Emílie Machálková
Show on Map

Emílie Machálková

Emílie Machálková, known as Elina (née Holomková, born 1926, Svatobořice, Kyjov district – died 2017 in Brno) was a creative and active personality, well known in the cultural world. After the war Machálková established herself as a singer, winning several singing competitions. She sang with leading Czechoslovak folk singers such as Jožka Severin, Eugen Horváth and Jožka Černý. She cooperated with the Museum of Romani Culture and the Živá paměť (Living Memory) association, and as a memoirist participated in talks and lectures in schools. She made a significant contribution to educating children and youth about the Holocaust of the Roma and Sinti, and wrote a memoir about her life which was published by the Museum of Romani Culture in the publication Memoáry romských žen [Memoirs of Romani Women] under the title Sága rodu Holomků [The Saga of the Holomek Family] (2004). In 2013, she was awarded the Museum of Romani Culture Award for passing on her life experiences and working with children.

  • Testimony abstract

    Emilia Machálek's grandparents, Pavel and Tereza, née Danielová, lived in Svatobořice. There, Pavel Holomek's father, Tomáš, managed to arrange for his children to settle in the village - he went to the authorities and even wrote to Vienna in order to win rights and entitlements for his children that they would not have been able to obtain as non-residents of the village. They no longer had to live like their parents in the Roma camp near Kyjov.

    Pavel Holomek earned his living as a horse trader, while his wife, nine years older, helped the farmers on the land. In 1901, Barnabáš was born to them, but he died at the age of six months. In 1903 Rosína was born, two years later Štěpán, in 1907 Stanislav, in 1911 Tomáš and four years later Čeněk. After the war, the children entered the municipal school for the first time - Tomáš, an exceptionally bright boy, started studying at the gymnasium in Kyjov at the age of ten and was later admitted to Charles University in Prague to study law. When she reached school-leaving age, the eldest, Rosína, who would later become the mother of Emilia Machálková, married Toník, a homeless Romani boy who came into the Holomeks' service at the age of 12 and found a home with them. They had three children together - Miroslav in 1925, Emílie a year later and Stanislav in 1935.

    In 1936[1], Tomáš Holomek, uncle of Emílie Machálek, married Hedvika [Imrichová (ed.)] from Milotice near Kyjov. Because they were expecting a child, he had to interrupt his studies and started working as a clerk in the glassworks in Kyjov, but after a while he resumed his studies. When he was about to graduate as a father of two, he was one of the first to be expelled from school in response to student protests against the Nazi occupation.

    In the summer of 1934, Emílie Machálková's parents moved with her to Nesovice to rented accommodation in a family house. Her son Mirek stayed with his grandparents because after the holidays he was to enter the tecnical gymnasium in Kyjov.

    • [1] Actually 1939. (ed.)

    In 1940, Emílie Machálková and her brother Miroslav were put to work in a factory, she in Slavkov, her brother in Bučovice. Because the work in the factory was medically hazardous, the brother fell seriously ill, but the doctor wrote a certificate about tuberculosis and he was able to stay at home and study until the end of the war. In March 1943, some men [probably gendarmes] came for the Holomeks in Kyjov, Sobůlky and Svatobořice. They took the grandparents, their sons Stanislav, Štěpán and Čeněk and his wife Emílie. Their three-year-old daughter Růženka had been previously taken in by a woman friend of theirs. Štěpán's wife Cecílie, née Dudíková, a Czech, was left alone with six children. Emílie Machálková eventually took Růženka to their home in Nesovice. All the detainees were taken to Brno to a collection point on the site of the abattoir. From there, after two days, they were deported to concentration camp [Auschwitz II - Birkenau]. Tereza and Pavel Holomko were eventually released. Their son Tomáš was warned in time and hid with his wife's relatives, and later he also hid with the families of his classmates. The children were hidden by his wife.

