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Postwar Testimony of the Hodoschi Family

Hodoschi family testimonies
International Tracing Service Archive

Shortly after the Nazi rise to power in early 1933, the new regime began to reshape German society to fit Nazi ideas about race and national unity. As the regime redefined who could belong to the so-called "national community" ("Volksgemeinschaft"), the Nazis and their supporters targeted many groups they considered to be racial, social, or political outsiders. Nazi authorities increasingly targeted and persecuted Roma and Sinti in Germany. When Nazi Germany annexed Austria in March 1938, thousands more Romani people came under Nazi control. 

Local Austrian Nazis began introducing independent new anti-Romani policies soon after the Nazi takeover.1 These local restrictions targeted Romani people in ways that foreshadowed future actions by Nazi leaders. Nazi officials excluded Romani children from schools,2 banned Austrian Roma from voting, and restricted their movements.3 In fall 1940, local Austrian authorities established the Lackenbach camp to imprison Austrian Roma and Sinti and exploit them for forced labor. Many of the prisoners were ultimately deported to ghettos, concentration camps, and killing centers in German-occupied Poland.4

The featured testimonies were collected in 1954 from four female members of the Hodoschi family who were imprisoned at the Lackenbach camp during the early 1940s. Their testimonies give a glimpse into the terrible living and working conditions faced by Romani people imprisoned at Lackenbach. The camp was run by the Vienna Criminal Police (Kripo), and discipline was harsh. Several of these testimonies describe the beatings and cruel punishments that prisoners were subjected to by camp guards. They also report the spread of contagious diseases in the camp and charge camp authorities with abusing and murdering Romani children. Theresia Hodoschi’s testimony explains how her experiences of persecution as a child continued to impact her life. It is unclear how Theresia or the other Hodoschi women who recorded these testimonies survived their imprisonment at Lackenbach.5

These testimonies show how Romani survivors of Nazi persecution often gave detailed descriptions of their persecution under Nazi rule. It is part of a larger collection of evidence on the persecution of Roma and Sinti that was put together by the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance after its formation in 1963. Other testimonies from Romani survivors provide more specific information about the identities of the perpetrators.

Postwar German and Austrian court officials often dismissed the testimonies of Romani survivors due to racist beliefs that Roma and Sinti could not be trusted. Lackenbach camp commandant Franz Langmüller served just two months of a one-year-long prison sentence in the late 1940s for inflicting cruelty and abuse on prisoners, but many Nazi-era perpetrators of crimes against Romani people escaped justice altogether.6

Just as German Roma and Sinti had faced persecution even before the Nazi rise to power in 1933, so had the Austrian Roma and Sinti faced discriminatory policies before the German annexation of Austria in 1938. For a brief introduction to the experiences of Roma and Sinti during these decades, see the Experiencing History collection overview for Roma and Sinti in Nazi Germany.


To learn more, see Ursula K. Mindler-Steiner, "Contested Spaces: Criminalization of Marginalized Communities in Former Habsburg Lands in the First Half of the Twentieth Century: The Case Study of Austrian Zigeuner ('Gypsies')," in Terrortimes, Terrorscapes: Continuities of Space, Time, and Memory in Twentieth-Century War and Genocide, edited by Volker Benkert and Michael Mayer. Published by Purdue University Press, 2022, 41–44.

For a firsthand account of this experience, see the related Experiencing History item, Oral History with Karl Stojka.

To learn more about the Nazi persecution of Austrian Roma and Sinti, see Erika Thurner, "Nazi and Postwar Policy against Roma and Sinti in Austria," in The Roma - A Minority in Europe: Historical, Political and Social Perspectives, edited by Roni Stauber and Raphael Vago (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2007): 55–67.

To learn more about the Lackenbach camp, see Erika Thurner, "Camp Lackenbach," in National Socialism and Gypsies in Austria, edited and translated by Gilya Gerda Schmidt (Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 1998): 42–101.

Thousands of Lackenbach's prisoners were sent to the Lodz ghetto in 1941, and more transports of prisoners were sent to Auschwitz in 1943. Camp authorities abandoned Lackenbach and released its surviving prisoners in March 1945 as Soviet forces advanced on the region. Dozens of people are listed in the camp records of Lackenbach and Auschwitz with the name Hodoschi or a similarly spelled name. Several of them are even from the town where Theresia Hodoschi was born, but it is difficult to determine whether any of the available archival traces truly belong to the women who provided this testimony in 1954. 

To learn more about the postwar Romani struggles for justice, see Ari Joskowicz, “Asymmetrical Justice: Roma and Jews in the Courtroom,” in Rain of Ash: Roma, Jews, and the Holocaust (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2023): 103–35.

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To the

KZ-Association in Eisenstadt


Subject: Gypsies from Liebing (Bgld.) detained in the camp Lackenbach on racial grounds report about their experiences in the camp.

I Elisabeth Hodoschi report what I witnessed in the camp. Some women and I found a foot and a hand of a small child during cleanup work in the camp under the straw in the yard. In the room where we lived, the roof there was very damaged and in the winter it was very cold, we found a little girl of 3 to 4 years frozen. I can prove it, that children of 8 and 10 have already received 15 to 20 strokes on the naked body. We had to work on the road in the winter and from the outlying stream to get the stones out and because we had poor clothing and shoes, and we had to work in the water in the winter, I have suffered rheumatic pain for my entire life. We women had to do the same work as the men and even more, because when we returned from work we had to clean up until 12 o'clock in the evening and do the turnips in the kitchen and other work. Each Sunday also for Sunday we had to walk a two hours-long path to go for firewood, each piece was 10 - 15kg. Each one of us had to carry 4 to 5 pieces and it went like that all day long four times.

I Maria Hodoschi report what I witnessed in the camp, I was arrested on 26.October 1941 by the police and the associated NSDAP office head, along with my life partner. My life partner died on 2.2.1942 (reason was because the typhoid fever broke out in the camp). Because the accommodations were very bad and the room was very crowded. From people we got a lot of vermin, such as lice. The women also had their hair cut off. The smallest offense was punished in a bestial way and indeed, one of the people had come to Roll Call a few seconds too late, he got 25-75 blows on the naked body. Latrines were not cleaned with shovels, but by the prisoners with bare hands. The number of deceased in the year



- 2 -


1942 in winter was 15 to 20 people dead every day. This went on all year long. The camp was also guarded by the police.

I Mahaine Hodoschi, b. 9.3.1888, reports about the camp. Have lost my husband. He was abused by brutal doctor. He was beaten in the abdomen, that he had to perish miserably. I can prove that children were given a milk that was poisoned. From this poisoned milk 35 - 40 children died in one night. We knew that the milk was poisoned, as the camp leader’s dog mistakenly ate it and died miserably in a few hours.

I Theresia Hodoschi, b. 10.9.1933 in Liebing.
Already as a child of 8 years I was brought to the Lackenbach camp with my people and was held until the liberation of the Red Army.
I was disturbed by it all my life and not only me, but rather all persecuted Roma children who were robbed of our education are almost all illiterate and therefore can make no living.
All the undersigned can vouch for this letter at any time.

For the undersigned:


Theresia Hodoschi              Juliane Hodoschi

Elisabeth Hodoschi             Mahaine Hodoschi

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
International Tracing Service Archive
Accession Number Postwar testimony, Elisabeth, Juliane, Mahaine [Malvine?], and Theresia Hodoschi/ Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives
Date Created
Author / Creator
Theresia Hodoschi
Elisabeth Hodoschi
Juliane Hodoschi
Mahaine Hodoschi
Eisenstadt, Austria
Document Type Report
How to Cite Museum Materials

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