Rudolf Murka

* 1959

  • "My parents experienced very intensely when the Russians came, and everyone said, 'War has broken out!' I see it as if it were today, the whole family came to our place in Zlín and they were like, what now?! There's a war. What to do? Because they had their experience with the war and they knew what could happen. Some suggested running away. The others don't, wait, we'll stay. The head of the family was grandpa. He explained that we have a lot of graves and people buried here and who's going to take care of it. And so on and so forth. So it kind of went by. I remember my father had an exit clause to Austria at the time. And he wanted to leave, that he was going away. But then it blew over, calmed down, and life moved on. I don't think much has changed for a working-class people like my father..."

  • "My father told me how he came home from work one day and his number was announced for 25. Twenty-five lashes as penalty. So he went to the house, to the Pole, and he asked what he'd done? That he didn't do anything, why should he be punished? He told him, 'When there was a check, there was a speck on your bed.' As the bunk beds were three above each other, the Pole climbed down from above and straw fell on his blanket, so they wrote him up. And he said that when he went to the punishment, there was a line of, like, two kilometers. In his mind, he thought, they can't pay this off by the end of the day, so many people. But as he approached the bench where the 25-year-olds were on, he said, 'I wasn't laughing much. When I got my turn, they threw me in there, tied me up, and bam, boom, boom. There was one on each side, and they paid out. When they untied me, I could barely feel anything. The adrenaline and the fear... But I walked a hundred meters and fell. Totally cut ass to the bone. Through the rags and everything.' He said he had been sleeping on his stomach for three months. Every time he moved or something, the scabs on his back and ass cracked..."

  • "When we arrived at the brick camp, there were bunk beds. My father came in, pointed at the bunk bed, had a monogram engraved on it, and the date he got there. It was all there. You go there today, and there's nothing."

  • "He said they were building houses on and on, and he said, 'After about three weeks of being there, it started raining, so we left the construction. Suddenly, the line-up came. Guys from the age of 15 up. So I went out, they stripped us naked. We stood all day and night and naked outside the next morning. There's a truck. They threw out striped [clothes], clogs, they changed us into it. And we pushed the wagons from Březinka out into the main camp to Auschwitz and that's where my dad was.' And there he said he last saw his whole family, and he said, 'I haven't seen them since.' Because my dad went to the main camp and the whole family stayed in the gipsy camp. He said, 'I haven't seen them since, that's where I last saw them.'"

  • "He was already describing that when they came to Hodonínek, there were terrible things. People carrying blankets and blankets were forced to line up five in a row. Families were big sometimes, so chaos ensued. And he described that when they arrived, he told one of the people standing next to him, holding the child on his hand, [the gendarme] to let the duvets into the mud that was on the ground. And he wouldn't let the duvets in the mud, so the gendarme tried to hit him with a baton. He swerved, hit the kid, and killed the kid on his hands. And that was the very first welcome [scene] when they came to Hodonínka. And otherwise everything that happened around Hodonínek and Lety was unfortunately done by Czech police officers, Czech commanders of camps..."

  • "These people have experienced incredible horrors. For example, at the end of the war, he got into Sonderkommando, which burned corpses. He had terrible trauma from corpses, from the dead. That man's been scared his whole life. Nobody cared about them. After the war, these people had to deal with their traumas on their own, and a lot of them couldn't deal with it." – "Did he ever talk about anything?" – "He talked about a lot of things going on there. That some people were still suffocating, that there was screaming. It must have been something terrible for a boy who was seventeen and eighteen years old and experienced such horrors. I think those people after the war were so tough. Because what they experienced and saw left them with certain mental and psychological consequences that they carried on until their deaths."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Zlín, 27.11.2019

    duration: 01:24:11
    media recorded in project Stories of the region - Central Moravia
  • 2

    Olomouc, 22.06.2020

    duration: 01:21:40
    media recorded in project Stories of the region - Central Moravia
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

We are a generation that has been robbed of our ancestors

Rudolf Murka was born on October 28, 1959 in Novy Jičín. On his father’s side, he comes from a family of settled Moravian Roma and from his mother he belongs to the Sinti (nomadic Roma living mainly in Germany and on the territory of Czechoslovakia in the Sudetenland). His father Rudolf Murka (*1926) came from eight children and lived with his parents before The Second World War in the village of Veselá near Slušovice. Other relatives lived in Újezd, where the general family consisted of 25 adults and 25 children. After The Second World War, only six family members returned from concentration camps – in addition to Rudolf, his brother Antonín (who together with Blažej Dydy escaped from the camp in Hodonín near Kunštát and joined the partisans in Vizovice) and relatives Vlasta, Zdenek and Hedvik István and Otakar Herák. Father Rudolf was transported to the KT Auschwitz in March 1942, where he got to work in the main camp, while his relatives ended up in the Gypsy camp in Březinka and they all died. He also travelled to Buchenwald, Flossenbürg and with the death march he reached Terezin shortly before the end of the war. After the liberation, he settled in Želechovice and later in Mohelnice, because the houses where he and his family lived before the war were already flat compared to the ground. It took a long time for Rudolf to be reunited with his brother Antonín, who spent the last months of the war as a member of jan Žižka guerrilla group (he participated in events in Prlov and Ploská) and participated in the liberation of Vizovice. The witness’s mother Viktoria Murková, née Kryštofová, came from Bernartice nad Odrou, where her parents lived in nomadic cars and had a home there. However, after the border seizure, they were expelled, and in May 1939 (probably on the basis of a decree of the Ministry of the Interior, which urged the protectorate police to solve the so-called Roma issue), their property was auctioned off. They were saved from death in a concentration camp by asylum in Slovakia. In the village of Popudinská Močidľany they gained their home right and thanks to this they survived the Second World War. Of his mother’s relatives who remained in the Protectorate, only Uncle Alois Kryštof (*1928), who passed through Auschwitz (served at Sonderkommando), KT Dachau and survived the death march, survived. Out of a total of about 6,500 Roma living in Bohemia and Moravia during the Protectorate, about a tenth returned after The Second World War. For survivors and especially their new families, this meant, overwhelmingly, the total absence of a generation of grandparents and a large proportion of uncles, aunts and their children. Many of the witnesses’ relatives died in the gypsy camp in Lety near Písek and Hodonín near Kunštát, especially small children, and the rest of the family mainly died in Auschwitz. From the 1970s, when it became a matter of compensation for victims of the Holocaust, the Murkos began to visit reverent places in Lety and Hodonín, as well as Auschwitz. Rudolf grew up first in Nový Jičín, later in Gottwaldov, where his other siblings were born gradually. In total, there were eight children at home. His father worked as a driver of ČSAD and then for many years as an asphalter in The Building Works. My mother was a housewife. In 1968, after the Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia, the family considered emigrating. Although the Murkos did not leave in the end, a number of relatives decided to start a new life, especially in Germany. Before 1989, the witness’s mother traveled to Germany after the death of her sister to care for her children. At the end of the 1970s Rudolf also got a job with The Building Works. After the wedding, he lived for twelve years in Slovakia, where he and his wife raised two daughters, and returned to Moravia after the division of the Republic. At first they lived in Rymice near Holešov, where Rudolf ran a pub and at the same time worked as a Roma advisor at the Education Office in Kromeriz. The witness is dedicated to documenting the fates of members of his family, he participates, for example, in the creation of a memorial in Lety near Písek and cooperates with the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno. In 2020 he lived in Otrokovice.