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Bertín Demeter

Bertín Demeter (born 1940, Ladomirová, Svidník district – 2008)

  • Testimony abstract

    Demeter’s father, a musician and village blacksmith, had a good name among both Roma and Slovaks. His wooden cottage was not in the settlement, but in the centre of the village, next to the municipal authority. The Czech gendarmes who came to check the settlement sometimes slept at their home. Demeter described the fate of his uncle Petres [full name not given], who lived with them in the same house. He learnt the trade of blacksmith from Bertín Demeter’s father, but did not do well at it, although he had a musical talent. Five of Bertín’s older brothers already performed with his father. They also played at Jewish weddings and knew Jewish songs. Uncle Petres wanted to compete with the Bertín Demeter’s father and was already a better musician, but the local people didn’t invite him. He was angry and once beat Bertín’s father and threw him into a well.

    Bertín Demeter mentioned how his uncle Petres collaborated with the Germans, informing on members of his own family. He described how his mother went on foot to Demeter’s older brother, known as Vašek, in the Legaň labour camp. He talked about events at the end of the war, the fighting between the Russians and the Germans, including at Dukla Pass with many casualties on both sides.

    The sons of Bertín Demeter left for Australia.[1] Bertín Demeter with his wife and remaining two sons emigrated to New Zealand.[2] The children of his oldest brother Vasil Demeter, also known as Vaškus and Vašek,[3] emigrated to Australia in 1996.

    [1] Date not given.
    [2] Date not given.
    [3] See his reminiscences 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, 414-427 (ces), 428-440 (rom). Testimonies of the Roma and Sinti. Project of the Prague Forum for Romani Histories (Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences), (accessed 6/24/2024)
  • Origin of Testimony

    Bertín Demeter was born during the war and was five years old when it ended. His testimony is a combination of his own early memories and stories overheard from his mother. The interview also includes the testimony of Mrs. Lolová-Demetrová, wife of Bertín’s older brother Vasil.

  • Where to find this testimony

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  • Muzeum romské kultury


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