Ceija Stojka

Ceija Stojka

Born: 1933

Kraubath bei Knittelfeld, Austria

Ceija was the fifth of six children born to Roman Catholic Gypsy parents. The Stojka's family wagon traveled with a caravan that spent winters in the Austrian capital of Vienna and summers in the Austrian countryside. The Stojkas belonged to a tribe of Gypsies called the Lowara Roma, who made their living as itinerant horse traders.

1933-39: Ceija grew up used to freedom, travel and hard work. Once, her father made her a skirt out of some material from a broken sunshade. She was 5 years old and her family's wagon was parked for the winter in a Vienna campground, when Germany annexed Austria in March 1938. The Germans ordered them to stay put. Her parents had to convert their wagon into a wooden house, and they had to learn how to cook with an oven instead of on an open fire.

1940-44: Gypsies were forced to register as members of another "race." Their campground was fenced off and placed under police guard. Ceija was 8 when the Germans took her father away; a few months later, her mother received his ashes in a box. Next, the Germans took Ceija's sister, Kathi. Finally, they deported all of them to a Nazi camp for Gypsies in Birkenau. They lived in the shadows of a smoking crematorium, and they called the path in front of their barracks the "highway to hell" because it led to the gas chambers.

Ceija was subsequently freed in the Bergen-Belsen camp in 1945. After the war, she documented and published Lowara Gypsy songs about the Holocaust.

Thank you for supporting our work

We would like to thank The Crown and Goodman Family and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.