Marketa Richterova - my Romany wedding that never was


Marketa Richterova is a young actress living in Prague. In communist days her family had huge problems with the regime. Her parents were dissidents and the family was forced to emigrate when Marketa was a child in 1981. Given this traumatic early experience it is not surprising that she has since had a strong sense of understanding for other people forced for whatever reasons to flee their home. Here she talks about how she decided to help out a friend, when the war in Yugoslavia broke out in the early 1990s.

Marketa Richterova
"I was living in Vienna since I was seven, and I was there also when the war in the ex-Yugoslavia started, and I had a lot of friends from Serbia and Croatia who were concerned. I had a friend, he was a Gypsy - Romany - from Serbia, from Sabac, a small village. For Roma it's very hard if you get involved in a war because they are not Serbian, they are not Croatian. They don't want to fight because they don't have a nationality like that, they don't have a country they belong to. They feel free everywhere and they belong everywhere.

"So he asked me if I knew someone who could help him to stay in Austria to get all these papers. So I helped him look for a wife, who would like to marry him, just for the formal papers, just to make him legal in Austria. And I couldn't find anybody. I was really very disappointed, and he was disappointed. One day in a pub we decided that we were going to marry, that I'm going to marry him and that we're going to solve this problem like this. So we married, we got these rings, and after that we had to shoot some pictures to make it real and not to cause any suspicion.

"And we went to his family to have coffee or cake, and his parents thought that we had had a real wedding. And they were disappointed because this wedding was very small and quiet, just the two of us and no guests. They decided to prepare a big, big wedding in Serbia for us. At their house in Serbia they built a room for us with a wonderful wedding bed with all the flowers, and some stuff for a baby. And all the village knew that we were going to come and have this wedding in summer, in August, because that's the time when all the Serbs want their wedding. And we tried to explain that this wedding was just because of the papers, but they never understood. I never went there, never. I couldn't. I couldn't do that."