Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Edith Roth - March 28, 1982

Life Before the War

Um, okay, fine, let me ask you some questions first about before the war in Uzhgorod if you remember. How large was your family?

Five children. Four girls and a boy, little boy.

And were you the youngest?

No, I'm the third???, I'm the second. I'm the second.

And um, what did your father do?

Could you tell...

Your father's occupation?

Okay, my father owned uh, he uh, because my father was a businessman and he also owned the city's bath, mikveh.

Oh um, you were a religious family then?

Not really, not that orthodox, but we were religious family.

Did you uh, keep a kosher home?

Yes, we keep a kosher home.

And um, go to services and Shabbos?

Go to services and Shabbos, yeah.

What was a Shabbos like at home, do you remember?

We always kept Shabbos. Friday night, father always brought home men to dinner who were just standing around, you know, bokhurim never an answer to mother how many. He always just brought-they always had a lot to eat, so it wasn't like intr...you know, intrusion from him. Father was uh, forty-three years old. He lived uh, through the-well he was shot the day before we were freed. And uh, he uh, he, he saw what was coming, okay. We had a secret radio in the basement that he built and um, he got all the news, he knew what was going on. Someone said he wanted to kill us in the house before the Germans came to the house and the rabbi from across the street told him, he said uh, ???, okay.

Which means?

Means a Jew doesn't do this. And um, my father said, well to him that uh, "But rabbi, we have to fight taking us."

Was this in 1944?


Now uh, just a couple questions first about the, the town, do you remember how many, how many shuls there were?

A lot, only on our street where we lived, there was about four or five. We had the most beautiful shul downtown that was even in miniature. I even saw it in Israel, this place where we got it, this [shows SB a publication].

This comes from the Encyclopedia Judaica, sent from Israel.

Yeah. We had the most beautiful shul. We had a Hebrew school that-we had a Jewish school.

Was there a yeshiva there too?

We had a yeshiva.

Um, do you know approximately how large the Jewish community was in Uzhgorod?

Yeah, I think it's about, how much is it eighteen...

25,000 people?

25,000 people.

Uh, and you live, Uzhgorod was in Czechoslovakia near the Carpathian Mountains?

That was the most beautiful city because everybody else who said they came from Uzhgorod was someplace near it, okay. It was the most...

Did you live right in the city?

We did.

Do you remember was there ever any um, uh, Yiddish theatre?

Yes, there was.

Did your family go?


Do you remember, did you go, when you were small?

Uh, I don't remember at all. No. We saw the play, play uh, um, um, I can't remember now. But there were, there were Yiddish, there were Yiddish plays.

Did they uh, were they traveling through or were they staying there in one place?

Some of them traveled through and we had a small group that stayed there.

Were there also movie theaters and things like that in the city, you could go to the movies too?


Were they American movies?

Yes, we had a lot of American movies, a lot of Shirley Temples. And a lot of um, just-we had a lot of American, of course it was you know...


Subtitled, yeah.

Um, what about when you went to school, did you go to a Jewish school or was it...

No, because when my sister, my older sister and me, there was no Jewish school. We had, we went to Czech school. And Jewish school started with, and Hebrew school started with my, with my third sister. My parents already enrolled the other three children to Jewish schools.

So they went to Jewish schools?

They went to Jewish schools and Hebrew schools.

When you were in school, do you remember any anti-Semitism?

None. With the Czech people it was absolutely fantastic. The Jewish people kept stores closed on Shabbos and the Goyim, Gentile people kept their stores closed on Sunday. It was sort of, you know, they worked hand in hand, there was no...

So there was a respect, you think?

They were--yes.

Did you have any non-Jewish friends?

Yes, I did.

And did you bring them home or go to their house?

Yes, I did and so did father, father had friends, engineers and uh, he brought them home, even to Friday night dinner.

Do you remember if your father was...

As a matter of fact, I, it so happened that father was kept as a soldier for about four-when there was no Jew anymore as a soldier, and, um...

This was after 1938?


And he served in the-which army was it, Hungarian army?

It was already in the Hungarian army. And um, [pause] we thought we had really only good relationships, but not when the Hungarians came in, okay, when they took over, things were beginning to be real bad.

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