Ceija Stojka

Image credit: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/dec/02/ceija-stojka-holocaust-survivor-art-goes-on-display

Ceija Stojka was an Austrian writer, painter and musician coming from a Roma family that survived the Nazi Holocaust. She was born in 1933 and when she was only eight years old Ceija’s father was deported to the Dachau Concentration camp where he later died. Ceija’s mother was left alone with her six children.

In 1943, Ceija, together with all her siblings and her mother, was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau camp after spending some months in a prison in Vienna due to their Roma ethnicity. After a few years, and after changing from one Concentration camp to another for two years, Ceija and some of her sisters were liberated by the English forces.

Ceija and her family occupied a house and were forced to leave when the owners went back, and they resumed their travelling life as horse traders. For decades, Stojka hid her ethnic origin not to suffer from the discrimination the Roma were suffering all over Europe. It was not until she was 54 years old that she started to represent her life and suffering through art, including painting and writing.

In 1988, she published her first autobiographic book called “We Live in Hiding – Memories of a Romani-Gypsy”. In the following years, Ceija started writing and painting with no previous training and became the known artist she is today.