Țări. Veniți în mijlocul nostru să ne cunoașteți și să ne sprijiniți. Primim sfaturile și îndrumările voastre.

Dacă ne veți iubi voi frații români, munca pe care o vom depune de aci înainte în slujba românizării romilor maghiarizați, vom ști să o ducem la bun sfârșit, cu toate că ne vom lovi de ura și dușmănia minorităților.

The Transylvanian Roma

Living in the time of the Hungarian rule, under the foreign influence and being forced to become Hungarianised, part of the Transylvanian Roma and especially the ones from Mureş, Ciuc, Odorhei, Three Chairs, Satu Mare and Sălaj, until some time ago, declared themselves as Romanian citizens and Hungarian nationality [1].

Our association, according to its statute, wanting to make out of them good citizens of the country and faithful servants of H.R.M. The king and of their homeland sent in their midst delegates of the centre. Through the speeches held on the occasion of the meetings that took place for this purpose, our delegates have shown that because the Roma live on Romanian land, they are subjected to the same laws and enjoy the same rights and duties, they should no longer consider themselves minorities, because, having been assimilated with the Romanian element, they are considered Romanian in both citizenship and nationality. Many of the Magyarised Roma have understood us. Today they say that they are Romanian both by citizenship and by nationality. Their children no longer attend minority schools [2]. We stopped the Roma brothers from the aforementioned counties, as well as from other counties in Transylvania, to participate in agitating assemblies and demonstrations, and asked them not to walk among the sectarians. Today we address our Romanian brothers, saying: Encourage us, love us, and you will see in us the only citizens who have taken part with you in all the tribulations and the joys of this country. Come within our midst to get to know us and support us. We receive your advice and guidance. If you will love us, our Romanian brothers, the work that we will put forward from now on for the ‘Romanianisation’ of the Magyarised Roma, we will bring to its fruition, even when we will be faced with the hatred and the enmity of the minorities.

Notes

1. For centuries, until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the region of Transylvania has been under either the Kingdom of Hungary or the Austro-Hungarian Еmpire. It continues to be home to Hungarian speaking Roma groups.

2. Meaning schools with Hungarian language teaching.

Source: Stan, V. (1938e). Romii Ardeleni. Glasul Romilor, An. 3, No. 11, 1938, June 8, p. 4.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

The article talks about Roma from Transylvania, and the actions embarked upon by the General Union of Roma in Romania for the purpose of ‘Romanianising’ the Hungarianised Roma. This is a particularly important article as a source material, given the ways in which the issue of ‘minority’ is being broached and approached by Roma leaders from the capital city during the interwar period. As such, from the actions adopted by the Union and the emphasis placed on a so-called nationalisation of hungarianised Roma within the historical region of Transylvania, one can also observe and understand the overall desire, especially as promoted by Roma leaders from the capital city, for Roma not to be seen as a minority, but as Romanian citizens with equal rights.

Furthermore, the article above reveals actual actions and plans constructed by members of the General Union of Roma in Romania to ‘stop’ Roma from particular counties in Transylvania (and especially the counties of Mureș, Ciuc, Odorhei, Satu Mare and Sălaj, where the proportion of the Hungarian minority was among the highest) from attending political meetings or meetings that may be deemed dissident or sectarian. The article presents them as “being forced to become Hungarianised” under foreign rule, who now as Roma living “on Romanian land” understood the need for being Romanianised. The Association clearly emphasises its desire to make Hungarised Roma into full citizens of the Romanian state, seen as possible only through the abandonment of any minority politics. As a consequence of the actions of the Union, it is said that Roma children from these areas were no longer taking Hungarian classes in school and that the Association’s members were preventing Roma from Ardeal from taking part in any ‘sectarian’ or peace disturbing minority movements. All of these aspects are particularly illuminating of the overall desire of key Roma organisations during the interwar period to not be perceived as ‘minority organisations’.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.5 Naming

6.5.1 Is the Word ‘Gypsy’ a Word of Mockery, or the Name for a Nation

Este cuvântul țigan, cuvânt de batjocură sau nume de națiune

Se știe de noi toți, care trăim la țară, că numele de Țigan se dă la toți aceia cari, fie că din lenevie nu-și păstrează curățenie corpului, fie că din lipsă de mijloace umblă îmbrăcați zdrențăros. Aceasta, indiferent de națiunea din care respectivul face parte.

Pe lângă aceste două cazuri, în cari se dă cuiva numele de țigan, mai este un al treilea caz și anume: când cineva este lipsit de bună creștere și bun simț, ocupându-se cu minciuni și cu tot felul de lucruri cari le-aduc disprețul tuturor, acestora încă li se spun că sunt țigani.

Deci, putem vedea din cele trei exemple, care e rostul cuvântului “țigan” și care se dă oricărui om, ce se poartă în condițiunile de mai sus, fie el Român, Sas, Ungur, Rom, etc.

Națiunea noastră a Romilor, din cauză că a fost veșnic în criză și foame, a rămas în întuneric din toate punctele de vedere, față de celelalte națiuni cu care au conviețuit.

Criza în care se aflau Romii și lipsa de lumină și cultură, au fost de natură să facă, ca din națiunea noastră să fie mai mulți din cei cari umblau murdari și zdrențăroși și se dedau la tot felul de minciuni și afaceri nedemne de un om, și astfel cuvântul de “țigan” a fost generalizat asupra întregei noastre națiuni, de altfel, fără niciun drept.

Iată deci, cari sunt cauzele pentru cari națiunei noastre i s-a dat numirea Țigani, cauze, pe care cu regret trebuie să recunoaștem că sunt adevărate.

Oare n-am putea înlătura aceste defecte, de cari națiunea noastră este cuprinsă?

Eu spun că, da! Și susțin aceasta, pentrucă nu există nici o piedecă sau greutate pe cari să nu le putem înlătura din calea noastră, spre binele și progresul națiunei noastre.

Un mijloc de îndreptare a relelor de cari suferim, este și scoaterea acestei prime foi populare a noastră.

Prin glasul acestei gazete, vom îndemna pe toți fiii neamului nostru, să caute a umbla cât se poate de curați, atât în ce privește corpul, cât și a hainelor cu cari se îmbracă.

Nimic nu-i mai ușor, ca fiecare să aibă deosebită grije să se spele în fiecare zi cu apa pe care Dumnezeu a lăsat-o din belșug pentru toți oamenii; iar în ce privesc hainele lor, fie ele cât de vechi și petecite, să avem întotdeauna grije să fie curate.

Curățenia trupească, curățenia hainelor și curățenia caselor în cari locuim, sunt cei trei stâlpi a-i sănătății noastre.

Pe lângă aceste trei griji, trebuie să căutăm a îndrepta și caracterul nostru. În locul minciunei, să-și facă loc adevărul și în locul înșelăciunii, cinstea. Făcând astfel, suntem siguri că și națiunea noastră va câștiga un loc cât de modest în mijlocul celorlalte națiuni, cari tind tot spre o mai perfectă civilizație.

Din cele relatate mai sus, reese în mod clar și precis că, cuvântul de “țigan” este numai o batjocură, căci națiunea țigănească nu există!

Despre națiunea noastră a Romilor, ne vom permite ca după ce vom fi în posesiunea tuturor datelor istorice, să scriem în numerele viitoare ale acestui ziar, despre originea și istoricul ei.

Is the word ‘Gypsy’ a word of mockery, or the name for a nation

It is known to all of us, who live in the countryside, that the name of Gypsy is given to all those who, whether out of laziness they do not keep their body clean, or because of lack of means they are walking in raggedly dress. This, regardless of the nation in which the person belongs. In addition to these two cases where someone is given the name Gypsy, there is also a third case: when someone is deprived of a good upbringing and a good common sense, is dealing in lies and all sorts of things that bring them the scorn of all others; these people are still being called Gypsies. So, we can see from these three examples, what is the meaning of the word “gypsy”, which is given to any man behaving under the above conditions, be it Romanian, Saxon, Hungarian, Rom, etc.

Our Roma nation, because it has eternally been in crisis and hunger, has remained in darkness from all points of view, compared to the other nations with which they have coexisted. The crisis in which the Roma were placed, and the lack of light and culture, led to a situation in which from within our own nation there were more of those who were dirty and ragged, and engaged in all sorts of lies and actions unworthy of man, and thus the word ‘gypsy’ was generalised to our entire nation, indeed, without any right.

So, here are the causes for which our nation has been given the name “Gypsies”, causes which we regret to acknowledge are true.

Could we not remove these flaws that affect our nation?

I say that, yes, we can! And I support this, because there is no stumbling block or weight that we cannot remove from our path, for the good and the progress of our nation.

A means of redressing the evils from which we suffer is also the publishing of this first popular newsletter [1] of ours.

Through the voice of this gazette, we will encourage all the sons of our people to seek and walk as cleanly as possible in terms of both their bodies and the clothing they wear.

Nothing is easier than for everyone to take special care to wash every day with water that God has abundantly left for all people; and as far as their clothes are concerned, even when they are old and rugged looking, we always have to be careful to be clean.

The cleanliness of the body, the cleanliness of our clothes and the cleanliness of our homes are the three pillars of our health.

Besides these three concerns, we must also seek to correct our character. Instead of lie, to make space for the truth and in the place of deceit, honour. In doing so, we are sure that our nation will also gain a place, no matter how modest, among the other nations, who are also striving for a more perfect civilization.

From the above, it is clear and precise that the word “gypsy” is only a mockery, for the Gypsy nation does not exist!

About our Roma nation, we will allow ourselves, once we are in possession of all historical data, to write in the future numbers of this newspaper, about its origins and history.

Notes

1. Foaia Poporului Romesc is one of the six Roma newspapers published in Romania during the interwar period. It was published in Rupea (then part of Târnava Mare county, presently Brașov county). It was published in only one issue, on October 21, 1935, despite the fact that, from its content alone, there is a clear emphasis and desire to publish subsequent numbers. Its editorial committee comprised of: Gheorghe Frunzea (Director), Nicolae Duca (Editor) and Gheorghe Pesteanu (Secretary).

Source: Duca, N. (1935). Este cuvântul țigan, cuvânt de batjocură sau nume de națiune. Foaia Poporului Romesc, An. 1, No. 1, 1935, October 21, p. 3.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

6.5.2 What Roma Should Know

Ce trebuie să știe Romii

Cu 2000 ani înainte de Christos, niște popoare așa zice indo germane (ariene) care trăiau în partea nordică a Munților Himalaia (cei mai înalți munți de pe fața Pământului) și lângă bazinul fluviului Oxus, în Asia, au străbătut acei munți și au năvălit în India de azi, lovind alte popoare, împrăștiindu-le, nimicindu-le sau amestecându-se cu ele.

Printre acele popoare năvălitoare indo-germane, care vorbeau o limbă asemănătoare, deci se înrudeau, se găseau și poporul zgripțlior, strămoșii adevărați ai romilor de azi. Acest popor a ocupat în India ținutul Nordic dintre fluviile Indul și Gangel, unul din cele mai bogate ținuturi care cuprindea întinse păduri bogate în animale și pășuni, râuri și lacuri cu pește și arbori fructiferi ca smochini, portocali, lămâi, curmali, mandarini, banani, piersici. Un ținut binecuvântat de Dumnezeu.

Dar ca să ocupe acest bogat ținut, străbunii noștri zgriți au trebuit să înfrângă prin necurmate lupte un alt popor găsit acolo, pe Daxinsii, numiți și mâncători de carne vie”, un popor crud, viteaz, renumit în făurirea armelor, topirea fierului, aramei și bronzului.

Trebuie să ne închipuim cât de bravi au fost zgripții, dacă au putut să ocupe ținutul Daxinsilor pe care i-a impus mai departe s-au i-au supus, contopindu-se cu ei și formând un nou popor.

Toate celelalte popoare venite cu zgripții au devenit sedentare, adică stătătoare, fixate locului, luând denumirea de popoare indiene, conduse de preoții brahmani care numeau regii și chiar le impuneau voința lor, împărțind supușii în caste (ranguri) și predicându-le o religie “brahmana” emanate din cultul unei trinități: Focul (Agnis); Aerul (Indra) și Soarele (Surduca). Aceste trei divinități se concentrau într-o singură divinitate: Marele Soare (Zeul cel Mare).

Zgripții n-au voit să trăiască nici sedentary, nici să asculte de puterea și legile brahmanilor și regilor indieni, nici să primească religia acestora. Zgripții trăiau o viață nomadă, umblând în ținutul dintre Indul și Gangel din loc în loc, crescând turme de capre, herghelii de cai, vânând prin păduri și pescuind prin râuri și lacuri. Dela capre se foloseau de lapte, carne și păr din care femeile lucrau corturi, îmbrăcăminte de corp. De cai se serveau la călărie și trasul carelor. Dela animale sălbatece vânate foloseau blănile de care se serveau ca îmbrăcăminte călduroasă și așternuturi. Fructe și pește găseau din belșug. Zgripții nu aveau nevoie de nimic. Își petreceau timpul liber cântând, jucând și făcând exerciții de luptă și călărie. De aceia disprețuiau și pe regii indieni și pe brahmani. Zgripții nu recunoșteau ca divinitate (zeu) decât Soarele. Pentrucă, spuneau ei, Soarele singur încălzește pământul, dă viață, încolțește sămânța și adduce poaia binefăcătoare.

Ca să își apere ținutul și independența lor, zgripții au purtat nenumărate lupte cu regii indieni, conduși de Voevozii (Răzii) Iundadel, Amaru și Vangel. Ei au luptat în contra stanizilor, afganilor, belucizilor, turchestanilor, apoi în contra perșilor. Au luptat și ca mercenari plătiți sau de bună voie în rândul trupelor indiene ale lui Porus și Toxil, împărați indieni, contra lui Darius Codomamil, regale perșilor și contra lui Alexandru Macedon. N-au luptat de dragul împăraților indieni ci pentru apărarea propriei lor libertăți.

Zgripți au trait fericiți până la anul 1257, recunoscuți ca cei mai buni arcași și sulițari, ca cei mai buni călăreți. Ei otrăveau vârfurile sulițelor și săgeților cu venin de viperă și otravă de mătrăgună, își făureau singuri armele, carele și hamurile. Dresau câini care îi întovărășau în lupte și sfâșiau pe adversary. Ei au inventat instrumentele: țambalul, naiul, scripca și cobza. Tot ei au fost cei dintâi care au inventat potcoavele și șinele dela roțile carelor.

Dar viața lor fericită a luat sfârșit la 1257 când hoardele mongole ale marelui cuceritor Ginghishan, după ce cuceriseră întreaga Dhina (sic), Tibetul, Turchestanul, năvăleau și în India. Toate popoarele din India s-au supus de bună voie mongolilor, numai zgripții n-au voit să casă robi și au preferat să ia calea exodului (pribegi). Călări, în care, pe jos, au purces la drum lung, străbătând Belucistanul, Persia apoi despărțindu-se în trei grupe. O grupă s-a îndreptat spre Caucas intrând în Europa, la anul 1270 și poposind o vreme pe lângă gurile Volgei și Crimea. A doua grupă s-a îndreptat spre Marea de Marmara, la Dardanele, trecând în Europe cu voia grecilor bizantini, la anul 1290. A treia grupă s-a îndreptat spre sud-vest, străbătând pustiul nordic al Arabiei, Mesopotamia, Siria, Palestina și nimerind în Egipt, unde a poposit vreo treizeci de ani. Dar pentrucă în Egipt se înmulțeau ca șoarecii se dădeau la jafuri și dimpreună cu felahii (țăranii egipteni) provocau revolte, egiptenii i-au luat la goană cu forța armelor. Această grupă a pornit într-un nou exod, ținând malul de nord al Africei și cu ajutorul maurilor (arabilor) au trecut Gibraltarul, în Spania, la anul 1330. De aceia, spaniolii și portughezii, crezându-I egipteni adevărați le-a zis “gitani” (gitanos), iar englezii, când zgripții au nimerit mai târziu (1450) și în țara lor le-a zis “gypsys”.

Zgripții din prima grupă, din cauza bătăliilor dintre tătari și cazaci (zaporojeni) s-au împrăștiat prin Rusia, alți au trecut în Germania, Polinia și Bohemia, apoi și în Moldova, la anul 1405, sub domnia lui Alexandru cel Bun.

Cei din grupa doua s-au împrăștiat în întreaga peninsulă Balcanică stabilindu-se în Grecia, Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria. La anul 1300 au trecut și în Muntenia, sub domnia lui Mihail I Basarab Întemeietorul.

Cu timpul, zgripții din toate grupele s-au împrăștiat în toate țările din Europa. La anul 1455, nu exista țară în Europa ca să nu aibe acești refugiați nomazi. În afară de țările ortodoxe: Rusia, Moldova, Muntenia, Serbia, Bulgaria și Grecia, zgripții n-au mai fost persecutați în celelalte țări de la anul 1455, căci Papa dela Roma a intervenit pentru ei, cerându-le însă ca să se boteze în religia creștin, lucru ce zgripții au și făcut, stabilindu-se, muncind, exercitând meseriile de fierari, potcovari, zidari, salahori, lăutari. Numai în țările ortodoxe au fost folosiți ca robi pe lângă curțile domnești, boerești și vetrele mănăstirești, stăpânii având drept de viață și de moarte asupra lor, putând să-I vândă prin târguri și oboare, ca pe vite, despărțiți de femeile și copii lor, dați ca danie prin acte dotale, uciși fără vină, chinuiți.

În principatele Române, au fost desrobiți în mod definitiv și formal, de Domnitorul Alex. Ion Cuza (sic), care la anul 1864 i-a declarat complect emancipați și împroprietăriți cu loturi de case.

DE CE NE ZICEM ROMI ȘI NU ȚIGANI?

Când a doua grupă a ajuns la Dardanele și au fost lăsați să treacă în Europa, Grecii bizantini nu s-au putut înțelege cu străbunii noștri, necunoscându-le limba. Prentrucă Grecii au văzut pe străbunii noștri cu părul lățos, tuciurii, zdrențăroși și murdari, din cauza lungului drum pe care l-au străbătut, au fost denumiți “athingani”, poreclă pe care grecii o dăduseră și unei secte religioase din Siria și Palestina, sectă care există și azi aceea a Copților și Maroniților. În grecește, cuvântul “athingan” înseamnă om murdar, ciumat, de care să nu te atingi. Străbunii noștri zgripții, nu înțelegeau sensul pejorativ al acestui cuvânt. Numai în urmă și-au dat seama de batjocura acestui nume dar era prea târziu ca să-l înlăture. Atunci ei și-au zis:

Bine zgripți cum ne numim noi, nu ni se spune. Dar nici noi între noi, nu ne vom zice athingani!

Și-au adus aminte că în limbal or indiană sanscrită la oameni se zice: Romi. Cuvântul “rom” are un înțeles mai larg: om superior, iubitor de libertate, de cântece și dansuri. Cuvântul Rom mai derivă și dela numele sanscrit “Ramajana”, adică “omul cuceritor”, erou în literatura sanscrită mama, tuturor literaturilor, există chiar o epopee eroică numită Ramajana.

Dela cuvântul “athingan”, prin derivație au adaptat și alte popoare europene denumirea pe care ne-o dau. Astfel, popoarele slave ne zic ațigani; popoarele germane zigeuner; francezii les tziganes sau “Cohemienes”; italienii, cingali sau cingani; ungurii ciganiok; turcii, cenghenea.

Noi nu putem admite să ni se zică altfel decât Romi, prentrucă numai noi putem ști numele nostrum adevărat. Românii niciodată n-au admis să li se zică vlahi, valahi, deliormani, bogdanlâi, basarabi. Ei și-au zis întotdeauna români, urmași ai dacilor și romanilor. Germanii nu admit să li se zică nemți sau teutoni. Francezii nu mai admit să li se zică “gali”. Ungurii nu admit să li se zică “huni” sau “mongoli”. Englezii nu admit să li se zică “saxoni” sau “normanzii”. Nici turcii nu admit să li se mai zică “osmantâi” sau “saracini”. Cum să admitem noi o denumire false, streină jignitoare?

