Josef Mašek

* 1955

  • “The band from Gerník was called Bohemia. The first members of the band, when in the 90s Mr Špicel left for the Czech Republic, then it was Mr Pešic, Vrba, both Němeček’s, only I and the Pjoček brothers stayed. We taught the young ones, and again they left us. We taught the young ones, and again they left us. I can say, in the Czech Republic, over the years, 29 musicians passed through the band. As I said, the band had various members over the years. Now there are three bands they’ve formed throughout the Czech Republic. What they did in Gerník, getting together for festivities, well they do that in the Czech Republic, in the Chebsko area and around Pilsen. Now we have internet, so in the evenings I look at the Wenceslas festival or sanctification feast or Slavic carnival and watch them having fun, dancing. It makes me happy to see them carrying on with it.”

  • “The first band was started by the teacher Vincenc Zamouřil, whom they murdered in Gerník. That was before the First World War. A second band was formed in the time between the wars, I have photos. This man named Karel Bouda was the drummer, I got to know most of the players. Eman Nejedlý played the clarinet, Josef Bouda played the trumpet, and Karel Kameník played the trumpet too. Mr Bouda, the drummer, I got to know him, he was my neighbour. But I never got to hear them play because they played before the Second World War. Another one of them is Karel Cizler, who played the Flugelhorn. When we formed a band and played at the cultural centre, he always played the horn and always cried about how beautiful it was. He recounted how they used to play. They had this story. Austria was here, and they went to Serbia to play in Bela Crkva.”

  • “There were changes, and people started leaving. Do you know who took our first people from Romania? It was a whole bus, it was called a ‘Mitaska’. They took the first load of people. The men went to Bohemia, and six months later, they returned with a car from the Czech Republic. And so the others said, ‘I’ll go too, I’ll go.’ And so they started leaving. And the biggest wave of people leaving for the Czech Republic was from 1995–1996. That’s when the most people left.”

  • “When they left [for Bohemia] and mainly, when my young friends were leaving, it was as if a chunk had been ripped from my heart. My wife taught at the school, we went to dancing lessons with our accordion. We had beautiful ensembles and went to Prague to play, we played in Prague 6 at the Břevnov sanctification feast. I look at Gerník. In the Gerník school we have five children.”

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    Svatá Helena, Rumunsko, 19.10.2021

    duration: 01:46:48
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When my friends left for Czechia, it was as if a chunk had been ripped from my heart

Josef Mašek, born in 1955 in Gerník
Josef Mašek, born in 1955 in Gerník
photo: Memory of Nations

Josef Mašek was born on April 9, 1955, in the Czech village of Gerník (Gârnic in Romanian), Caraș-Severin County, Romania. His father lost his sight in an accident when he was 19 years old, so primarily the witness’ mother, Barbora, and his grandparents had to take care of the family farm. At the age of 13, after his grandfather’s death, most of the work on the farm fell to him. From his school years, he enjoyed singing and conducted a child choir. At the age of twenty-four, he bought his first harmonica. In 1981 he was at the founding of the music group Bohemia, in which he sang and played for the next 25 years. The musicians regularly performed throughout all the Czech villages in Banat and played at countless dances, festivals, Slavic carnivals and other social events. After the fall of the Communist regime, most of the band members left for work in Bohemia. Some former members or their descendants still continue to play in the Czech Republic and keep traditional songs they used to play in Gerník in their repertoire. Josef Mašek worked at several positions in nearby mines until he was fifty years old and then retired. He worked in the praesidium of the Democratic Union of Czechs and Slovaks in Romania for fifteen years. At the time of filming (October 2021), he lived in Gerník.