Antonín Lagryn

* 1947

  • “Those maringotkas (caravans) - they took them from the Gypsies and put the dead there. That's what my dad told me; that he saw his mom there, lying on a pile of corpses, through the window, and he couldn't go to her. And the dead were buried there standing up. They dug a shaft and put them on their feet. And when Dad's parents died - and Dad's two cousins ​​were the gravediggers - and [Dad] said to them: 'I hope you didn't bury my mum the way...' - 'No, I laid them flat.' That's what Dad used to tell me.”

  • "Later, we didn't have horses or a tractor, and we were nomadic. And you know how? We would stop trucks. The guys would always say, 'Hey, here is a fifty. Take us, yoke our caravan.' So he hooked it to his car and drove us away. And he says, 'Guys, I'm going in a different direction.' He detached the caravan, and: 'Get another one.' So we waited for the next one to hook us up for money. So we hopped around, right? And so we roamed. And when we drove far, we took the cars to the station, like circuses, we loaded it, and drove for maybe four or five days."

  • "Villagers... Every time we arrived, they were already there looking: 'What's up, what's up?' I say: 'The circus is coming with us. We have camels, horses,' we would fool them like that. They were surprised. 'Really?!' - 'Want to ride?' - 'Yes, will you let me?' - 'And will you lend me a bike?' When he lent me the bike, he wouldn't see me for the rest of the day. I was already riding in the woods, in the fields. I was already wild. And many times, I came back to the carriage, and the boy's mom and dad were already standing there, or even a policeman and mom with a stick, and I was already running away. I dropped the bike and ran to the forest. A lot of times, I didn't even come home all night out of fear."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Brno, 17.02.2022

    duration: 02:06:10
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - JMK REG ED
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Every Roma should make a pilgrimage to Auschwitz or to Kali Sara once in their life

On a hike, 1966
On a hike, 1966
photo: Romano Džaniben 1/2013

Antonín Lagryn (nicknamed Tony) was born on July 17, 1947, in Cheb to Josef Lagryn (*1903) and Ilona Maria Hauerová (*1923, after the war, her name was Anežka Laubingerová, later Steinbach) and grew up as their only son. He belongs to the Sinti (German nomadic Roma) on both his mother’s and father’s sides. His mother’s family lived in Germany and was not affected by the Holocaust during the Second World War. Two of his mother’s brothers enlisted in the Wehrmacht. The withess’ mother made a living by door-to-door sales, and for this activity, she was arrested in the Sudetenland during the protectorate and deported to concentration camp Ravensbrück. She survived the imprisonment and the death march, and after the war, in Znojmo, she met Josef, who was widowed during the war and 20 years older than her. His father went through the so-called gypsy camp in Lety u Písku (where his parents Willibald Lagrün and Anna Lagrünová perished), the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau (where his wife Pavlína Šmídová and their four children died), and the concentration camps Buchenwald and Mauthausen. He survived the death march and was freed by the Americans. After the war, he lived with his wife in the borderlands, Karlovy Vary and Brno. Later, when she and little Tony left him, Aleš travelled with a Circus as a musician. The father was only reunited with his son at the time of the nomadic ban when Antonín lived with Antonín Weinrich’s stepfamily in Beroun. At the time, Antonín’s mother was serving a sentence for door-to-door selling. Since the reunion, Antonín lived with his father in Brno, and after years of nomadism, he joined a school for a longer period of time for the first time. However, he did not manage to catch up with his classmates. Ultimately, he completed five years of a special school and ended up in a correctional facility for juveniles in Brno and later in Nový Jičín due to educational problems. In 1968, he travelled to see his family in Germany (for a funeral). After 11 months, he returned to Czechoslovakia to his first wife and children but according to section 109 of the municipal criminal law (unauthorized leaving of the republic), he ended up in prison. During the 1980s, he made a living as a construction worker. After 1989, he worked for Milan Ščuka. Since 1990, he has been actively involved in commemorating the victims of the Roma Holocaust - in 1998, he became one of the founding members of the Committee for Compensation of the Roma Holocaust in the Czech Republic and cooperates with the Brno Museum of Roma Culture (MRK). He also became a member of the jury for the design of the Roma Holocaust Memorial and Sinti in Lety u Písku. Antonín Lagryn’s rich memories were captured by Jana Horváthová and are part of the MRK archive in Brno. In 2022, he lived in Brno on Cejl street.