Ladislav Goral

* 1939

  • “So they banned it, and then there was no leader any more. So it was just a kind of group. We were joined by Draha Pithartová and Jitka Khebr, girls who were studying and the like. And when they banned it, no one had the courage to carry on, because they were afraid of losing their job, or their schooling. [Q: And which year did you establish it, when did the (troop) start functioning?] In 1973. Seven years. We did those month-long [camps] during the holidays. No hotels, just military tents, we filled the straw ticks with straw, and really did things the Scout way...”

  • “He came home as a partisan - he hadn’t seen his wife, children for almost three years because he’d been in the war, so he came to see his family. And presumably some adventurer, those helpers of Germany, simply, some Slovaks went and snitched on him that he was home, and so on and so on. Mum caught wind of it before the Germans came, that they were on their way, so he escaped through the window out into the forests and saved himself. But the family suffered, because they arrived and: ‘Where’s your husband?’ She said: ‘I don’t know.’ But it was no use, because they took Mum and then went to Nanny and Gramps. ‘Where’s your son?’ He didn’t know either. His boys happened to be at home - my three uncles and Gramps - so they took them, and to terrify them, so they saw that messing with them was no joke, they had to dig their own grave, and Nanny Goralová watched it all happen. They dug their own grave, then they shot them in the back of their heads, and Nanny had to bury them all.”

  • “In 1968 there was a competition in Brno where Romanies dance and sing. We were heard by the operetta singer Mr Novák, who was from the National Theatre or somewhere. And he said: ‘Boys, you’re good musicians, but you won’t earn a living like that.’ Because the new bands like Terne čhave and Surmajovci were starting up. He said: ‘Try reworking it into a cimbalom group.’ And in two months time Fečo learnt to play the violin in a terrific way. Well, and his family - uncle Pius from Karlín, his brother-in-law Míša Demeter, Ervín Polívka from Vysočany, and his brother Martin - they got together, and we went for it. He lived in Truhlářská [Street], and every Saturday from two p.m. to six, seven in the evening, before quiet hours, we played and rehearsed at his place.”

  • “Every nation has its own tradition, its own identity, its distinctiveness. To anyone criticising Romanis, I would recommend visiting India and getting to know the Indian life style. Indians enjoy a godly peace, they don’t chase after nonsense, they live from day to day, parents don’t go crazy when their children come home with a bad mark from school, professions are passed down from father to son... In short, the Doms of India are practically the same as the Romani who came to Europe.”

  • “It was necessary to have someone help organise the Romani school, so I set to the task with two of my colleagues. When the school opened on 1 September, we thought the Romani children would come rushing in - but there were just three of them! The opening ceremony was attended by various functionaries, so it was a disaster, I felt awful. But everything changed after that: we visited the families, woke the children up to go to school, we had to dress them at school, delouse them, wash them, teach them to clean there teeth, and so on. But today? It’s a fashion show now compared to back then.”

  • “[Q: Why did you start taking an interest in the Romani?] Because everyone should know where he comes from, who he is. When I asked my dad, where my granddad came from, his reply reminded me of a fairy tale. Then I went to the office and found out that my family goes all the way back to 1728, all the places where my predecessors lived, what their names were, where they came from... and that’s interesting! Like I say, know your family to know who you are and where you come from.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    v kanceláři pana Gorala v Domě národnostních menšin, Vocelova 3, Praha 2, 03.12.2015

    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
  • 2

    Praha, 03.02.2017

    duration: 01:48:33
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

The only earthly justice is that we all have to die

portret 1.jpg (historic)
Ladislav Goral
photo: Dobové: archiv pamětníka, součastné: Eye Direct

Ladislav Goral born 18 November 1939 into a Romani family in the village of Ihráč in Central Slovakia. His father was a blacksmith and his mother came from a family of musicians. During World War II his father was drafted into the German army; however, he defected to the partisans, and in 1944 he suddenly appeared at home. This had tragic consequences for the Gorals - eight members of the family were executed. At the age of fourteen, in 1953, Ladislav’s life took a decisive turn. He moved to Prague and began working at Zemstav, a construction company. He completed his primary education and graduated from an evening course at a secondary technical school. In the years 1958 to 1960 he did mandatory military service in Prague-Ruzyně. A meeting with Milena Hübschmannová in 1960 inspired him to take an interest in the Romani culture and language. Unfortunately, his studies of Indology and history were cut short for political reasons, and he was expelled. In the second half of the 1960s he became acquainted with the Romani musician Jožka Fečo, and together they founded a band called Raidž, with which they toured all over Europe for fifteen years. In the 1970s he started cooperating with a group of Prague Romani social curators, and he and his friend Zdenek Pinc founded the “Romani Scout” under the leadership of Jana Pfeifferová. They officially functioned as a Pioneer troop until 1980, when they were banned. In 1990, thanks to his contacts with Prague dissidents, he was appointed an adviser in Romani matters at the newly established Secretariat of the Government Council for Ethnic Minorities. From 1992 he worked at the Office of the Government. He has played in many Czech films and TV series, such as Bony a klid (Bons and Peace - bons were a hard-currency voucher used to purchase foreign luxury goods), Zdivočelá země (Wild Country), or Přítelkyně z domu smutku (Girlfriend from the House of Sorrow). He speaks several dialects of Romani.