Zdeněk Daniel

* 1929  

  • "We wouldn't have gone if it were up to us. I was also there, in Brno. They took us to a so-called 'robotárna', which was under German control. They assembled whole families in and we spent two days there. We were being investigated. My auntie was a widow and her husband had spent ears working in a power plant - so they concluded she was not Romani. Our family was also set free but the other Roma began to complain: 'Yeah, those ones, they are rich and so...' - and things went down from there. They took all of us in. In the end, auntie was allowed to step aside with three children. It was some Gestapo officer who did this selection in Brno. All of us were there. I was already getting on board to be taken away when someone grabbed my hand and pulled me out. But I didn't want to, I wanted to stay with my parents."

  • "The Gipsies were settled in Moravia since my great-grandma's time - since around 1800. It was a peculiar village, a so-called colony. Oslavany. We lived there quite happily, my parents built a nice family house and we had a good life. My mum had a textile trade, my dad was a horse trader - even during the war. We were quite wealthy because we had a servant and even a coachman. But then the war came and they came for us. I was lucky doing my vocational training there. I was at my auntie's - my dad's sister. She was a widow, a very kind lady, and she took the three of us with her. What she did for us is beyond comparison. There were three of us who... We were saved from Auschwitz. So many years passed and I am still emotional about it."

  • "I was a communist. I was honest, finished school and worked at house management. I did a vocational school and then studied further in the evenings. I had been doing technical work. And then came 1968 and you know what. I witnessed something similar during the war, and so was shaken up a lot. And I just threw away my party membership card. I said that as soon as Dubček was sidelined, I'd leave the party. He was a decent man who... And so it happened. The tanks arrived... I didn't know what to do. Then I made it to a mental hospital because of what I was through during the war and then this again."

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    Jablonec nad Nisou, 28.06.2017

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They saved us from Auschwitz. So many years had passed and I can’t stop thinking of it

Zdeněk Daniel was born on 9 September 1929 in Oslavany into the family of so-called indigenous Moravian Roma. His family was wealthy; his father was a horse trader and a Roma community leader, his mother ran a door-to-door business with textile. At 10 years of age, Zdeněk witnessed the invasion of the German armies to the country. The family wasn’t directly affected by the first years of the war despite the introduction of anti-Roma laws. On 10 July 1942, there was a census of Roma people in Oslavany which led to their division into two categories. His family was left in peace for the time being. However, on 5 May 1943, they were deported alongside the other local Romani people to Brno where a mass roundup took place prior to their deportation to Auschwitz. The policeman Bajer ensured the release of Zdeněk’s aunt Amálie Danielová who was allowed to take three children from the family with her. Zdeněk was among them. On 7 May 1943, the rest of the family was taken to a concentration camp. Zdeněk returned to Oslavany with his aunt and two cousins, where they lived in fear up until the end of the war. His mother Růžena died during a return from the concentration camp while his father managed to arrive safely and then founded another family. Zdeněk trained to be a plumber and then went to work in the chemical plants in Litvínov. He became a keen communist and underwent military service. He later got married and had two children. In 1968, he voiced is disagreement with the Warsaw Pact armies invasion to Czechoslovakia, left the communist party. He was then fired from his job and spent time in a mental hospital. He became a strong opponent of the communist party. In the early 70s, he became a new life with his family in Jablonec nad Nisou where he found a job as an assembler of water pipes.