CONCLUZII

Noi, Romii, suntem din rasa ariană (indo-germană). Am trait pe vremuri liberi, stăpânind un ținut bogat și întins. Am avut conducători bravi sub care am purtat lupte victorioase cu nenumărate popoare. Noi n-am venit în Europa cu gând hain, ca năvălitori pentru cuceriri, ci forțați de împrejurări, de un tragic destin. În țările unde ne-am stabilit, ne-am asimilat cu elemental etnic (băștinaș). Nu trădăm țara, nu pactizăm cu inamicii, nu săpăm temelia ei.

Avem pretenția că folosim statului prin numărul nostru, prin meseriile noastre și prin talentul nostru muzical. Noi păstrăm baladele, cântecele, strigăturile și dansurile populare românești. Noi păstrăm obiceiurile și datinile românești ca: Vicleimul, Brezoaia, Colindul, Călușarul, Fedeleșul și Urarea cu buhaiul, Vasilca și Plugușorul. Din viorile noastre se aud romanțele și doinele românești, cântecele de dor și amor.

Romii au clădit cetățile sub Ștefan cel Mare, Petru Rareș, Vlad Țepeș, Matei Basarab. Ei, alături de țăranii români, au muncit ogoarele, ca robi; romi culegeau aurul din râuri și munți, scoteau sarea și păcura din pământ.

Spre mândria noastră, Romii din românia sunt din tâi care au ridicat steagul de redeșteptare al neamului lor, urmând mișcarea începută de cel ce scrie aceste rânduri, unicul care a cercetat scrierile vechi dela Herodot, tatăl istoricilor, până azi, hrisoavele mănăstirilor, documentele dela Academia Română și Arhivele Statului, ca să cunoasc (sic) istoria și origina (sic) poporului rom.

Noi, Romii, vorbim limba sanscrită, una din cele mai vechi și mai bogate limbi, din care se trag și limbile slave, germane, latine și greacă, după cum au dovedit filologii și țiganologi: Panini, Hașdeu, Pittard, Yatson, Gaster și Tesleff.

Numărăm în România 950.000 suflete. În întreaga lume numără, 16.000.000 romi. Din neamul nostrum s-au ridicat episcopi, miniștri, profesori, avocați, ingineri, ziariști și generali. Ștefan Răzvan, un domn al Moldovei a fost de origine romp, căci mai întâiu fusese haiman în oștile căzăcești și poloneze.

Haide Romilor, să ne ridicăm din întunerec, să ne luminăm printr-o acțiune culturală, socială și morală.

Urmați îndemnul meu, secondați-mă în lupta ce am pornit-o pentru voi.

G. A. Lăzurică

What should the Roma know

Two thousand years before Christ, some so-called Indo-Germanic (Aryan) peoples living in the northern part of the Himalayas (the highest mountains on the face of the Earth) and next to the Oxus River Basin in Asia, have crossed those mountains and invaded today’s India, coming across other peoples, scattering them, destroying them, or mingling with them.

Among those Indo-German invading peoples who spoke a similar language, so they were related, there were also the wandering people, Zgripții [1], the true ancestors of today’s Roma. This people occupied in India the Nordic area of the Indus and Ganges rivers, one of the richest provinces with vast forests, rich in animals and pastures, rivers and lakes with fish and fruit trees such as figs, oranges, lemons, cucumbers, mandarins, bananas, peaches. A land blessed by God.

But in order to occupy this wealthy land, our Zgripți ancestors had to defeat through a continual struggle the other people found there, the Daxins, also called ‘eaters of live flesh’, a cruel, valiant people, famous in the making of weapons, smelting of iron, brass and bronze.

We have to imagine how stupid the scratches were, if they were able to occupy the land of the Daxins that they imposed upon them, subjected themselves to them, merging with themselves and forming a new people.

All the other peoples who came with the Zgripți became sedentary, that is, settled, fixed to the place, taking the name of the Indian peoples, led by the brahman priests who named kings and even imposed their will, dividing the subjects into casts and preaching a ‘brahman’ religion emanating from the cult of a trinity: The Fire (Agnis); The Air (Indra) and the Sun (Surduca). These three deities were concentrated in one divinity: the Great Sun (the Great God).

The Zgripți did not want to live a sedentary life, nor to listen to the power and laws of the brahmans and the kings of India, nor to receive their religion. The Zgripți lived a nomadic life, walking in the land between the Indus and the Ganges from place to place, raising goat flocks, horses, hunting through the forests and fishing through rivers and lakes. From the goats they used milk, flesh and hair from which women worked tents and clothing for the body. Horses were used for horseback riding and horse racing. From hunted wild animals they used their fur to serve as warm clothing and bedding. Fruits and fish they found in abundance. The Zgripți did not need anything. They spent their spare time singing, dancing and training for fighting and riding. That is why they despised the Indian kings and brahmani. The Zgripți did not recognise as divinity (god) anything else other than the Sun. For, they said, the Sun alone warms the earth, gives life, sprouts the seed, and yields the fruitful rain.

In order to defend their land and independence, the Zgripți have had countless wars with the Indian kings, led by the Voivodes (Rangers) Iundadel, Amaru and Vangel. They fought against the Stanizi [2], the Afghans, the Belugaes, the Turks, and then the Persians. They fought as paid mercenaries or willingly among the Indian troops of Porus and Toxil, the Emperors of India, against Darius Codomamil, the king of the Persians, and Alexander of Macedon. They fought not for the sake of the Indian kings, but for defending their own freedom.

The Zgripți lived happily until 1257, recognised as the best archers and spearmen, as the best horsemen. They poisoned the tips of the spears and arrows with viper venom and belladonna poison, they made their own weapons, chariots and harnesses. They trained dogs that would join them in battles and tear their adversaries apart. They invented the following instruments: cimbalom, pan flute, fiddle and cobza [3].

They were also the first to invent the horseshoes and the rails from the horse-carriage wheels. But their happy life ended in 1257 when the Mongol hordes of the great conqueror Genghis Khan, after conquering China, Tibet, Turkestan, also invaded India. All the peoples of India voluntarily submitted to the Mongols, only the Zgripți did not want to become slaves and preferred to take the way of the exodus (wanderers).

Riding, in horse-carriages, on foot, they took a long journey, crossing the Baluchistan, Persia, then splitting into three groups. One group headed for the Caucasus, entering Europe in 1270, and for a while, settling beside the rivers Volga and Crimea. The second group headed for the Sea of ​​Marmara at Dardanelles, passing into Europe, with the allowance of Byzantine Greeks, in 1290. The third group headed southwest, crossing the northern Arabian wilderness, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and coming into Egypt, where they spent some thirty years. But because in Egypt they multiplied in like mice, were plundering and, together with the fellahs (the Egyptian peasants), they provoked riots, the Egyptians sent them away with the force of the army. This group embarked on a new exodus, keeping to the northern shore of Africa and, with the help of the Moors (Arabs), they passed Gibraltar into Spain in 1330. That is why the Spaniards and the Portuguese, believing them to be true Egyptians, called them “Gitans” (Gitanos), and the English, when the Zgripți arrived later into their country (1450) called them “Gypsys” [4].

The Zgripți from the first group, because of the battles between the Tartars and the Cossacks (Zaporozhian), dispersed throughout Russia, others passed into Germany, Poland and Bohemia, and then into Moldova, in 1405, under the reign of Alexander the Good.

Those in the second group were scattered throughout the Balkan Peninsula, settling in Greece, Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria. In 1300 they also passed into Muntenia, under the reign of Mihail I Basarab the Founder.

Over time, Zgripți from all the groups have spread all over Europe. In 1455, there was no country in Europe not to have these nomad as refugees. Besides the Orthodox countries: Russia, Moldova, Muntenia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece, since 1455 the Zgripți have not been persecuted in the other countries, for the Pope of Rome intervened on their behalf, but asked them to become baptised in the Christian religion, which the Zgripți have done, setting down, working, practicing the craftsmanships of blacksmiths, bricklayers, salahori (day labourers), lăutari (musicians). Only in the Orthodox countries were they used as slaves by the princely courts, the boyar courts and by monasteries, the owners having the right to life and death upon them, being able to sell them in fairs and markets, like cattle, separated from their women and their children, given as gifts through vague acts, killed without blame, tortured.

In the Romanian Principalities, they were liberated definitively and formally by Lord Alex. Ion Cuza who, in 1864, declared them to be fully emancipated and provided them with housing land.

WHY WE CALL OURSELVES ROMA AND NOT ȚIGANI?

When the second group arrived at Dardanelles and were allowed to pass into Europe, not knowing their language, the Byzantine Greeks could not understand our ancestors. Because the Greeks saw our ancestors as being with long hair, with ragged clothing and dirty, because of the long journey they had had, they were called “athingani”, a nickname the Greeks had also given to a religious sect in Syria and Palestine, a sect that still exists today, that of the Copts and Maronites. In Greek, the word “athingan” means a dirty, pitiful man that you do not touch. Our old Zgripți did not understand the pejorative meaning of this word. When they realised the mockery of that word, it was too late to get rid of it. Then they said,

OK, Zgripți, as we call ourselves, we will not be called by others. But neither will we, amongst ourselves, call ourselves Athingans!

They remembered that in their Sanskrit Indian language, you call people as: Romi. The word “Rom” has a wider meaning: a superior man, a lover of freedom, of songs and dances. The Rom word also derives from the Sanskrit name of ‘Ramayana’, meaning the ‘conquering man’, a hero in the Sanskrit mother literature, and there is even a heroic epic called Ramayana.

From the word ‘athingan’, by derivation, other European peoples have also adapted the name they give to us. Thus, the Slavic peoples call us Ațigani; the German peoples Zigeuner; the French les Tziganes or ‘Cohemienes’ [5]; Italians, Cingali or Cingans; the Hungarians Ciganiok; the Turks, the Cenghenea.

We cannot accept being called anything other than Roma, because only we can know our true name. Romanians have never accepted being called Vlachs, Wallachians, Deliormans, Bogdanals, Basarabs. They have always said they are Romanians, descendants of the Dacians and the Romans. The Germans do not accept being called Nemți [6] or Teutons. The French no longer admit to being called Gauls. Hungarians do not admit to being called Huns or Mongols. The English do not admit to being called Saxons or Normans. Nor do the Turks admit to being called Osmantâi or Saracini. How then can we accept a false, insulting name?

CONCLUSIONS

We, the Roma, are of the Aryan race (Indo-German). We have lived freely in previous times, possessing a rich and wide land. We had brave leaders under whom we had victorious wars with countless peoples. We did not come to Europe with a treacherous thought, as invaders, but forced by circumstance, by a tragic destiny. In the countries where we have settled, we have become assimilated with the ethnic (native) element.

We do not betray the country, do not make pacts with its enemies, do not dig at its foundation. We believe we are of use to the state, through our sheer number, through our craft and our musical talent. We keep the ballads, the songs, the shouts and the popular Romanian dances. We keep the Romanian customs and traditions, such as: Vicleimul, Brezoaia, Colindul, Căluşarul, Fedeleşul and Urarea with buhaiul, Vasilca and Plugşorul [7]. From our violins come Romanian romances and poems, songs of longing and love.

The Roma built the cities under Stephen the Great, Petru Rareş, Vlad Ţepeş, Matei Basarab. They, along with the Romanian peasants, worked the fields, as slaves; the Roma gathered the gold from the rivers and mountains, they took the salt and the oil from the ground.

To our pride, the Roma in Romania are the first ones to have raised the flag of reawakening of their people, following the movement that was started by the one who writes these lines, the only one who has researched the old writings of Herodotus, the father of all historians, until today, researching the documents of the monasteries, the documents from the Romanian Academy and the State Archives, to know the history and origin of the Roma people. We, the Roma, speak the Sanskrit language, one of the oldest and richest languages, from which the Slavic languages, German, Latin and Greek also come, as evidenced by the philologists and gypsylorists: Panini, Hasdeu, Pittard, Yatson, Gaster and Tesleff.

We number 950,000 souls in Romania. In the entire world there are 16,000,000 Roma. From our nation came bishops, ministers, professors, lawyers, engineers, journalists and generals. Ştefan Răzvan, a ruler of Moldavia, was of Roma origin, for first he had been a “haiman” [8] in the Cossack and Polish armies.

Come Roma, let us rise from darkness, to illuminate ourselves through a cultural, social and moral action.

Follow my plea, support me in the fight that I started for you.

G. A. Lăzurică

Notes

1. The word Zgripți here refers to a population in India that, according to the author, were Roma’s ancestors. It is based on a mystification which appeared in 1934 in the international press (Condrus, 1934, p. 4; Innsbrucker Nachrichten, 1934, p. 9; Luxemburger Wort, 1934, p. 5) according to which an international expedition would be organised by two of the biggest research institutions in America and England, in search for the place of the “origin of the Gypsy race”, in a region called Zgripți, between the Ganges and the Indus rivers, and in this expedition, it was said Lazurica would take part. The only thing relevant in this publication is the name of Lazurica (G. A. Lăzurică). The most interesting part, in this case, is the quoted words of Lazurica: “You will see … we will find our Palestina” (Condrus, 1934, p. 4) i.e. here one can find the idea of forming an own Roma state. It is not clear who was the initiator of this mystification, Lăzurică himself, or the journalists.

2. The term Stanizi is a word with unclear meaning, referring to a people or community. Most probably it is elaborated from the designation of Cossack settlement – stanitsa.

3. Cobza is a multi-string musical instrument of the lute family, particularly popular, among others, within Romanian, Moldovan, and Ukrainian folk music.

4. All words as used in original text.

5. Here it is an obvious misprint, as it should be Bohemienes.

6. A Romanian term, a loan word from Slavic (meaning ‘mute’), used to label Germans.

7. These are all names of traditional Romanian customs and rituals: Vicleimul (Christmas Folk performance), Brezoaia (Winter carnival), Colindul (Christmas carols), Căluşarul (Healing Ritual with men dance), Fedeleşul (Ritual wedding dance) and Urarea with buhaiul, Vasilica and Plugşorul (all three refere to New Years traditions and rituals).

8. Haiman – this is a possible misspelling of the political and military title Hetman, used in the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, in Zaporozhian Host, by Zaporozhian Cossacs and others; in medieval Moldavia, Hatman is a boyar, member of Princely Council (Divanul Domnesc), endowed as the commander with the whole army. See: https://dexonline.ro/definitie/hatman.

Source: Lăzurică, G. (1938). Ce trebuie să știe Romii. Timpul, An. 7, No. 69, 1938, February 28, p. 2.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

6.5.3 Clarification

Suntem mândri de cuvântul Țigan, pe care-l punem în fruntea ziarului nostrum.

Ceilalți conducători se rușinează azi că sunt țigani și caută să-și zică Romi.

Sub acest nume de Țigani suntem cunoscuți în toată Europa și așa vrem să ni se zică.

Admitem cuvântul de Rom, cum ni se zice în limba țigănească “tu sam rom?” dar nu ne lepădăm nici de cuvântul Țigan.

“Tu sam rom?” înseamnă “tu ești țigan?” iar “Sar te nam rom” adevărat că sunt țigan!

We are proud of the word Țigan, which we place at the head of our newspaper.

The other leader are now ashamed of being Gypsies and are looking to call themselves Roma.

Under this name, that of Gypsies, we are known all over Europe and that is how we want to be known.

We accept the word Rom, as we are called in the Gypsy language ‘Tu sam Rom?’, but we do not deny the word Gypsy either.

Tu sam Rom?” means “Are You a Gypsy?” And “Sar te nam Rom”, it is true that I am a Gypsy!

Source: [No Author]. (1934d). [No Title]. Neamul Țigănesc, An. 1, No. 2, 1934, September 8, p. 3.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

The three articles presented above, from three distinct Roma newspapers, constitute important examples of the ways in which the issue of labels and labelling was addressed by Roma activists and intellectuals during the interwar period in Romania. They each deal with the same topic, the use of Roma/Țigan in everyday speech, but from rather distinctive points of view. This appear to have been a major topic of debate in the Roma agendas of the time and, at times, a source of dispute between different leaders: such as Naftanailă Lazăr (the editor of Neamul Țigănesc), who preferred the term ‘Țigan’ over ‘Roma’, and others who gradually seemed to adopt the use of the term ‘Roma’ over ‘Țigan’. Nevertheless, the emphasis seems to have been placed on a shift from the use of the word ‘Țigan’ to that of ‘Roma’. This shift seems to have been produced in the early 1930s. A mention on the distinctions between the three articles above is worth making.

Firstly, and unlike similar thematic articles presented within other Roma newspapers (such as Timpul or Țara Noastră), which highlight the use of Roma as grounded within historical narratives and its connection to the Romani language (according to the authors, ‘Roma’ meaning “superior man” as compared to ‘țigan’ meaning “unclean, dirty”), in the first article presented above, in Foaia Poporului Romesc, the emphasis is placed on the overall derogatory and demeaning meaning of the term ‘țigan’. Interestingly, here, the term is more closely connected to its understanding of physical uncleanliness, or unacceptable behaviour which, according to the author of the article, can be characteristic of any individual, from any nation, and independent of their ethnicity. Henceforth, the argument for abandoning the use of the term ‘Țigan’ in favour of the term ‘Roma’ is grounded here in the fact that the characteristics it points towards are not definitive of any ethnicity and in its connection to behaviours and attributes that are generalised to the Roma, “without any right”. Such an approach is rather unusual for the studied region where the term Gypsy was always ethnically defined, unlike Western Europe, where it is often associated with a nomadic lifestyle. Here, however, the word ‘Țigan’ is perceived as a definition of marginal communities, characterised by a culture of poverty. This topic can also be found in present-day discussions in the field of Romani Studies (cf. Ladanyi and Szelenyi, 2006; Stewart, 2003).

It is also worth noting the context within which these articles were written. In fact, as mentioned above, a gradual shift in the use of ‘Roma’ over ‘Țigan’ throughout the 1930s is also noticeable in most of the other Roma publications of the interwar period, including Glasul Romilor, O Rom, Țara Noastră and Timpul. For example, though implicitly rather than explicitly, the changing subtitle of the newspaper Timpul highlights quite clearly this shift. Published in Craiova, and edited by Aurel Th. Manolescu-Dolj, the subtitle of the newspaper gradually changes from, originally, Independent Weekly Newspaper to The Newspaper of Gypsies in Romania (starting from Issue no 24-25, 21 January 1934), to The official paper of Roma in Romania (starting from issue no 41, 29 July, 1934). The shift may have also been part of the shift in leadership of the organisation, with the joining of G. A. Lăzurică leading to the change of the use of ‘Țigan’ with that of ‘Roma’ (see Matei, 2012, pp. 13-73 for a detailed discussion on the use of ‘Roma’ or ‘Țigan’ during the interwar period, and after). One can thus observe a trajectory from the use of ‘Țigan’, to the concomitant use of both terms, and to ‘Roma’ being adopted as the preferred term within most Roma periodicals of the interwar period.

The most overarching argument for this transition can be seen in the second article presented above, authored by G. A. Lăzurică in the same newspaper Timpul. This is an extensive account not only of the ways in which G. A. Lăzurică was particularly interested in issues of history of the Roma, and tracing this history as a means of constructing a form of solidarity between Roma across the country at the time, but of the ways in which history exemplifies the problems identified by G. A. Lăzurică in the use of ‘Țigan’ over ‘Roma’. According to the Roma leader, who introduces the readers to his interpretation of long account of the history of Roma in the world, the word ‘țigan’ does not belong to Roma and is a pejorative name given to them by “Europeans”, meaning “unclean” or “dirty”. The word “Roma”, on the other hand, is said to mean “superior man”. The article continues with a statement that Roma know how to choose their own name and compares this situation with the naming of Romanians. G. A. Lăzurică thus grounded the use of the term “Roma” in both linguistic and historical terms and pleads for a rejection of the use ‘Țigan’. An approach that would gradually be adopted by almost all Roma newspapers of the era.

