Interviewee: Aristide Streja
Title: Maier Letzler
Place and Date: Ploiesti, Romania - 1910s
The photo was taken in a studio from Ploiesti, in the 1910s. This is my maternal grandfather, Maier Letzler. My grandfather dressed like a rabbi: in black, with a long caftan; he used a walking cane.
My grandmother , Eva Letzler, died at a relatively early age. She got ill and she died approximately at the end of the 1920's. My grandfather re-married, but not officially - with Jews, if you live with a woman for a long period of time, it's as if you were married to her. He had a woman whose name was Eva too. Eventually, they also got married at the civil status office. Being a rabbi and a shochet, widely known in the Jewish community of the town of Ploiesti, he wasn't allowed to re-marry immediately after he became a widower.
My grandfather was very religious. He shepherded a shul in Ploiesti. My grandfather had received a 100% Jewish education, just like my grandmother. I don't think they had schools organized by the State or something like that. They went to the yeshivah, where they studied in Ivrit, but also in Romanian. They used Yiddish at home. I don't think they spoke other languages. I met him, as he would come visit us on holidays. It's understandable how my mother got her religious education. We, the children, were not very religious, and every time our grandfather came by, he asked our mother why she tolerated her children being disrespectful. My sister was more liberal in thought, almost a Communist, not very religious. She didn't go to the synagogue very often, and all these would make our grandfather say: 'How come you let her stay home instead of going to the synagogue on Saturday? Is this the way to raise your daughter? With this kind of thoughts?'
Grandfather Maier Letzler died before World War II, approximately in the 1930's. I don't know where his relatives were scattered, if he had any.
Interviewee: Gavril Marcuson
Title: Gavril Marcuson with Leibis and Eveline Marcussohn
Place and Date: Iasi, Romania - 1917
These are my parents, Leibis and Eveline Marcussohn, and me, Gavril Marccusohn, at my fourth anniversary, on 28th October 1917. The photo was taken during World War I, at the 'Rembrandt' photo cabinet in Iasi.
My name is Gavril Marcuson [the initial name, Marcussohn, was shortened to Marcuson in 1968]. I was born in Bucharest, on 28th October 1913, in the house of my maternal grandfather, an old house on Viilor Dr. Back then, the place was at the outskirts of the city.
During World War I, my family, like so many other people from Bucharest, sought refuge in Iasi, since the capital had been occupied by the German troops [between November 1916 and November 1918]. I remember how my paternal grandfather once had me drink tuica [alcoholic beverage obtained by fermenting and distilling plums or other fruit], while my mother was away, and I got drunk and fell under the table. My mother came back, found me sleeping under the table and started a terrible fight with my grandfather because he had let me drink. I was so little that I had hit my head against the table. I was as tall as the table.
My father was born in Iasi, in 1888. He studied in Vienna, at the Commerce High School. He looked after us and loved us in a way that was more intelligent than my mother's, because he was more intelligent and more cultivated. He never scolded me and beating was definitely out of the question. He was a literature enthusiast, he could read German, and he had a German library. My father was an accountant and a tradesman. He wasn't a religious man. He had his own business - he sold welding devices and carbide -, but didn't actually owned a company. He worked with his brother-in-law, Filip Weisselberg, for a while, and, after he and my mother divorced [before World War II, in the 1930's], he bought a house in another neighborhood and continued his welding devices business. My father died in Bucharest, in the 1960's.
My mother was born in Husi, in 1892. Her education consisted of some years of high school. She wasn't a religious person. She was a rather simple woman, and she spoke some French. My grandfather only sent the boys to college. One of them became a chemist, another one became a lawyer, and another one became an accountant; but the girls never got to college. Girls were despised. Men are the ones who lead. Even at the synagogue, women have to stay separated from the men. My mother was a housewife. She loved us as much as she could, looked after us, and fed us - we weren't picky when it came to food. She was a gentle woman. She got upset once in a while, but didn't beat us. Neither my brother nor I ever got beat by our parents.
My mother made aliyah in the 1960's. My brother and other relatives were already living in Israel. She stayed in an old age home in Tel Aviv. I visited her there and, when I returned, I got the news of her death. She died after I had visited her. She was 89 when she passed away [in 1981].
Interviewee: Julia Scheiner
Title: The Mestitz family
Place and Date: Borszek, Romania - 1920s
This family picture was taken in Borszek, in the 1920s. I'm the little girl in the white pinafore in the first row. In the back there's my sister, Klara, who also wears a white pinafore, just like me. She was a very pretty girl. The other kid is Mikhal, Misi, Mestitz, my older brother. Beside me is my dad, Henrik Mestitz, and behind me, my mom, Ilona Mestitz, nee Laszlo. I don't know the other people in the photo.
