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Ceija Stojka
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Artist
    (May 23, 1933-January 28, 2013)
    Born in Kraubath an der Mur, Austria
    Born to a family of Gypsy horse-traders of the Lowara Roma tribe
    Survived internment at Auschwitz, Ravensbruck, and Bergen-Belsen
    Wrote about her experiences in 'We Live in Seclusion: The Memories of a Romni' (1988)
    Also wrote 'Travellers on This World' and 'Träume ich, dass ich lebe?'
    Began painting at the age of 56, as a means of therapeutic exercise
    Works featured at her various exhibitions included 'Even Death is Afraid of Auschwitz,' 'Bright Cycle,' 'Dying Children,' and 'Women's Camp Ravensbruck'
    Released an audio recording CD of Lovara Romani songs, 'Me Diklem Suno' ('I dreamt')
    She wrote three autobiographies.
    She started grade school at the age of twelve.
    Her name has been variously spelled as 'Cejia' and 'Cieja.'
    Her artwork usually consisted of random household items scrapped together (toothpicks, cardboard, glass jars, salt dough, etc.)
    She overshadowed her artist sibling, Karl, who started his art career earlier than she did without meeting her level of recognition.
    She was the second youngest of six children.
    Her younger brother and father both perished during the Holocaust (sent to Auschwitz and Dachau respectively).
    She, her mother and two sisters miraculously survived to the end of the war to be liberated from Bergen-Belsen by the British forces.
    She lost her son, who had found work as a jazz musician, to a drug overdose, in 1979.
    Her memoir was the first literary work to draw attention to the Nazi persecution of the Romani people, overlooked by most historians at the time.
    The publication of her memoir stoked controversy within the Olah Romani community, because societal laws dictated that a woman could only speak publicly with a male relative's permission (her own husband tried to dissuade her from writing on her experiences).
    Her paintings reflect two stages or 'periods' - the first group being dark and foreboding depictions of concentration camp life, and the second idyllic scenes of nomadic Roma culture.
    Her two brothers also published memoirs on their surviving of the Holocaust at later dates, making for a unique (practically unheard of) circumstance in which three different family members are able to compare experiences in the Nazi death camps.
    She said: 'I want to show my own world to the people. It is important to understand that we are all human beings and art allows us to live and exist. Art can demonstrate and connect us.'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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