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Antonín Murka

Antonín Murka (1923, Újezd, Zlín district – 1989, Vizovice) was a Roma partisan nicknamed Tonda Cigán. He took part in many combat actions, including the liberation of the town of Vizovice. After the war he was decorated several times for his resistance activities, in May 1969 he received a medal for service to his country.

  • Testimony abstract

    Antonín Murka grew up in the village of Veselá[1] with his mother Aloisie Murka, father Řehoř Murka and eight siblings. Three other families lived with them in their own house, of whom he mentioned by name Maria Murka, Anna Šubertová and her son Jan Šubert and his wife Antonie. Murka earned his living by working as a labourer, helping out on road construction sites. In the neighbouring village of Klečůvka, for example, he dug silage pits for a German landowner.

    • [1] Veselá, okres Zlín (ed.)

    When Murka was getting ready for work on August 1, 1942, a gendarme came for him and took him to the station in Lípa.[1] There he had to join the transport from Vizovice to Hodonín [to the so-called Gypsy camp]. In the carriage he met his mother's relatives, who had been arrested in Vizovice the day before. They got off the train in the village of Nedvědice and walked over the hill to the camp. Upon arrival, chaos ensued, with the gendarmes beating the prisoners with batons to force them to line up in fives. A certain Daniel and his family arrived by transport from Želechovice; he was holding his young son in one arm and a blanket in the other. When he disobeyed the gendarme's order to put the blanket down, the gendarme pulled a baton on him, but instead of Daniel he hit his son on the head, causing him to die of his injuries.[2]

    After arrival and registration, everyone had to take a bath together. All 50 or so washed themselves in one bucket of water regardless of gender, age or illness. Then they were all shaved clean and dressed in black uniforms. They were housed in three barracks, each with 50 bunk beds against the walls. Only those who were married were allowed to stay together.

    The work was hard, the male and female prisoners were building a road. Murka broke rocks to be transported to the construction site, the older women were breaking rocks into gravel and the younger women were loading earth from the excavations onto carts. Some of the women also worked directly in the camp, such as Květa Ondrášová who worked in the infirmary with a doctor he called Fáber[3], and Vlasta Danielová who cleaned the gendarmes' canteen.

    The food was modest: unsweetened black coffee, soup or gravy for lunch, with a quarter loaf of bread. They received a piece of meat at most once a week, otherwise only potatoes. The bread was delivered to the camp by a baker from Rozseč, who also sold it secretly to the prisoners for gold.

    There was a high death rate in the camp. Initially, they were buried in the cemetery in Černovice in plank boxes; later a burial ground was established near the camp. There, the dead were buried in a pit 4 by 2 metres in paper bags tied at the neck so that the head of the deceased was exposed. They were then covered with only a thin layer of earth, so sometimes animals would get to them at night and tear them to pieces, so that the next morning they would have to be buried again.

    Murka was chosen as a so-called “private”,[4] who saw to it that no one attempted to escape. He considered running away himself, but did not want to endanger his mother and siblings, who were still at liberty. His partner, Hedvika, had been interned in the camp earlier in an advanced state of pregnancy. She gave birth to their child, who died there shortly afterwards.[5] When his mother's companion Bečica wrote to Murka at the camp that his mother and siblings had been taken to Auschwitz, he decided to escape in May 1943. By that time the typhus epidemic was dying down and the gendarmes were able to go home on leave after a long time, with only a few remaining in the camp. Murka was working on digging a trench for a water main behind the camp,. Four men would dig and four would watch to make sure that the ditch did not collapse. When Murka was supervising the work, together with Blažej Dydi, Miroslav[6] from Valašské Klobouky and Ludvík Murka from Dolní Lhota, the four agreed to start chasing the muskrats running around there and use the opportunity to escape. Miroslav and Ludvík Murka fled in another direction and were both shot in separate incidents. [7]

    Blažej came from the area around Březůvka, so they headed there together. On the way they rested at the house of a certain Kaláč, Blažej went to the neighbourhood to buy cigarettes, but was caught by a gendarme. Later, Murka learned that Blažej had been taken to Auschwitz, where he was a kapo. After the war, he was recognized in Vítkov, denounced and subsequently convicted.[8]

    Murka then hid with the hill farmers around Dešná. First, [Alois] Oškera hid him in a hayloft for two weeks right in Dešná (his family was murdered at the end of the war for helping the partisans). He continued to hide and helped out with the Podeševa family in Jasenná, the Lukšů and Chovanec families at Všemina, and the Kolář family at Březůvky in return for food and lodging. He could not afford to refuse even hard work, so that no one would turn him in; he broke stone for a building for one of the farmers, for example.

    The Germans searched houses looking for partisans. One day he had to hide from them in an oven, that one of the farmer’s wives was firing to bake bread.

    At the Lukšůs at Všemina he met Jirka Mokrý from Prostějov, who fought in Slovakia and was taken prisoner, but managed to escape. He wanted to join the partisans, so Murka took him to Prlov,[9] where he had friends. On the first of September 1944, at Turín’s farm, they met [Dajan Bojanovič] Murzin[10] and joined the partisans. But first they had to get weapons themselves. There were a considerable number of armed Hungarian soldiers in the area. They chose a household in Pozděchov where four soldiers happened to be eating with their weapons propped up near the door. With their fierce appearance and carrying a heavy axe they managed to deprive them of their weapons and ammunition.

