Escape, survival and resistance

After the deportation of the majority of the Roma population, an unspecified number of Roma remained in the Protectorate. A group of about two hundred of them, who were released during the assembly of transports with the permission of the criminal police, was probably to undergo forced sterilization in the future.1

Those who were not identified as gypsies and gypsy half-breeds in the census of gypsies had the best chance of survival, since they did not even get into the process of final solution. This is how for example Eduard Holomek managed to survive. In 1941, with the help of a friend, he got on the list of young men who were sent to the Reich. During the war, he worked in an ammunition factory near Vienna.2

Other Roma hid (eg with relatives, friends or in the woods), some fled to Slovakia.3 But a succesful escape from a camp did not mean safety yet. Larger groups (eg families) moved more slowly, were more conspicuous and had difficulties finding shelter and food. An individual may have had a better chance of escaping, but on the other hand he often had to decide to leave his loved ones behind without knowing if they would ever meet again. The refugees had to hide not only from the security authorities, but also from the majority population. Although there were people who tried to help in various ways, such as providing temporary or permanent shelter, food, etc., not everyone was willing to take risks and help, even less to gypsies, stigmatized by prejudice and contempted. The genocidal measures of the authorities were based on the racist attitudes of the society of that time. People commonly agreed with the gradual radicalization aimed at suppressing the rights of various groups of the population and ultimately leading to their extermination. Moreover, anti-Gypsyism, similar to anti-Semitism, was constantly fueled by propaganda in the press and radio during the Nazi regime.

Zilli Schmidt (born Reichmann in 1924) a German Sintezza, who fled the gypsy camp in Lety u Písku in November 1942, had a painful fate. After a few days on the run in the Protectorate, she was arrested again and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in March 1943. Later that year, she also met her three-year-old daughter, parents and other relatives there, who in the meantime had also been imprisoned at the gypsy camp in Lety u Písku, subsequently also in Hodonín u Kunštátu before being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. While Zilli was taken to the Ravensbrück concentration camp on August 2, 1944, the rest of the family was sent to the gas chamber that day. She later escaped from a branch camp of Ravensbrück and hid in Berlin, where she was liberated. After the war, she settled in Germany, where she still lives and testifies to her persecution.4

Some individuals also took an active part in the anti-Nazi resistance. E.g. Josef Serinek (1900–1974), who in the autumn of 1942 successfully fled the „gypsy camp“ Lety u Písku, went on to form a guerrilla unit named Čapajev, often though called Černý (Black) and became famous in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands.5 Another fighter was Antonín Murka (1923–1989), who joined the anti-Nazi resistance in his native region of Valašsko (Wallachia) in Moravia after escaping from the gypsy camp Hodonín u Kunštátu.6
 

Next chapter: Conclusion

 

 

Remarks

1:

Nečas, Ctibor. Českoslovenští Romové v letech 1938-1945. In: Spisy Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity v Brně. Brno: Masarykova univerzita v Brně, 1994. p. 73.

2:

Elina Machálková, Elina – sága rodu Holomků [Elina – saga of the Holomek family]. In: Memoáry romských žen. Karolína - Cesta životem v cikánském voze a Elina - Sága rodu Holomků. Brno: Muzeum romské kultury, 2005. pp. 37-38, note 28, p. 55.

3:

Elina Machálková, Elina – sága rodu Holomků [Elina – saga of the Holomek family]. In: Memoáry romských žen. Karolína - Cesta životem v cikánském voze a Elina - Sága rodu Holomků. Brno: Muzeum romské kultury, 2005. pp. 71–73.

4:

Schmidt, Zilli. Gott hat mit mir etwas vorgehabt! Erinnerungen einer deutschen Sinteza. Berlin: Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, 2020. On-line: https://www.stiftung-denkmal.de/wp-content/uploads/Zilli-Schmidt_Gott-hat-mit-mir-etwas-vorgehabt_Web-PDF_Einzelseiten.pdf. ​Accessed: 17 May 2020.

