E Kali Pečàta, Black Patch

Symbol used to identify Romanies in Nazi Germany

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Translated literally as the "black patch," this was the triangular symbol sewn onto the clothing of Romani prisoners in the concentration camps of World War II. The "Z" stands for Zigeuner, the German word for Gypsy. More accurately known as the Romani, the Holocaust killed some 75% of the Romani population in Europe by 1945. A number of Romani Holocaust survivors came to Texas and some of their descendants live in Waco and Houston today.

The Romani began immigrating to Texas even before WWII, as early as the 1860s. Approximately 20,000 Roma from two principal groups of Romanies, the Vlax and the Romanichals, call Texas home. In the early 1900s, Romani Texans had a migrant way of life, traveling in camps between Texas and Michigan. Over time they settled in Houston and Fort Worth, and in communities throughout the state.

Originally of Indian decent, by the 14th century the Romanies had migrated from India to Europe. Their skin color, unique dress, and distinct language set them apart from Europeans. In southeastern Europe, Romani artisan skills were coveted by the ruling classes who subsequently enslaved the Romani for centuries. Finally freed in the 1860s, some made their way to America and joined groups of Roma forcibly deported from other areas of Europe decades before. By the early 20th century, Roma were freely immigrating to the United States. Those who remained in Europe were later targeted by the Nazis and systematically killed in concentration camps during WWII.

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E Kali Pečàta, Black Patch Artifact from Austin
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