Once a year, in fall, we had to go to Borszek. Borszek was my dad's obsession, he adored the place. [Borszek is one of the most renowned regions of mineral water springs in Romania.] Once, when my brother Andras was six weeks old, dad took us to Borszek. It was quite cold there. Occasionally we had to put a stove inside the room. We didn't like Borszek because there was no place to bathe [there is no lake or river there], but our parents' friends had a villa there and we spent the time playing.
We spent most of our summer holidays at Szovata, together with our friends, a young couple, and we stayed there six weeks or two months. Our father came with us only to stay a week or two, and then he only came for the weekends. We rented a villa with four rooms: one for each couple and the other two for three children each. Both couples brought along a housemaid. They slept on the glassed-in porch and they cooked, thus it was quite comfortable. On several occasions we stayed in the village, and facing the river, on the other side, there was the villa of Queen Mary. On mornings we used to go to Medve Lake to bathe, and on afternoons to the creek, since all our friends used to go there. We were together in the mornings and afternoons, as well.
Later, of course, everybody could choose where to spend his or her holidays.
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Interviewee: Sami Fiul
Title: Bernard Fiul
Place and Date: Bacau, Romania - 1925
This is a photo of my father, Bernard Fiul, taken in Bacau in 1925. I don't know if it was a special occasion, but I don't think so.
My father, Bernard Fiul, was born in Fundu Moldovei in 1899. My father only had four grades of elementary school; he studied in German, under the Austro-Hungarians, in Fundu Moldovei or Campulung Modovenesc, because I am not sure that there was a school in Fundu Moldovei. When he was only 17, the World War I started, and he couldn't go on with his studies. Father did his military service under the Austro-Hungarians, and it was a bit of a problem to get Romanian military papers when he returned to Bukovina; but it was fixed. I don't know if he fought during World War I, but I know he went as far as Czechoslovakia and Poland, and that he fell ill with typhoid fever and had to stay in the hospital.
Father worked as a forester in Tazlau, and then he became a factory laborer, he even tried to be a small trader. He worked as a forester in the 1920s, when he was still single, and he was very good at it, he loved nature. My sister Lola and I, and our children, we all inherited I think his love for the mountains, for nature, for excursions. My father's work probably brought him to Bacau. His native tongue was Yiddish or German, but not Romanian. He learnt to write in Romanian later, he always wrote all the Romanian nouns with capital letters, just like in German. He had a beautiful handwriting, but not all correct because of this. He learnt Romanian and spoke it well when he was older, he even forgot most of his German, but mother, Dorina Fiul, used to tell us a funny story about father's Romanian, which wasn't so good when they were engaged: they were taking a walk in Bacau, and they stopped in front of a window of a pork-butcher's shop, and father exclaimed: 'Look at all this crap!' [Pun upon words in Romanian, caused by the confusion between the word 'porcarii', which means 'crap', which as the same stem as 'porc', which means 'pork', or 'pork products']. I don't know how my parents met exactly, but when they did, probably at some Purim ball, or other society event organized by the Jewish community in Bacau. It wasn't an arranged marriage; they just liked each other and fell in love. My father married my mother in 1924, in December, I think; mother used to tell me that it was very warm outside for December, and that she had just a bride's dress on, she didn't need a coat. I don't know if they got married in the synagogue.
When father got married and moved to Bacau, in 1924, he tried to find something more stable, so he got a job as a laborer in the corn industry; then he tried to set up a small shop of his own, but it didn't work out, so he went on being a laborer. He worked at a mill in afternoon and night shifts, and at a textile factory, owned by a Jew, Izvoreanu. My father's main characteristic was that he was extremely hardworking. I remember him working hard, from morning until late at night. He eventually opened a retail grain shop, which was the territory of richer Jews; his business was really small. And when my mother inherited the inn her adoptive parents had, they started taking care of that business.
Interviewee: Stefan Guth
Title: Iuliu Guth with friends
Place and Date: , Romania - 1980
In this photo you can see the members of Ivria, a Jewish organization from Brasov that was active in the 1930s. Only later it became Zionist. In the very middle of the group there is my father, Iuliu Guth, in the second row, fourth from left. I don?t know when exactly the photo was taken, but I reckon in the 1930s, because my father was in his 30s in this picture. I don?t know exactly what was his position in the organization, but I think he was somebody important, otherwise he wouldn't be in the centre of the photo. He never talked much to me about it, except that they used to play football.
My father was a good friend of Feiler Dezideriu, who had been with him in Ivria and later became president of the Jewish community in Brasov during World War II. You can see Feiler Dezideriu standing immediately to his right, in the second row, 3rd from left.