Nevertheless, there was one important exception to this apparent trend: namely the newspaper Neamul Țigănesc, published in Făgăraș, which not only maintained the use of the word ‘Țigan’ within its articles, but highlighted the need to take pride in the term that others found derogatory. Unlike other Roma leaders, Naftanailă Lazăr emphasised the fact that he is not “ashamed” of the word ‘țigan’, and does not see in it a potential threat to the social mobilisation of ‘Gypsies’ (6.1.6.) This position places both Neamul Țigănesc and Naftanailă Lazăr in stark contrast to the claims laid out by other Roma leaders and Roma newspapers during the interwar period. It also highlights the continuing importance of the labelling debate for Roma leaders themselves, which can be traced as early as the 1930s.

Raluca Bianca Roman

To better perceive the issue of naming, we selected some examples of the explanation of the term ‘Țigani’, translated into English as ‘Gypsies’, as found in in the Romanian interwar publications:

A. Țigani, i. e. Athingani, a nickname from the Greeks which they had already given to a religious sect of Copts in Syria and Maronite in Palestine. In Greek, the word ‘athingan’ means dirty, cunning man that you should not touch. This name was argued to be given to them when, after a long journey made by the ancestors of the Roma, they first encountered the Byzantine Greeks, who saw them with long curly hair, ragged and dirty clothing (Timpul, 1938a, p. 2).

B. Țigani, i. e. Cingar/Cengar, Indian pariah tzengar, i. e. the most humiliated man which are situated at the lowest level of Indian society (Potra, 1939, p. 10).

C. Țigani, i. e. Țigaie, people with long and curly hair resembling the wool of Romanian sheep breed “țigaie” (Iorga, 1939, p. 285).

Ion Duminica

6.6 The Sedentarisation of the Gypsy Nomads

6.6.1 The Colonisation of the Nomadic Gypsies

Colonizarea țiganilor nomazi

În lupta ce s-a început pentru “emanciparea țiganilor” Asociaţia Generală a Ţiganilor din România, cercul Oltenia, “sfătoșii” statului major al asociației- au pornit de curând o vie propagandă în rândul țiganilor lăeți- căutând pe toate căile posibile să-i puie la adăpostul scutului protector de a nu li se mai întâmpla pe viitor neajunsuri din partea diferitelor autorități.

Isbânda “sfătoșilor” s-a văzut în present pe deplin realizată căci însuși organele conducătoare ale legiunilor jandărmărești din jud. Dolj și Mehedinți, s-au arătat foarte serviabile față de reprezentanții asociației, promițându-le pentru viitor tot concursul, atunci când va fi nevoie.

Numai astfel se explică că membrii șatrelor țigănești, vin să se încorporeze în asociație și unde declară că nu mai întâmpină greutățile din trecut din partea jandarmilor.

Asociația urmărește ca atunci când va reuși să-I strângă pe toți în cercul ei, să ia suprema hotărâre, în ceeace privește colonizarea lor, stingând urâtul deci prin acestea, acel urât aspect care trezărește în mințile oamenilor, VIAȚA BARBARĂ.

Ne bucură mersul tinerii asociații; dar ne miră tot de-odată, dece celelalte autorități civile stau SURDOMUTE la această mișcare, care ar trebui să fie mult sprijinită moralicește și materialicește, pentru a i se da posibilitatea să activeze și mai intens – RIDICÂND PRIN ACEASTA PRESTIGIUL ȚĂRII ROMÂNEȘTI.

The colonisation [1] of the nomadic Gypsies

In the struggle that began for the “emancipation of the Gypsies” from Oltenia Circle, the “counsellors” of the association’s major state – have recently launched a propaganda among lăeți Gypsies – seeking in all possible manner to protect them so that they do not face any more shortcomings in the future from all the different authorities. The victory of the “counsellors” has now been fully realised because the very governing organs of the Gendarmerie legions in the Dolj and Mehedinţi counties have proved to be very responsive to the representatives of the association, promising them their support in the future, whenever it will be needed. We can only explain in this way that members of Gypsy camps come to join the association and say that they no longer face the grievances that they have faced from the gendarmerie in the past.

The association seeks to, once it manages to gather all of them around it, take the ultimate decision when it comes to their colonisation, leaving behind that ugly aspect which goes through the minds of people when they think of them, the BARBARIC LIFE.

We are happy with the work of the young association; but it nevertheless surprises us that other civilian authorities remain DEAF to this movement, which should be greatly supported, both morally and materially, so that it be able to continue to work even more intensively – AND THROUGH THIS LIFT UP ALSO THE PRESTIGE OF THE ROMANIAN COUNTRY.

Notes

1. Both here and elsewhere, whenever mentioned, the term ‘colonisation’ refers to the process of settlement and land allocation for nomadic groups.

Source: [No Author]. (1933b). Colonizarea țiganilor nomazi. Timpul, An. 2, No. 17, 1933, November 14, p. 1.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This unauthored article offers important information concerning the regional organisation and development of the General Association of Gypsies in Romania, as well as the interventionist work they engaged with in terms of the settlement of nomadic groups and in terms of providing mediation with, and gaining support from, local authorities, including the gendarmerie. This, as will be seen in the subsequent two articles, was a key point of debate and discussion for Roma elite during the interwar period in Romania.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.6.2 The Nomads Who Create Their Independent State

Printre nomazi

Corturari care-și creiază un stat independent

Este o așezare originală, pitorească prin infinitele detalii, și în plus într-o perfectă coordonare cu spiritul monarhic al unei provincii. Autorii ei, au marele merit, că n-au declanșat nici o forță socială , n-au uzurpat nici un drept istoric și nu și-au însușit nici un apanaj străin, in afară de imaginația lor generoasă.

Cu un cuvânt, statul independent dela Porumbacul de jos, este absolut inofensivă și el poate fi în coordonanță cu principiile Vătafului. Un sever jurist găsește suficiente motive s-o înalțe până la viziunea lui Platon, întruchipată anarhotic pe plaiurile noastre.

Sensul real al statului dela Porumbacul rămâne însă legat de ceeace nomazii cred în puterea lor vitală. Oameni simpli și cu mai puține prejudecăți decât ierarhiile de cărturari ai orașelor, ei au implinit fracmentul de libertate ce li s-a dat cu fantezia lor și au creiat un “stat” cu un singur imperativ: astâmpărul unei pribegii de aproape un mileniu. Structura interesantei așezări a pornit deci dela criteriile cele mai firești li ca toate înfăptuirile sociale netimbrate de târguială, nomazii au creiat la Porumbac un stat, fără forme, dar cu un adânc conținut.

Un drum spre sat

Într-un autobuz care scârțâe din toate oasele, plec la 1 și jumătate către Porumbacu. Autobuzul este arhiplin, căci e zi de Vineri, târg mare la Fărăraș. Lume de tot felul. Printre nădrăgari, înțepați adeseori, se află doi membri marcanți ai statului dela Porumbacu, a căror importanță o definește câte un rând de paftale de aramă. Inalții demnitari iau loc în fundul autobuzului, traversând o notă discordantă de prejudecăți sociale și de rasă. Se simt oarecum stânjeniți căci până acum câteva luni, mijloacele de locomoțiune le-au fost interzise de depoziția oficială. […]

Statul

Teritoriul geografic și etnic al statului, e situat la capătul apusean al Porumbacului de jos și se compune cam dintr-un jugăr de pământ. Din toate punctele de vedere, el a fost precis și cu grije delimintat, așa că nu se poate produce nici o confuzie între monarhia politică și administrativă a satului și sistemul de viață al “statului”. În ceea ce privește istoria statului, ea este de dată recentă, fără eroi naționali și fără profitori în erarhia socială. Sumar, întemeierea ei se bizuie pe următoarele detalii:

– Câteva corturi nomade au cumpărat fâșia de pământ cu 50.000 Lei. Oficialitatea a pus tot felul de piedici. Astfel un reprezentant al bisericii s-a oprit la considerația că prin împământenirea dela Porumbacul i se poate da culturii noastre autohton, o infuzie din incertitudinea gândirii Indiene, ceea ce ar fi profund dăunător patrimoniului nostru național.

Incheerea contractului oscila intr-un moment dat, dar totusi s-a făcut. Singura consolare a demnitarilor satului constă în speranța că într-o zi nomazii se vor plictisi de popasul lor și își vor relua pribegia anonimă. In ziua aceea, satul va recăpăta unitatea monarhică și în plus terenul geografic al statului.

Coloniei i s-a dat apoi amploarea unui stat prin independența pe care și-o păstrează înritmul de viață cotidiană. E prima colonie de cortorari ajungă în posesiunea unui teritoriu în Ardeal după răsboiu și poate primi nomazi, care întemeiază un stat fără metamorfoza asimilării de către massa dominantă.

Teritoriu noului stat este delimitat.

Acesta se compune dintr-un țarc de stână, suficient de rezistent pentru a opri invazia unei cirezi de vite.

Câțiva din stâlpii țarcului spre a căpăta o semnificație mai adâncă, au fost decorați în cele patru colțuri cu niște funduri de pălării mucigăite- amănunt care simbolizează pentru localnici una din lozincile Ligii Națiunilor: “pace și bună înțelegere printre popoare”.

În această îngrăditură trăesc două duzini de suflete de opt corturi. In afara iluziei frontierelor, “statul” n-a mai adus nici o altă inovație în ritumul de viață al corturarilor.

Școala a fost suplinită cu ceeace pribegia și foamea aduc ca belșug de învățământ minții, religia se rezumă la evocarea naturii în virtutea vechilor percepte budiste, iar proprietatea privată lipsită de o noțiune concretă.

Pe drumul progresului, corturarii dela Porumbac, au rămas într-un brutal contrast de inadoptare, în schimb ele sunt cele mai apropiate ființe de îndrumarea firească a naturii.

“Statul” dela Porumbac păstrează un singur echivoc pe cale de a se lămuri și acesta. Anume corturarii au rămas încă instituția voevodatului care s-a dovedit a fi la început mai tare decât forța politică a statului. E drept că din amploarea lui s-a ciuntit enorm și adesea tineretul organizează răsmeriță împotriva voevodatului. Așa de pildă, dela înzghebarea statului încoace, șeful coloniei a rămas de trei ori în minoritate cu sfatul lui, iar prerogativele constituționale i-au fost reduse până la inexistență. […]

In ce priveste indeletnicirile profesionale ale tribului ele sunt două: căldările și ghicitoria. Ambele sunt repartizate după sexe și după o chibzuită coordonare a uceniciei.

Meșteșugul de ghicitoare începe la 30 de ani, când femeia intră pe pragul maturității, după concepția parilor. Până atunci ea face școală și este supusă la exerciții profesionale după cele mai reale aptitudini de inteligență. […]

Corturarii dela Porumbacu nu cred în ghioc, după cum un preot nu crede în miracolul unei cămăș slujită în altar.

Artiștii

De calitate mult mai superioară rămân însă căldările. Sunt maeștrii geniali, mai întâi prin manevrarea iscusită a cărbunarilor. Un astfel de căldărar bătrân utiliza doi tăciuni numai cu vârful unghiilor, topind la caloriile lor un chilogram de aramă masivă. Prins ca în ghiară de maimuță, un cărbune era așezat la capătul subțiat al aramei, iar al doilea pe muchea ei, căruia corturarul îi spunea mir. Cele zece unghii suplineau întreg atelierul de instrumente necesare unei asemenea lucrări, iar ciocanul era un fel de auxiliar, pentru cazul când arama se încăpățina în refractarea ei.

Aceleași mâini se agitară apoi savant în fixarea incrustațiilor. Din câteva mișcări cu o bucată de cremene, tingirea capătă cel mai variat decor de herogrife antice, făcând ca un sugestiv obiect de artă populară […]

Al. Marinescu

Among the nomads

Corturari who created an independent state

It is an original settlement, picturesque through its infinite details, and in addition to this, in perfect coordination with the monarchical spirit of a province. Her authors have the great merit that they have not triggered any social force, have not usurped any historical rights, and have not acquired any foreign favours apart from their generous imagination. In a word, the independent state of the Porumbacul de Jos [1] is absolutely harmless and it can be in coordination with the principles of the Vataf. A harsh jurist finds plenty of reasons to lift it up to Plato’s vision, embodied anarchically in our lands. The real meaning of the state in Porumbac remains related to what nomads believe in their vital power. Simple and less prejudicial people than the hierarchies of the scribes from the cities, they have fulfilled the bit of freedom that was given to them with their own fantasy, and created a “state” with a single imperative: the settlement of a millennium of wandering. The structure of the interesting settlement started, therefore, from the most natural criteria and, like all the social achievements that are not imbued by the bargaining, the nomads created at Porumbac a state, without forms, but with a deep content.

A road to the village

On a bus that squeaks out of all its bones, I’m leaving at half-past one o’clock to Porumbacu. The bus is busy, because it’s Friday, a day of a big fair at Fărăraş [2]. People of all kinds. Among the travellers, often poked at [3], are two distinguished members of the state of Porumbacu, whose importance is highlighted by a set of brass paftas [4]. These high dignitaries take a seat at the end of the bus, crossing a discordant note of social and racial prejudices. They feel somewhat embarrassed because until a few months ago, the means of locomotion were forbidden to them by official deposition. […]

The State

The geographic and ethnic territory of the state is located at the western end of the Porumbacul de Jos, and consists of a heap of earth. From all points of view, this has been precisely and carefully delineated, so there can be no confusion between the political and administrative monarchy of the village and the state’s system of life. As far as the history of the state is concerned, it is recent, without national heroes and without profiteers in social hierarchy. In summary, its foundation is based on the following details:

– Some nomadic tents bought the land with 50,000 Lei. The official authority has put up all sorts of obstacles. Thus, a representative of the church stopped and considered that through the land-allocation of Porumbac an infusion of the uncertainty of Indian thought could potentially be given to our native culture, which would be profoundly harmful to our national patrimony.

The finalising of the contract was oscillating at one point, but it was finally done. The only consolation of the village dignitaries lies in the hope that one day the nomads will become bored with their rest and will resume their anonymous wandering. On that day, the village will regain its monarchic unity and, moreover, the geographic terrain of the state. The colony [5] was then given the size of a state by the independence it retains in its everyday life. It is the first colony of Kortorari [6] in Transylvania to come into the possession of a territory after a war and perhaps the first nomads to establish a state without the metamorphosis of assimilation within the dominant mass.

The territory of the new state is delimited. It consists of a sheep pen, sufficiently resistant to stop the invasion of a herd of cattle. Several of the pillars of the pen, in order to gain a deeper meaning, were decorated in the four corners with the bottom of some mouldy hats, which symbolised for the locals one of the slogans of the League of Nations: “peace and good understanding among peoples.”

In this enclosure live two dozen souls of eight tents. Besides the illusion of borders, the “state” has not brought any further innovation into the rhythm of life of the Kortorari. The school has been replaced with what wandering and hunger brings as a wealth of teaching for the mind, religion is limited to the evocation of nature by virtue of old Buddhist perceptions, and private property lacks any concrete definition. On the way to progress, the Porumbac Kortorari have remained in a brutal contrast of non-adaptation, instead they are the closest beings to the natural guidance of nature.

The “State” of Porumbac keeps a single question mark which will soon be clarified as well. Namely, the Kortorari still have the Voivodeship institution [7], which proved to be stronger at first than the political force of the state. It is true that from its influence a lot has been removed and often the youth organise a fight against the voivodate [8]. For example, since the building of the state, the head of the colony has remained three times in the minority with his counsel, and his constitutional prerogatives were reduced to nonexistence. […]

As for the professional occupations of the tribe, these are two: the cauldrons and the fortune-telling. Both are broken down by gender and after a thoughtful coordination of apprenticeship.

The craft of fortune-telling begins at the age of 30, when the woman enters the threshold of maturity, after conception. Until then, she is in school and undergoes professional exercises following the most real of intelligence skills. […]

Porumbacu’s Kortorari do not believe in fortune-telling, much like a priest does not believe in the miracle of a shirt used for serving in the altar.

The artists

Of much higher quality, however, are the cauldrons. They are genius masters, firstly by the skilful manoeuvring of coal. Such an old Kaldarar (Cauldron-maker) would use two pieces of charcoal only with the tip of his nails, melting at their heat a massive kilogram of brass. Caught like in a monkey’s claws, a charcoal was placed at the thin end of the brass, and the second on its muzzle, which the Kortorari would call mir. The ten nails supported the entire workshop needed for such a work, and the hammer was a kind of auxiliary, for when the brass stubbornly refrained from being worked. The same hands agitate skilfully in the fixing of the inscriptions. With only a few movements, the cauldron gets the most varied ancient hieroglyphics decoration, making it a suggestive object of folk art. […]

Al. Marinescu

Notes

1. The name of the village in Sibiu county, Transylvania.

2. The name of a city in Transylvania.

3. The original word used is ințepați, which would translate as ‘stung’. However, it is most likely that the meaning of the word be ‘poked at’.

4. Pafta (from Turkish) decorated brass belts clasp, traditional metal art of the Balkan peoples.

5. Colonie/kolonia is a term used to designate a Gypsy settlement in Transylvania, Hungary and Slovakia, synonym of țigania (Romanian), ciganytelep (Hungarian), osada (Slovak).

6. Literally, the tent dwellers, term used as designation of nomadic Roma groups, in this case most probably it is about Kelderari.

7. Referring here to a traditional organisation of Roma around a voivode.

8. Voivodate would refer to an area governed by a voivode leader. However, in this context, it most likely means the fight organised by younger generations against the traditional leaders.

Source: Marinescu, Al. (1934e). Printre nomazi. Corturari care-și creiază un stat independent. Neamul Țigănesc, An. 1, No. 2, 1934, September 8, p. 4.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman

Comments

This is an extract from a long, descriptive article. Its importance as a source material lies mainly in the fact that it mentions the organisation of what is said to be an “independent state”. In fact, the article makes reference to the settlement of a group of Kortorari (Kelderari) at the outskirts of a town Porumbacul de Jos. Nevertheless, the emphasis placed on the judicial independence of this so-called “state” is evocative, primarily in the ways in which it plays with the narrative of self-organisation among this community. The article itself has both romanticising and at times exoticising undertones, as well as a note of exaggerating the level of independence of the “state” it describes. In that sense, the concept of an “independent state” itself must be treated somewhat critically and sceptically. Nevertheless, as it provides ample description of this particular settlement, as well as the form of organisation within it, it constitutes an interesting analysis of what the process of sedentarisation entails in respect to nomadic groups at the time.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.6.3 The Colonisation of Nomads

Colonizarea nomazilor

Printr-o măsură a autorităților țiganii nomazi cari dădeau meleagurilor noastre un aspect oriental vor fi siliți să trăiască de acum încolo la fel cu toți locuitorii: sub acoperiș …

S-a dovedit că această categorie de oameni pitorești în aparență, au fost și au rămas, prin tradiție, refractari oricărui fel de viață care ar încerca să îî despartă de caracteristicile firii lor: vagabondajul, cu fatalele sale consecințe, mizeria și bolile …

Cum mijloacele de trai ale țiganilor spre care îi îndrepta o fire specific orientală erau dintre cele mai ciudate, – începând cu jocurile urșilor, maimuțelor, ghicitul cu ghiocul și în palmă și sfârșind cu spoitul, cerșitul și furtișagul, – acum va trbui să se facă reeducarea acestor elemente nărăvite de o viață mizeră.

În coloniile de muncă, unde probabil vor fi trimiși cei mai mulți, ar fi de dorit ca această reeducare să se facă pe baze de înțelegere mai largă și mai omenească, iar nu prim intermediul unor oameni brutali și lipsiți de simțire și înțelegere.

