Polish Roma are recognized as a Polish ethnic minority. According to the National Census in 2011, 17,049 people declared their Roma nationality , with 9,899 as their only nationality. However, according to Ethnologue, in Poland, Romany language is spoken by more than 35,000 people.
The first traces of the presence of Roma in Poland date from the year 1401. During the interwar, about 30 thousand Roma were living in Poland. The majority was wandering caravans, but some ran sedentary lives, mainly in Galicia. During the Second World War, Poland experienced a mass extermination of the Roma by the Nazi German.
After the war, the authorities took steps to so called “productivity” of Roma and get them to settle through laws and harassment. The number of Roma living in Poland declined after 1989 as a result of emigration, especially to the countries of Western and Northern Europe. Today, as before, because of the splitting into many groups and numerous antagonisms between them, Roma elites are not truly able to defend their civil rights as an ethnic minority.
The main issues of Polish Roma are the same as in many European societies: an “anti-gypsies” stereotypes and a long history of persecution. In Poland, only since 1989, the Roma have a chance to fully integrate with the rest of society, but the time that has elapsed since then, is still too short to bury age-old resentment on both sides. Many Roma do not use this opportunity, choosing exile.
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