My father was not religious at all, he worked on Sabbath and didn't observe the kashrut, but he did observe all high holidays. He was a Neolog, but he strongly identified himself as a Jew and he was a fervent Zionist. I remember that my father kept a violet velvet sack with a magen David embroidered on it, with the clothes for his funeral, his tallit and his siddur. My father was never in a political party, but we had the Keren Kayemet box in our house, and anybody who came to our house had to put something into it.
Although my father was a fervent Zionist, he never intended to make aliyah himself; it is a paradox, but he had very strong bonds here, he was very attached to his house, to his family. However, he supported the Zionist cause quite strongly.
Interviewee: Miklos Kallos
Title: Miklos Kallos and his schoolmates
Place and Date: Oredea, Romania - 1933
This school photo is one of the two I still have from before World War II. It was taken when I was in the elementary school, in the 2nd grade. It was taken 70 years ago, so it must have been June 1933. These school photos were always taken at the end of the school year. I am the fourth from the right in the first row.
Gyorgy Balazs is also in the photo, he is the first from the left in the back row. We were in the same camp, at Buchenwald. There was a bombing and he lost both his legs. In a typically German way, they considered those who were wounded during the enemy bombing a sort of war victims. So they operated him and carried him back to Buchenwald. Many healthy people died, while he survived. I met him after the liberation. He left for France. He graduated from the Polytechnic Institute, then he killed himself. There were many cases of suicide, for life is a bit schizophrenic: you live one life before the camp, and another life after. The deportation put an end to the old life. There were some who couldn't take it and who committed suicide.
I started to go to school when I was six. I studied in Romanian during the elementary school and the first three grades of high school. I didn't speak Romanian very well. The elementary school was supported by the Neolog Community. Then the Hungarian Empire came and we had a Hungarian school - it was during the period when I was beginning to open my eyes towards the world, from the age of 14 to the age of 17. I started to write in Hungarian. I'm not saying that I totally forgot how to speak Romanian, because I didn't; but my Romanian was rather poor - I made mistakes of agreement and spoke with an accent.
I went to the 'Dr. Kecskemeti Lipot' Jewish Neolog High School in Oradea. It was a Jewish school because the students were all Jewish and the teachers were Jewish too, with two or three exceptions. By tradition, the gym teacher was not a Jew, but that changed in the later years. Under the Romanian administration, until 1940, the music teacher had to be Romanian, and this was sometimes true for the teachers of Romanian literature too. The Jewish touch of the school was that that a prayer was said at the beginning of the first class and at the end of the last class - these were the prayers uttered when one is called to read the Torah, two blessings. So these two prayers replaced the national anthem or anything of the sort.
Interviewee: Mariana Farkas
Title: Lipot Seidenfeld with his family
Place and Date: Rau de Mori, Romania - 1934
This is a photo of my mother Johana Bozoky's family, taken in Rau de Mori, in 1934. In the back row you can see, from the right: my father, Albert Bozoky, near him my mother, Johana Bozoky; the child between them is me. Near my mother is her sister, Irina Pavlici, from Zagreb. The man behind her is my uncle, Adolf Weinberger, he was married to my mother's sister, Matilda Weinberger: In this photo she is the fourth woman to his left. Near my uncle is another aunt of mine, my mother's sister Borbala Steinhart, and near her Aunt Frida Bauer, also from Zagreb. Near Aunt Frida is my cousin Nada, Aunt Irina's daughter. To her left there is my uncle Alexandru Seidenfeld, and the woman second to his left is his wife, Reghina. In the front row, there are, from left: my cousin Magdalena Weinberger, Aunt Matilda's daughter, my grandmother, Gizella Seidenfeld and my grandfather Lipot Seidenfeld. 1934 was the year my grandfather died, he was already ill by that time.
My maternal grandparents, Lipot and Gizella Seidenfeld, lived in Rau de Mori, in the region of Hateg. My grandfather was born in Lupeni, and he had a store. I think he had some elementary school, and his mother tongue was Hungarian, as well as my grandmother. Her maiden name was Lorincz, and she was from Hateg as well; I think she did four classes of high school, and she was a housewife, but of course she helped my grandfather a lot with the store. I know that my grandmother had a brother, who lived in Deva, and some other siblings in Dej, but I don't know anything more about them.
My mother had four sisters and a brother: Frida Bauer was married to Ottó Bauer, a Jew from Zagreb who was a clerk. They lived in Zagreb, and Frida was a superintendent at a boarding school for girls there. Aunt Frida's husband, Ottó, killed himself, because he gambled in a game of cards the money of the factory he worked for, and only after that he realized what he had done. He was away in Belgrade, I think, and he shot a bullet through his head there, in a hotel room. After that Frida remained in Zagreb. Frida died in 1944 in a concentration camp, and she didn't have any children.
