Výstavy

7. 12. 2010 14:25

Good old days...?

On the occasion of presentation of awards Gypsy Spirit 2010, which had been announced by the Section of Human Rights of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic under the auspices of the Prime Minister Petr Nečas, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament Heidi Hautala, President Václav Havel and the Ex-minister of Human Right Michael Kocáb, the Information Centre of the Government prepared in Vladislavova Street in Prague the exhibition of the Museum of Romany Culture "Good Old Days...?".

Good old days...?Collection of historical photographs by various authors enables us to look into the bygone era's life of Romanies. Photographs, which were taken between the end of the 19th century and the fourth decade of the 20th century, shows Romanies in Bohemia, Moravia and in particular in Slovakia, Hungary, Carpathian Ruthenia, and sporadically in Romania from where most of travelling Romany groups came to our country via Hungary and Slovakia.

The photographs show Romanies still in their traditional form as far as their external appearance and way of life and earning their living are concerned. Did really mean that world, from our point of view a romantic world, those "old good days"? On the one hand many Romanies enjoyed the travelling, nomadic way of life, the others on the contrary started finding a permanent home – they were trying to settle somewhere.

Good old days...?Not only that unflagging hunger for better life led Romanies to settling; the travelling, nomadic way of life used to bring also periods of time when they were suffering from hunger and when they were living in poverty, in particular in winters. Romanies successfully settled especially in Southeast Moravia, Slovakia and Hungary, whereas just rarely in Bohemia.

Traditional travellers gradually found themselves under stronger official and gendarme control, in particular in the time of the First Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1938), when the Act on Travelling Gypsies came into force in 1927. In spite of the fact that it was aimed at protecting society "only" from "Gypsy travellers", its consequences affected all Romanies, including those who had settled.

Good old days...?Virtually all Romanies over fourteen years of age had to prove their identity by a gypsy identification card and journeys of travelling groups were under gendarme control. But it was not a purpose of the law to ban travelling as there was "no room where to place them". In addition to that, the efforts of certain Romany families were not welcomed with enthusiasm of other inhabitants.

That chequered time period of "good old Romany days" captured in photographs ended, apart from some exceptions, in the year 1943 it means in the time when so-called Romany Holocaust had already fully broken out in the entire area captured in the photographs.

Good old days...?During the Holocaust, Romanies from Bohemia and Moravia (more precisely from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia) were transferred to the concentration camp in Auschwitz. In independent Slovakia Romanies were persecuted by guardsmen; they were placed in fatigue parties and finally also in so-called "detention camp for gypsies" in the town of Dubnica nad Váhom, or they were massacred by the German army.

Romanies from Hungary were sent to the concentration camp in Dachau. Similar and sometime even worse was the fate of other European Romanies, in particular those who lived in territories of the German Reich or in occupied countries. The total number of Romany victims in the Second World Was is estimated at about half a million.

Good old days...?The life of Romanies after the Second World War has radically changed in many views… Travelling, nomadic way of life was banned for ever in 1959.

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