“I am afraid that Europe is forgetting its past and that Auschwitz is only sleeping. Anti-Gypsy threats, policies and actions worry me greatly and make me very sad. If the world does not change now, if the world does not open its doors and windows, if it does not build peace — true peace — so that my great-grandchildren have a chance to live in this world, then I cannot explain why I survived Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and Ravensbruck.”
Ceija Stojka (1933 – 2013) was an Austrian-Romani writer, painter and musician, survivor of the Holocaust. She was from the Lovari ethnic group and the fifth of six children. Together with her mother and four of the five brothers she survived the Holocaust and the internment at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Her father was deported to the Dachau concentration camp in 1941, then he was killed in Schloss Hartheim. In 1943, the whole Stojka family was deported into the Auschwitz Birkenau II concentration camp, where most of them were executed.
Ceija survived the Holocaust, but her unforgettable experiences became a central and eternal theme of her artistic work. Her paintings reflect upon the entrenched sorrow in the bodies and spirits of the victims. There are many books and films which attempt to capture her life. She was a charismatic author and wrote the first Romani autobiographical account of Nazi persecution. Her first book was published in 1988 with the title “We Live in Seclusion: The Memories of a Romni”. It made the European public aware about the struggle of Austrian Roma in the Nazi persecution. Later on in 1992 she published another autobiographical book called: “Reisende auf dieser Welt: “Travellers on This World”.
Besides painting and writing Ceija also sang in Romanes. In 1989, at the age of 56, she began to paint. Her work has been exhibited in western and eastern Europe and in Japan. In 2005 the Jewish Museum of Vienna organized an exhibition with the title of “Ceija Stojka, Leben!”.
- Wir leben im Verborgenen: Erinnerungen einer Rom-Zigeunerin “We Live in Seclusion. The Memories of a Romni”. 1st ed. Vienna: Picus, 1988. Available (in German) at Amazon
- Reisende auf dieser Welt: Aus dem Leben einer Rom-Zigeunerin. “Travellers on This World” Vienna: Picus, 1992. Available (in German) at Amazon