Irina Pavlici was married to Anton Pavlici, who was a Catholic, and who also worked in Zagreb as a lawyer. Irina was a housewife, and she had a daughter, Nada, who lives in London now. Matilda Weinberger was married to a Jew, Adolf Weinberger, who was a notary. They lived in Targu Mures, and he died of natural death, before the Holocaust. Matilda was a housewife, and she had a daughter, Magdalena. Matilda died in Auschwitz, in 1944. My mother's third sister, Borbala Steinhart, was married to a Jew, but I don't know his first name. Borbala was a housewife as well, and she had a son, Nicolae. She died in a concentration camp in 1944, either in Auschwitz or in Bergen-Belsen, I don't remember exactly.
My mother's brother was called Alexandru Seidenfeld, and he was also a shopkeeper, he helped my grandparents with their store. He was married to a Jewish woman, Reghina, and he didn't have children. He got sick with consumption; when he was on the front during World War I; he had to stay in water up to his waist, that's how he fell ill. So he stayed with my grandparents, helped them as long as he had the strength, but then the disease progressed, and killed him. Alexandru died in 1939 in Rau de Mori.
Interviewee: Ruth Greif
Title: Ruth Greif in the synagogue
Place and Date: Brasov, Romania - 1940s
This is a photo taken in the synagogue here, in Brasov, in the 1940s, after the war. Rabbi Deutsch - you can see him in the photo - did something for a group of girls, I was among them as well, which was called confirmation, like it is for the Hungarians. It's the exact equivalent of bat mitzvah, but I don't know why everybody referred to it as confirmation back then. We were a group of girls, of different ages, and the ceremony took place in the synagogue with the rabbi. Each of us had to know by heart a prayer in Hebrew on that occasion. I am the fifth from the right in the photo.
After the war, I studied religion with Rabbi Deutsch, here, in the community's headquarters in Brasov, two hours every week; those were compulsory religious classes from school, but since we were Jews, we studied with the rabbi.
I was also in a Zionist organization right after the war, but I can't remember if it was Gordonia or Hanoar [Hatzioni]; I think both. In any case, every day, after school, we were there, playing ping-pong, or dancing traditional Jewish dances, like Iulala. It's a dance very similar to the Romanian ring dance, the hora. It was danced in a large circle; you had to take two steps to the right, one to the left, and lift your foot. In the middle of the circle there was a boy who chose a girl from the dancers and danced with her in the middle, then the girl would be there alone and choose a boy, and so on. It was nice. We made friends, fell in love? we were young girls. I also participated in some classes held by a sheliach, about Jewish history, about religion, about making aliyah to Palestine because Israel didn't exist back then.
Interviewee: Thomas Molnar
Title: The staff of officers of Kalman Koves' labor unit
Place and Date: Szaszlekencze, Romania - 1940
The picture was taken between September and December 1940 in Szaszlekencze. My uncle, Kalman Koves, was in forced labor here in the Jewish forced labor unit 208/14. In the picture you can see the staff of officers of the company. The picture was taken by Kalman Koves. The officers, among whom there are several Jews, from left to right: ensign Herzog, ensign Hefling, lieutenant Rechnitz, lieutenant Grosz, lieutenant Szabo, first lieutenant Kronstein.
My paternal grandfather, Mor Katz, was born in 1877 in Hajduszovat. He was a painter. My grandmother Amalia Pollak was born in 1880 in Vekerd. They got married in 1901 in Darvas. They had five children. My mother was the oldest and Kalman was the youngest.
Kalman became a furrier; he had a prospering shop on Kossuth Lajos Street. The shop is still there, now his daughter runs it. Kalman magyarized his name to Koves sometime in the 1930s. He was first drafted into forced labor in 1939, and they let him home at the end of 1940. Then in 1941 they drafted him again. In 1942 he was wounded at the Don Bend, the Hungarians left him there. The Russians saved his life; they took him to the hospital. They healed him, and then they took him to Siberia, from where he came home at the end of 1947. He continued the furrier trade. He opened a shop again
Interviewee: Ruth Greif
Title: Ruth Greif and Gordonia members
Place and Date: Brasov , Romania - 1946
This is a photo of the Zionist organization Gordonia, taken here, in Brasov, in 1946/7. I don't remember if it was a special occasion, and I don't recall the rest of the people in this picture, it was a long time ago; I am the first from right.
