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Michal Konček

Michal Konček (born 1923, Necpaly, Martin district – year of death unknown)

  • Testimony abstract

    Michal Konček was born in a settlement near the Slovak village of Necpaly. About eight families lived there in wooden cottages, most of them musicians, who did not live in actual poverty, but Konček remember that some poor Roma used to beg from them. Michal Konček's father was a musician and his grandfather worked as a blacksmith.

    There were eleven children in the family, five boys and six girls; and all the boys became involved in music. Konček reached the eighth class at school before the war; his older sister[1] graduated from the gymnasium. Their mother[2] did not play any instrument, but she sang Roma and Slovak songs to them. Konček played the violin from an early age, and after the war founded a family ensemble and for some time made his living as a musician. Konček played the violin from when he was four years old and at the age of six stood in for his brother[3] as the primáš in a children’s band which entertained the farmers. As a schoolboy he had Thursday free, and so he used to go with his cousin[4] to perform in Martin – twelve kilometres away on foot. They had to have a permit from the mayor, but they earned a lot of money, he said: ten or twenty crowns. They gave the money to his mother so she could buy kerosene, salt and sugar.

    • [1] Name not given.
    • [2] Name not given.
    • [3] Name not given.
    • [4] Name not given.

    In 1943 he enlisted in the army and served near Banská Bystrica. The Roma from Necpaly were at that time protected from being evicted from the village. Konček, however, remembered the eviction of the Roma from the settlement of Bodorová[1] about eighteen kilometres away. The Roma there lived by a main road used by supporters of the Slovak state, and Konček had the impression that the Roma used to go to that road to beg, which was why they were moved into the fields where they would not be visible.

    The Roma from Necpaly began at the same time to be taken off to labour camps.[2] They were sent to Hanušovce nad Topľou to build a railway track, among them his eldest brother and his youngest, the latter still being under fifteen years old. Konček stated that all the Roma then returned home.

    When the Slovak National Uprising broke out, Konček was serving in a military band in Trnava. Nevertheless he was also given a rifle and fought for two months; at the end of October he was captured by the Germans and was in the camp in Dubnica nad Váhom until March. When the camp was disbanded, they returned home on foot through the forests, which took them a week. He remembered that they were given food in the villages and when, on one occasion, the Germans caught them, the farmers said they were locals, and nothing happened to them.

    Konček’s sister got married in the village of Štubňa, where the Germans had burnt down the Roma homes and sent the Roma to the camp in Dubnice nad Váhom. After their return from the camp they therefore had nowhere to go, and lived in the houses left behind by the Germans.

    Michal Konček recalled that in Necpaly during the war the Germans killed two elderly Roma. The old man was deaf and did not understand what they were being ordered to do, and so they chopped off his head on a chopping block, and his wife’s too.

    • [1] Konček said that the Roma from the settlement in Bodorová were evicted on the orders of Minister of the Interior of the Slovak state, General [Ferdinand] Čatloš. According to Konček's friend Jaroslav Cicko it was ordered by [Alexandr Šaňo] Mach, the commander in chief of the Hlinka Guard and Minister of the Interior of the Slovak state. In the opinion of the editors it is more than probable that the Roma were expelled from Bodorová to somewhere out of sight on the orders of one of them immediately after the 20 April 1941, when the government regulation "modifying some conditions" for so-called Cikány. As the editor recalls, most of the Roma settlements were not moved until 1943, when a new ordinance [of the Ministry of the Interior on 21 July] criticised the non-compliance with the decree of 1941.
    • [2] It is not stated when.

    After the war Michal Konček founded a family ensemble which travelled to competitions at which they won national awards in Ostrava and in Hradec Králové. As early as 1946 he was working as a musician by profession and performed until 1951. He married a Slovak woman from Ružomberok whose uncle was Andrej Hlinka. It was because of their wives that he and the other members of the ensemble stopped performing. Konček returned to Necpaly and under the new Communist regime had to begin to make a living by manual labour – he was employed for five years in a stone quarry and then as a labourer with the foresters. He graduated from forestry school and then worked as a gamekeeper, but continued to perform music from time to time. His first wife died, and at the time the interview was recorded he was living with his second wife[1] whom he had met before military service and whom he met again after she had been widowed. Michal Konček briefly recalled [Anton] Facuna, who attended the gymnasium with his older sister. He says he was a great friend and that he also played the fiddle.

    • [1] Name not given.

    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, 133-141 (ces), 142-149 (rom). 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/michal-koncek (accessed 5/21/2024)
  • Origin of Testimony

    The recording took place in 2000 on the basis of Milena Hübschmannové’s contact with the Roma artist Jaroslav Cicko from Horná Štubňa, a friend of Michal Konček.

  • Where to find this testimony

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