În calitatea noastră de colaboratori ai acestei chestiuni, ne permitem ca Asociație de organizare și emancipare a romilor să ne dăm părerea cum această categorie de romi s-ar acomoda în organizarea gospodărească:

1. Cum acești nomazi, se îndeletnisec cu geambășia, alții cu căldărăria, lingurăria, pieptănăria, albirea, spoitul obiectelor de aramă, etc., locul cel mai nimerit – după noi- ar fi ca, colonizarea să se facă la periferie sau în formarea de comune suburbane pe lângă orașe, târguri și comune urbane unde ar avea posibilitatea să-și desfacă marfa fie prin cooperație, fie individual săptămânal în târguri sau la orașe și apoi cu timpul și cu bunăvoința și colaborarea tuturor- ca, acești copii ai nimănui, vor deveni cu timpul cetățeni conștienți, muncitori, și vor uita că a fost odată ca niciodată …

Evoluția nu stă pe loc!

“Jurnalul”

The colonisation of nomads

By a measure of the authorities, nomadic Gypsies, who gave our lands an oriental look, will be forced to live in the same way as all other inhabitants: under the roof …

It has been shown that this category of people, picturesque in appearance, have been and have remained, through their tradition, reticent to any kind of life that would try to separate them from the characteristics of their nature: vagabondage, with its fatal consequences, misery and disease …

Given that the livelihoods of these ‘țigani’, directed by a specific Oriental personality, were of the oddest kind, – beginning with the dances of bears, monkeys, guessing with the log and palm reading and ending with tinkering, begging and thieving, – the re-education of these elements forged by a miserable life will now have to be done.

In the labour colonies, where most of them are likely to be sent, it would be desirable for this re-education to be based on broader and more humane understandings rather than through the medium of brutal people, lacking empathy and understanding.

In our capacity of collaborators to this issue, we allow ourselves that the Association for Roma organisation and emancipation expresses their opinion as to how this category of Roma could be accommodated within household organisations:

1. Given that these nomads’ primary work is, for some, copper-making, for others cauldron-making, spoon-making, comb-making, the whitening and making of bronze objects, etc., the most suitable place – according to us – would be that the colonisation be done at the periphery or through the formation of suburban communes near cities, fairs and urban communities, where they would have the opportunity to sell their work weekly, either collaboratively or individually, in fairs or cities and then, with time and with the goodwill and collaboration of all, these children of nobody will become, with time, conscious citizens, workers, and they will forget that there was once upon a time …

Evolution does not stand still!

“The Newspaper”

Source: Tache. (1940a). Colonizarea nomazilor. Glasul Romilor, An. 6, No. 14, 1940, April [no day], p. 2.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This article, published in April 1940 in one of the last issues of Glasul Romilor, constitutes another important example of one of the most central focus themes among Roma leaders during the interwar period in Romania: namely, the sedentarisation of nomadic Gypsies. Labelled, in all these articles as ‘colonisation’, the process refers, in reality, to the process of land allocation for nomadic groups in Romania. This and other articles show that the process of sedentarisation has been not only supported by Roma leaders but, in fact, encouraged, as the nomadic way of life was being perceived as irreconcilable with the idea of social integration, education, and progress.

Nevertheless, the article above also pleads for a “more humane” treatment by local authorities of the nomadic Gypsies, through a pleading for mutual understanding between the former and the latter. In this sense, the authors address the previous mistreatment of this community by authorities and advocate the possibility of allowing their means of earning a living to continue once settlement has taken place. As such, the emphasis placed on the settlement of these communities on “the periphery” needs to be understood within the context in which the practice of their traditional occupations may continue in collaboration with local communities, in fairs and market places. It is through this that the “transformation” of nomadic groups into “hard-working” citizens is seen possible and the demands of Roma leaders for the sedentarisation of nomadic groups can be fully understood.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.7 Religion

6.7.1 God’s Work among the Gypsies

Pagina despre Țigani: Lucrul Lui Dumnezeu printre țigani

Cum s’a început acest lucru in Chișinău – noi deja am scris. In an[ul] 1930 a venit în Chișinău frat[ele] Mincov, misionar printe țigani în Bulgaria, unde există deja casa de rugăciune țigănească, școala duminicală și cercul tineretului. De anul acesta s’a înființat în Chișinău cercul de rugăciune care deja 4 ani se adună și se roagă lui Dumnezeu, pentru trezirea spirituală a poporului țigan. Afară de rugăciune cercul s’a stăruit a da și ajutor bănesc misiunei printre țigani în Bulgaria. Dumnezeu a auzit rugăciunile cercului și în câteva locuri țigani s’au pocăit. In an[ul] 1931 s’a început lucru Domnului printre țigani în Arad. Iată ce scrie s[ora] Hester din București: Primul lucru făcut printre țigani a fost făcut de fratele Cocuț in Arad. După trei ani de lucru, exista acum o biserică țigănească in Arad cu membrii si Scoală Duminecală. Din această biserica a iești un tânăr care promite mult pentru viitorul lucrului si care acum studiază la Seminarului de băeți din București. Acesta este fratele Lingurar. Fratele Lingurar ne-a dat o dare de seama despre lucrul intre țigani, pe care v’o trimit si Dvs:

Țiganii și Isus

In orașul Arad, suburbia Sega, este un teritoriu locuit de țigani. Starea vieții lor si mai ales cea spirituală, a fost foarte tristă și de nedescris. Iubirea lui Dumnezeu arătată în jertfa lui Isus a fost în măsură generală, necunoscută de ei. Vieața lor mergea din ce în ce în mai rău. Păcatul si immoralitatea îi stăpânea si o tristețe ca de moarte se putea citi pe fețele lor. Ziarele erau pline de ravagiile si dificultățile pe care le făceau oamenilor care trăiau in jurul lor. In acest timp trist, iată că apare Evanghelia lui Dumnezeu, care în chip minunat schimbă viața multora dintre ei, dintre care sunt și eu, cel care scriu aceste rânduri. Lucrul s’a petrecut in modul următor: In anul 1931, două persoane de țigani care erau membrii în biserica baptistă din suburbia Sega au judecat in felul următor- oare n’am putea noi sa deschidem o casă de rugăciune chiar pe teritoriul nostru?

Dându-și seama de răspunderea ce o au in fața lui Dumnezeu, au deschis în casa unuia dintre ei o adunare. La început au fost doar 3-4, mai târziu au fost nevoiți sa închirieze o casa mai mare, de oarece poporul venea cu duiumul, așa ca astăzi există în țara noastră prima biserica baptistă țigănească din România “Biserica Credința din Arad-Sega”.

Lucrul lui Dumnezeu înaintează de minune dar nu numai în biserică ci chiar și acolo unde auzeai înjurături, acuma auzi cântând slava lui Dumnezău. In decursul acestor trei ani s’au organizat două botezuri, adaugandu-se la cei doi frați încă douăzeci si opt. In anul acesta se așteaptă un nou botez frumos. Majoritatea din aceștia sunt băieți si fete, elevi ai Școalei Duminicale, deoarece trebuie sa spun ca s’a organizat o Școală Duminicala care astăzi are 8-10 clase cu învățătorii lor din foștii membrii. Faptul petrecut în anul 1933 a impresionat foarte mult pe ascultători.

A fost finele anului Școalei Duminicale. Fratele Cocuț care a lucrat în mijlocul lor, a examinat. Examenul a fost și moral și spiritual și în toate au reușit de minune. După un discurs al fratelui Cocuț urmat de cântarea “Cu blândețe și drag Isus ne chiamă”, douăzeci și opt de elevi și-au mărturisit credința în Isus, predându-se lui. Nu pot descrie bucuria ce întrase în inimile tuturor. Toată biserica a izbucnit în plâns de la copil până la cel mai bătrân. Despre vieața acestor copii se pot spune multe. Părinții lor care erau necredincioși se purtau foarte rău cu ei. Erau bătuți și chinuiți fără milă, dar prin toate nimic nu i-a despărțit de Isus. Ba mai mult părinții lor au pășit pe urmele lor și mulți dintre ei probabil în anul acesta se vor boteza odată cu copii lor. Iată deci efectul binecuvântător pe care l-a avut Evanghelia asupra tuturor popoarelor. Dar sunt foarte mulți încă ce nu știu nimic despre această Veste Bună și trăesc încă încătușați în lanțurile păcatului și care cu orice preț trebuesc duși la Isus care a murit și pentru ei.

Fr. Lingurar

A Page concerning the Gypsies: God’s work among the Gypsies

We’ve already written about the start of the work in Chisinau [1]. In the year 1930 Brother Minkov came to Chisinau, a missionary among the Gypsies in Bulgaria, where a Gypsy prayer house, Sunday school, and youth group already exist [2]. This year the prayer group was founded in Chisinau which has already been meeting for the past four years to pray to God for the spiritual awakening of the Gypsy people. Apart from prayer, the group has laboured to provide financial aid to the mission among the Gypsies in Bulgaria. God heard the group’s prayers and in a few places Gypsies repented. In the year 1931 God’s work among the Gypsies began in Arad. Here is what sister Hester [3] from Bucharest writes: The first outreach to the Gypsies was done by Brother Cocut in Arad. After three years of work, a Gypsy church now exists in Arad with members and a Sunday school. From this church comes a young man who shows great promise for this work in the future and who now studies at the boys’ seminary in Bucharest. He is Brother Lingurar. Brother Lingurar sent us an account about the work among the Gypsies, which I send along to you as well:

Jesus and the Gypsies

In the city of Arad [4], the suburban area of Sega, there is an area where Gypsies reside. The state of their lives, and especially the spiritual element, was very sad and without words. The love of God shown through the sacrifice of Jesus was in large part unknown to them. Their lives became increasingly worse. Sin and immorality governed them and a sadness unto death could be read on their faces. The newspapers were filled with the devastation and difficulties that they inflicted on those living around them. During this sad time, behold the Gospel of God appears, which changes the lives of many of them in a marvellous way, including me, the one writing these lines. This work occurred as follows: In the year 1931, two Gypsies who were members at the Baptist church in the Sega suburbs decided the following- couldn’t we open a prayer house in our own neighbourhood?

Realizing their calling before God, they opened a meeting place in one of their own houses. At first there were only 3-4, while later they needed to rent a larger house [5], as the people came in droves, as such today there exists in our country the first Gypsy Baptist Church in Romania “Faith Church in Arad-Sega” [6].

God’s work progresses miraculously, not only in the church but even where you formerly heard curses today you hear singing for the glory of God. During these three years, two baptisms were organised, adding twenty-eight to the founding two brothers. This year a beautiful new baptism is anticipated. The majority of candidates are boys and girls from the Sunday school; I must mention the Sunday school that was organised has at present 8 to 10 classes, with teachers who were former pupils. The event that occurred in 1933 impressed many listeners.

It was the end of the Sunday school year. Brother Cocut, who worked in our midst led the examinations [5]. The exam was both moral and spiritual and they succeeded wonderfully. After a talk by Brother Cocut, followed by the song “Softly and Tenderly,” twenty-eight students witnessed their faith in Jesus, giving themselves to him. I can’t describe the joy that entered the hearts of all present. The whole church burst into tears from children to the elderly. Much can be said about the lives of these [students]. Their parents were unbelievers and treated them badly. They were beaten and tortured without mercy, but through it all nothing separated them from Jesus. More so, many of their parents followed in their steps and will likely receive baptism this year along with their children. Behold the blessed effect the Gospel has had on all nations. But there are many still who know nothing about this Good News and continue to live chained to sin and whom must be brought at any price to Jesus, who died for them as well.

Brother Lingurar

Notes

1. The article referenced is in a previous issue of Svetilnic not yet found.

2. Earl Hester was the director of the women’s Baptist seminary ‘James Memorial Training School’ in Bucharest from 1930 to 1937 (Farul Creștin, 1937, pp. 5, 7).

3. Arad is a city located in southern Transylvania, near Romania’s western border with Hungary.

4. The names of the two founding members are uncertain, but secondary sources list Ilie Roman, Pavel Lugas, Iosif Bogovici, Petru Ghiura and Anton Lingurar among the founders of ‘Biserica Credința’ who previously attended the Romanian Baptist Church in Arad (cf. Bunaciu, 2006).

5. For more details about Pastor Minkov and baptist propaganda among Gypsies in Bulgaria, see Chapter 2.

6. This pattern of the emergence of Gypsy churches in compact Gypsy settlements is widespread in South-Eastern Europe nowadays (cf. Славкова 2007).

7. The format and content of these exams is unclear. They may have been linked to catechism classes or to their religious instruction certificates, required by law to exempt them from Orthodox religious teaching in school. No other Baptist interwar articles mention Sunday school examinations.

Source: Fr. Lingurar. (1934). Pagina despre Țigani: Lucrul Lui Dumnezeu printre țigani. Svetilnic, No. 6-7, 1934, June – July, pp. 2-3.

This issue of the newspaper is preserved in AVF, Chișinău, Republic of Moldova.

Prepared for publication by Iemima Ploșcariu.

Comments

The article, published in 1934 in the Bessarabian Baptist newspaper Svetilnic gives a valuable and, thus far, the only available published account of the First Gypsy Baptist Church in Romania from the perspective of a Roma member of the church. The author is thought to be Dumitru Lingurar, who studied at the Baptist seminary in Bucharest, later received a law degree, and served as a judge in Sannicoleaul Mare, a district in the Banat region of southwestern Romania. Brother Lingurar, as he identifies himself at the end of the article, links the improvement of the Gypsy community in Romania, and Arad in particular, with the growing Protestant (or neo-Protestant) religious movements.

The social and cultural context of the article is one of intense religious competition between the Romanian Orthodox Church and the so-called sectarians. The dominant social role of the Orthodox Church influenced the Romanian government to enact legislation restricting the activity of these groups. Nevertheless, the Baptist denomination was one of the largest of these religious groups in interwar Romania.

Though the surge of Roma Protestant and especially Pentecostal churches occurred with the Roma revival spread from France in the 1950s, this article points to early conversion of Roma to non-Greek Orthodox churches in Romania prior to World War II. It is evidence of a new stage in Gypsy identity formation through engagement with a minority religious group that lacked a history of Gypsy prejudice as was present in the Orthodox Church.

Lingurar identifies the Baptist faith with a superior moral and spiritual status. The call to repentance – pocăință – appears in the introduction by the editor of Svetilnic (likely Boris Bușilă), from which the moniker of pocăiți or repenters was given to Baptist, Brethren, and Pentecostal believers, and which was adopted as a self-identifying term by these believers (Bușilă, 1935, p.2). Lingurar does not use the term himself, but mentions a turn away from sin, immorality, cursing, and violence among the Gypsies in Arad-Sega once they had been exposed to the Good News – Vestea Bună – of the Bible. He does not identify negative characteristics specifically to the Gypsies, but points to the role of Bible teachings in prompting change and providing the Gypsy community, young people in particular, with avenues to advance socially through education.

The account reveals the initiative to start their own Protestant church, named Credința [Faith] was taken by the Baptist Gypsies in Arad. Ioan Cocuț, secretary of the Romanian Baptist Union (1937-1939) and editor of their newspaper Farul Crestin (1933-1939), is mentioned by Lingurar as taking an active part in the development of the Credința Church; however, the teachers of the Sunday school and the church founders were clearly from the Gypsy community. This spurred Romanian outreach and mission among the Gypsies in Bucharest and Alba-Iulia, among other places (Glasul Evangheliei, 1931, pp. 1-2; Farul Creștin, 1933, p. 12; 1936, p. 6; 1937b, p. 7). However, in these latter cities the role of Roma in leadership was lacking and no lasting Gypsy church was founded as in Arad.

Iemima Ploșcariu

6.7.2 The Priests and Our Movement

Preoții și mișcarea noastră

Mișcarea de ridicare a Romilor, a pornit în cadrul bisericei și legiii strămoșești, căci Romii înainte de toate sunt creștini și la sânul bisericei și-au găsit întotdeauna alinarea sufletului lor pribegit de toți.

În Ardeal Romii fac parte dintre credincioșii ambelor biserici strămoșești, atât ortodoxă cât și unită, iar conducătorii bisericei în frunte cu I.P.S. Patriarhul Miron Cristea și I.P.S. Metropolit al Bisericei unite privesc cu bucurie și binecuvântează mișcarea noastră de ridicare.

In munca de organizare, pe care a desfășurat-o dl. Naftanailă Lazăr s-a bucurat de bunăvoința tuturor preoților, cari au luat parte le (sic) adunările Romilor binecuvântând începerea muncii organizațiilor comunale.

Dintre prea cinstiții preoți, cari ne-au dat tot concursul trebue să arătăm pe sf. sa preotul Valeriu Crișan dela Șercaia, un distins ziarist și propagator de cultură, care este și președinte de onoare al org. Romilor din Șercaia, apoi păr. Emil Boroș, preș. de onoare la Șinca veche Petru Florea, președ. de onoare la Tincușul vechiu, păr. Ioan Mihaiu la Bărcuț, păr. V. Modorcea la Grid, păr. Petru Târziu la Seliștat, păr. Emil Popa la Agnita, păr. Coanta la Cincul mare, un preot distins și harnic, care ne-a dat mare sprijin.

După cum se vede președintele nostru a cercetat și organizat și pe Romii din Agnita, după cum se dovedește prin adeverința data de păr. protopop Emil Păcală. La Mândra ne-a sprijinir (sic) păr. Ilarie Cocan, la Dealul frumos d. înv. E. Fleșcariu.

După cum merită pentru fapta lor acestor cinstiți slujitori ai altarelor le aducem laude și mulțumiri.

Naftanailă Lazăr

The Priests and our movement

The Roma emancipation movement started within the church and the law of our forefathers, for the Roma are, above all, Christians and it is at the bosom of the church they have always found the relief of their soul, often forsaken by all others. In Transylvania, the Roma belong to both ancestral churches [1], both Orthodox and United [2], and the leaders of the church, with the leadership of I.P.S. Patriarch Miron Cristea and I.P.S. Metropolitan of the Catholic Church [3], look upon us with joy and bless our uplifting movement. In the organisation work, which Mr. Naftanailă Lazăr has been doing, he benefitted from the goodwill of all the priests who took part in the meetings of the Roma, who blessed the commencement of the work of the communal organisations.

Among the much honest priests, who gave us all their support, we have to name his holiness priest Valeriu Crişan of Șercaia, a distinguished journalist and propagator of culture, who is also honorary president of the org. of the Roma in Sercaia, then father Emil Boros, Pres. of Honor to Sinca veche, Petru Florea, presided. of honour to old Tincuş, father Ioan Mihaiu in Bărcuţ, father V. Modrid in Grid, father Petru Târziu at the Selistat, father Emil Popa at Agnita, father Coanta at Cincul Mare, a distinguished and diligent priest, who gave us great support. As we can see, our president has also researched and organised the Roma in Agnita, as is evidenced by the certificate given by father protopop Emil Pacala. At Mandra we were supported by father Ilarie Cocan, at Dealul Frumos by Mr. teacher E. Flescariu. As they deserve, for the deeds of these honest servants of the altars, we offer them praise and thanks.

Naftanailă Lazăr

Notes

1. Unlike other Roma organisations in Romania at the time, the Neo-Rustic Brotherhood seems to have developed close relations to both the Orthodox Church and the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, both regarded then in Transylvania as Romanian denominations (cf. above).

2. Romanian Greek Catholic Church is known also under designation Romanian Church United with Rome, from here the short designation in text is ‘United’.