Right after the war, I was in two Zionist organizations, Gordonia and Hanoar [Hatzioni] I think. Every day, after school, we were there, playing ping-pong, or dancing traditional Jewish dances, like Iulala. It's a dance very similar to the Romanian ring dance, the hora. It was danced in a large circle; you had to take two steps to the right, one to the left, and lift your foot. In the middle of the circle there was a boy who chose a girl from the dancers and danced with her in the middle, then the girl would be there alone and choose a boy, and so on. It was nice. We made friends, fell in love, we were young girls. I also participated in some classes held by a sheliach, about Jewish history, about religion, about making aliyah to Palestine because Israel didn't exist back then.
There were Purim balls organized at the house of culture in Brasov by the CDE ['Comitetul Democrat al Evreilor', 'The Jewish Democratic Committee'] or by the Zionist organizations in Brasov, like Gordonia or Hanoar. All chairs were taken out of the ballroom, and the balls were held there. I participated in a Purim ball for the first time when I was 15, in 1947. They were rather elegant and usually for grown-ups. My mother had a dress made for me at the dressmaker's, made from gray checkered taffeta, which was very hard to find in those times. It had a large cleavage on the back. I remember that was the first time I wore it.
Interviewee: Julia Scheiner
Title: The synagogue in Targu Mures after WWII
Place and Date: Targu Mures, Romania - 1950s
This picture was taken inside the synagogue in Marosvasarhely in the 1950s. It must have been a holiday, but I don't remember which one. I got this picture from my second husband, Aladar Scheiner. Sitting in the middle in the first row is Aladar's second wife, Magda Scheiner, nee Roth.
I had known my second husband, Aladar Scheiner, for ages. I was Aladar's third wife. Magda Roth, Magdus, a distinguished, delicate and very sweet lady was his second wife. She was originally from Temesvar; her father worked as a railway engineer. She too was married three times. Aladar married her after the deportations, and they lived together for 30 years. She was previously married to my cousin, Sandor Mestitz. I think she divorced her first husband for Sandor, whom she met in Temesvar. They came home to Marosvasarhely from Temesvar, so they could live as Hungarians, but then they deported all of us. Magdus returned, Sandor did not. Magdus too 'began her career' in Auschwitz, though I don't know where they took her after that. Then she married Aladar. Magdus also died in 1977.
Six weeks after my first husband, Jeno Schonbrunn's death, when I was going to have lunch, I met Aladar on the way. 'Where are you going?' I said, 'To have lunch.' Then he asked, 'Can I come with you?' I'll never forget that after lunch he said to me he knew very well, it wasn't the right time, nor very nice of him to say it, but he felt he had to tell me that if I ever thought of remarrying, to take him into consideration. I was shocked that he could come up with something like that only six weeks after my husband died and seven weeks after his wife passed away.
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Interviewee: Tili Solomon
Title: Tili Solomon with friends
Place and Date: Iasi, Romania - 1951
The one in the middle is me with my two friends in 1951. We were very close friends. They both emigrated to Israel. The one to the left was a very pretty red-head. She died in child labor. The other, Seli (on the right), married in Romania and had a nervous breakdown before leaving for Israel. They finally got there but her fits didn't stop, so they had to put her in a sanatorium. Her husband wanted to divorce her, but the Israeli Rabbinate doesn't grant a divorce when one of the spouses has a mental condition. Still, he rebuilt his life with another woman. I don't know if Seli is still alive.
In 1946 there was inflation. Before that there was a drought which lasted for one or two years or maybe more, and we had a food shortage. One kilogram of wheat flour cost millions. It was a very hard time. I, for instance, worked as a tailor for an employer; we settled for a certain sum but, by the end of the week, when payday came, the money couldn't buy me anything anymore. Inflation was booming. Money wasn't worth anything. You couldn't buy anything. Then they made the stabilization. A decree announced that people could exchange a fixed amount of money. No matter how much money you had, the State only exchanged a minimum amount. This happened in 1946 or 1947. I think the monetary reform was in 1951. Things were totally different then. My father worked for a food store. The evening news announced there would be a change with the money. My father didn't know anything. A neighbor came and told him, 'Look, Mr. Herscu, they just said on the radio that they are changing the money; something is about to happen tomorrow and I have some money. Couldn't you help me? Sell me some merchandise and I'll return it later.' My father told him, 'All right, but it's closing time now. Come here tomorrow and we'll do it.' The following morning he found a financial inspector at the door of the store; he inventoried the merchandise and any scheme became impossible. This is how I went through the stabilization process and monetary reform.
I met my husband in a common circle of friends. We sort of liked each other from the beginning. We dated for a while and, at a certain point, he proposed. We had a small engagement ceremony at home, only with the family. Almost one year later we got married: in 1957.
Interviewee: Livia Diaconescu
Title: Livia Diaconescu with her co-worker Meri Popescu
Place and Date: Bucharest, Romania - 1962
This photo was taken on 22nd January 1962, at the Food Research Institute in Bucharest. From right to left: Meri Popescu, a co-worker, and I.
