The Sinti (also Sinta or Sinte; masc. sing. Sinto; fem. sing. Sintesa) are a Romani people of Central Europe. They were traditionally itinerant, but today only a small percentage of the group remains unsettled. In earlier times, they frequently lived on the outskirts of communities. The Sinti of Central Europe are closely related to the group known as Manouche in France. They speak the Sinti-Manouche variety of Romani, which exhibits strong German influence.
"Sinti" may be derived from "Sindhi", the name of a people of the Sindh region in South Asia as the original Roma migrated from India according to a recent Estonian and Indian study, a notion popular among the Sinti themselves. However, the vast majority of scholars and anthropologists claim that there is no known basis for the comparison.
The Sinti arrived in Germany and Austria in the Late Middle Ages along with Romani from India, eventually splitting into two groups: Eftavagarja ("the Seven Caravans") and Estraxarja ("from Austria"). They arrived in Germany before 1540. The two groups expanded, the Eftavagarja into France, Portugal and Brazil, where they are called "Manouches", and the Estraxarja into Italy and Central Europe, mainly what are now Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, eventually adopting various regional names. In Italy they are present mainly in Piedmont region (where in Piedmontese they are called Sinto, although the word for Romani people is sìngher, as the Italian zingaro), with some communities in Veneto and Emilia Romagna as well.
Sinti and Roma had migrated to Germany in the late 15th century. Nonetheless, they were still generally accused of being beggars and thieves, and by 1899, the police kept a central register on Romani people. Considered by the National Socialists to be racially inferior (see Nazism and Race), Sinti and Roma were persecuted throughout Germany during the Nazi period – the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 often being interpreted to apply to them as well as the Jews. Adolf Eichmann recommended that the "Gypsy Question" be "solved" simultaneously with the Jewish Question, resulting in the deportation of the Sinti to clear room to build homes for ethnic Germans. Some were sent to Poland, or elsewhere (including some deported to Yugoslavia by the Hamburg Police in 1939), others were confined to designated areas, and many were eventually murdered in gas chambers.
In concentration camps, the Sinti were forced to wear either a black triangle, indicating their classification as "asocial", or a brown triangle, specifically reserved for Romani people.
Django Reinhardt was a guitarist who fused traditional dance hall musettes with American jazz in 1930s and 1940s. Along with Stéphane Grappelli and the other members of the Quintette du Hot Club de France, founded the style of music known as "Gypsy jazz".
Other notable Sinti musicians include Schnuckenack Reinhardt, Drafi Deutscher and the jazz guitarists Jimmy Rosenberg and Paulus Schäfer. The Sinto Häns'che Weiss produced a record in Germany in the 1970s in which he sang about the Poraimos (Romani Holocaust) in his own language. Many younger Germans first learned about this part of Holocaust history as a result of this recording. Titi Winterstein and several members of Reinhardt's clan still play traditional and modern Gypsy jazz. The jazz keyboardist Joe Zawinul was also of Sinti descent.
Marianne Rosenberg, a very popular Sinti/Roma-German singer, is considered "the 'Cher' of Germany." She is the daughter of Auschwitz survivor Otto Rosenberg, who in 1936 at nine years of age was placed in a concentration camp where his father, his grandmother, and all of his siblings were murdered by the Nazis. She sings mainly in German but has sung in English, French, Italian, and the Sinti language. She finished tenth in the German preselection for the 1975 Eurovision song contest with "Er gehört zu mir". Her biography Kokolores is a bestseller in Europe.
Sintis notable for their sporting achievements include Johann Trollmann, who won the 1933 light-heavyweight boxing championship of Germany but was stripped of the title by the Nazis, who could not tolerate a "non-Aryan" champion; Trollman was murdered in a concentration camp in 1943 by another inmate.