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August 16, 2022



Czech Romani official who proposed Romani partisan for state honors: We must never forget him, skin color doesn't matter, what is important is bravery, human decency, and morality

28.7.2022 7:17
The late Josef Serinek (left) and Cyril Koky (right) (Collage:
The late Josef Serinek (left) and Cyril Koky (right) (Collage:

Last week the Czech Senate proposed Josef Serinek, a participant in the anti-Nazi resistance during the Second World War, for state honors. The senators are hoping he will be awarded the Medal for Heroism.

Cyril Koky, an expert official on national minorities at the Central Bohemian Regional Authority, is behind the nomination and reached out to Senator Adéla Šípová (Pirate Party) with the idea. After escaping the concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku, Serinek led a group of partisans in the Vysočina Region.   

"Josef Serinek was a crucial figure in the partisan struggle in Vysočina. He built up a 30-member partisan division in the forest that was sometimes called the 'Chapayev Division' after the war. They operated in a network of dugouts in the Hakl Forest, in the Kutiny area, near Daňkovice, Ubušínek, Věcov and Krásný. Among the actions they undertook was the retaliatory attack on the gendarmes who shot and killed General Vojtěch Luža, a Council of Three [Czechoslovak democratic resistance] representative, in October 1944. Serinek also participated in the liberation of Bystřice nad Pernštejnem when he disarmed the crew of a military hospital in the local school," Koky told news server

"Despite the fact that he had demonstrably participated in armed combat, after the war he was just given the Medal of Merit, awarded for military deeds not performed on the battlefield. I believe we must never forget this person. Skin color is irrelevant, what is important is morality, bravery, and common human decency. Josef Serinek more than met those criteria," Koky said. 

The Senate has proposed just eight figures for state honors this year, including members of the anti-Nazi resistance group Three Kings. That is a record low number of nominees during this final full year of the presidency of Milos Zeman, who will bestow the highest state honors.

Last year the Senate proposed 15 candidates for state honors. Zeman, who does not enjoy friendly relations with the upper house, agreed to just two of them.

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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