After graduation, I first worked for the State Committee for Planning. I stayed with them for just a month or two, because I wanted to actually work in my field, chemistry; so I got employed at a new factory, called Electroizolantul, located at the exit from Bucharest, on Catelu Drive. It was hard to get there. After I got married, my husband and I lived in Focsani for a year, in 1958. I worked in the local industry, at a factory that processed meat and made tin cans, and then at a medical lab where I did tests. I only encountered overt conflicts because of my Jewish origin once: it was in Focsani, in the food industry. I had discovered some shocking errors. Someone told on me to the party. They called my husband there, told him that, if it hadn't been for that regime, I would have never married him, and asked him to divorce me.
In 1959, we moved back to Bucharest. I worked for a little while at the lab of the Vasile Roaita Hospital, then I applied for another job and, after passing an examination, I was employed at the Food Research Institute. I stayed there until 1979, when the Sugar section was closed and a new institute for the cultivation and processing of the sugar beet was founded. I worked for them till 1st January 1986, when I retired.
After I retired, I got closer to my Jewish origins. I could afford to make anything I wanted of my spare time and I wasn't tired anymore. I went to Israel and met Romanians who acquired the Jewish lifestyle. There is another atmosphere there. Every time I hear Ivrit, I prick up my ears, because I like the way it sounds.
From a professional point of view, I turned from chemist to archivist at the Center for the Study of the History of the Romanian Jews. I like this work. I processed documents from the time when Jews would leave on foot. These were things I hadn't heard about before, and there were others just like them. I am delighted I can work, for I feel totally useless at home.
Interviewee: Fridric Iavet
Title: Adela Geller on Purim
Place and Date: Arad, Romania - 1971
This is a photo of Adela, my youngest daughter, who is standing on the right side of Rabbi Lerner. The photo was taken in 1971 in Arad, on Purim.
We have two daughters, who were born in Arad: Iudit was born in 1951, and Adela in 1956. Iudit graduated from the dental techniques school in Arad. She observed the Christian holidays as well, because she grew up under the influence of her grandmother, my wife's mother. Adela, on the other hand, was very fond of me. I never influenced her. Adela also went to the talmud torah classes. We observed both Christian and Jewish holidays at home, together. The girls didn't have any problems because they were half Jewish. Adela even bragged about it. I didn't talk to them much about my time in Uzbekistan. I didn't want to influence them in any way.
Adela married an engineer from Gheogheni, Geza Geller, in 1984. Adela graduated from the Faculty of Stomatology in Cluj and she lives in Gheorgheni, Harghita County, where she's a stomatologist. Geza's father was in Auschwitz, but he came back; he died about two years ago [approximately in 2002]. Adela and Geza met in Cluj. He studied electrotechnics and they met at the Jewish canteen. They got married in 1984 in the Orthodox synagogue in Arad, and Rabbi Neumann from Timisoara came to officiate the wedding.
Interviewee: Louiza Vecsler
Title: The wedding of Raphael Vecsler
Place and Date: Bucharest, Romania - 1974
This is a picture from my son Raphael Vecsler's wedding in Bucharest in 1974. The rabbi you can see here is Moses Rosen, next to him is my son Raphael, and behind him his father-in-law Martin Reinisch (first from left second row), and next to him my husband Solomon Vecsler. The picture was taken during the ceremony. Hava Naghila was sung, and at the party that followed there was of course kosher food.
When my son got married, the ceremony requested that the mother of the bride gave wine to the groom, and I, as the mother of the groom, gave wine to the bride.
Raphael studied Journalism in Bucharest, and that's where he met Felicia; I don?t know the exact circumstances. After the wedding, my son and his wife moved to Brasov, and my husband and I moved there as well in 1975 because we didn't want to stay in Botosani alone. Raphael has two daughters, Manuela Czeizler and Karina Vecsler. They are still religious, they go to the synagogue on the high holidays, they observe Sabbath, but they aren?t fanatically religious.
Interviewee: Julia Scheiner
Title: Juci and Aladar Scheiner with the Jewish community
Place and Date: Targu Mures, Romania - 1980s
This picture was taken in the little room by the synagogue, in Marosvasarhely in the 1980s. The little boy was probably saying the mah nishtanah. It was probably the eve of seder. I?m in the very back, first from left, beside me is Aladar Scheiner, my second husband. I don't know anybody else in this picture.
I remember this event well. It was really nice, everything went according to the book: they prayed and washed their hands. There were many Jews in those days and there are many children in this picture. There are still many people on seder nights, but now half of them are not Jewish.