3. It refers again to the same Greek Catholic Church.

Source: Lazăr, N. (1935). Preoții și mișcarea noastră. Neamul Țigănesc, An. 2, No. 3, 1935, April [no day], p. 3.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

Similar to other Roma organisations during the interwar period, the Neo-Rustic Brotherhood seems to have put an emphasis on the close relationship between their movement and the help of Church authorities. As such the article refers to the role of the Orthodox church within the Roma movement, and the centrality of this connection. According to the author, the Roma movement has started in the midst of the Church. Unlike the General Union of Roma in Romania (based in Bucharest and led by Gheorghe Niculescu), which seemed to support exclusively the Orthodox church and, in turn, be supported by the latter, the above article also presents the particular situation of Roma living in the region of Transylvania. Here, as the author states, Roma belong to both the Orthodox and Greek Catholic Church, both of which have supported the movement. Therefore, the distinction between the two does not seem to be as strongly made as within the midst of the General Union of Roma in Romania (Matei, 2010b, pp. 159-173). In that sense also, several priests are mentioned as having been key supporters of the movement, though there is no mention made of the Church that each of them belongs to. This article is therefore important also in highlighting the different positions Roma organisations during the interwar period have had with respect to their relationship to the Orthodox Church as the only viable possibility.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.7.3 The Orthodox Church and the Roma

Din activitatea noastă misionara

“Prin credință nestrămutată în Sfânta Biserică Creștină Ortodoxă și sub înalta oblăduire a I.P.S. Patriarh Dr. Miron Cristea, pornim la muncă cinstit, pentru emanciparea oropsitului popor rom”.

Potrivit punctelor din statut care prevăd propovăduirea învățăturilor Domnului Hristos am întreprins o vastă propagandă religioasă printre romii după tot cuprinsul României Mari.

In multe părți – unde condițiunile de trai au făcut ca romii să trăiască în mare promiscuitate și de unde deci nu putea fi vorba de nici un nivel spiritual cât de puțin ridicat- am fost întrebați: “noi cărui cult trebue să aparținem?”, la care întrebare le-am răspuns deschis și din toată inima: “cinstiți pe Dumnezeu și urmați învățăturile Bisericii Creștine Ortodoxe, căci numai așa vă veti mântui sufletul”. Am fost pretutindeni ascultați și actele pe cari le vom reda mai jos o dovedesc.

In comuna Tinca, jud. Bihor, într-o singură zi am botezat 324 romi, cari n-aveau nici-o credință și cari astăzi merg regulat la biserică.

“Unirea” din 3 Mai 1936, care apare la Timișoara scrie: “Romii din orașul nostru și împrejurimi s-au adunat în număr mare pentru a asculta glasul trimisului dela centru Nucu Grigore. Acest delegat a organizat romii din mai multe subcentre și a format și la Caransebeș un subcentru. S-au cetit statutele prin cari de acum înainte: 1) romii nu mai vor cerși cu vor trăi din muncă cinstită; 2) vor merge regulat la biserică; 3) se vor căsători legitim și nu vor mai trăi în concubinaj” (Vichentie Lupașcu).

La Turnu Severin au fost cununate 50 perechi și botezați 20 copii în religia creștină ortodoxă. Serviciul religios a fost oficiat chiar de P.S.S. Episcop Vartolomeu al Râmnicului, înconjurat de un sobor de preoți. Căsătoriții au primit câte-o icoană de argint, iar copii botezați îmbrăcămintea respective (Dimineața 14 V 936).

La Bărbulești-Ialomița, a avut loc o serbare școlară dată numai de copiii romi, cu scop de propagandă religioasă și culturală, la care au luat parte peste 1500 de romi (Tempo 2 VIII 936).

Tot la Bărbulești a avut loc în ziua de 19 Iulie, cununia a 100 perechi de romi, dintre cari mulți erau trecuți de 50 ani. Nași au fost d-ni miniștrii Aurelian Bentoiu și Popescu-Băleni, prefectul județului (Universul 22 VII 936).

La Timiș-Torontal s-a inaugurat o școală și au fost cununate 50 perechi de romi.

La această sărbătoare a luat parte si d-l dr. C. Angelescu, ministrul educației naționale.

La Satu-Mare au fost cununate de asemeni 100 perechi de romi, cari ne-au urmat sfatul de-a nu mai trăi în concubinaj.

Am putea enumăra încă multe cazuri. Ne oprim făcând un călduros apel la romii, cu cari n-am putut încă lua contact până acum, să fie uniți în jurul sfintei Biserici Creștine Ortodoxe, alături de frații noștri români. Acelaș apel îl facem și autorităților ca atunci când se vor mai făptui acte ca cele de mai sus să acorde romilor toată solicitudinea, ajutându-i astfel, să se ridice spiritual și moral și să fie buni cetățeni ai Țării.

N. Niculescu.

Secretar general la centru și misionar al Sf. Patriarhii.

About our missionary activity

“Through an unflinching faith in the Holy Orthodox Christian Church and under the protection of the I.P.S. Patriarch Dr. Miron Cristea, we start an honest work for the emancipation of the abandoned Roma people.”

According to the points in the statutes which emphasise the preaching of the teachings of Christ, we have undertaken vast religious propaganda among Roma throughout Great Romania.

In many parts of the country – where living conditions have made the Roma to live in great promiscuity, and where there could be no talk of any whatsoever high spiritual level – we were asked, “which cult should we belong to?”, to which question we answered openly and wholeheartedly: “Honour God and follow the teachings of the Orthodox Christian Church, for that is how you will save your soul.” We have been listened to everywhere and the acts we are going to relay below prove it. In Tinca, Bihor County, in one day we baptised 324 Roma, who had no faith and who today regularly go to the church.

“Unirea” of 3 May 1936, which appears in Timişoara [1], reads: “The Roma in our town and its surroundings gathered in large numbers to listen to the voice of the envoy from the centre, Nucu Grigore’s. This delegate organised Roma from several sub-centres and formed a sub-centre at Caransebes. They have read the statutes by which from now on: 1) the Roma will no longer beg but will make a living through honest work; 2) They will go to the church regularly; 3) They will legally marry and will not live in concubinage” (Vicentie Lupascu).

In Turnu Severin 50 couples were baptised and 20 children were baptised in the Orthodox Christian religion. The religious service was even officiated by P.S.S. Bishop Vartolomeu of Râmnic, surrounded by a group of priests. The married couples received a silver icon as a gift and the children baptised the respective garment (Dimineata [2], 14.05.1936).

In Barbulesti-Ialomita, a school celebration took place, given only by Roma children, with the purpose of religious and cultural propaganda, to which more than 1500 Roma took part (Tempo [3], 02.08.1936).

Also in Barbulesti, on July 19, the marriage of 100 Roma couples took place, many of whom were over 50 years old.

The godparents were minister Aurelian Bentoiu and Popescu-Băleni, prefect of the county (Universul [4], 08.1936).

A school was inaugurated in Timis-Torontal and 50 Roma couples were officially married. This celebration was attended by Dr. C. Angelescu, Minister of National Education.

At Satu-Mare, 100 Roma couples, who followed our advice not to live in concubinage, were also officially married.

We could enumerate many more cases. We stop by making a warm appeal to the Roma, whom I have not yet been able to contact, to be united around the holy Orthodox Christian Church, together with our Romanian brothers. The same appeal we make to the authorities that, when actions similar to the ones mentioned above will take place again, they give the Roma all their solicitude, thus helping them to rise spiritually and morally and to be good citizens of the country.

N. Niculescu.

Secretary-General at the Centre and Missionary of the Patriarchate.

Notes

1. Local newspaper published in Romania. Title in the original language.

2. One of the most important mainstream newspapers published in Romania during the interwar period. Title in the original language.

3. Another mainstream newspaper published in Romania during the time.

4. Ibid.

Source: Niculescu, N. (1937a). Din activitatea noastă misionara. Glasul Romilor, An. 2, No. 3, 1937, March 15, p. 3.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This article constitutes an important example of the role of the Orthodox Church in the organisation and in the activities of the General Union of Roma in Romania, led by Gh Niculescu. The connection between the Union and the Orthodox church can be made most evident in many of the activities that the latter has become involved with, and primarily in their focus of maintaining the loyalty of Roma with the Orthodox faith. The mentioning of mainstream Romanian newspapers in the article highlights the fact that the described activities have attracted a much broader attention than that limited to the publications of Glasul Romilor.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.8 The National Civic Identity

6.8.1 The Gypsies in Romania. Who Were They? Who Are They? What Do They Want to be?

Țiganii din Romania

Cine au fost? Cine sunt? Ce vor sa fie?

Într-o serie de articole ce voi publica în această gazetă, voi căuta să arăt opiniei publice,- pe baza materialului strâns și a cercetărilor întreprinse- aspecte din trecutul acestui popor, precum și tendițele spre care caută să-i îndrepte conducătorii lor spre a se ajunge la scopul final: o stare morală și materială mai bună.

Aceste două deziderate nu pot fi ajunse decât numai constituing un singur front de luptă legală: Asocierea în societăți, asociațiuni și uniuni.

Lucrul nu va fi atât de greu de împlinit având în vedere situația specială pe care o au țiganii din România: ei nu snnt (sic), realmente, considerați ca o minoritate.

Nu au făcut, nici în trecut și nu fac nici în prezent politică minoritară.

Nu formează o minoritate politică sau religioasă. Sunt într-o situație, cum am spus, specială, și cu tendințe de asimilare benevolă în marea massă a poporului dominant.

Ceeace conducătorii lor cer, și ceeace vor și țiganii din România, este numai respectarea drepturilor lor cetățenești ce li se cuvine în calitatea lor de perfecți cetățeni loiali ai statului român, precum și o mai adâncă și înțeleaptă înțelegere a dreptului la o viață mai bună, spre a eși din situațiunea deplorabilă din care se sbat.

Atât și nimic mai mult! […]

N. G. Nicolăescu,

Secretar g-l al asociației generale din Oltenia.

The Gypsies in Romania

Who were they? Who are they? What do they want to be?

In a series of articles that I will publish in this gazette, I will seek to show the public opinion, – on the basis of the collected material and the research undertaken – aspects of this people’s past, as well as the tendencies towards which their rulers are trying to direct them, so that the ultimate goal is reached: a better moral and material state.

These two goals can only be achieved by constituting a single legal battlefront: the grouping in societies, associations and unions.

This will not be so difficult to accomplish, given the special situation of Gypsies in Romania: they are not, in reality, thought of as a minority.

They have not conducted, neither in the past, nor do they do in the present, any minority politics. They do not constitute a political or religious minority.

They are in a situation which, as I said before, is special, and with tendencies towards a voluntary assimilation in the great mass of the dominant people.

What their leaders ask for, and what the Gypsies in Romania want, is only that their citizenship rights are respected, in their capacity as perfect loyal citizens of the Romanian state, as well as a deeper and wiser understanding of their right to a better life, to get out of the deplorable situation they are in.

This and nothing more! […]

N. G. Nicolăescu,

Secretary General of the Oltenia General Association.

Source: [Nicolăescu, N.] (1934a). Țiganii din Romania. Cine au fost? Cine sunt? Ce vor sa fie? Timpul, An. 3, No. 24-25, 1934, January 1, pp. 1, 4.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

The article, authored by N. Nicolăescu, the General Secretary of the General Association of Gypsies in Oltenia sets up a series of forthcoming articles said to be published in the newspaper Timpul on “the history of Gypsies”, while emphasising the purpose towards which their leaders wish to lead them: forging a better moral and material state for them.

The article is interesting as it appears in the first issue of the newspaper that has as its subtitle The Newspaper of Gypsies in Romania. Prior to this the newspaper was titled simply Timpul, with its first issues also having the subtitle of Independent Newspaper and featuring primarily news of local interest. This issue, therefore, is the first one that can be stated to have fully adopted the Roma/Gypsy periodical stance. It is also one of the first to focus particularly on issues of history, while nevertheless emphasising the notion that “Gypsies in Romania have a special situation” because they are not, as the author presents it, a minority, nor have they ever made any form of minority ‘politics’. Instead, they are said to have a ‘special’ situation, with a tendency towards wilful assimilation. This particular approach can be seen in other articles published within the same periodical, as well as across other Roma periodicals of the time.

Instead, rather than a form of minority politics, what the association is stated to want is the respect of their citizens’ rights, as loyal subjects of the Romanian state, and a better understanding of their right for a better life.

The article then follows through with a historical discussion about the first attestations of Gypsies in Romania, in the 1300s and promises a continuation of the discussion to be followed through in forthcoming issues. It is worth noting that the historical series would continue in a subsequent issue of the newspaper but soon seems to have given way to other topics. It is also interesting to note that, at this time, the newspaper Timpul was still using the term Gypsy rather than Roma. Noteworthy is also the fact that the newspaper would move from the original subtitle of Independent Newspaper to that of The newspaper of Gypsies in Romania (Ziarul țiganilor din Romania), starting from Issue 24-25, 21 January 1934, to, later, The official paper of Roma in Romania (Oficiosul romilor din Romania), starting from Issue 41, 29 July 1934. The change in the newspaper’s title thus also shows a gradual move from the use of ‘Țigan’ to that of ‘Roma’ within the newspaper’s content.

While short, therefore, this article captures a particular moment within the transition of the newspaper from a newspaper of general information to one particularly preoccupied with the situation of the Roma and, secondly, it points towards the specific stance by which most Roma intellectuals of the time would stand: namely, that Roma need not be perceived as a minority group but as an integral part of the Romanian majority and as wilfully integrating (i.e. assimilating) within it.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.8.2 Faith, Country, King

Prim articol de fond

S-au împlinit patru ani de zile dela înființarea celei dintâi Asociații generale a Țiganilor (Romilor) din România, cu scop cultural, economic, artistic și muzical, – al cărei statu îl vom publica în numerele viitoare.

Piedici, nespus de mari, ni s-au pus în cale, chiar de către aceia care dintâi erau chemați să ne sprijine în lupta de desrobire a neamului nostru rom, încătușat în cea mai neagră mizerie morală, materială și intelectuală.

Neînteleși de unii, batjocoriți de alții, ne-am luptat cum am putut, atât eu- singurul poet din rândul romilor – cât și tovarășul rom G. A. Lăzurică, pe care nu l-a biruit nici intrigile, nici ademenirile și nici lașitatea unora dintre frații noștri.

După ce înălțasem cea dintâi făclie de lumină pe întinsul și întunecatul câmp al cimitirului de mizerie și neștiința a semenilor noștri romi, s-a ridicat din senin o mână trădătoare și ucigașă, în persoana potcovarului vânzător de flori, Gheorghe Niculescu din București, care a voit să stingă lumina ce-o răspândisem cu atâta trudă.

Acest rom nenorocit, care ni știe nici să scrie, îngâmfat și speculant, cu ajutorul unor înalte fețe bisericești, a înființat o a doua asociație numită Asociația “Uniunea generală a Romilor din România”, numai ca să strice cea dintât asociație a noastră, iar prin titulatura ce-a dat uniunei sale (aproape la fel cu aceia a Asociației noastre) a vrut să producă o confuziune în mințile romilor din țară, nepregătiți pentru o luptă așa de mare.

S-a împotmolit însă în propriile sale fără de legi, căci jupuind fără milă pe romii nomazi; făcând tovărășie cu pușcăriașii; înșelând pe puținii săi membrii cu fel de fel de promisiuni ce nu se puteau îndeplini, a ajuns să fie părăsit de toți și astăzi nu mai are decât firma asociației și cinci membrii dintre rudeniile sale.

De oarece Asociația generală a Țiganilor (Romilor) din România, înființată de noi, în anul 1933 și recunoscută persoană juridică de Trib. Ilfov S. 1 prin sentința No. 42/1935, are un scop definit și fixat prin statutele sale dela care nu ne putem abate; știind că politica este absolut interzisă la adăpostul asociațiilor cu personalitate juridică și ar fi chiar imporal să înfrângem legile țării noastre prin astfel de abuzuri; văzând iarăși că și noi suntem cetățeni liberi; avem dreptul și datoria de a ne însuși anumite vederi politice și de a ni le exprima liberi și nesiliți d (sic) nimeni, am căutat supra-omul care să ne ajute, să ne îndrumeze cu sfaturile sale, să-și plece ochii și inima- la vreme de nevoie – către romii noștri mult necăjiți și amărâți de vitrega lor soartă.

Am bătut la toate ușile marilor oameni politici din țara aceasta cerând un pic de dreptate și atenție pentru sărmanii noștri Romi, dar … toate au rămas zăvorîte, ba câteodată am fost luați în bătae de joc, spunându-ni-se: – “Țiganul e tot țigan, oricât l-ai spăla, l-ai primeni și l-ai îngriji!”.

Noi n-am descurajat însă! Dumnezeu care de veacuri păstrează și miluiește oropsitul neam al Romilor, ne-a scos în cale pe cal mai ilustru fiu al Ardealului, pe marele nostru poet Octavian Goga, care, cu mărinime, ne-a deschis ușa; ne-a ascultat jalea; s-a cororât în iadul durerilor noastre și ca să stingă para de foc ce ne arde, ne-a pus la dispoziție gazeta sa “Țara Noastră”, în care odată pe săptămână să ne spunem păsurile noastre; să trezim conștiințele adormite ale unora dintre frații noștri; să-i chemăm, la vreme de nevoie, să lupte alături de cei ce le vor binele; să-i deșteptăm spre o nouă viață curat românească și creștină; să-i facem să înțeleagă cine-i iubește și cine-i urăște; să răscolim adâncurile rasei noastre și să dăm României, ai cărei cetățeni supuși și credincioși suntem, cele mai curate valori dintre fiii noștri, care să se jertfească pentru ea în clipele supreme și să-i închine talentul și geniul lor, ca o contribuție de bună voie, la dorita ei propășire.

Octavian Goga! El este desrobitorul sufletesc al Ardealului; cântătorul nemuritor al suferințelor fraților săi de sub fost stăpânire maghiară; El, n-a uitat să proslăvească în poeziile sale și virtuțile poporului rom, cum și jalnica tragedie de a fi “copilul tuturor ș-al nimănui”.

Cine altul ar fi fost în stare să înțeleagă durerile noastre dacă nu genialul poet Octavian Goga, acela care încă de mult a făcut unirea Ardealului cu vechiul Regat, trimițându-și jalea sa nemărginită acelui Olt care isvorăște din Ardeal, sărută munții și șesurile oltene și muntene și se pierde în Dunărea bătrână, care ne străjuiește de veacuri și care știe atât de multe?

Când, deci, ni se stinsese orice nădejde de mai bine, când ni se ridicase cruci de răstignire și ucigașii rânjeau batjocoritor, iată Providența ne trimite pe Octavian Goga, care de astăzi înainte va fi protectorul și sprijinitorul nostru în toate împrejurările.

El, fiul preotului din Rășinarii Ardealului, crescut lângă crucea și biserica creștină; ascultând doinele din fluer ale ciobanilor, înfrățiți cu cerul și pământul acestei țări; cântecele de dor și alean ale lăutarilor noștri; poveștile cu domni viteji și domnițe pioase. El este astăzi al nostru și al întregului neam românesc, căci pe steagul său de luptă stau scrise cele mai sfinte cuvinte: “CREDINTA, PATRIE, REGE – ROMÂNIA A ROMÂNILOR”.

Noi suntem romi după chip dar sufletul ni-i curat românesc; Ne iubim țara care de veacuri ne hrănește și ne adopostește cu drag de mamă și nu uităm niciodată pe aceia ce impărtășesc durerile noastre.

Frați Romi!

Duceți vestea pretutindeni, mai ales voi Romii din Ardeal, că ilustrul poet și fost ministru al țării românești, Octavian Goga, este de azi înainte marele nostru protector, singurul care ne înțelege nevoile și ni le va satisface la vremea cuvenită.

Nu plecați urechea la spusele vrășmașilor săi care l-au vorbit de rău, numai și numai ca să vă desbine. Adunați-vă toți sub drapelul său, care pentru noi, Romii este singura mântuire. Iar atunci când țara vă va chema să vă rostiți părerile pentru cei mai buni chivernisitori ai gospodăriei românești, nu uitați că Octavian Goga a fost de dintâi om mare, care s-a coborât între noi să ne mânghâie, să ne ajute și să ne apere.

Fiți binecuvântați de mine, preot din neamul rom, voi, care mă veți asculta și veți urma sfaturile date prin aceste rânduri și harul lui Dumnezeu să se coboare peste copiii, familiile și casele voaste, acum și întotdeauna.

