Surviving History, 2010

A collaboration between artist Eva Sajovic and writer Damian Le Bas, who on Saturday 8th May 2010travelled by train to Manchester, where they met the Bocks. These photographs were taken by Eva on the day and the text was created afterwards in a three-way dialogue between photographer, writer, and the recorded words of the Bock family themselves, interpreted by Teresa Kokocinska, herself a Czech national living in Manchester.

The idea of documenting the experiences of the Bock family arose in dialogue between Patricia Knight, co-ordinator of Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month, and Eva Sajovic. To this day, awareness of the Holocaust against the Roma and Sinti is sorely lacking in the United Kingdom, as it is throughout the world. As a Sinti-Romani family who have experienced first-hand racism of a harrowing sort and now live in England, the Bocks provide a uniquely powerful witness to the need to combat racism that GRTHM seeks to highlight.

The project was exhibited as part of the 'Holocaust Against Roma & Sinti and Present Day Racism in Europe' curated by Eva Sajovic in colaboration with Patricia Knight, national Co-ordinator for GRTHM and exhibited at the Arts Pavilion London, 3-20 June 2010.

ESSAY by Damian LeBas

Vilém Bock is a Sinto, a Czech citizen, and protector of the history of a proud family who barely survived the Holocaust. His father was one of thirteen siblings, ten of whom were murdered by the Nazis. Vilém and his family now live in the Eastlands area of Manchester. In Patricia Knight's words, Vilém is 'custodian of his father's history': this history must be considered precious to all who seek to avert repetition of the nightmarish atrocities that have been perpetrated against the Roma and Sinti of Continental Europe.

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