Václav Jágr

* 1930  †︎ 2023

  • “You know what we’re happy for? Work stopped here, the Romanian workers used to come here to Ujbánya. They didn’t have a place to say, the colonies were full. They didn’t have any room or a place to stay, and today it’s all empty. They used to cut wood in the forest. Now we’re happy you people from Bohemia come, Czech tourists. So we’re happy. When we see people coming, when the festival [the Banat Music Festival] is on and we see the people crowding in, our hearts rejoice and we’re happy.”

  • “I’m nine years a widower, I’m alone now. I’ll tell you a joke: I’d get hitched, but don’t have a hitch. And without a hitch it doesn’t work. Just a little joke there.” [he laughs]

  • “A round of ammunition was abandoned here and we found it. We put it in the fire, it exploded and a fragment flew in my eye. Since then I’ve been missing that eye. I was about thirteen years of age. And then I started working, as a kid. The war was on, we were destitute and I wasn’t even fifteen when I went to work. Work pretty hard, but I was happy to make some lei.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Eibenthal, 07.09.2022

    duration: 01:04:56
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Despite losing an eye, I spent my life mining asbestos

Václav Jágr, September 2022, Eibenthal - Rumunsko
Václav Jágr, September 2022, Eibenthal - Rumunsko
photo: Post Bellum

Václav Jágr was born on 28 September 1930 in the Czech village of Eibenthal, which lies in Romanian Banat. After his father’s death the witness grew up together with five other siblings and his mother. The witness’s grandfather and his mother’s father took the family under his wing. He operated a general store and pub in the village. Václav entered the local school just before the start of the Second World War, in this school his teacher was the Czech Boleslav Ivánek, who later became a Czechoslovak pilot and member of the Royal Air Force. The witness was wounded in the 1930s by exploding military munitions, which knocked out his left eye. From the age of fifteen he was employed in the local asbestos and coal mines, where he worked for a total of over thirty years. His sister’s family was deported to the area of Bărăgan in 1951. During the post-war re-emigration, his sister also left Romania for Czechoslovakia, but he himself never permanently left his birth village and never visited Bohemia. In September of 2020 he celebrated his ninetieth birthday and at the time of recording was the oldest man in Eibenthal (September 2022). Václav Jágr died on December 2023.