Jurământul care l-am făcut înaintea sfântului altar, că mă voiu jerfi pentru Christos, care este “Calea, Adevărul și Viața”, acelș jurământ îl fac și înaintea voastră, că mă voiu jertfi pentru voi, dacă veți asculta glasul meu și al tovarășului meu de luptă, publicistul Lăzurică, cu care zi și noapte nu gândesc decât la fericirea noastră.

CU DUMNEZEU ÎNAINTE ȘI CU CEL CE NE VOIEȘTE BINELE!

Aceasta să fie deviza noastră și cel din urmă gând al fiecăruia dintre noi.

Arhimandritul Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu.

A first base article

Four years have passed since the establishment of the first General Association of Gypsies (Roma) in Romania, with a cultural, economic, artistic and musical purpose – whose statute we will publish in the future numbers. Excessive obstacles have come our way, even from those who were first called upon to support us in the struggle for the liberation of our Rom, trapped in the darkest moral, material, and intellectual misery. Misunderstood by some, mocked by others, we fought as we could, both myself – the only poet among the Roma – and the Roma comrade G. A. Lăzurică, who was not overcome either by intrigues, either by the lures or the cowardice of some of our brethren.

After we had raised the first flicker of light in the vastness and darkened field of the cemetery of misery and the ignorance of our Roma brethren, a treacherous and murderous hand emerged out of the blue, in the person of the flower shop-keeper, Gheorghe Niculescu from Bucharest, who wanted that the light we have spread with so much difficulty be extinguished. This miserable Rom, who knows neither to read nor write, proud and speculative, with the help of churchly faces, has set up a second association called “The Association General Union of the Roma in Romania”, only to ruin our very own first association, and through the title he gave to this union (almost the same as that of our Association) wanted to confuse the minds of the Roma in the country, who were found unprepared for such a great struggle. But he stumbled into his own unlawfulness, because, by mercilessly scamming the nomadic Roma; by making companionship with prisoners; deceiving his few members with promises that could not be fulfilled, he has become deserted by all and today he has only the firm of the association and five members from his own family.

The General Gypsy (Roma) Association of Romania, founded by us, in 1933, and recognised as a legal entity by the Ilfov S. 1 Tribunal through sentence No. 42/1935, has a defined purpose and fixed in its statutes, from which we cannot deviate; knowing that political matters are absolutely forbidden by associations with legal personality, and it would even be immoral to break the laws of our country through such abuses; seeing again that we are also free citizens; we have the right and the duty to acquire certain political views and to express them freely and uncoerced by anybody, we have sought the super-man to help us, to guide us with his advice, to gaze upon and open his heart – in times of need – to our need Roma, who have been wretched by their troubled fate.

We have knocked all the doors of the great politicians in this country, asking for a bit of justice and attention for our poor Roma, but … their doors remained locked, and sometimes we were even mocked by them, by saying: “The Gypsy is a Gypsy, as much as you wash him, give to him and take care of him!” But we did not lose faith! God, who for centuries has kept and loved the orphaned Roma race, has brought to us the illustrious son of Transylvania, our great poet Octavian Goga, who, with kindness, has opened his door to us; he listened to our pleas; has lowered himself within the hell of our sorrows and, in order to burn off the fire that burns us, has made available to us his gazette “Țara Noastră”, in which once a week we can express our pleas; we can awaken the sleeping consciousness of some of our brethren; call them, in times of need, to fight with those who want their wellbeing; to awaken them to a new, purely Romanian and Christian life [3]; to make them understand who loves them and who hates them; to search within the depths of our race and to give Romania, whose submissive and loyal citizens we are, the purest values of our children, who will sacrifice themselves for it in moments of need and offer their talent and genius as gift, as willing contribution, in a desire for its prosperity. Octavian Goga! He is the spiritual liberator of Transylvania; the immortal chanter of the sufferings of his brothers who lived under Hungarian domination; He has not forgotten to glorify in his poems also the virtues of the Roma people, as well as the pitiful tragedy of being the “child of all and of no one”. Who else would have been able to understand our pains if not the brilliant poet Octavian Goga, the one who had long since made the union of Transylvania with the old Kingdom, sending his mourning to the Olt who descends from Transylvania, kisses the Oltenian mountains and plains and is lost in the old Danube, which has been guarding us for centuries and who knows so much? When any hope of ours had ceased to exist, when the crosses of our crucifixion had arisen, and the murderers were scorning, that is when the Providence sent us Octavian Goga, who today will be our protector and supporter in all circumstances.

He, the son of the priest from Transylvania’s Rășinari, who grew up near the cross and the Christian church; listening to the flutes of the shepherds, twinned with the heavens and the earth of this land; the songs of the comfort of our lăutari musicians; the stories with courageous gentlemen and pious ladies. He is today one of us and of the entire Romanian nation, for on his battle flag are written the holiest words: “FAITH, COUNTRY, KING – ROMANIA OF ROMANIANS”.

We are Roma by appearance, but our soul is purely Romanian; We love the land that for years has fed us and cared for us with the love of a mother, and we never forget those who share our struggles.

Roma brothers!

Spread the news everywhere, especially you, Roma of Transylvania, that the poet and former minister of the Romanian state, Octavian Goga, is today our great protector, the only one who understands our needs and will satisfy them at the right time. Do not bend your ears to the words of his enemies who have spoken ill of him, only to create quarrels between yourselves. Gather everyone under his banner, which for us, the Roma, is the only salvation. And when the country will call upon you to say your opinions about the best leaders of the Romanian household, do not forget that Octavian Goga was the first great man, who descended among us to comfort us, to help us and to defend us. Be blessed by me, a priest from the Roma nation, those of you who will obey me, and follow the advice given in these lines, and the grace of God may descend upon your children, your families, and your homes, now and always. The oath that I took before the holy altar, that I will sacrifice myself for Christ, He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, that oath also I also make to you, that I will sacrifice myself for you, if you will obey my voice and that of my fellow in this battle, the journalist Lăzurica, with whom day and night we think only of our happiness.

WITH GOD IN FRONT OF US AND WITH HIM WHO WANTS THE BEST FOR US!

This must be our motto and the very last thought for each of us.

Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Serboianu.

Notes

1. The emphasis placed on the Christianity of Roma can be found across the articles of different Roma periodicals during the interwar period. Here, it is particularly important as the article is authored by C. I. Popp Șerboianu, an Archimandrite of the Orthodox Church who nevertheless was rejected by the latter as going against some of the teachings of the Church. When the split between C. I. Popp Șerboianu and G. A. Lăzurică occurred, part of the accusations brought by the latter to the former were also those of trying to steer Roma away from the Orthodox faith and convert them to Greek Catholicism (see also Matei 2010, pp. 159-173).

Source: Popp-Șerboianu, C. I. (1937b). Prim articol de fond. Țara Noastră. An. 1, No. 1, 1937, July 11, p. 1.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman

Comments

This first, front-page article of the special issue of Țara Noastră, is authored by Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu, the president of the General Association of Gypsies (Roma) in Romania. The article is, at first glance, an important illustration of the dynamics between the two key Roma organisations during the interwar period (namely, the General Association of Gypsies (Roma) in Romania and the Association-General Union of Roma in Romania), as well as a clear example of the political affiliation or the political sympathies of the General Association of Gypsies (Roma) in Romania and the National Christian Party.

The article, for example, begins by talking about the background of the General Association of Gypsies (Roma) in Romania, founded in 1933, and states its general purposes: namely, cultural, social, artistic and musical. However, it then follows by a criticism of the rival organisation, led by G. Niculescu, who allegedly stole the idea of his own Union from the Association. This can also be seen in the documents and official sources available concerning the national organisations of Roma during the interwar period. The aim here is clearly to showcase the legitimacy of the General Association of Gypsies (Roma) in Romania over the Association-General Union of Roma in Romania (led by Niculescu), by emphasising the former’s longer existence. This article therefore points to the feud existing between the two organisations, and the claim for legitimacy of representation of Roma in Romania.

What follows from then on is also a clear example of the Association’s affiliation with the National Christian Party, led by Octavian Goga, through a long panegyric offered to the latter Romanian poet and politician. It was, in fact, under the aegis of Octavian Goga and Țara Noastră, that the Association was granted space to publish a special edition for Roma. In this way, it highlights the deeply complicated nature of political affiliations of the time, wherein the non-minority status promoted by Roma elite, and the apolitical stance they aimed to adopt, were clearly contradicted by the content of the newspaper articles.

The article finally emphasises the necessity to see Roma as Romanians, arguing that while “we are Roma by face, our soul is purely Romanian”. Through this, the article aims to underline Roma allegiance to the motto “Faith, country, king – a Romania for Romanians”, the motto of the National Christian Party, and therefore clearly affiliating the aims and goals of the General Association of Gypsies (Roma) in Romania to those of the nationalistic party.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.8.3 To Write in the Romani Language

Să scriem în limba Romă

Intrucât romii din străinătate au luat cunoștință de ziarul nostru și cer ca să scriem o pagină și în limba romă, le vom satisface cererea.

In numărul viitor vom scrie o astfel de pagină destinată romilor din Polonia, Rusia, Cehoslovacia, Jugoslavia și Elveția.

Noi puteam scri în întregime acest ziar în limba romă, dar mulți semeni de ai noștri care n-o mai cunosc- probă că s-au asimilat complect elementului românesc- și că sunt foarte mulți români care vor să ne citească. Nici nu voim ca scriind numai în limba romă să se creadă că suntem minoritari sau că vrem să creiem o nouă minoritate.

Suntem prea buni români ca să ne pretăm la așa ceva.

Ne bucurăm că putem satisface într-o mică măsură pe semenii noștri din alte țări.

Este destul atât.

To write in the Romani language

As Roma from abroad have gotten acquainted with our newspaper and have asked us to write a page in Romani language, we will meet their request.

In the future, we will write such a page for Roma in Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Switzerland.

We could write this newspaper in Romani language in its entirety, but many of our brother who do not know the language anymore – evidence that they have been fully assimilated to the Romanian element – and there are also many Romanians who want to read us. We do not want to write in Romani only in order not to have people think that we are a minority or that we want to create a new minority.

We are too good Romanians to do such a thing.

We are glad that we satisfy in a small degree the requests of our brothers from other countries.

That’s enough.

Notes

1. Țara Noastră was the newspaper publication of the National Christian Party, whose editor was Octavian Goga, a leading Romanian politician and poet. Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu and G. A. Lăzurică became affiliated and connected both with the National Christian Party and expressed admiration of Octavian Goga. The latter offered the two an outlet to publish their calls within the newspaper Țara Noastră, with a special issue dedicated for Roma. Five issues were published in total: the first issue was published on the 11th of July 1937, and issues 5-6 were published collectively on the 15th of September 1937. Most of the articles presented within the pages of this special Roma issue featured elegies to the National Christian Party and Octavian Goga, alongside expressed desires by the two Roma leaders for Roma not to be seen as a minority but as full citizens and members of Greater Romania.

Source: [No Author]. (1937c). Să scriem în limba Romă. Țara Noastră. An. I, No. 2, 1937, July 18, p. 2.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This short piece published in the second issue of the special Roma edition of the periodical Țara Noastră addresses the requests received by the editors from some readers from abroad to also write one page in Romani language. The editors state that this request would indeed be satisfied with the following issue. Nevertheless, the editors also state that, while the entire newsletter could have been written in Romani, many Roma no longer know the language and many Romanians may want to read it too. Most importantly, and crucially connected to the agenda of Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu and G. A. Lăzurică, in conjunction with the policies of the National Christian Party, under the aegis in which the publications were occurring, the stated reason for not writing entirely in Romani was also that they did not want to be considered a minority, or for others to think they want to create a minority. The phrase “We are too good Romanians to do this” is, therefore, also crucially important in its connection to the motto of the National Christian Party at the time, “A Romania for Romanians” and can be best understood within this context.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.8.4 Romania for the Romanians

România a Românilor!

Aceasta este lozinca partidului Național-Creștin de sub conducerea D-lor A. C. CUZA și OCTAVIAN GOGA.

Vorbele deșarte, vorbele de dacă și cafenea, nu găsesc ecou în sufletele acestor arhangheli ai neamului românesc, înfrățiți cu pământul și suferințele acestei țări.

Tot cele ce spun ei, este slovă de evanghelie. Ei au dat avânt și entuziasm atâtor generații; ei nu predau naționalismul de pe carte, cum fac atâția politicieni, cari se bat cu pumnii în piept de dragul țăranilor și muncitorilor, mai ales înainte de alegeri, ci A. C. CUZA și OCTAVIAN GOGA își trag naționalismul din însă seva acestui pământ românesc, pe care-l văd însă plin de pălămidă și buruiana jidovească, de atâta amar de vreme.

Naționalismul lor este limpede ca lumina zilei; fără ascunzișuri, fără ură, fără interese imediate, aducătoare de noroc; fără ahtierea după ranguri și onoruri, ci numai pentru binele acestui popor românesc, care desi biroitor în afară, este biruit în insăși casa lui, de șerpii pe care i-a ncălzit la sân zeci și sute de ani.

Ei voiesc trezirea conștiințelor românești; voiesc să tragă o barieră între ceea ce este strein și tolerat și poporul de baștină, pe care se reazimă statul la vreme de nevoie; ei vor să alcătuiască adevărata istorie a poporului roman, stabilind că, numai acela poate fi socotit “român” pe lângă băștinași, care-n zilele de veselie ale acestui neam s-a-nveselit cu ei; a plâns cu ei în zilele de restriște și a murit pentru ei în zilele de grea cumpănă.

Iată dar, cât de cumpătat și adânc omenesc este naționalismul acestor doi oameni, care-ar putea fi rezumat în cuvintele mântuitorului Christos că: “Cine nu este cu mine, împotriva mea este!”

Dar ei sunt și BUNI CREȘTINI, iar creștinismul lor derive din însăși puritatea acestui nationalism, care te-ndeamnă , cum spunea Christos că: “Nu este bine să iai pâinea fiilor și s-o dai câinlor”.

Ar fi ticălos și păgân părintele, care ar lăsa flămând pe propriul său copil, luându-i pâinea dela gură și dând-o celor streini.

Având însă prisos, poate FACE MILĂ și cu cei streini.

Mila aceasta însă nu trebuie socotită obligație sau slăbiciune și nici exploatată de streini, căci atunci ne aducem aminte de povestea românească cu ariciul care s-a umflat în gaura șarpelui ca să-l sugrume și- fără să vrem- reacționăm, ca să ne apărăm pielea noastră.

Partidul Național Creștin al d-nilor A. C. Cuza și Octavian Goga, cercetând trecutul îndepărtat al neamului românesc, a găsit că dintre toți streinii numai neamul romilor a fost acela care a luat parte desinteresata la bucuriile și suferințele acestei țări: s-a jertfit pentru ea și n-a trădat-o niciodată, cum au făcut mulți alți din neamul jidovesc.

Iată dar, Romilor, de ce ilustrul poet Octavian Goga ne-a deschis larg ușile; ne-a primit și îmbrățișat cu dragoste de frate!

Care alt partid a făcut aceasta pentru noi? Care alt om politic și de Stat ne-a auzit plângerile noastre?

Cine a stat de vorbă cu noi, fără ca să nu-I fie silă de culoarea feței noastre, de zdrențele și apucăturile rele ce avem noi, cari veșnic am trait din frimiturile și ciomăgelile altora și cărora nimeni nu ne-a dat nici o atenție?

Numei El, MARELE OCTAVIAN GOGA și cu cei ce-l înconjoară cu dragoste, ne-a primit ca pe frați adevărați. El ne-a înțeles suferințele și știe bine, că din toată ființa noastră, numai culoarea feței și câteva apucături rele, – streine neamului românesc, – numai acestea ne-au mai rămas.

Vor fi corijate însă printr-o neconstenită educație și prin ascultarea sfaturilor noastre, care nu vă vrem decât binele.

Octavian Goga este sfântul nostru, pe care trebue să-l venereze și să-l urmeze tot neamul Romilor.

Cine nu-l va asculta pe El sau pe noi, acela este vrăjmaș, atât al țării românești, cât și al Romilor, și nu are altceva de ales, decât să plece din această țară, care nu e țară de venetici și pripas, ci țară liberă și mândră de puterea ei.

Romii care vor lucre în altfel, vor fi socotiți ca jidanii, cari cu interesele sunt în România, iar cu gândul împotriva ei.

Țineți bine minte cele ce vă spun, ca un proroc: Cine nu este cu Octavian Goga și cu partidul Național Creștin, acel Rom este vrășmașul țării și neamului românesc; este jidovul negru și nu va avea altă soartă, decât soarta jidovului, veșnic rătăcitor și prigonit de cel din urmă om!

C. Mirmilo

Romania for the Romanians!

This is the slogan of the National Christian Party under the leadership of A. C. CUZA and OCTAVIAN GOGA [1]. Vague words, coffee shop words, do not echo in the souls of these Romanian archangels, twinned with the earth and the sufferings of this country. Everything they say is a Gospel word. They have given boost and excitement to so many generations; they do not teach nationalism according to the book, as so many politicians do, who knock their fists on their chest for the sake of peasants and workers, especially before the elections, but A. C. CUZA and OCTAVIAN GOGA get their nationalism out of the core of this Romanian land, which nevertheless they see as being full of Jewish weed and Jewish thistles [2], for such a long time. Their nationalism is as clear as the light of the day; without hiding anything, without hatred, without immediate interests, that would bring them luck; without seeking rank and honour, but only for the sake of this Romanian people, who, although a conqueror on the outside, is overcome in its own home by the snakes he has brought up near its chest for hundreds of years. They want the awakening of the Romanian consciousness; they want to draw a boundary between that which is foreign and tolerated and the people native to the state, on which the state relies on in times of need; they want to write up the true history of the Romanian people, establishing that only he can be considered “Romanian”, besides the natives, who in the days of joy of this nation has rejoiced with them; wept with them in the days of unrest, and died for them in the days of hardship.

See how thoughtful and deeply human is the nationalism of these two people, which could be summed up in the words of our Saviour Christ: “He who is not with me, is against me!”

But they are also GOOD CHRISTIANS, and their Christianity derives from the purity of this nationalism, which encourages that, as Christ has said: “It is not good to take the bread of the sons and give it to the dog”. He who would starve his own child, by taking his bread from his mouth and giving it to the foreigners, would be a fool and a pagan father.

Having enough, though, he can take pity on the foreigners. This mercy is not to be considered as an obligation or weakness, nor to be exploited by the foreigners, because then, as we remember the Romanian story with the hedgehog that swelled in the snake’s hole to smother it, and without reacting to protect their skin.

The Christian National Party of A. C. Cuza and Octavian Goga, researching the distant past of the Romanian nation, found that among all the foreigners only the Roma people were the ones who took part in the joy and suffering of this country: sacrificed for it and never betrayed it, as many other Jews have. This is why, dear Roma people, the illustrious poet Octavian Goga has opened us his doors, has received and embraced us with the love of a brother! Which other party did this for us? Which other political and state politicians have heard our complaints? Who has ever spoken to us, without being overwhelmed by the colour of our face, by the rags we wear and bad behaviour that we have, us who have always lived from other people’s crumbs and mercy, and to whom no one has paid any attention? Only he, THE GREAT OCTAVIAN GOGA and those who surround him with love, received us as true brothers. He understands our sufferings and knows well that, from all our being, only the colour of our face and a few bad behaviours, – foreign to the Romanian people, – have left of that. These will, however, be changed through continuous education and by listening to our advice, us who only want your wellbeing. Octavian Goga is our saint, whom all the Roma must worship and follow. Whoever will not listen to him or us, is an enemy of both the Romanian country and of the Roma, and has no choice but to leave this country, which is not a country of foreigners and temporary dwellers, but a free country, which is proud of its power.

The Roma who will work in any other way will be considered as Jews, who have their interests in Romania, but in their thought are against it.

