Inherited Words: A Testimony of Resilience
There were many times when I felt an irresistible desire to stop, and those were moments that I had to really choose between fighting for life or not. My other option was to continue walking. It seems that struggling for the yet unlived part of my life was stronger. I didn’t stop.
In 1940, as a result of the Second Vienna Award, Hungary annexed Gherla and the surrounding region of Northern Transylvania, where Zoltan Roth lived with his family. As Jews, the Roth family immediately felt the effects of the Hungarian government’s racial laws that turned them into second-class citizens overnight.
In May 1942, Zoltán was conscripted into the Jewish labor service of the Hungarian army. He endured harsh labor, constant antisemitism, and endless forced marches across Eastern Europe. Following his hospitalization for severe frostbite, he returned home to his family in Gherla. However, when German troops entered Hungary in March 1944, Zoltán and his family became the target of anti-Jewish legislation, ghettoization, and subsequent deportation to Auschwitz, Zoltán managed to survive the extermination camp, the death marches, and incarceration in several other concentration camps until his liberation from Bergen-Belsen in April 1945.
Inherited Words is Zoltán Roth’s testimony, entrusted to his family for safekeeping and publication. It is the story of a man who repeatedly looked death in the eye and managed to overcome some of the worst atrocities before finally returning home to Gherla. It is a true testament to his resilience and determination to survive. .