Jan Hauer, who strove for a dignified commemoration of the Roma and Sinti holocaust, has died

Jan Hauer, who strove for a dignified commemoration of the Roma and Sinti holocaust, has died
Jan Hauer, who strove for a dignified commemoration of the Roma and Sinti holocaust, has died

Jan Hauer came from a family of Czech and Moravian Sinti. Both of his parents were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps, where their children and Dad’s first wife perished. In 1947, Jan Hauer was born from a new union in Olomouc. And as he recalled, his dad was a shrewd businessman who dealt in everything just like his ancestors.

“My dad sold cloth and I don’t know what else – he sold everything he could get his hands on. Before, they worked with horses, had wagons, went to markets with horses, traded horses. Every car had a treadle grinder, the horsehair. They subsisted on whatever they could get their hands on. It was not forbidden at that time, I have the papers here – my dad had a trade license, all his uncles had trade licenses sometime in the 1920s, barracks in Ostrava, etc. In the summer they drove outside with wagons and in the winter they went to a barrack. In the summer, when the pigeons flew out of the henhouse and were already gone in the world.’

However, Jan Hauer’s father was imprisoned several times during communism for door-to-door sales.

“That was forbidden. They caught him and he was gone. He never got much – he got 18 months, a year, 22 months, but he was caught 21 times and had 21 punishments.”

The communists also confiscated the houses and property of Jan Hauer’s wealthy parents. And so dad bought a maringotka, with which he moved to Prague.

“He first parked here in Vršovice near the railway station and then found an old lady and parked with her in Na Děkance’s yard at the top of Pankráci. We stood there for about two years before they set fire to our car. We had electricity there, coal, my dad kept us warm all night in the winter. In the morning he washed us, combed our hair, took us to school. Before we came home from school, he cooked, went to sell, bought. My dad was a guy for this, he could cook better than a woman, he baked buns, cakes, everything.”

When Jan Hauer started going to school, they lost the maringotka.

“They set it on fire for us in 1953, at the Deanery in Prague, I still don’t know who did it then. They blamed it on my sister for leaving the iron on, but she was small so how could she iron? She didn’t even understand that. In short, they were envious people. Dad had that maringotka built in Karlovy Vary, it cost 240,000 at the time. That’s when dad came back from the crime scene, because then they confiscated a lot of property, barracks, a lot of gold and money. So we only had the maringotka. It was after the currency (after the currency reform, author’s note) maybe 14 days, I remember it like today, dad exchanged a lot of money then and got 13 thousand in new money, which burned in that maringotka. We were left completely like beggars on the street. Dad came to school for us, that’s when I saw him cry for the first time in my life. He led us by the hand from school. As children, we were used to him going to school for us. But now we look – and instead of maringotka there were ashes. We had toys, teddy bears, and such nonsense we hung on a line to dry. And dad was digging around in the ashes looking for molten gold, which he had a little bit of. That was a terrible time. For some time we stayed with his brother Žanynk in Vinohrady in Záhrebská, i.e. with my uncle, then they gave us an apartment in Kloboučnické Street. I don’t even know anymore, we were there for about 2 years.”

Twenty years after the war, Jan Hauer joined his father in searching for information about the fates of his relatives, whom he never knew. He collected a number of photographs and historical documents. In the last year of his life, he wrote the book My People about the fate of his branched family, but he did not live to see its publication.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Jan Hauer strove dignified commemoration Roma Sinti holocaust died

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