Remember what I say to you as a prophet: He who is not with Octavian Goga and the Christian National Party, that Roma is the enemy of the Romanian country and nation; he is a black Jew and he will have no other fate than the fate of the Jew, eternally wandering and persecuted by the latter man!

C. Mirmilo

Notes

1. Both leading Romanian politicians and leaders of the National Christian Party in Romania during the interwar period. See previous source article as well.

Source: Mirmilo, C. (937f). Romania a Românilor! Țara Noastră. An. I, No. 3, 1937, July 25, p. 1.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This front-page article, authored by C. Mirmillo, constitutes, in essence, another eulogy brought to National Christian Party, led by Octavian Goga and Alexandru C. Cuza, to which the Association led by Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu and G. A. Lăzurică professes the support. It is also another evidence of the clear positioning in terms of policies and politics concerning minorities, to which neither Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu nor G. A. Lăzurică (nor, for that matter, other Roma leaders at the time), in either their own publications or public speeches, see the Roma as belonging. Instead, the emphasis is placed on showing support for the nationalist party and underlining the concept and motto of “Romanian for Romanians” to which Roma are also seen to belong. In the article itself, the aim, therefore, appears to be that of highlighting the commitment Roma have had to the cause of the country: never betraying it and always working for it.

The article thus continues with a clear support expressed in relation to the National Christian Party, stating strongly that those who position themselves against the National Christian Party position themselves against the country as a whole. Furthermore, the article strongly emphasises that those Roma who will not support Goga and Cuza will be considered enemies both of Romania and of Roma. Just as strongly, the article ends by stating that the Roma who will go against all this will be considered “as Jews”, as having their interests in Romania but working against it. In this sense, the article can be seen as an example of highlighting three issues within the political climate of the time: 1) expressing a sense of ‘Romanian-ness’ by supporting one of the leading nationalist parties at the time, the National Christian Party; 2) challenging the idea that Roma are a ‘minority’ group, or seek to develop ‘minority politics’, by distancing themselves from other such communities (mainly the Jewish population, which were considered by the National Christian Party as a dangerous minority); 3) an affiliation of Roma leaders and Roma associations with different leading political parties of the era, hence challenging the claim of being ‘apolitical’ organisations.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.8.5 What Should a Rom Do

Ce trebuie să facă un Rom

1. Să nu-și ascundă originea lui de rom și să nu-i fie rușine de neamul său.

2. Cea mai mare grije și cea mai sfântă datorie pe care trebuie să aibă e să fie înscris în Asociație, atât el cât și toți ai lui.

3. Să ia parte la adunările care se anunță de către conducătorii lui.

4. Să nu plece urechea la spusele unora sau altore, fiindcă aceștia nu vor binele neamului.

5. Să fie cetățean demn, loial și cuminte al țării, respectând pe M.S. Regele, Familia Regală, Legile și Autoritățile Țării.

6. Să-și dea copiii la școală.

7. Să citească și să răspândească publicațiile oficiale ale asociației.

8. Să respecte pe bătrâni, frații și surorile lui.

9. Să-și achite regulat obligațiile către Asociație.

10. Să asculte și să respecte pe președintele general al Asociației, Dl. Gh. Niculescu, care luptă fără preget pentru ridicarea romilor.

11. Să-și respecte conducătorii și să îndeplinească instrucțiunile date de aceștia.

12. Să meargă regulat la biserică.

13. Să nu mai trăiască în concubinaj.

14. Să respecte pe reprezentanții Bisericii și ai Școalei.

What should a Rom do

1. Not conceal his origin of Roma and to not be ashamed of his people.

2. The greatest care and the holiest duty he has is to be enrolled in the Association [1], both he and all of his own.

3. Take part in the meetings that are announced by his rulers.

4. Not bend his ear to the words of one or another, because these individuals do not want the good of his people.

5. Be a dignified, loyal and good citizen of the country, respecting H.M. the King, the Royal Family, the Laws and the Authorities of this country.

6. Send their children to school.

7. Read and disseminate the official publications of the association.

8. Respect his elders, brothers and sisters.

9. Regularly pay his obligations to the Association.

10. Obey and respect the General President of the Association, Mr. Gh Niculescu, who fought without hard for raising up the Roma.

11. Respect his leaders and to follow the instructions given by them.

12. Go to church regularly.

13. Seize living in concubinage.

14. Respect the representatives of the Church and the School.

Notes

1. Reference is made here specifically to the Association General Union of Roma in Romania, led by Gheorghe Niculescu (rather than the competing organisation, led by Archimandrite Calinic Popp Șerboianu and, later, G. A. Lăzurică).

Source: [No Author]. (1938a). Ce trebuie să facă un Rom. Glasul Romilor, An. 3, No.No. 9-10, 1938, April 10, p. 3.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This is an important, albeit short article, which clearly highlights in brief all the key claims and demands laid out by the leaders of the General Union of the Roma in Romania to its membership. Along these lines, some of the key criteria and actions that Roma are seen as ‘obliged’ to do are those of taking pride in their Roma heritage, proving their allegiance to the Union (through joining it, the payment of membership, attendance of meetings, respect for the authority of its leader, Gheorghe Niculescu, etc.), proving themselves loyal and obedient members of the state (by respecting laws and central institutions), proving their loyalty to the Church (through going to Church, baptising children, and respecting the leaders of the Orthodox Church), by respecting kin and elders.

As such, the themes of being proud of one’s Roma belonging, most evidently emphasised in the focus on not hiding one’s origin of Roma, are combined with the themes of national citizenship, loyalty to the state and the national Orthodox church. All these are predominantly featured in most Roma periodicals of the interwar period, even in the context in which the emphasis may be placed on allegiance shown to distinctive Roma organisations.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.9 The Roma Women

6.9.1 To the Roma Women

Un cuvânt și din partea mea

Către femeile rome

Dragile mele surori,

Vă scrie soția lui Lăzurică, tovarășa lui de viață, de sbucium și de necazuri, care l-a secondat cu hărnicie și devotement în toată activitatea lui de luptător pentru ridicarea semenilor noștri romi.

Sunt și eu romă cehoslovacă, cunoscătoare de cinci limbi, stenografă și dactilografă, muncind ca funcționară ca să ajut materialicește pe soțul meu. Și pe lângă slujba mea fac și gospodăria casei, fără servitoare la ușe, așa cum se cere unei soții harnice și înțelepte. Știu că și voi, surorile mele rome, munciți alături de bărbații voștri, luați parte la necazurile și bucuriile lor, vă străduiți să duceți greul mai ușor. Voi sunteți acelea care printr-un cuvânt bun, printr-o mângâiere afectoasă, încurajați pe bărbații voștri să înfrunte amărăciunile vieței. Cunosc tot zbuciumul vostru, căci am fost în casele cele mai umile de romi, am vizitat șatrele nomazilor din corturi, dând un sfat, un ajutor, un cuvânt cald de mângăiere.

Am ținut ușa deschisă tuturor romelor soții de lăutari, zidari, spoitori, ursari, fierari și nomazi, fără să fac deosebire, fără să le umilesc cu un singur gest de dispreț. N-a intrat în casa mea un puiu de rom care să plece fără un bănuț, fără o fructă sau o jucărioară, admirând la ei voioșia, darul de a cânta și juca, acel gest de recunoștință pentru un mic cadou oferit.

Nu vă doresc decât – chiar trăind în sărăcie – să aveți soți iubitori, muncitori, cinstiți, aducători în casă, lipsiți de patimi, așa cum este soțul meu căruia îi accord încrederea cea mai desăvârșită și îl secondez în acțiunea lui.

Mi-am vândut salba, covoarele și picturile- averea mea dotală- ca să-l ajut și să nu dea înapoi. Iar când scârbit, oboist, decepționat, că romii nu voiau să-l înțeleagă și să-l susțină în lupta lui, eu am fost aceia care l-am încurajat și l-am îmbărbătat, spunându-iș – Sa nu dezertezi dela datorie! Vom mânca fasole și cartofi, vom purta doi ani câte un costum de haine, vom suferi cea mai neagră mizerie, dar trebue să perseverezi! Dumnezeu ne va ajuta!

Și mă închinam noaptea la icoana Maicii Domnului, aprindeam candela, șoptind:

– Maică Prea Curată, nu ne părăsi pe noi, nu părăsi Poporul Rom, cel mai umilit și lipsit de ocrotire!

Iată, soțul meu pornește la muncă, se angajează într-o luptă nouă și hotărâtoare pentru neamul nostrum.

Fac un apel la voi, surorile mele rome, să îndemnați pe bărbații, feciorii și fetele voastre, ca să secondeze pe soțul meu, să dea dovadă că romii nu sunt oameni lipsiți de solidaritate, disciplină și devotement. Eu voiu veni mereu în mijlocul vostru, ori când și ori unde, ca să vă cunosc, să vă ascult și să vă îmbrățisez. În calitatea mea de secretară a secțiunilor feminine, pe lângă comitetul central din București, eu voiu fi aceia care va rezolva scrisorile voastre, plângerile voastre, răspunzându-vă neîntârziat.

Cu dragoste de soră și cu urări de bucurii!

Marta G. Lăzurică

A word also from me

To the Roma Women

My dearest sisters,

It is the wife of Lăzurică writing to you, his life companion, in struggles and troubles, who has followed him with diligence and dedication in all his activity as fighter for the uplifting of our Roma.

I am also a Czechoslovak Roma, who speaks five languages, a stenographer and a typist, working as a clerk to help my husband materially. Besides my job, I also do the household work, without having a maid at my door, just as it is asked of a wise and clever wife. I know that you, my Roma sisters, also work alongside your men, taking part in their tribulations and their joys, striving to make their burden easier. You are the ones who, through a good word, through an affectionate caress, encourage your men to face the bitterness of life. I know all your struggles, for I have been in the humblest of Roma homes, I have visited the tents of the nomads, giving advice, some help, a warm word of kindness. I kept the door open to all Roma wives of Lăutari (musicians), zidari, (builders), Spoitori (tin-smiths), Ursari (bear-tamers), fierari (blacksmiths) and nomads [1], without making any distinction between them, without humiliating them with a single gesture of contempt. There was no child in my house who would leave without a penny or without a fruit or a toy, admiring their cheerfulness, their gift of singing and playing, that gesture of gratitude they give for a small gift offered. My only wish for you is that- even when living in poverty – you have loving, hard-working, honest, procuring husbands, deprived of vices, as my husband is, to whom I give the utmost trust and I follow him in his actions. I sold my dowry, carpets and paintings-my wealth-to help him not give up. When he was disgusted, tired, depressed, that the Roma did not want to understand and support him in his struggle, I was the one who encouraged him and pushed him by saying: Do not desert from your duty! We will eat beans and potatoes, we will wear the same clothing for two years, we will suffer the worst misery, but you must persevere! God will help us!

And, at night, I would worship the icon of Our Lady Mary, lighting the candle, whispering:

– Holy Mother, do not desert us, do not forsake the People Rom, the most humiliated and unprotected of all!

Pay attention to how my husband has begun working, and engages in a new and decisive struggle for our people.

I make an appeal to you, my Roma sisters, to urge your husbands, your sons and your daughters to support my husband, to prove that the Roma are not a people who lack solidarity, discipline and devotion. I will always come within your midst, whenever and wherever you are, to meet you, to listen to you and to embrace you. In my role as secretary of the female sections, next to the Central Committee in Bucharest, I will be the one who will resolve your letters, your complaints, responding without delay.

With sisterly love and joyful wishes!

Marta G. Lăzurică

Notes

1. These all are professionyms of different Roma groups, some of which became their ethnonyms (cf. Marushiakova & Popov, 2013a, pp. 61-81).

Source: Lăzurica, M. (1938b). Un cuvânt și din partea mea. Către femeile rome. Timpul, An. 7, No. 70, 1938, March 8, p. 2.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This is an important source article from the time period, published in the very last issue of the newspaper Timpul, on the 8th of March 1938. Its importance lies in the fact that it is authored by Marta G. Lăzurică, the wife of G. A. Lăzurică, an important Roma leader and, at the time, part of the leadership of the General Association of Roma in Romania.

The article is written in the form of a letter addressed by Marta Lăzurică to female Roma readers. In it, M. Lăzurică presents herself as a Czechoslovakian Roma woman (unfortunately, no other data about her origin and early life are discovered yet), who speaks 5 languages and who supports her husband in all the efforts he has made in the fight for Roma people. The letter is, in essence, laid out as a plea to Roma women to encourage their husbands, sons and daughters to support G. A. Lăzurică and to “show that Roma are not people that lack solidarity, discipline and devotion”.

Among other things, Marta Lăzurică was the secretary of the female section within the Central Committee (in Bucharest) of the General Association of Roma in Romania. The article, as such, is important as it highlights the role that women have also had within the Roma emancipation movement during interwar Romania.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.9.2 My Dearest Sisters

Către romițe

Dragile mele surori,

Vă scrie o femeie din neamul vostru, una din puținele romițe care a putut să învețe carte mai multă ca să ajungă profesoară. În lupta pe care au început-o apostolii noștrii, Arhimandritul Șerboianu și literatul G. Lăzurică, pentru ridicarea poporului rom, mă alătur și eu.

De aceia vă scriu rândurile care urmează:

Încurajați pe soții și feciorii voștri să ia parte la mișcarea nouă, unică și frumoasă care are ca scop promovarea romilor în viața socială a statului românesc.

Este un moment istoric această mișcare. Voi, care împărțiți necazurile și bucuriile cu bărbații voștri, muncind alături de ei ca să faceți față greutăților vieții, sunteți cele mai în măsură să-i îndemnați la bine. Se vor bucura în viitor copii voștri.

In timpuri mai vechi, când străbunii noștri trăiau în India în mijlocul altor popoare care-I dușmăneau de moarte, femeile rome ajutau pe bărbații lor în războaie, pregătindu-le săgeți pentru arcuri, vârfuri de suliți, tolbe și arcane. Ingrijeau de care și turme de capre și herghelii de cai, îi îmbărbătau dându-le talismane.

Acum nu vi se cere atâtea sacrificii. Vi se cere numai ca inimile voastre să bată alături de bărbații noștri și să le spuneți: “Fiți demni, devotați, disciplinați și bravi în lupta care se dă pentru luminarea Poporului Rom”.

Eu de cinci ani urmăresc mișcarea romilor și m-am convins că numai arhimandritul Șerboianu și Lăzurică sunt în măsură să ne arate drumul drept. Fiind văduvă, impun feciorilor mei să-i secondeze.

Cu urări de bine,

Elena Dănicel.

To the Roma Women

My dearest sisters,

A woman from your own people writes to you, one of the few Roma women, who was able to learn school and become a teacher. In the struggle that our apostles Archimandrite Șerboianu and the literate G. Lăzurică started for the uplifting of the Roma people, I also join. For this reason, I write to you the following lines: Encourage your spouses to take part in the new, unique and beautiful movement that aims to advance Roma in the social life of the Romanian state. This is a historical moment. You, who share in the tribulations and joys with your husbands, working alongside them in coping with the difficulties of life, are best able to encourage them to do good. Your children will rejoice for this in the future.

In older times, when our ancestors lived in India in the midst of other peoples who wished them dead, the Roma women helped their men in the wars, preparing arrows for bows, spikes, spears, quivers and archers. They looked after the goat flocks and the hers of horses, encouraged them by giving them talismans.

You are no longer asked to make so many sacrifices. You are asked that your hearts beat alongside our men and tell them: “Be dignified, devoted, disciplined and brave in the fight that is taking place for the enlightenment of the Roma People”.

I have been following the Roma movement for five years, and I am convinced that only Archimandrite Șerboianu and Lăzurică are able to show us the right way. Being a widow, I impose it upon my sons to support them.

With good wishes,

Elena Dănicel.

Source: Dănicel, E. (1937d). Către romițe. Țara Noastră. An. 1, No. 2, 1937, July 18, p. 1.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman

Comments

Alongside another article published by Marta Lăzurică, presented above, this article, written by Elena Dănicel, is another important illustration of the presence of Roma women within the Roma emancipation movement during interwar Romania. It was published prior to the one written by Marta Lăzurică but, as a theme, they follow almost exactly the same lines: encouraging Roma women to support the efforts made by the Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu and by G. A. Lăzurică in the ‘uplifting’ of the Roma People. They are advised to do so by also encouraging their husbands to join in and support the movement.

Though apparently highlighting the ‘supporting’ position of Roma women to their husbands, this article, as well as the one written by Marta Lăzurică a year later, emphasise the fact that Roma women were not invisible or passive agents within the Roma movement during the interwar period but, rather, occupied a pivotal role in the struggle Roma leaders embarked upon in the mobilisation of both Roma men and women.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.9.3 The Women in the Roma Association

Poporul enigmatic

Cine sunt țiganii, de unde vin și ce obiceiuri au?

[…] Femeile în Mișcarea “romilor”.

După cât se pare femeile iau o parte activă la mișcare modernă a romilor din România. Atât părintele Șerboianu cât și d. Lăzurică – după cum mi-au spus – acceptă ca ele să aibă drepturi egale cu bărbații. Cele cu știință de carte vor fi admise pe viitor în sfatul bătrânilor, prezidate de vătafii respectivi, sfat care potrivit tradiției țigănești e un fel de tribunal regional care judecă pe țigani și ia hotărîri în multe împrejurări de importanță pentru dânșii.

Una dintre campioanele moderne ale “romilor” în România este d-ra Florica Constantinescu, studentă, care vorbește “romani”, adică o țigănească perfectă. Ea face propagandă și cheamă la deșteptare, în special pe romnia, adică pe femeile țigance. Are intenția să inființeze și o grădiniță de copii. Am văzut-o în mijlocul unor țigănuși sdrențuiți, cărora le împreuna mâinile spre rugăciune și se căznea să-i învețe “Tatăl Nostru”.

– “Dar văd și copii albi” – am observat.

– “Da … Românii uneori își părăsesc copiii … E ciudat!” – spuse d-ra Constantinescu. “Țiganii nu-și dăruiesc niciodată copiii. De altfel nici un român nu ar primi să crească un pui de țigan. Aici într-adevăr sunt și copii de români, părăsiți de părinții lor … Viața tuturor acestor părăsiți e foarte grea: am simțit-o și eu! – ne spune d-ra Constantinescu – o cunosc nu din auzite … am trăit-o …

“Mama pleacă de obicei la muncă, sau după treburile ei, ca să poată aduce seara pâine … Iar copiii cresc cum dă Dumnezeu pe lângă garduri, prin gunoaie sau între câinii din curtea modestelor locuințe ale romilor. Țiganii iubesc foarte mult câinii și copiii … Cât de sărac să fie țiganul, nu se sperie de numărul câinilor și al copiilor din vatra lui. Totuși cred că pentru copii trebuie făcut ceva mai mult decât pentru câini … Cred că e absolut necesar să se întemeieze grădinițe cât de modeste, care să fie adăposturi pentru copiii mamelor muncitoare ce pleacă la lucru …” […].

The enigmatic people

Who are the Gypsies, where do they come from and what habits do they have?

[…] Women in “The Roma” Association.

As we can see, women participate actively in the modern processes of the consolidation of the Roma. Both Father Șerboianu and Mr. Lăzurică, as they have told me, accept that they will have equal rights with men. Educated women will enter the Council of Elders, presided by the vatafi [leaders], a council which, according to the Roma traditions, is a kind of regional tribunal, which judges the Gypsies and makes judgments in many circumstances of importance to them.

Ms. Florica Constantinescu, a student who speaks Romani language perfectly, is a modern “champion” of the Roma in Romania. She makes propaganda and calls especially the romnia, the Roma women, to a re-awakening. She is also planning to establish a kindergarten [1]. I saw her among the ragged Gypsy women while she tried to teach them the prayer ‘Our Father’.

– “I see here some white children too” – I have noticed.