In the 1960s my husband was hired by the Jewish community of Marosvasarhely. He had probably had some previous ties with the community because they asked him to be the president. Aladar was already the president there when I married him in 1978. He was president for twenty years. On high holidays he went earlier to the synagogue then I did, but this was never a problem. Aladar never bothered about me being religious or not, and this was a very good thing because I was very weak on Jewish issues. I never kept a kosher household, although he was the president of the Jewish community. But neither did Magdus, his previous wife. The only thing we did was that we went to the synagogue on holidays. Aladar, of course, had to go there more often, and he was at the community office all the time.
On Yom Kippur we fasted, though. Despite the fact that one only has to fast until the age of seventy, and after that only for half a day, my husband always observed it. I fasted, too. On Yom Kippur I fasted even while I was in the camp. And how my acquaintances and friends scolded me for it - saying, 'haven't we fasted enough? You have to fast now, too?' because then, by some chance, we actually had the opportunity to eat. I told them I would still fast. After we came home, my brother Andras asked me on the first holiday, 'Are you fasting?' 'Yes,' I said, 'I will always fast in memory of my parents.' He said that he would fast too, then, otherwise he wouldn't have fasted at all. Furthermore, my first husband, who never really fasted, began fasting after we met.
When Aladar turned eighty, in 1984, he resigned - I insisted on him resigning. Then he persuaded Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen to appoint Bernat Sauber as president because he was the only one who was competent. [Editor's note: In 2003 Bernat Sauber is still the president of the Jewish community in Marosvasarhely.]
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Interviewee: Vasile Grunea
Title: Vasile Grunea and colleagues
Place and Date: Cluj Napoca, Romania - 1985
I?m in the middle of the second row on this photo. I?m the only Jew here, all the others are Romanian. The photo was taken in the editorial office of the Tribuna in Kolozsvar in the 1980s. The man right on my left, wearing a tie is my best friend, the poet Negoita Irimie. The first person standing on the left is Ioan Dumitru Radu Popescu, who was editor-in-chief at that time.
The Tribuna, just as the Korunk, was started again thanks to the atmosphere that developed in 1956. There was only one Romanian literary monthly, the Steaua, at that time in Kolozsvar, so they decided that a weekly was needed, and the Tribuna was founded. At the same time the Korunk, originally founded by Gabor Gaal was started again. It was published anew from 1957 and the two papers worked in this spirit.
I was expelled from the Party in 1959 for the simple reason that I had been a member of a socialist-Zionist organization, the Hashomer Hatzair, between 1942 and 1945. They knew this because I put it down in all my CVs, I wasn't ashamed of it and I didn't hide it. And a resolution was passed, which stated that no one who had been a member of any other party could be a member of the Communist Party.
That's when I started working for the Tribuna, at first as a proof-reader, and later as an editorial secretary, and of course, I published poems, translations, reports on theater and fine arts, and interviews. [Editor's note: At that time all papers were communist.] As I learnt afterwards I had been quite popular and the paper was rather well liked.
Unfortunately, there was a period when the paper was published under very difficult circumstances; it wasn't published at all for several months in the 1990s. I left the paper in 1990. It has continued since then, but there was a period when they simply didn't have any money and couldn't print it. The editors looked for jobs and worked for this paper for free, but there wasn't any money to publish it. The situation has been back to normal for about three quarters of a year, since 2002, although it isn't published weekly any more, but twice a month.
Interviewee: Isac Tinichigiu
Title: Paul Tinichigiu at an alpine skiing contest for youth
Place and Date: Brasov, Romania - 1993
This photo was taken in Poiana Brasov in 1993, after the final national alpine skiing contest for youth. Poiana Brasov is a winter resort in the town we live in, Brasov.
You can see my son, Paul, in this picture: he is the second from left, near the girl, Cristina; I remember her name because she was his favorite in the team because of her perfect skiing technique. You can see he has three medals... I was very proud of him that day, he was the best in his team. ?Paul and skiing? is a very interesting topic for me ... it changed my life completely, and his as well. I even took up skiing at the same time as him, but just for a while, because my health didn't allow me to go on with it. Paul started skiing when he was three, because the doctors found out he was sick with asthma. So he was recommended to travel in the mountains as much as we could afford. But he sort of fell in love with skiing and he decided to become a professional. At the age of 13 he won a gold medal, a silver medal and a bronze medal at the National Alpine Skiing championship, the gold in Super G, the silver in Slalom and the bronze in Giant Slalom.
He gave up professional skiing because when he went to high school, he wanted to prove himself and the rest of the world that he could be more; he still skies today, but he works professionaly as an It instructor.
