Šándor Mirga, born about 1932 at Spišská Stará Ves, Kežmarok district
Šándor Mirga’s father was a blacksmith, and as a young boy Šándor Mirga used to help him, handing him the iron and blowing the bellows.
Šándor Mirga's older brother (b. 1921) enlisted when he said Hitler started rounding up people. Later he escaped from the Germans to the Russians, and after three years he joined the US Army. He didn't return home until two years after liberation, wearing an American uniform and with many decorations.
Šándor Mirga's father enlisted in 1941 and after returning from the front, he supported the partisans, going with them to wealthy peasants and confiscating their food – meat, flour, potatoes. Then the Gestapo came for his father and took him to their headquarters, where they beat him. The parish priest from Spišská Stará Ves vouched for him, so they didn't send him to a concentration camp. His father stayed at home for three days, then joined the partisans and did not return until 1945.
When the Germans came, Šándor Mirga was small and doesn't remember much, but he said that some of them were not wicked; they helped the Roma and they even brought them meat.
In the neighbouring village of Lechnica, where no Roma lived, there were many partisans, so the members of the Hlinka Guard burned it down. They herded the inhabitants into a barn and set it on fire.
When Šándor Mirga’s father returned home, the villagers hated him. The former members of the Hlinka Guard knew that he had been working with the partisans, and the peasants could not forget that he had confiscated their food. Every night they waited for his father and wanted to kill him, so the family decided to go to Horní Planá in Šumava. At that time, there were still Sudeten Germans living there who spoke Czech, were very kind, and brought food to the Mirgas. When the Czechs drove them out of the Sudetenland, one of them told the Mirgas to take his possessions – gold, silver, everything he couldn't take with him. But Šándor Mirga's father handed it over to the National Committee, as by that time he was already a big communist.
In 1955, Šándor Mirga's brother, who had not returned home until 1947, was found lying dead on the road. When the police arrived from Prague and performed an autopsy, they did not tell the family the cause of death. However, one of the policemen suggested that the brother may have been annoying someone, which is why Šándor Mirga believes he was murdered. At the time, he himself had already returned from the army, and, as his brother had left five children, he persuaded his parents to take them in.
Šándor Mirga's brother's widow, who was his wife’s sister, now lived with a man named Koky.
Mirga's mother was pious and wanted his brother's two eldest sons to enter the ministry, but his communist father did not agree. The boys once brought a broken wooden cross from the church, saying they would repair it, but Mirga's father, who had come back from a party drunk at the time, took an axe and smashed it. Ever since he was covered in bruises. The parish priest, who according to Šándor Mirga was also a communist, told his father that he must have committed some great sin for which God had punished him. From then on, Mirga said, his father acted aggressively everywhere he went, and although he eventually turned to God, no doctor could cure him.
How to cite abstractAbstract 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, 819-824 (ces), 825-830 (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/sandor-mirga (accessed 11/29/2023)
Origin of Testimony
The interview with Šándor Mirga took place in the spring of 1987 in Tachov in the company of his friend Luboš Horváth, who joined in the narration. In addition to the war, the interview covers topics such as bewitchment, blacksmithing and belief in God, which, according to the editor, both illuminate the views of the participants rooted in traditional culture, and resonate more strongly with them than the topic of the war. The interview was slightly abridged.
Where to find this testimony