– “Yes, you are right. The Romanians sometimes abandon their children … It’s strange!” – Ms. Constantinescu tells. “The Gypsies would never leave children. In fact, no Romanian would ever raise a Gypsy child. Indeed, here we also have some Romanian children here, abandoned by their parents … [20]. The life of all of these lost children is very hard. I felt it too! Ms. Constantinescu tells. I say it not from what I have heard … It is my own experience …

“The mother goes to her job or where she needs to go, to be able to bring a piece of bread in the evening … And children grow up as God allows, near fences, in some junkyard or among dogs in the modest courtyards of the Roma. Gypsies love very much dogs and children … No matter how poor a Gypsy is, he never would be afraid of the number of dogs and children near his fireplace … However, I think that children need more care than dogs … I believe that a kindergarten is absolutely needed; it will become a place where working women would leave their children …” […].

Notes

1. This is a short extract of an extensive article. Its author is Alexandru F. Mihail, a Romanian journalist, a loyal insider of the Roma movement: participant at the Congress of Roma (which was held in Bucharest city on the 8th of October 1933), being also elected as honorary member of the General Union of Romanian Roma.

Source: Mihail, A. F. (1933с). Poporul enigmatic. Cine sunt țiganii, de unde vin și ce obiceiuri au? Realitatea Ilustrată, An. 7, No. 351, 1933, October 19, pp. 21-24.

Prepared for publication by Ion Duminica.

Comments

Another important example of the existence of Roma women activists during the interwar period. The article is illustrated with her photograph and inscription: “Miss Florica Constantinescu, the student, one of the highlighted agitators of the ‘Roma’ movement”.

Ion Duminica

6.10 Poems & Songs

Notes

1. A poem, written as a call for action and a manifestation of Roma love and sacrifice for their country.

2. The term ‘Great Romania’ refers to united Romania and the unification of Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina with the Romanian Kingdom in 1918.

Source: Dutan, V. (1938b). Către Romi. Glasul Romilor, An. 3, No. 9-10, 1938, April 21, p. 3.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This poem constitutes one of the several examples that can be found within the Roma newspapers during interwar Romania, in which a call for unification is manifested and made explicit by its authors through the medium of poetry.

One of the central themes throughout these examples is, again, the loyalty Roma have demonstrated towards King and Country and the need to form a unified mass in order to achieve the social claims laid out by central organisations. As such, the above poem is a primary example of a case in which the contribution of Roma to the history of Romania is made explicit, and where Roma leaders highlight the long-term history of Roma in the country, focusing on their involvement in the fight for ‘Great Romania’ (the unification of Romanian principalities in 1918), and the sacrifices that Roma have made for their country. It also points to the ‘assimilation’ of Roma in Romania and the brotherhood that exists between compatriots.

The poem finally points to the fact that Roma have vastly been ignored until then and invites readers to unite and join the Union led by Gh Niculescu, the Association General Union of Roma in Romania. The call for joining the Union is made specifically in connection to the Association General Union of Roma in Romania (led by Niculescu), rather than the rival organisation at the time (namely, the General Association of Roma in Romania, led by Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu and G. A. Lăzurică). Thus, the poem is also a means of calling Roma to join this particular Union and can be seen as a means of highlighting the latter’s legitimacy over other rival Roma organisations.

Raluca Bianca Roman

6.10.2 The March of the Roma

Source: Lenghescu-Cley, N. (1940b). Marșul Romilor. Glasul Romilor, An. 6, No. 14, 1940, April [no day], p. 3.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Comments

This is a prime example of a march song that showcases the pride Roma must take in their history, origin and ethnic belonging. Alongside this, and much like other Roma poems and songs published within the pages of this Roma periodical during the interwar period, the song clearly emphasises the loyalty and faithfulness Roma have pleaded to King and Country, as well as the fight that all Roma must undertake in their uniting under a common flag. Through this, the song may constitute perhaps one of the first examples of a Roma hymn, which brings together the notion of Roma solidarity with that of national loyalty.

Raluca Bianca Roman

Notes

1. It is worth noting that in the original manuscript some words or letters had been crossed out and/or replaced, which shows that the text had undergone an editing process, either by the author or by the editor. In the above text, the edited version is given.

Source: AN Dolj, Fondul C. S. Nicolăescu-Plopsor.

Prepared for publication by Raluca Bianca Roman.

Translated from Romani language by Viktor Shapoval.

Comments

This poem was discovered in the Constantin S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor fund of the National Archives, Dolj County, Romania. Neither the date nor the authorship of the poem is clearly stated. Most probably the author of the poem is C. S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor himself, given that the author’s corrections are visible in the manuscript and the fond itself contains also a rejection letter addressed to him for the same poem, dated June 5, 1952, from the newspaper Viața Românească (Romanian Life). While the circumstances of the production and dissemination of this poem remain uncertain it is very likely it was written in Interwar time and a Romanian translation was offered for publication in 1952 when praising of Stalin became possible. The poem is an incredibly important source material as it focused on the rise of the Roma. Stalin is praised for granting the Roma dignity telling them “you are also human” and with whom hope is linked that he will “lift the burden from our shoulders” and will show the way to “a fight against the hunger, the bareness”.

Raluca Bianca Roman

This is an extraordinary song, which presents a modernist, concise poetry with lack of a punctuation, and written in capital letters. At the same time, it can be seen as a prayer filled with biblical imagery.

Viktor Shapoval

Additional Comments

The development of the Roma civic emancipation movement in Romania during the interwar period has an impressive range and scope that cannot be compared to that of any other country in the region of Central, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe. The only other such case, not in scale but according to the results obtained, is that of the USSR, but there is a very significant difference there compared to Romania. Behind the movement for Roma civic emancipation in the USSR was the constant support of the powerful Soviet state, which de facto accomplished (or in some cases refused to accomplish), through its institutions, the ideas generated by the Gypsy activists. However, the situation is not quite the same in Romania, and despite repeated attempts by Roma activists to co-operate with various leading political parties, in the end, the Romanian state, without being hostile to the Roma movement as a whole, remained quite restrained to the constant calls of its activists to pursue an effective policy to address the many problems faced by Gypsies in the country.

An explanation for the situation in Romania can be found in terms of the high number of Roma living in the country. Romania was an undisputed champion in this regard during the interwar period and continues to be so today. We do not need to enter into the discussion concerning the controversy of demographic data obtained through statistical methodology, to argue that Romania had, and continues to have, the biggest number of Roma (both in absolute values and as a relative share) in Europe (which means also in the world). But there is also something else that is very important here. During the interwar period, the Roma community in Romania (unlike in other countries in the entire region) also appears to have had its elite, whose representatives managed to obtain a relatively good education and to acquire good (sometimes even impressive) public positions. As an example in this regard, we can point to Constantin S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor (1900-1968). He is not only a well-known Romanian historian, archeologist, physical anthropologist, ethnographer and folklorist, but he is also known as a children’s writer. Furthermore, he was for many years the director of the Museum of Oltenia in the city of Craiova and, at the end of his life, he was even elected as a member of the Romanian Academy of Sciences (a case without a comparable precedent in the history of the Roma).

From the interwar period onwards, there have been endless disputes between Roma activists with mutual accusations of the others not being of Roma origin. In fact, these types of accusations concerning a non-Roma origin have been part and parcel of the struggle for supremacy and leadership in the Roma civic movement, and they are not a unique phenomenon in the history of Roma activism. As of today, these allegations would be very difficult to prove or disprove although for Archimandrite Calinic I. Popp Șerboianu these allegations, in particular, they seem to be justified. His entire life, his family history, his stays in different countries (USA, France, Albania), his tumultuous and multifaceted public activity, his commitment to causes that Romanian society regarded as a manifestation of extravagance (at best) – such as his ideas concerning cremation, etc. (for more, see Rotar, 2014, pp. 513-528) – gave, in one way or another, grounds for doubts concerning his Roma origin. In the end, these aspects do not matter, because these individuals act as activists of the Roma civic emancipation movement, i.e. in the function of leaders of the Roma community. There are many examples in world history where leading figures in national history are from another ethnic origin, and this is considered normal. Therefore, there is no reason to approach the history of the Roma differently and to exclude the activists about whose origin doubts were expressed.

The Near East Magazine from 12 June 1913, under a title Gipsy bands in Roumania, reported that in the city of Piatra Neamț a statue of Mihail Kogălniceanu, a nineteenth-century statesman, lawyer, historian and publicist, whose writings were influential in bringing an end to Gypsy slavery in the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, was unveiled. The magazine gave the following description of Gypsies giving honour to Kogălniceanu:

Two days after the unveiling ceremony a vast concourse of gipsies arrived at Piatra Neamtz and proceeded to the monument. Before the statue they placed a wreath of oak leaves and wild flowers, and then, to the weird accompaniment of a gipsy band, the whole party joined in a national dance round the statue of their liberator. (The Near East, 1913, p. 157).

This description is a clear journalistic mystification to attract readers through the exoticisation of a real event (the erecting of a statue in honour of Mihail Kogălniceanu) which finds no documentary evidence in Romania’s historical sources. Without any verification, this notice was retold in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society (Scott Macfie, 1926, p. 192) and entered the Roma national historical narrative as one of the first public manifestations of Roma activism (Hancock, 2002, pp. 114-115).

An especially important place in the creation of a Roma historical narrative have the attempts to trace the beginning of international Roma activism (or the emergence of the concept of Roma ‘nation’) in the manifestations of Gypsy/Roma activism in Romania during that time. A typical example in this regard are the allegations, which are not supported by any quotation of historical sources, that delegates from nine countries must have gathered in Bucharest at an international congress with the motto ‘The United Gypsies of Europe’ where they allegedly decided to set up Roma organisations in each country; and “in order to achieve an efficient coordination of the Roma from different states, they decided to set up a permanent commission composed of 30 members to prepare a second congress in Paris or elsewhere”(Puxon, 1979, pp. 291-292). There is no historical evidence of an international Roma congress, and there is no reason to believe that the Congress of the General Union of Roma in Romania, held on October 8, 1933, in Bucharest, (see the documents published in this chapter; cf. also Matei, 2020, pp. 305-315) was an international one. That is why references to an ‘international congress’ in academic text sound confusing: for example, “the Bucharest Congress, if [sic! – authors note] proven to be taken place, would be the first of its [international] kind” (Klímová-Alexander, 2005a, p. 195). History deals with real facts, confirmed by respective historical sources; alternative history is an attractive approach but can hardly be perceived as an academic discipline – rather, it is a completely different genre.

In the particular case of the 1933 Bucharest Congress organised by the General Union of Roma in Romania, the fact that its organisers have repeatedly stated in the press that Roma representatives from other countries will participate in it is not sufficient reason to consider this congress an international one. As there is no confirmation of such a presence of delegates from abroad, either in the congress’ documentation or in the press coverages, there is no reason to interpret such presence as a real historical fact. Similarly, the Statute of the General Union of Roma in Romania, adopted at this congress, expressly states that “the Union flag is made up of the [Romanian] national colours with the coat of arms of the country, bearing in each corner a distinctive sign, representing: a violin, an anvil, a compass and a trowel with a hammer, signs of the art and professions of Roma in Romania”, and this statute has already been published (Haley, 1934, p. 185). As can be seen from a photograph (Realitatea Ilustrată, 1935b, p. 10), the flag in front of which the new president of the General Union of Roma from Romania takes a solemn oath, is as decribed in the Statute. There are no other than nation-building grounds to claim that the colours of the modern International Roma flag (blue and green) were adopted by the Congress in 1933 (Hancock, 2002, p. 120). The only ‘evidence’ we could find for this claim was Grattan Puxon’s description of the First Romani Congress that was conducted in 1971. Here, he quotes a statement made almost half a century after the event itself by a Roma leader who originated from Slovakia: “Dr. [Jan] Cibula adds his authority. It was, he says, such a flag that had been recognised by the pre-war Bucharest congress.” (Puxon, 2019). However, the lack of any real historical evidence does not prevent the assertion that the blue and green flag, which is a symbol of the international Roma movement, was adopted at the Congress in Bucharest in 1933. This contention also became one of the fundamental mythologems in modern Roma national historical narrative.

The Roma activists in Romania (and especially Gheorghe A. Lazărescu-Lăzurică) have repeatedly made public statements in the press that they maintain a permanent relationship with Roma from other countries, that Roma representatives from abroad are coming, that their newspapers will publish materials on the Roma in Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Switzerland, and even that they will participate in the International Roma Congress to be held in France. In this context, it becomes clear why the above-cited idea of “our own Palestine” (i.e. of own Roma state) has no further development in the activities of Roma organisations. In practice, everything was just public statements, and there is no evidence that such events and acts did in fact happen. This has shown that the play of the Roma activists in Romania by demonstrating imaginary international support for their activities in Romanian society was intended primarily for ‘internal use’. In other words, in this case, there is an attempt to extract social capital from the inferiority complexes towards Europe that remain dominant in the countries of the whole region, and which seek internal public legitimacy by obtaining some appreciation from abroad. To put it inbrackets, this syndrome continues to dominate today. That is why one can see English language slogans at the forefront of every public event, and the biggest success is when the event is broadcast on CNN.

The main and most important goal of the whole Roma civic emancipation movement in Romania, as well as in other countries of the whole region, is above all the equal integration within the Romanian civic nation, and using the imaginary international dimensions of this process is only one of the methods to achieve success in this regard. That is why it is so often repeated in the materials of existing organisations (starting with A Manifesto of the Gypsies from 1919 and subsequent decisions of the local Gypsy assemblies) that Roma are Romanian citizens, that they are loyal to the Romanian state, serve in the Romanian army, etc. Moreover, when the press announced that Gypsies from many European countries would be present at the elections of a “Gypsy King” in Poland in 1937 (see Chapter 9), the General Secretariat of the General Union of Roma in Romania adopted a formal unambiguous decision at a special meeting, underlying that the Union will have no part in the Gypsy Polish King elections as they had nothing to do with Gypsies in other countries, and Romanian Roma’s sole devotion and loyalty was only to the Romanian Crown (Glasul Romilor, 1937c, p. 4), i.e. in cases where a choice was required, civic national identity proved to be paramount and community ethnic identity remained in the background. Advancing in this direction, the leading Roma activists reach even an active cooperation with the extreme nationalist Romanian political parties and movements (Matei, 2011b, pp. 15-40). This explains the curiosity of the heading in one issue of the Roma newspaper Timpul decorated with swastikas (Timpul, An. 4, No.No. 67-68,). A swastika was the symbol of the National Christian Party, led by Octavian Goga, and the good relationships with this Party have been mentioned repeatedly in the published material. That is why in 1937, on the pages of the Special edition for the Roma from Romania the newspaper Ţara Noastra, the official of National Christian Party, Roma leaders appealed: “Gather all under his flag that for us Roma is the only salvation” (cf. Matei, 2011b, p. 33).

Despite the alliances of Roma activists with leading political forces, a few years later, during the Second World War, they were not afraid to stand up for their brethren. In November 1942, Gheorghe Niculescu, on behalf of the Asociația Românilor din România (Association of the Roma in Romania), sent a petition to King Mihai I asking the King to protect these Roma (‘nomads’ and sedentary with ‘criminal records’), who were deported to Transnistria (ANIC, fond. Direcția Generală a Poliției, dos. 191, f. 12-14).

The pursuit of Roma integration in Romanian social realities, however, does not mean that Roma activists left behind the issue of the need to preserve and develop Roma ethnicity within its new social dimensions. On the contrary, as one can see, e.g. from the published text of Dr. Constantin S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor, it was explicitly emphasised that Roma strive for their ethnic church, strive to have their own school (with textbooks in their native language), their own museum, underlining the need of collecting and publishing Roma folklore, etc. In practice, almost all fundamental points in the creation of modern nations are present (i.e. the creation of own national institutions), with the exception of the ultimate goal to create their own state.

It is noteworthy that many activists and organisations include the collection and publication of Gypsy/Roma folklore as an important part of their program activities. In 1934, Marin I. Simion, calling himself ‘Roma Voivod’ (ie Roma leader) from Oltenia, organised the publication, on behalf of Asociaţia Ţiganilor din Oltenia (Association of the Gypsies of Oltenia), of the O Rom Library (see Timpul, 1934c, p. 2). In the same year, under the editorship of Constantin S. Nicolăescu-Plopșor (1934ab), two bilingual volumes (in Romani and Romanian languages) were published: Ghilea Romane (Roma Songs) and Paramisea Romane (Roma Fairy Tales). This interest in folklore can be explained by the general context of emerging national ideologies throughout the region, where folklore, in Johann Gottfried Herder’s sense, is considered one of the most striking manifestations of the ‘National Spirit’ (Volksgeist). The Roma activists were aware of the existing dangers of the community’s social integration process to lead to losing its language and customs; to complete ethnic assimilation. That is why they paid so much attention to those Roma who lost their Romani language and among whom they saw their future elite. It was exactly these Roma who were urged not to abandon their ethnicity and to encourage their children to complete higher education, while the expectation directed to the more traditional communities, and especially the nomads, were lower (see Part 6.1.6.).

Among the visions of Roma activists in Romania, we can see something not found in other countries in the region (except for Poland – see Chapter 9). This is the appeal for the “establishment of county courts and of a Supreme Court to resolve the matters concerning marriage, divorce, funeral, and all kinds of crimes that would dishonour our nation and which will be judged by the Elders Council headed by the respective vătaf” (see Part 6.3.2.). It appears that along with calls for modernisation, and for the sedentarisation of nomads, some Roma activists envisaged the preservation and further development of traditional potestary organisations, called most often Romani Kris, and commonly found among Roma nomads (Marushiakova & Popov, 2007, pp. 67-101). In this way, the incorporatio of Roma ethnocultural traditions into modern Roma civic organisations was promoted (how successful the realisation of this idea was and even whether in principle it was even possible are separate issues).

In general, Roma activists recognised the intrinsic heterogeneity of their community and accordingly proposed a differentiated approach (something which does not always occur in the processes of Roma civic emancipation) shaped according to its segments, distinguished both by the internal structure of the community and from the new social realities. In this plan, particularly important for the Roma activists was the issue of the nomadic way of life of large parts of the Gypsies in Romania at that time. In general, concerning nomads, Roma activists were unanimous in their position (which they expressed repeatedly): they should be sedentarised through special measures of the Romanian state, which must create the appropriate conditions for this to happen. Even special steps on way to sedentarisation were proposed, such as creating ambulatory schools (see Part 6.3.2.), schools on wheels for nomads (see Part 6.3.5), and the proper locations for the settlements of nomads were proposed to be “at the periphery or through the formation of suburban communes near cities, fairs and urban communities, where they would have the opportunity to sell their work weekly” (Glasul Romilor, 1940a, p. 2).

Seen from today’s point of view, taking into account the results of the mass deportation of Gypsies (nomads in their majority) to Transnistria during the Second World War, of special interest are the proposals from Roma activists: “In the labour colonies, where most of them are likely to be sent, it would be desirable for this broader re-education based on broader and more humane understandings” (Ibid.).

During the interwar period, there has also been quite a serious debate in Romania about what the public name of the community should be – ‘Gypsies’ or ‘Roma’. This debate is still relevant today in many countries (and especially in Romania itself)). Then, it was a debate among the Gypsy/Roma activists, while Romanian society as a whole remained rather indifferent and did not express a clear position on the issue. However, in the 1930s a certain breakthrough in this direction in the public space was found in some media. For example, the popular journal Realitatea Ilustratǎ used both designations equally and with the same meaning (although the latter is used more rarely).

The movement for Roma civic emancipation in Romania is characterised by strained relations, public debates and even scandals between individual leaders, which distinguished it from the situation in other countries in Central, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe, where such relations, where they existed, remained largely hidden within narrow, internal frames, and in general were unknown in the public domain. It should be emphasised that these strained relations are not due to fundamental differences in their visions regarding Roma civic emancipation (in this respect, there is a rather unity between them), but to a large extent a result of the individual ambitions of the individual leaders.

Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov