“Let´s Slaughter the Gypsies!” : Anti-Roma Pogrom in Pobedim in 1928
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This article deals with the multiple murders of Roma people committed by a number of local citizens in Pobedim, a village in West Slovakia, during the night of October 1 - 2, 1928, which could be understood as an anti-Roma pogrom. Attention is paid to the interactions between different Czechoslovak state authorities such as gendarmerie, the district office, provincial office, court and municipalities in the region shortly before the outbreak of the pogrom and in its aftermath. Drawing on Giorgio Agamben´s theory elaborated for the analysis of anti-Gypsy measures by various scholars, e.g. Jennifer Illuzzi, the author argues that the extreme violence resulted from the tensions and conflicts between those historical actors who enforced the contemporary anti-Gypsy measures on the regional level and which led to the creation of the state of exception for the population labeled as Gypsies. The analysis also reveals the variety of contemporary practices of exclusion towards the population labeled as Gypsies in interwar Czechoslovakia. Despite the fact that the Roma were victims of a brutal assault even the trials attest to the extreme asymmetry of power between the accused portrayed as "decent citizens" and the bare lives of the Roma. Because the executive state authorities circumvented the judiciary and forged their own solution allegedly more suited to the public interest, the Roma were caught in the state of exception. Furthermore, the article shows how ideas of Gypsies´ internment in various types of forced labor camps as a permanent and spatial embodiment of the state of exception stemmed from the dynamic of enforcing anti-Gypsy measures.
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