Rosa Winter

"That was a beautiful, peaceful time."

Rosa Winter was born in Königswiesen (Upper Austria) in 1923. She was the fourth child of a travelling Sinti family. Her parents and their twelve children moved from market to market in their caravan, selling goods all over Austria. Rosa Winter did not go to school. She helped in the household, and took care of her younger siblings. When the family stopped off at Salzburg in the autumn of 1939, the police detained them, took their wagon, horses and goods, and brought them to a collecting camp on the grounds of the trotting course. In September 1940, she was sent to the Maxglan camp, where the NS film director Leni Riefenstahl picked out extras for her movie "Tiefland" shortly afterwards. Rosa Winter was also taken to Mittenwald in Germany for the shooting of the film. When she heard that her family was going to be deported, she fled, but was rearrested in Rosenheim and imprisoned at the Salzburg police prison. In the cell there, she saw her mother for the last time. In 1941, she was deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp.

"And we didn't know school, because we were here today and there tomorrow. There, we met up with the others then, who were there, our acquaintances, and we were wildly happy. Well, were the markets are, the men sang and played music, yes musical. And everything went peacefully. Yes, some sold less, others more, but there was such a solidarity. Only one pot of soup was cooked, and everyone got some, everyone. That was a beautiful, peaceful time. "

In the autumn of 1940, Leni Riefenstahl began shooting her film „Tiefland“. For it, she chose extras at the Maxglan camp. In the autumn of 1940 and in summer 1941, 40-60 prisoners were taken to Krünn in Mittenwald/Germany to the film location in police custody. The extras' salaries were paid to the camp cashier. In the contract, an immediate reporting of escape attempts was agreed.

"Well, because I ran away from the film. Then they said, that is work sabotage. They brought me to Salzburg, to the criminal police, right there at the prison. Helene Riefenstahl visited me there. And she was hoping that I would ask forgiveness, and so on. But I didn't do that … No, I didn't do that. „Oh I see,“ she said, „then you will end up in the concentration camp, too. If you want to, you will go there.“ Then, after I had come to Ravensbrück, she requested me. I would have had to get sterilised. Older women, my aunt said, don't do that. So they said I would stay there. That was it. "

Sinti in Austria until 1943

Travelling Sinti and Roma have lived in Austria since medieval times. From the end of the 19th Century onwards, the development of modern national states has made nomadic lifestyles more difficult. Government policies forced the Sinti to settle down, or deported them from the country. From 1918 onwards, there was international cooperation for the "solution to the gypsy problem". Until 1938, about 3,000 travelling Sinti lived in Austria. After the "Anschluss" (euphemism for the entry of Austria into the German Reich), the "Festsetzungsbescheid" ("detention decree") came into force. It made it illegal for Sinti to move on from their temporary "places of residence". Most of them were detained in the Maxglan/ Leopoldskron collection camp in Salzburg and had to do forced labour. In 1943, the camp was dissolved, and most inmates were deported to Auschwitz extermination camp.