Alfred Dillmann

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Alfred Dillmann (* 17 March 1849 in Germersheim; † 5 December 1924) was a lawyer and police chief in the Kingdom of Bavaria, who became known for establishing the central registration office for persons then called “Gypsies” in the Erkennungsdienstliche Abteilung der Polizei in Munich.[1]
Dillmann’s contribution to the repressive “Gypsy policy” is the systematic registration and control. His categorization according to “racial” and sociological criteria prevailed in official practice. The registration led to an equation of “Gypsies” and “persons roaming in the Gypsy manner” with serial offenders in everyday police life.[2]

School and study

Dillmann graduated in 1866 from the Wilhelmsgymnasium in Munich[3] munich. He then studied law at the University of Munich.

Dillmann and the “Gypsy Center”

Title page of the gypsy book by Alfred Dillmann (1905)

In 1899, under Dillmann’s direction, the “Intelligence Service for the Security Police in Relation to Gypsies”, or “Gypsy Central” for short, was established in Munich[4]which began with the creation of a card index of all “Gypsies” in Germany who were older than six years. In addition to identification data, genealogical data and, above all, information on delinquency were collected. In 1905, Dillmann’s Gypsy Book was compiled from this collection, which contained individual data on 3,350 persons and was made available to the police stations.[5]

The introduction to the book states:

“The travelling people of the Gypsies have remained … a harmful foreign body in German culture. All attempts to tie the Gypsies to the soil and to accustom them to a settled way of life have failed. Even draconian punishments have not been able to dissuade them from their unsteady way of life and their tendency to unlawful acquisition of wealth. In spite of much mingling, their descendants have again become Gypsies with the same characteristics and habits of life which their ancestors had possessed.”

Dillmann (1905)[6]

The book contains descriptions of persons, some with photographs of those described.[7] The book was distributed in 7000 copies.[8]

Dillmann’s attempt to found a “Reichszigeunerzentrale” with headquarters in Munich at a “Gypsy Conference” in 1911 failed due to Prussian resistance.[9]

The conference defined “gypsy” for practice:

“Gypsies in the police sense are both gypsies in the racial sense and those who roam in the gypsy manner”

quoted after Leo Lucassen (1911)[10]

In 1925, a year after Dillmann’s death, his intelligence service had opened files on 14,000 individuals and families from Germany.[11]


  • Zigeuner-Buch; herausgegeben zum amtlichen Gebrauche im Auftragtrage des K.B. Staatsministeriums des Innern vom Sicherheitsbureau der K. Polizeidirektion München. Munich, Dr. Wild’sche Buchdruckerei 1905.


  • Stephan Bauer: From Dillmann’s Gypsy Book to the BKA. 100 years of registration and persecution of the Sinti and Roma in Germany. Siedentop, Heidenheim an der Brenz 2008, ISBN 978-3-925887-27-7.


  • Collection Dillmann, Alfred Signature ED 459 (Diary and political records from 1914) Institute of Contemporary History
  • Further comprehensive diary records are kept in the Munich City Archives.

Individual references

  1. Findbuch zum Bestand ED 459 (PDF; 38 kB), Archive of the Institute of Contemporary History Munich, List of estates City Archive Munich
  2. Review by Martin Holler on: Marion Bonillo: “Zigeunerpolitik” im Deutschen Kaiserreich 1871-1918(
  3. Annual Report on the K. Wilhelms-Gymnasium in Munich 1865/66.
  4. Till Bastian: Sinti and Roma in the Third Reich p. 21
  5. of 8 October 2010 in the Internet Archive) Hans Hesse, Jens Schreiber: Vom Schlachthof nach Auschwitz: die NS-Verfolgung der Sinti und Roma aus Bremen, Bremerhaven und Nordwestdeutschland. P. 24(
  6. The foreign Europeans. In: Der Freitag. 26.January 2007 (
  7. Israel W. Charny: Encyclopedia of genocide. P. 512(
  8. Leo Lucassen, ” Harmful tramps ” Police professionalization and gypsies in Germany, 1700-1945, pp. 29-50(
  9. Holler, Martin (2004), review of: Angelika Albrecht: Gypsies in Old Bavaria 1871-1914. A social, economic and administrative history of Bavarian Gypsy policy.(
  10. Hans Hesse, Jens Schreiber: Vom Schlachthof nach Auschwitz: die NS-Verfolgung der Sinti und Roma aus Bremen, Bremerhaven und Nordwestdeutschland. S. 24(
  11. Donald Kenrick: Historical Dictionary of the Gypsies (Romanies). 2. Edition. Lanham, Maryland / Toronto / Plymouth 2007, p. 97.