Discussion with Members of Czech and German Roma and Sinti Genocide Survivor’s Families

20 September 2017

About Programme Speakers Location

Plus, an exhibition opening:

„…don’t forget the photos, it’s very important…“
The Nazi  Persecution of Central German Sinti and Roma

Expanding the programme of the conference beyond academia, the evening event is hosted by the Václav Havel Library and is open to the general public.

During the evening, the exhibition „…don’t forget the photos, it’s very important…“, prepared by Jana Müller and Eve Rosenhaft in cooperation with Sinti survivors’ families from Dessau, will be presented. The starting point of Müller and Rosenhaft’s research was a collection of photographs from the Gypsy Lore Society Archive in Liverpool, which document the everyday lives of Sinti and Romani families in the wake of the Second World War. After the conference, their work will be exhibited at Charles University (Carolinum, Celetná 20, Prague) from 23 September to 3 November 2017.

Highlighting the importance of close cooperation and dialogue with members of Romani and Sinti communities in the public presentation of their histories, academic research, and presentation of its results, the event will continue with a discussion amongst members of Czech and German Roma and Sinti genocide survivors’ families. It will be moderated by Jana Horváthová (Museum of Romani Culture, Brno) and Jana Müller (Alternatives Jugendzentrum, Dessau). The Romani and Sinti guests from germany and Czech Republic participating in the discussion will include Zdeněk Daniel (Jablonec nad Nisou), Jan Hauer (Beroun), Mario Franz (Bad Iburg), Hermann and Else Höllenreiner (Mettenheim), and Jiřina Somsiová (Olomouc).

Translation between Czech, English, and German will be provided.

Václav Havel Library
(Ostrovní 13, 110 00 Praha 1)

Exhibition opening:
“…don’t forget the photos, it’s very important…”
The Nazi Persecution of Central German Sinti and Roma

Eve Rosenhaft (Liverpool University), Jana Müller (Alternatives Jugendzentrum e.V. Dessau)

Discussion with Members of German and Czech Roma Genocide Survivor Families

Chair: Jana Horváthová (Museum of Romani Culture), Jana Müller (Alternatives Jugendzentrum e.V. Dessau)
Speakers: Hermann and Else Höllenreiner, Mario Franz, Jiřina Somsiová, Zdeněk Daniel


Zdeněk Daniel

Zdeněk Daniel is an architect and painter from Jablonec nad Nisou, with more than twenty years of practical experience in architecture, design, and the visual arts. He has received several awards in the fields of architecture and design, and is a member of the Czech Association of Architects. His parents come from Moravia – his mother from Brno, his father from Oslavany. His father’s family suffered severely from the war-time persecution of the Roma: most of them were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and never came home. In 2016 Daniel created a series of paintings in which he seeks to come to terms with this part of his family history.

Mario Franz

Mario Franz grew up in a Sinti family in Osnabrück. His mother, Auguste Franz née Christ, was forced to do labour of the hardest kind under the Nazis. His father, Johann Franz, survived more than six years in concentration camps. Most of the other members of their family were murdered. For nearly thirty years after the genocide, the Franz family had to live in the Papenhütte settlement in Osnabrück, in conditions unfit for human beings. Mario Franz is the founder and first president of the Maro Dromm Sui Generis association, which is devoted to maintaining the culture and language of the Sinti in Germany and to disseminating information about them both to members of the Sinti community and to outsiders. He carries on this work in schools and universities, as well as in other contexts.

Jan Hauer

Jan Hauer was born to a Sinti family in Olomouc and grew up in Prague. In the late 1960s he accompanied his father on a journey to former concentration camps in Germany and Austria to gather information on the members of his family who perished during the Second World War. For more than 15 years, Jan Hauer has been gathering photographs and archival documents on the history of his family in the Czech Lands and Austria.

Else Höllenreiner

Else Höllenreiner has been married to Mano Höllenreiner for more than sixty years. They have three children. Originally from the majority German community, she has experienced the impact of persecution on her husband and his relatives and the continuing pattern of exclusion and discrimination. She has supported members of the family in submitting their compensation claims and enforcing their rights, and she supports her husband’s testimonial work, telling the story of her own experiences.

Mano (Hermann) Höllenreiner

Mano (Hermann) Höllenreiner survived persecution as a Sinto in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Ravensbrück, Sachsenhausen, and on a death march. After the liberation, completely exhausted, he was taken to France by French survivors. He was not allowed to reveal in the publicthat he was German, and the psychological conflict that produced, combined with his camp experiences, left him severely traumatized. Former French resistance fighters looked after him and hoped that he could be helped if he spent time in a psychiatric institution. But there he was bullied by one of the staff who recognized that he was German. At the end of 1946 he returned to his family in Munich. He has been actively giving testimony for many years.

Jana Horváthová

Jana Horváthová lives and works in Brno. She is a historian and a museologist. In 1991 she helped to found the Museum of Romani Culture (subsidized by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic), and is currently its director. Applying mainly the methods of oral history, she focuses in her scholarly work on the history of the Roma in the first half of the twentieth century. She is, however, also interested in historical Roma groups that came to the Bohemian Lands beginning in the seventeenth century and whose descendants became the victims of Nazi genocide during the Second World War. She lectures on Romani history and spiritual and material culture. Her publications include Kapitoly z dějin Romů (Chapters from the history of the Roma, Prague, 2002); Devleskere čhave (The testimony of old postcards, Poprad, 2006).

Jana Müller

Jana Müller is a qualified youth worker, active for twenty years in promoting the memory of the victims of National Socialism. She works closely with survivors, and has created an archive of video testimony. As Director of the Alternatives Jugendzentrum, in Dessau, she is responsible for educational projects such as visits to memorial sites, encounters with survivors and witnesses, local history research, and commemorative events organized by young people themselves. One outcome of this has been the production of films, such as Was mit Unku geschah (What Happened to Unku), exhibitions, and booklets. Apart from her professional commitments, she works closely with Eve Rosenhaft, researching the life histories of Central German Sinti and Roma and their experiences of persecution. In this work, she enjoys the support of survivors and their children and grandchildren.

Jiřina Somsiová

Jiřina Somsiová comes from the Daniel family of Moravia, which was hard hit by the Romani holocaust. Both of her parents were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps. She works for the Association of Roma in Moravia, an NGO, and for more than three decades has been working with Romani school children in a range of extracurricular activities. As a local leader and a woman, she is proud to carry on Romani traditions, including the use of the Romani language.

Václav Havel Library
Ostrovní 13, Praha 1