5:

Serinek, Josef, Tesař, Jan and Ondra, Josef. Česká cikánská rapsodie. Praha: Triáda, 2006. 502 pp., 635 pp., 208 pp.

6:

Nečas, Ctibor. Nemůžeme zapomenout. Našti bisteras. Nucená táborová koncentrace ve vyprávěních romských pamětníků. Olomouc: Univerzita Palackého v Oloumoci, 1994. 244 p. pp. 180–186.

List of used archival sources and literature:

Archival sources:

Moravský zemský archiv [Moravian Land Archives]

  • B 124, Krajský národní výbor Brno [Regional National Committee Brno], III. manipulace [III. manipulation]:

  • - box 1871, inv. no. 1536 – Cikáni (1942–1951) [Gypsies (1942–1951)]

Státní oblastní archiv v Třeboni [State Regional Archives in Třeboň]

  • CT Lety [Gypsy camp Lety]:

  • - box 3, inv. no. 38 – Vyhláška Okresního úřadu Písek o soupisu cikánů vydaná dne 17. 7. 1942 [Decree of the District Office in Písek on the census of gypsies issued on 17 July 1942]

  • - box 14, inv. no. 75 – Změny stavu, propuštění z cikánského tábora, seznamy zemřelých [Changes in the number of prisoners, releases from the gypsy camp, death lists]

  • - box 20, inv. no. 83, osobní spisy muži [personal files men]

  • - box 23, inv. no. 96 – Epidemie tyfu [Typhus epidemic]

 

Laws and regulations:

Literature:

  • Rickmann, Anahid S. „Rassenpflege im völkischen Staat“. Zum Verhältnis der Rassenhygiene zur nationalsozialistischen Politik. Bonn: Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Bonn, 2002.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Romové na Moravě a ve Slezsku (1740-1945). Brno: Knižnice Matice moravské, 2005. 475 p.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Romové v České republice včera a dnes. 3rd ed. Olomouc: UP Olomouc, 1999. 132 p.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Českoslovenští Romové v letech 1938-1945. In: Spisy Filozofické fakulty Masarykovy univerzity v Brně. Brno: Masarykova univerzita v Brně, 1994.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Holocaust českých Romů. Praha: Prostor, 1999. 173 p.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Andŕoda taboris. Tragédie protektorátních cikánských táborů v Letech a v Hodoníně. Brno: 1995.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Nemůžeme zapomenout. Našti bisteras. Nucená táborová koncentrace ve vyprávěních romských pamětníků. Olomouc: Univerzita Palackého v Oloumoci, 1994. 244 p.

  • Nečas, Ctibor. Nad osudem českých a slovenských Cikánů 1939-1945. Brno: Univerzita J. E. Purkyně v Brně, 1981. 180 p.

  • Schmidt, Zilli. Gott hat mit mir etwas vorgehabt! Erinnerungen einer deutschen Sinteza. Berlin: Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, 2020.

  • Serinek, Josef, Tesař, Jan and Ondra, Josef. Česká cikánská rapsodie. Praha: Triáda, 2006.

  • Memorial book: The Gypsies at Auschwitz-Birkenau = Księga Pamięci: Cyganie w obozie koncentracyjnym Auschwitz-Birkenau = Gedenkbuch: Die Sinti und Roma im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau: The gypsies at Auschwitz-Birkenau. München: Saur, 1993.

  • Váša, Pavel and Trávníček, František. Slovník jazyka českého. Praha: Fr. Borový, 1937.

  • Zimmermann, Michael. Rassenutopie und Genozid. Die nationalsozialistische Lösung der Zigeunerfrage. Hamburg: Christians, 1996. 547 p.

  • Benz, Wolfgang, Distel, Barbara and Königseder, Angelika. (Hg.): Ort des Terrors. Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager, Bd. 8. München: 2008.

  • Aly, Götz. Die restlose Erfassung: Volkszählen, Identifizieren, Aussondern im Nationalsozialismus. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2000.

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