    Murka became the commander of a small group and was given the nickname Tonda Cigán. Together with him in the group were Jirka Mokrý and a Yugoslav called Teodor Simin, as well as ten Russian prisoners of war, of whom he remembered the names Misha, Pyotr and Chaikovsky, and eleven local boys, of whom he specifically named Řepišťálek, Rafaj, Gerža and Mikeska from Zádveřice, and Kalivoda, Bělíček, Tomáš, Heš and Jančík from Vizovice.

    Murka briefly listed the actions in which he and his partisan group took part: "Neratov – barrack Germans, Lutonina – Hungarians, Veselá – Germans, Želechovice – Germans, Pindula-Kudlov – disarming Germans, Lípa – Germans, Újezd u Vizovic – caught 30 Germans, execution by hanging at Ploštin."[11]

    In March 1945, Murka was spending the night with Jirka Mokrý and the Yugoslav Teodor in Prlov at Slávek Hovezák's house when a liaison came at four o'clock in the morning and reported that the Germans had arrived in the village looking for partisans. So all three of them fled to the Senin pasture to warn their fellow combatants. They found Captain Petr Buďka, Vasil and Aleks at the Jiřičeks and the six of them set off in the direction of Leskovec; there were not many places left to hide in. In the evening they split up again, Murka, Jirka and Teodor joining a group of 24 partisans under the command of Sasha [Alexander Trofimovich Kotlyarov] at Ploštin. [Brigade commander] Murzin sent a liaison after them with orders not to take any action, because the Germans had declared that they would execute every tenth citizen in a village in which a dead German was found. The partisans respected the order and set off in the direction of Valašské Klobouky, as close to the front as possible. In the village of Lipina they found lodging and food at [Karel] Ovesný's. In a neighbouring house they were in mourning for someone who had died, so in order not to arouse the suspicions of the neighbours, Ovesný joined in the prayers for the dead person and asked the partisans not to attract attention and to put only one man on guard. In the morning the Germans broke into the house and the partisans had to shoot their way out of the village. Two partisans were killed and five wounded there.[12]

    In early May, the group supported Soviet soldiers in the liberation of Vizovice. On the night of May 4 to 5, Jirka Mokrý died there when he stepped on a mine.

    Murka's entire family perished in the concentration camps, only his brother Rudolf Murka returned. Antonín Murka had a certificate that he was a political prisoner (from 1 August 1942 to 1 May 1943) and a certificate of participation in the national liberation struggle (from 1 September 1944 to 5 May 1945). In May 1945 he was awarded the badge of honour of the first degree and the medal of the second degree, and in May 1969 he was awarded a medal for service to his country.

    • [1] Lípa, today part of the village of Želechovice nad Dřevnicí, district Zlín. (ed.)
    • [2] Probably Ladislav Daňhel, born 1911 in Želechovice nad Dřevnicí, Zlín district, and his one year old son Jiří, who died in Hodonín on 7 November 1942. (ed.)
    • [3] Correctly Wyroba, see the memoirs of Hilda Lanik, née Ondrášová. (ed.)
    • [4] The lowest level of camp guard.
    • [5] Hedvika Heráková, born 1926 in Újezd, Zlín district. Her son Antonín, born on 24 October 1942 in Hodonín, died there on 18 December 1942. (ed.)
    • [6] He's not sure of the name.
    • [7] Ludvík Murka, born 1908 in Nevšová, Zlín district. According to Oldřich Tomaj from Luhačovice, he was shot by a gamekeeper and died of his wounds in the hospital in Uherské Hradiště. (ed.)
    • [8] See the memoirs of Anastázia Burianská, née Adamová, and Irena Herák. (ed.)
    • [9] Prlov was one of the villages burned down by the Nazis at the end of the war because the locals were helping the partisans. On 23 April 1945, they burned eight buildings and murdered 23 inhabitants.
    • [10] Dajan Bojanovich Murzin, commander of the 1st Partisan Brigade of Jan Žižka in 1944-1945 (ed.)
    • [11] Ploština is an extinct pastoralist settlement of Drnovice, near Valašské Klobouk in Moravia, which was burnt down by the Nazis on 19 April 1945 and its inhabitants massacred for supporting the partisans.
    • [12] The group wanted to contact Karel Ovesný from Lipina for a recommendation, but there was a mix-up and they approached his cousin of the same name. He directed them to the correct Karel Ovesný, but then turned them in at the gendarmerie station in Valašské Klobúky. More details here:

    How to cite abstract

    Abstract of testimony from: NEČAS, Ctibor, ed. Nemůžeme zapomenout = Našťi bisteras : nucená táborová koncentrace ve vyprávěních romských pamětníků. Olomouc: Univerzita Palackého, 1994, 180-186. 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

    The narrative was recorded on a tape recorder by Ctibor Nečas in 1987, and the transcript of the recording was subsequently supplemented with information from a letter from the survivor dated 14 September 1987. The transcript preserves Murka's dialect.

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