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Antonín Vintr

Antonín Vintr, born 1934, Žebrák, Beroun district

  • Testimony abstract

    Antonín Vintr was born in the village of Žebrák into the family of the knife grinder and cloth vendor Antonín Vintr,[1]

    and Josefa Vintrová.[2] He grew up with his siblings Arnošt, Karel and Karolína[3] in the family house. His parents sold cloth, mainly at markets and fairs.

    • [1] He was called Manky and also referred to as Wintr or Vinter. (ed.)
    • [2] Née Čermáková. (ed.)
    • [3] Married name Šáchová. (ed.)

    Antonín Vintr's family was imprisoned in the camp in Lety u Písku;[1] they were allowed to take only the bare necessities with them, but then they had to leave all their suitcases at the school [in the village of Lety u Písku] where they were accommodated for two days before being assigned to the camp. When a transport of Roma arrived in Lety u Písku, they were first housed in the local school, their wagons were burned, and their horses were given to peasants. Then they all went to the camp wearing only what they had on. Vintr recalled that his uncles did not burn the wagon, but used it to carry the dead to the camp. When the wagon was full, they drove it outside the camp, buried the bodies in a pit and covered them with lime.

    The conditions in the camp were tough. Antonín Vintr recalled that they were not sufficiently equipped for the cold weather; for example, the blankets were very thin. The children would steal them, but if they were sensible, they would sleep in groups of three under two blankets. The prisoners were allowed to receive parcels from relatives at liberty, and the food contained in the parcels was then cooked in the kitchen as a so-called eintopf. Antonín Vintr recalled, that nowadays not even a pig would eat it, but back then they were grateful for it. They even ate grass from hunger when they got to it outside the camp, but they were beaten for it.

    Antonín’s father (known as Manky) worked in the Lety camp as a cook and could help his son. Antonín Vintr was therefore better off than the other children, which angered them, so they did not talk to him. Vintr's cousin and friend Tonda Janašovsky[2] broke into the [food] store because of hunger, for which he was hung by his hands from a pole for two days.

    Vintr considered fleeing the camp to his uncle Eda [Čermák], but his mother talked him out of it because he would endanger his uncle's life. His mother and her sister Antonia Janešovská[3] worked as nurses in the so-called children's barrack.

    Medical care was poor in the camp. Vintr recalls that when he came to the sick bay with a health problem[4] he was beaten and thrown out. They didn't treat prisoners very well, allowing them to die, including people infected with typhus. Antonín’s father also caught typhus, but he was saved by Antonín bringing him tea and pills – the tea came from the kitchen where his uncle worked, and his mother got the pills.[5] Antonín’s mother and her sister also caught typhus and were deported to Auschwitz.[6]

    Antonín Vintr was released from the camp in Lety [27 May 1943] together with his father and brother Arnošt.

    • [1] 5. 8. 1942. (ed.)
    • [2] Antonín Janasovsky, or also Janesovsky. (ed.)
    • [3] Or also Janasovská. (ed.)
    • [4] He doesn't remember exactly what was going on.
    • [5] He no longer remembers where or how.
    • [6] According to the camp records, "they were transferred from the hospital to preventive detention" and included in the transport sent to Auschwitz II - Birkenau from Prague on 11 March 1943. (ed.)

    After his release, Antonín Vintr was treated in a psychiatric hospital. When he recovered, he trained as a cook. Together with about 20 children he lived with his uncle Eda[1]

    and his wife[2] in Lysá nad Labem. The couple had their house and farm there and thanks to their good contacts nothing happened to them during the war; on the contrary, they were able to influence the release of relatives, such as Antonín Vintr’s family. He describes how his uncle killed a pig, took it to Prague to a big boss and got what he needed. Vintr is convinced that Eda secured their release from the camp at Lety.

    • [1] Antonín Čermák (1908-1949). (ed.)
    • [2] Františka, née Blümlová. (ed.)

    How to cite abstract

    Abstract of testimony from: HORVÁTHOVÁ, Jana a kol. ... to jsou těžké vzpomínky. 1. svazek. Vzpomínky Romů a Sintů na život před válkou a v protektorátu. Brno: Větrné mlýny, Muzeum romské kultury, 2021. ISBN 978-80-86656-45-8, 10, 90, 108, 366-368, 382, 409, 453-455, 491, 506, 519, 541, 568, 582, 600-601, 612, 632-634, 703-704. Testimonies of the Roma and Sinti. Project of the Prague Forum for Romani Histories (Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences), https://www.romatestimonies.com/testimony/antonin-vintr (accessed 5/21/2024)
  • Origin of Testimony

    Antonín Vintr's testimony comes from an interview conducted in Czech on 6 March 1997 in Prague. The video recording is in the collections of the Museum of Romani Culture (MRC) and is available online at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Excerpts of the interview are also published on the educational DVD Odtud nemáte žádnej návrat – Videomedailony pamětníků romského holocaustu (There is no way back for you from there, Video profiles of witnesses of the Roma holocaust, published by the MRC in 2015). Reference is made to Paul Polansky's book Black Silence as source material. The memoir is accompanied by two photographs from the MRC collections - a family snapshot from 1976, showing Antonín Vintr with his brothers Karel and Arnošt and his mother Josefina Vintr, and a post-war portrait of Antonín Vintr from around the same time.

  • Where to find this testimony

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