Interviewee: Miklos Kallos
Title: Miklos Kallos with colleagues
Place and Date: Cluj Napoca, Romania - 1999
This photo was taken when the library of the Jewish Institute of Babes-Bolyai University from Cluj Napoca was inaugurated. I was just having a little keynote speech. In the photo there is also Moshe Carmilly, in the first row second from left.
Moshe Carmilly-Weinberger - rabbi in the Jewish Community from Cluj-Napoca during the Holocaust is known also as the author of ?Censorship amd Freedom of Expression in Jewish History. Great Ideological and Literary Conflicts in Judaism from Antiquity to Modern Times? (New York, 1977) and memorialistic and historical books as ?Jews in Transylvania from 1623 to 1944.? He founded the Jewish Institute in Cluj Napoca which has his name. [Editor's note: He was Neolog chief-rabbi of Cluj Napoca between 1934 and 1944. His historical appreciation is controversial. On the one hand every source admits that a great number of Jews escaped the deportation thanks to his efforts. On the other hand he is criticized because he did not warn the Jewish community about the danger of deportation after the German entry (19th March 1944), although he knew about it. He is also judged because of his contacts with Romanian extreme nationalists (as Raoul Sorban) in the 1980s.]
In the back, the man standing against the wall, is Professor David Bar-Ad from Israel, whose mother was born and grew up in Bukovina, and who has been teaching the Hebrew language since the foundation of the Jewish Institute.
Here's my situation now. In 1997, they proposed me for the presidency of the Jewish Communities in Cluj and they elected me. Are you familiar with the Beckett syndrome? Do you know Beckett? There was a play, and there was a film too. So Beckett was a close friend of Prince Henry of England. Both of them were steady drinkers and womanizers and they never missed a party. At a certain point, Henry made Beckett the head of the Anglican Church, as he wanted to have a trustworthy man up there. But Beckett took his position seriously and really began to act like the head of the church. So when Henry asked him to separate him from his wife, he refused. And he was killed because of it eventually. It's a very interesting thing. This is what the Beckett syndrome means: when you are appointed in a certain position and you try to take that position seriously. And this is pretty much what happened to me too.
In what way? They were in for a surprise when they elected me president of the Community. Since we're at it, I should tell you that I never denied my Jewishness; I couldn't have, even if I had wanted to. I didn't turn religious or something, but I did tell them, at the very first community meeting, about my conviction that religion was the factor which played the most important part in preserving the Jewish identity throughout the entire history of the Jewish people. I am the first to admit this. And I told them that, as president, I would do everything within my power to support the religious life. And this is what I really tried to do.
Interviewee: Éva Deutsch
Title: Éva Deutsch in Marosvasarhely
Place and Date: Targu Mures, Romania - 2002
This picture of me was taken in Marosvasarhely on 29th May 2002. That year the commemoration of the deportations was organized a bit later, not at the beginning of the month.
It's the custom to light six candles for the six million Jews who perished on this special day, and each year the candles are lit by different people who survived the deportations. In this picture I'm lighting one of them as a Holocaust survivor. Not everybody wears a shawl in the synagogue. I had my shawl in my purse, and I was invited to light one of the candles. I didn't take my purse with me, I left it in the seat, and since I didn't put the shawl on previously, I got there without the shawl on. The picture was taken by my husband Gyula Deutsch in the synagogue.
Every year different people are invited to light the candles. We, those who survived the disaster, are elderly now and if there are no more six new people to light the candles, it starts over. It's not a pleasant feeling to light the candles because memories of those horrors become more vivid than ever. It's not a good feeling at all since my parents perished in the Holocaust, and even my brother, although he didn't die in Auschwitz, he was a victim of that era. But we have the power of will and the will to live, and that's what kept us, who came back alive, and helped us pull it through. People are strong and can't imagine how much they can take.
My husband and me got closer to the Jewish community after 1990. Gyula had more time and went to the office of the community more often. He died in spring 2003.
Jewishness is present in one's life, such that one is born into it: it must be respected and one must stick with it. There were very hard times, which generated lots of suffering because one was born a Jew, but then fortunately one could survive, and you have to consider and accept as natural what had happened. I never judge people by their religion, I treat them equally.
I don't have any great plans anymore. My wish is to stay healthy, to be able to provide for myself and to carry out my daily activities. I have very good friends and acquaintances, whom I still get together and keep in touch with. I still keep in touch with my former colleagues, friends and the friends of Gyula's whom we used to meet. We visit each other weekly, and we meet either at their place, or at our's. Since I've been left by myself they all became extremely thoughtful and helpful, so I can discuss my problems with them, and they even give me advice. My daughters call me on the phone very often, so we can tell each other things. They are insisting on me visiting them and staying longer. I've promised them I will go, but I haven't figured out when yet.