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May 16, 2022



Grandson of famous Czechoslovak partisan from the Romani community says his grandfather was a hero

8.8.2021 8:37
Zdeněk Serinek (left) interviewed by Jarmila Balážová (right) for ROMEA TV in 2021. (PHOTO:  ROMEA TV)
Zdeněk Serinek (left) interviewed by Jarmila Balážová (right) for ROMEA TV in 2021. (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

Josef Serinek (1900-1974) was imprisoned together with his family in the concentration camp for Romani people at Lety during the Second World War, and ROMEA TV has interviewed his grandson Zdeněk Serinek about that history. Josef Serinek managed to escape and then became a member of the anti-Nazi resistance and commander of their Čapajev division. 

This year Josef Serinek was given a posthumous award in Plzeň for his contribution to democracy and freedom. Zdeněk Serinek accepted the award on his behalf. 

Jarmila Balážová of ROMEA TV interviewed the grandson about his now famous partisan ancestor. "I was surprised when they contacted me from Plzeň to ask whether I would receive the award on behalf of my granddad. Naturally I promised to attend because I believe it is both my civic duty to do so and a family obligation, given what I have been gradually learning about granddad's activity during the Second World War, how he experienced what he had to live through and how hard his life was," Zdeněk Serinek told ROMEA TV.    

In the interview, Balážová asks how he would have behaved in his grandfather's situation. "I've thought about that for a long time. If something similar were to happen today, I would do my best to protect my family. I do not know if I would have found the strength to be as active as granddad was. Maybe such an era, or such a situation, would force me to. They say desperate times call for desperate measures," Zdeněk Serinek said.  

In 2017 a sapling from the St. Wenceslas oak was planted in memory of Josef Serinek in Spělkov, not far from the first place he managed to find refuge after escaping from Lety. However, both the memorial stone marking the spot and the tree disappeared after less than two years.  

Earlier this year an information sign and memorial plaque in honor of Josef Serinek was unveiled in Svitavy at the building were he spent part of his postwar life and ran a pub. Most of those imprisoned at Lety were eventually sent to Auschwitz, where 77 years ago, during the night of 2 August and early morning hours of 3 August, a total of 4 200 Romani people from all over Europe were murdered by the Nazis in the gas chambers. 

ROMEA TV released the interview with Zdeněk Serinek especially to mark European Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma, which falls on 2 August. The audio version of the interview is available on iTUNES

jab, LC, th, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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