Janos Gottlieb

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This is me [Janos Gottlieb]. The photo was taken recently.

What do I consider myself? The question arises also because I live in a mixed marriage. Well, first of all I consider myself being a Jew, because both my father and my mother were Jewish; but it's not enough. My father was atheist, and I'm atheist too. So I don't feel being Jewish because of religion, to be more precise. I'm convinced that my love for learning comes from my Jewish origins. This is a good feature of Jews. So my intellectual abilities for the most are due to my being a Jew. For there are a lot of intelligent people among Jews. It's a statistical fact that there are more than among other nations. Well, that's it. How's that that there are so many Jews who won the Nobel-prize, and not only? Shortly, my intellectual attitude, which I very much like, I inherited it as a Jew. And it's very important to me. Did I tell you that I still enjoy learning in order to know more and more? Though you might ask me how this could be useful to me at this age. Secondly, I had to avow myself to be Hungarian. So first of all I'm Jewish, secondly I am Hungarian. Why do I have to consider myself Hungarian? Because that's how my father raised me. This is it, Hungarian is my mother tongue, my basic education is Hungarian. In school those few years of primary school didn't ensure me a Romanian education. In turn, what I had acquired in high school, then at the university, it was a Hungarian education. That's it, no one can change it. I will tell you that when they offered these Hungarian certificates, I applied for it.

However, I have to confess that I feel very good among Romanians. And if I can do anything good for the Romanian state and for the Romanian community, I do it. Well, I'm living for more than fifty years in Iasi. I have so many former students in every corner of this country. Why did I do this? I transmitted what I could. Not only to Romanians, because I had a few Hungarian students too, but mainly to Romanians. My wife is Romanian. I had a friend, I always used to say he was my best friend; unfortunately he died one year ago. We understood each other alike two brothers. He was Romanian. But I have a lot of Hungarian friends: Tibor Toro in Temesvar, Zoltan Gabos in Kolozsvar; some of my former colleagues are also good friends of mine. So I like people of no matter what nationality, with whom I can get along. Since I had been living in Iasi, I'm Jewish, Hungarian and Romanian too. In this order. I also wrote this down. I feel good, there isn't any problem.

Sometimes I attend the Jewish community. However, I don't do this for religious reasons, this has a totally different background. I go there to meet other Jews, to say so. The point is unity, the fact of being together. For example they always invite me and my wife for Seder night; why not to go, so we go to celebrate Seder night within the community. We go on such occasions. Or at Chanukkah. They invite us for Chanukkah as well, and we go, no problem. I have a cap too, a kippah. Of course we go, because we want to be with them. Not because I would be religious, but I want to be together with them. That's my way of being in contact with the community. I will go again there in a few days, because I don't have a new calendar yet. I buy a Jewish calendar every year, just to have one.

Interview details

Interviewee: Janos Gottlieb
Emoke Major
Month of interview:
Year of interview:
Iaşi , Romania


Janos Gottlieb
Year of birth:
City of birth:
Baia Mare
Country name at time of birth:
Romania (1920-1945)
after WW II:
University professor

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