    A German inspector from the Brno Commissariat [Franz] Herzig tried in vain to track down Tomáš Holomek and his children. A Czech inspector and family friend [Klement] Boda[1] was instrumental in rescuing other members of the Holomek family – he warned Tereza and Pavel Holomek they might be re-arrested, and they hid in the Chřiby woods near their daughter Rosina's house. The fugitives were taken care of by forest workers and local gamekeepers. After three months, a Czech gendarme traced the couple, but because the wife was unconscious, he took only Pavel Holomek to the Gestapo in Brno. Tereza Holomková was found by unidentified people and brought half-dead to Rosína, where a doctor successfully fought for her life for three weeks. When Rosína and Toník Holomek and their family were finally to be deported to the Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp, the mayor of Nesovice, [Josef] Kilián, interceded with the authorities, including the Gestapo in Prague, and in the end they were both removed from the transport. At home, Rosína took care not only of the little Ruženka and her recovering mother, but later also of 18-year-old Angela[2] that she said was a prisoner from Greece, secretly brought with him by Emílie's cousin Eduard Holomek.[3], two years who senior, when he escaped from Austria. At the beginning of 1944[4] Rosína and Emílie Holomkova were warned to prepare for sterilization. However, the procedure was eventually postponed and not performed.

    • [1] Stejně tak se významně zasadil o záchranu šesti dětí Cecílie a Štěpána Holomkových.
    • [2] Příjmení neuvedeno.
    • [3] A member of František's family, a brother of Pavel Holomek, the only one to survive the war, thanks to the help of a German schoolfriend. (ed.)
    • [4] In fact it was in 1945.

    In July 1945, the Holomeks were visited by the Šubrt family from Brno, former prisoners of Auschwitz, who told them that none of their relatives had survived.[1]

    Tereza Holomková returned to Svatobořice with little Růženka, Eduard Holomek and Angela. Her only son Tomáš, who survived the war, became a military prosecutor in Brno and lived there with his wife Hedvika and their two children Marcela and Karel.

    Emilia Machálková's older brother Miroslav graduated from secondary school in 1945 and was admitted to the University of Politics in Brno. During his studies he worked in Zlín, where he married and after graduation became the director of the political school in Kroměříž. His younger brother Stanislav graduated from the hotel college in Mariánské Lázně in 1957 and worked in a local hotel with his wife Lída.

    Emílie Machálková also wanted to study, but she became pregnant with her classmate Jan Machálek. In 1946, their daughter was born. A year later they moved to Jeseník to live with her husband's parents, where they got a two-room apartment. In the following years they had three more children. Jan Machálek worked as a house painter and played football for Jeseník Sports Club; Emílie took part in Sokol training, worked in a butcher's shop and later became a shop manager. In 1965 she won first place in the competition "With a song at the cimbalom". One daughter graduated from teacher training school, another became a chiropodist, her son became a waiter and her youngest daughter enrolled at the drama conservatory.

    One of the daughters emigrated to Australia in 1968, leaving her ten-month-old daughter at home with her mother. Because she emigrated, the family was subjected to interrogations by the State Security Police, and, as Machálková said, she hated the invaders.

    After 1989 Machálková devoted herself intensively to her extended family and singing. In 1997, she performed in Prague in a concert commemorating the experience of the Holocaust. On that occasion, she shook hands with then President Václav Havel, whom she held in high esteem.

    • [1] The brothers Štěpán and Stanislav attempted to escape with other Romani prisoners and were executed as an example on 22 May 1943. The younger brother, Čeněk, died of typhus on 12 June 1943. His wife Emílie stayed in Auschwitz voluntarily, not wanting to leave her mother. She and her father-in-law, Pavel Holomek, were probably among the Roma who were murdered on the night of August 2-3, 1944. But according to other sources, both died earlier. (ed.)
  • Origin of Testimony

    Emílie Machálková's memoirs are her own written record from 1998, published in 2004 by the Museum of Romani Culture in the book Memoirs of Romani Women. Her memoir: Elina - The Saga of the Holomek Family is complemented by Karolína Kozáková's memoir: Karolína - Journey through life in a gypsy wagon.[1]

    • [1] See her memoir in the database

Subscribe to our newsletter


  • Muzeum romské kultury


  • Bader
  • GAČR