Johann Stojka

Johann Stojka - who was known as Mongo. Image copyright: © Felicitas Kruse (2004)

Johann Stojka (known to his family and friends as Mongo), was born on 20 May 1929 in the town of Guntramsdorf, close to Vienna.

Mongo’s family consisted of his mother Maria (also called Sidi), father Karl (also called Wackar), and their six children – Mitzi, Kathi, Mongo, Karl, Ceija and Ossi.

They were an Austrian Catholic Lovara Roma family and earned their living as horse traders. In 1939 they settled in Vienna.

Family Stojka in Vienna with Viennese friends and family, around 1939; Mother (second from left), her sister Kathi (third from left), Mrs Sprach (5th from left) and the brothers Ossi, Hansi (Mongo), Karli (from left to right). Image copyright: ‘Archive of the Documentation - and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma’.

In the early 1940s, Mongo’s father was deported to the Dachau Concentration Camp as a result of ongoing, state-organised persecution of Roma people.

From Dachau, Wackar was transferred to the Hartheim Castle Euthanasia Centre, where he was murdered in the early 1940s.


On 3 March 1943, the rest of the family were detained in Rossauerlände detention centre in Vienna.

Towards the end of March, the six Stojka children – Mitzi (now 18), Kathi (16), Mongo (14), Karl (12), Ceija (10) and Ossi (7) – and their mother arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration and Death Camp.

Mongo’s poetry book

While many people were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Stojkas were not sent to death upon arrival. Tragically, Mongo’s youngest brother Ossi caught typhoid fever and died during this time. 

From Auschwitz-Birkenau, the women of the family were sent to Ravensbrück and then Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. Mongo and Karl, however, were sent elsewhere.


Thousands of Roma people were sent to Buchenwald (as well as Ravensbrück) for forced labour


In August or September 1944, the brothers were deported from Auschwitz-Birkenau to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Thousands of Roma people were sent to Buchenwald (as well as Ravensbrück) for forced labour, and it’s thought this was why Mongo and Karl were taken there. During his incarceration in Buchenwald, Mongo wrote a poetry book – dates he recorded in the book suggest this took place between 1944 and 1945.

In early April 1945, Mongo and Karl were sent to yet another concentration camp. They travelled from Buchenwald to Flossenbürg Concentration Camp in cattle cars. They were incarcerated at Flossenbürg for around 10 days and were then forced to set out on a death march.

Have you been to Buchenwald?
That place that is so very cold

Johann traced
Mongo and family, date unknown. Image copyright: Felicitas Kruse (2004)

In spite of the risk of being caught and shot, the brothers fled during the death march after identifying that American troops were approaching. They were liberated by the American army near Rötz, Germany, in April 1945. 

The brothers were then taken in by a family in Rötz. In 1946, they left to make their way back to Paletzgasse in Vienna in hope of finding their family, but their search was unsuccessful.



In May 1947, they received a letter from their mother telling them that the family was in Hohenauergasse, the 19th area of Vienna. She and their sisters had all survived Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. 

Soon after, Mongo and Karl returned to Vienna and were finally reunited with their family. Six months later they all moved to Gymnasiumstrasse 23, in the 18th area of Vienna.

Later, Mongo became a rug and tapestry dealer. He also wrote songs combining Lovara-Roma music with jazz, regularly performing live. Mongo married and had three children: Doris, Sissi (Elisabeth) and Harri. Harri Stojka became a famous jazz guitarist and musician.

His brother Karl became a painter, a writer and an actor and his sister Ceija a painter, a writer and a singer.

Mongo died in Vienna on 16 March 2014.


Μπέργκεν - Μπέλσεν

The Bergen-Belsen camp in the north of Germany was established in 1940 as a prisoner of war camp. In 1943 it was handed to the SS, and it became a ‘detention camp’, primarily for Jewish prisoners, although Roma people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gay men, ‘asocials’ and criminals were also imprisoned. Due to the Allied forces approaching other camps, the population of Bergen-Belsen grew from approximately 7,300 to over 90,000 between July 1944 and April 1945. Already inhumane conditions deteriorated, with diseases spreading rapidly. When British troops liberated Bergen-Belsen on 15 April, they found 53,000 prisoners, the majority of whom were emaciated and suffering from disease. As documented in Richard Dimbleby’s famous broadcast, thousands of dead bodies lay unburied on the ground. Another 13,000 died over the days following the liberation. Ultimately, more than 70,000 people were murdered there.

Πορεία Θανάτου

As Allied troops approached the concentration camps, the Nazis attempted to destroy evidence of their crimes, and this included evacuating the camps, forcing prisoners to walk from wherever they were in Europe towards Germany. Anyone who could not keep up was shot, and, with limited food and inadequate clothing, many thousands died on these enforced death marches.


Οι Ναζί σχεδίαζαν τη μαζική εκτόπιση των Ευρωπαίων Εβραίων σε στρατόπεδα εξόντωσης στην κατεχόμενη από τους Γερμανούς Πολωνία. Οι Εβραίοι αναγκάστηκαν να συγκεντρωθούν σε κεντρικά σημεία, όπως σε μια συναγωγή ή στην πλατεία της πόλης, και στη συνέχεια στριμώχνονταν σε εμπορευματικά ή επιβατικά τρένα, με περιορισμένες ή καθόλου συνθήκες τροφής ή υγιεινής. Τα ταξίδια συχνά διαρκούσαν αρκετές ημέρες ή και ορισμένες φορές μερικές εβδομάδες. Πολλοί από αυτούς που στριμώχνονταν σε αυτά τα τρένα πέθαναν κατά τη διάρκεια του ταξιδιού προς τους καταυλισμούς λόγω της πείνας ή του συνωστισμού.