Bergitka Roma belong to the same group as Gypsies from the southern side of the Carpathians and those from Ukraine. In Poland, they live in the Podhale, Spiš, Orava, and the Beskid Sądecki. Before World War II they also had their settlements in Lemko villages in the Lower Beskid and Bieszczady Mountains. In the middle of the 20th Century many Romanies moved to the towns. Traditionally, they made their living providing services for the Polish and Ruthenian rural population – they engaged in blacksmiths works, musical activities, seasonal agricultural works, and also begging. Living for centuries side by side with non-Gypsies (in Romanian: gadzie) they have lost many characteristic features of nomadic Gypsies.
Thanks to initiatives undertaken by the International Romani Union, established in the early 1970s, today’s Gypsies – Romanies – are treated as a separate nation of Hindu origin, with their own language (with multiple dialects), national flag, emblem and anthem.
The first exhibition dedicated to the Romani people was organised in Poland in the late 1970s by the Ethnographic Museum in Tarnów. Currently, it offers a permanent exhibition of the history and culture of the Romanies in Poland. The museum is also a co-organiser of the Roma Memory Caravan, a project started in 1996 with the aim of commemorating the extermination of Romanies. The main ceremony is held at the cemetery in Szczurowa, where in July 1943 the Nazis executed 93 Romanies who lived in the village.
More information on the exhibition at the Ethnographic Museum in Tarnów and the Roma Memory Caravan is available on www.muzeum.tarnow.pl.
A small complex of architecture typical for Carpathian Gypsies is displayed in the Sądecki Ethnographic Park in Nowy Sącz.