The Holocaust progresses while war rages

Men, women and children of the Roma and Sinti peoples are deported from the German city of Asberg, 22nd May 1940. They were sent to forced labour camps in Poland where the majority died from starvation and maltreatment. The remainder were later sent to death camps. There were no survivors from the groups arrested at this time.

Large group of Roma and Sinti people marched through Asberg town centre

The townspeople of Asberg watch while the Roma and Sinti groups are marched to the trains.

Sinti and Roma people on train

This official photograph, 22nd May 1940, may have been intended to persuade the public that this was merely a 'relocation': this group have been put in a conventional train rather than the usual cattle trucks.

In Germany Himmler saw the war in the west as opportunity to accelerate racial measures against the Gypsies. At this stage the Germans were still taking official photographs of the measures they were undertaking, as here. Himmler would soon be touring the newly occupied countries for new victims.

The British attacks around Arras on the 21st had gained them a little respite but no real advantage since they continued to be outflanked, forcing them to continue to withdraw:

From the Diary of Captain R. Leah, 1st Battalion, Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders :

Wednesday 22nd May –

Relief arrived about 2.45 a.m. At first light withdrew ourselves to sunken road and dug in to bank. Tried to get some sleep today but very difficult. “C” Coy were on same road lower down. Apparently communication between Battalion and forward coys A & D very difficult. Peter [?Hunt] shot in thigh early afternoon in fwd area. Gill [?] wounded sometime today.

Enemy recce planes about a lot today. Coy Comdrs Conference late afternoon at Merlin. Owing to success of last nights attack we were going to push across river but owing to enemy break through further on flanks got orders to withdraw instead. Cycled down to Bn. H.Q. Sgt Hill told me I looked ill and gave me a tumbler of rum.

Orders for withdrawal, “B” Coy to leave at 11 p.m. followed by A & D or. vice versa then “C” at 2.30 a.m. 30 cwt came up and we had a good dinner first. Many wounded brought in tonight. Very sensibly the ambulance was brought right up into sunken road. Should have been done yesterday.

Padre buried all killed from “B” Coy, including Peter, on edge of road. Map reference [space] Route for withdrawal Merlin – Velvain – Taintignies – Croisette – Frontier crossing Rumegies side of Mouchin – straight across main road to battalion area at Lannay. Peter Hunt still functioning as Adjutant.

Coy and Self 3 miles marching.

[Entry No.13, for the first entry see 10th May 1940]

See TNA WO 217/15

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