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Anna Virágová

Anna Virágová (c.1925, Sklabiná, Martin district), sister of Anton Facuna (1920-1980), a legendary soldier and later the most prominent Romani politician, who from the 1950s onwards worked to ensure that the Roma could enjoy their national rights in communist Czechoslovakia; see also his testimony in the database.

  • Testimony abstract

    Anna Virágová's parents worked in the stone quarry near Sklabiná, and in the winter her father worked as a blacksmith – shoeing horses and making chains for the peasants to use when bringing wood down from the hills. Her brother Anton (Tono) helped his father in the forge, and with the money he earned he bought a bicycle, a camera and skis, which he learned to use. Mrs. Virágová said that Tono was like that, none of the Gypsies did anything like that in those days. Since his mother also helped his father during the winter, the care of the household – cooking and care for the animals:rams, chickens, pigs – was left to Anna, who had completed eight grades at the primary school. When she started in the first grade, Anton started attending the municipal school in Martin. He had been a good pupil, so the teacher arranged for him to be admitted. His father was happy, even though he had to pay for everything for his son.

    They were the only Roma family in Sklabiná. Among the Roma, they were among the richer ones, while the other Roma were very poor, mostly working as blacksmiths, in the forest, or on construction sites in Martin, where the local builder Hlavaj[1] was building a gymnasium or museum. As Anna said, in Masaryk's time, during the First Republic, a gypsy could not sit in a hotel or a pub; they were given something like an identity card [so-called Gypsy Identity Card]. Anna Virágová's father had not received such a card, and so the whole family could go wherever they wanted. The passes were supposedly assigned by the notary, who was then, as he said, a "very important" person – something like a minister today. The family had good relations with the neighbours in the village.

    • [1] First name not given.

    Six or seven Roma from the vicinity of the village of Sklabiná were taken to the camp in Dubnica nad Váhom.[1] Among them was Jano, a Romani boy with whom Virágová grew up and who later returned home.

    Anna’s brother Anton had to enlist in the Slovak army during the war,[2] although he had not yet finished college. He was in the barracks in Ružomberok for six months, then he was taken to the front in Russia, where he spent six years; according to Virágová, he was captured there and with the Russians he was supposedly taken back to Slovakia, to Zvolen. He participated in the [Slovak national] uprising; one of his code names was Novák. He got married in Italy and had a son there. He was also in an American mission, Virágová recalled.

    Anna Virágová recalled how her brother was betrayed [during the uprising] –the partisans, organised by her brother, were catching Germans around Sliač, until the Germans found out and started looking for him. They put up posters with his photo and the name Anton Novák in Sliač, Sklabiná and other villages and promised a reward for his capture. A peasant called Kučera,[3] with whom the family lived, alerted Anna Virágová to this and went around the area on horseback, where people tore down the posters within half an hour. The brother is said to have stayed in Sliač.[4] At that time the partisans advanced to Zvolen, where the Germans caught them and shot everyone, including the parish priest and his daughter. Anna Virágová brother survived, she said, because he had had to fly to Italy the night before as a partisan.

    Another incident occurred in Podzámok,[5] where in a local inn partisans shot two Germans of a patrol that was moving between Martin and Sklabinský Podzámok. The next day, on 29 September [1944], the Germans took all the men from Sklabiná and Sklabinský Podzámok, including Anna Virágová's father and her husband, and burned their house down. When, on 16 or 20 April 1945, Martin was liberated, they learned that the men taken prisoner had been killed behind the barracks in a place called Bukovina. There were forty-eight men in all.[6] Among those killed in Bukovina was Anna Virágová's husband, and also the Roma partisans Ondrej and Ďuro;[7] her father was not found among them and they never learned what had been done with him. According to Virágová, the group was betrayed by a local peasant, a beekeeper, who came from the village of Sučany and married into Sklabiná. Although he presented himself as a decent person, it turned out that he was a member of the Hlinka Guard. He decided who was to go to Germany, who was to be killed and who was to be allowed to go home. Among those shot were two or three of his cousins.

    Having lost their house, their domestic animals – which the Germans shot or confiscated – and especially their father, the family, went to stay with the peasant Kučera. They had some money saved up; Anna Virágová went to work for the peasants, and they did not have a bad life, only the knowledge that they had no news of Anton weighed on them.

    • [1] At that time it was a labour camp, only in December 1944 was it transformed into a so-called gypsy camp. (ed.)
    • [2] Probably in 1940, remaining away for a total of six years.
    • [3] First name not given.
    • [4] Probably with a protestant pastor, it is not specified exactly when.
    • [5] The village of Sklabinský Podzámok.
    • [6] Slovak-Russian partisan groups were concentrated in the village of Sklabiná; on 21 August 1944, Russian partisans met Ján Golian, the commander of the military headquarters of the Slovak National Council there, and Gustáv Husák the head of the illegal headquarters of the Communist Party of Slovakia; on 30 September 1944, the Germans captured and murdered a group of partisans in Sklabinský Podzámok, and burned the village. (ed.)
    • [7] Full names not given.

    Anna Virágová's family only found out that her brother was alive when they received a letter from Italy after the war. In 1948, he returned home, but alone – he was not allowed to bring his new family with him; apparently his wife was the daughter of some captain. He first headed to Sklabiná, but Virágová did not want to return there, because that was where the Hlinka Guard who had betrayed them lived he was given about ten years in prison and served part of it, but then he was released).

    Around 1949, Anton Facuna went to work in Bratislava, where he met his second wife, a Slovak, at the ministry. Sometime around 1975, he wanted to go to visit his son and first wife, but they wouldn't let him – Anna Virágová said, he apparently said something he shouldn't have said, so they wouldn't let him go. He died in 1980.

    Anna Virágová stressed how talented Anton Facuna was. In Martin he attended not only the municipal school but also the conservatoire. He was taught to play the violin by [Ján] Cibula.[1] Thanks to his studies at the conservatoire, he had a trading license to practise music. He sang and played at weddings and parties with the Konček family from Necpaly; Virágová recalled Miša,[2] who was still alive at the time, and the late Tibor and Ota.

    • [1] Ján Cibula (1932-2013) one of the most important figures in international Roma politics and the ethno-emancipation movement; see his testimony in the database.
    • [2] Michal Konček, see his recollection in the database.

    How to cite abstract

    Abstract of testimony from: HÜBSCHMANNOVÁ, Milena, ed. “Po židoch cigáni.” Svědectví Romů ze Slovenska 1939–1945.: I. díl (1939–srpen 1944). 1. Praha: Triáda, 2005. ISBN 80-86138-14-3, 858-865 (ces), 866-867 (rom). Testimonies of the Roma and Sinti. Project of the Prague Forum for Romani Histories (Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences), (accessed 5/21/2024)
  • Origin of Testimony

    Anna Virágová was interviewed by her daughter in Martin in July 1998. Much of the information concerns Anton Facuna. Mrs Virágová had become unaccustomed to using the Romani language during her lifetime, therefore most of the interview was conducted in Slovak.

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