Popular comedian condemned for Holocaust joke

Jewish and Roma groups outraged over Jimmy Carr joke about Gypsies killed by the Nazis.

By David Hellerman

British comedian Jimmy Carr sparked widespread outrage with a joke about the Holocaust during a Netflix special.

Carr’s standup program, titled, “His Dark Material,” aired on Christmas but only drew scrutiny in recent days as the outtake circulated on social media.

The joke ridiculed the deaths of thousands of Roma, or Gypsies, by the Nazis.

“This should be a career-ender. Strap in everyone, are you ready?,” he started off. “When people talk about the Holocaust,” which prompted audience laughter, “when people talk about the Holocaust, they talk about the tragedy and horror of six million Jewish lives being lost to the Nazi war machine,” Carr said.

“But they never mention the thousands of Gypsies that were killed by the Nazis. No one ever wants to talk about that because no one ever wants to talk about the positives,” he concluded to more audience laughter.

He followed up with a few more lines, noting “People say never forget. This is how I remember. I keep bringing it up,” which drew more laughter.

Jewish and Roma activists condemned the joke.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the UK Holocaust Memorial Day Trust called the jokes “abhorrent.”

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“We are absolutely appalled at Jimmy Carr’s comment about persecution suffered by Roma and Sinti people under Nazi oppression, and horrified that gales of laughter followed his remarks.

“Hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti people suffered prejudice, slave labour, sterilisation and mass murder simply because of their identity – these are not experiences for mockery.”

Friends, Families & Travellers, a support group for the Roma community said on Twitter, “the murder of 500,000 Roma and Sinti people is no laughing matter” and called on Netflix to remove Carr’s special.

Like the Jews, Romani German nationals were stripped of their citizenship by the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 before later being liquidated from areas occupied by the Nazis and their allies.

In the absence of any pre-World War II census of the Romani, the number of Romani killed the Nazis may never be known. Most estimates suggest 200,000-500,000 were killed, though some scholars say the true figure may be as high as 1.5 million. Romani refer to their Nazi genocide as the Porajmos, or “The Devouring.”

Although Germany has since acknowledged responsibility for the genocide, it never paid reparations to the Romani.