"Czech" Roma

Czech Roma are a sub-ethnic group of Roma who have been in the Czech lands since the end of the fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth century. [ Ankunft in Europa ] The different historic situation in the Czech lands as contrasted with Slovakia did not permit settling, so that, in 1939, when Bohemia and Moravia were occupied by German Nazis, only a part of the Czech Roma were living in permanent homes.

During the war, Roma from the "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia" were murdered in Auschwitz. Out of approximately 7.000, only around 600 people survived the war. Today, the descendants of the surviving victims have their own political organisation in the Czech Republic. It is headed by Čeněk Růžička. One of his main aims is to acquaint the public with the Roma holocaust of the "protectorate" and to attain respect for the victims, for example, by removing a pig farm from the place where prisoners of the Gypsy camp in Lety (near Písek) are buried. [ First Deportations and Internments in Internment Camps ]

The Committee for Compensation to Roma Holocaust Victims, which is also headed by Čeněk Růžička, collaborates with the Czech-German Fund for the Future. Through their mediation Roma victims of Nazism were granted compensation on February 8, 2001, almost 56 years after the war ended, by the Foundation for Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft (memory, responsibility and the future).

Among the traditional professions of Czech Roma are horse trading (the most famous horse traders being the Růžička family), cauldron making (the Bělo family), knife sharpening (the Serynek family), artistic production, etc.

"Czech"Romani is closely related to the language of the Slovak Roma (Servika-Roma). In 1821, Antonín Jaroslav Puchmajer detailed it in his work, "Romani čib", one of the first solidly scientifically-compiled Romani grammar books. Alas, the Nazi genocide succeeded in exterminating that language along with the people who spoke it.

Recently, Slovak Roma (Servika Roma) born in the Czech lands and descendants of those who moved to the Czech lands from Slovakia after 1945 have tended to call themselves "Czech". However their traditional professions, lifestyle, history and dialect characteristics differ from those of Czech Roma.

Moravian Roma who suffered the same fate as Czech Roma, are separate from Czech Roma. In Moravia, Roma had a better chance to settle – on the estate of the noble Kounic family. This subject was treated by Roma historians Dr. Bartoloměj Daniel and Jana Horváthová, PhD, who herself was born to a family of Moravian Roma. "Moravian"Romani is closely related to "Czech"Romani and also to western "Slovak"Romani dialects. Moravian Roma of the Holomek family were among the founders of the Gypsy-"Romani Union" in the Czech Republic (1969-1973).

References

Bartoloměj, Daniel (1994) Dějiny Romů. Vybrané kapitoly z dějin Romů v západní Evropě, v Českých zemích a na Slovensku, Olomouc.
Horváthová, Jana (2002) Kapitoly z dějin Romů. Praha.
Puchmajer, Antonín Jaroslav (1821) Romani čib. Praha.
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