Saturday, May 17, 2014

Memories Of A Survivor

The free-spirited lifestyle
 of the Gypsy people, 
or Roma of Europe,
 was brought to a screeching halt 
not long after Adolf Hitler 
rose to power
 in Germany...

"Gypsy Camp"
Ceija Stokja

Ceija Stojka

Ceija Stojka
 Survivor of the Holocaust

The Porajmos
 which literally means,
 "the devouring"
 in some Romany dialects,
 was a time of great
 suffering and persecution
 for the Gypsy population
 of Europe,
 when the government
 of Nazi Germany
 tried to exterminate them. 
 Thousands of
 Gypsy men, women, and children,
 perished in the Hitler's death camps.

 Awaiting deportation.
Thousands of Europe's Gypsies perished in
Nazi death camps during WWII.

writer and artist
 Ceija Stojka
 was a survivor of both
 Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen 
concentration camps.

  Before her death in 2013, 
she spent many years
 bringing awareness
 to the terrible tragedy
 of the nomadic Romani,
 the Gypsy people of Europe
 during WWII,
 first by speaking out
 to her fellow Austrians,
 many of whom had no idea
 of their government's complicity
 in covering up Nazi war crimes,
 and later,
 through her vivid art work..

"Mama Holding Ceija"
Ceija Stokja

Ceija was the fifth of six children
 born into a Catholic Roma family.
She and her mother
 and four of her siblings
 survived the horror 
of the death camps,
 however, her father 
and brother perished.

 Ceija was twelve years old 
when she was liberated
 from Bergen-Belsen, 
yet, for many years,
she could not speak
 about the gruesome memories
 and terrible nightmares
 that tormented her sleep.
  It was only after reaching 
her fifth decade of life
  that she was finally able
 to open up to people 
about her experiences
 during WWII.

In 1988,
 Ceija published
 an account
 of her life as
 a Holocaust survivor,
 in a book called,
 "We Live In Seclusion"

"Mama in Auschwitz"
Ceija Stokja

""If I could write down
 all my thoughts,
 they would surely be
 an endless book of suffering,"
 Ceija said during an interview
 before writing her autobiography.

 "But my thoughts race
 more quickly than my hands
 are able to put everything to paper."

In 2013,
Ceija was featured
in the film,
"Forget Us Not"
  a documentary about the lives
 of several non-Jewish survivors
 of the Holocaust.

A clip from the documentary,
"Forget Us Not"


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