Janos Gottlieb and Agnes Hirsch

  • Photo taken in:
    Baia Mare
    Year when photo was taken:
    Country name at time of photo:
    Romania (1920-1945)
    Country name today:
    Name of the photographer / studio:
    Laszlo Gottlieb

This is Janos Gottlieb and Agnes Hirsch. I’m five years old, and I’m with Agi Hirsch, a girl from Marosvasarhely, who was spending her holidays in Nagybanya, and we spent the summer together. She came to visit a relative, but she visited us as well. We had a good apartment, it wasn’t ours, but the house was surrounded by a nice garden, and my father [Laszlo Gottlieb] took the photo there. My father was a great photographer, he even had his own studio at home.

I was born in 1929 in Nagybanya. From the age of three I lived at my paternal grandparents. My grandparents lived in a village somewhere near Nagybanya for a while, I was with them there too, then in Nagybanya. But when I was five years old, my father took me with him, he rented a quite nice apartment, in a nice part, let's say, of Nagybanya, in a villa. The owner was a woman from Kolozsvar, a widow, her family name was Herczeg. The rent was quite high, but it was in the outskirts, the air was fine there. My father always feared that I got tuberculosis or something like that. This was when I was five. We had somebody who did the housekeeping; my father had a good salary, in those times this didn't mean a problem. Later it was my step-mother who did the housekeeping. Well, it wasn't her who actually worked, but she gave out the tasks for everybody. It wasn't her who did the cooking, we had a cook. This wasn't a problem.

My sole problem during my childhood was that I was orphan. Yet I didn't feel so motherless, because they behaved so nicely with me. My father was not only a daddy, but a mom too. He looked after me in a very kind manner, not to speak about his parents, especially about my grandmother. Later my second mother, whom I loved a lot, took care of me very gently too. I called her by her name, Lili. I had a very beautiful childhood. The environment and the people were all very nice.

God knows how it worked back then, but I did have all kind of friends: Jews - but just a few -, Hungarians, Romanians. We got along well with everybody, we mixed with everybody; nationality or religious affiliation didn't mean a problem. Nationality and religion was everyone's own business. Especially after I learnt Romanian at the age of six, being in contact with Romanian children didn't have any obstacles. I was very distressed when I saw they were instigating people of different nationality against each other - for this is the truth. I experienced incitement in my childhood already. There were Hungarians, who were against Romanians, and Romanians, who didn't like Hungarians. I don't know why, because one can not be against one nation. You can be against a person, yes, but not against a nation. That's it. And anti-Semitism started to be present in the 1940s, I was already eleven years old. I had Hungarian friends, I even had friends who came to Nagybanya from Hungary, when North-Transylvania belonged to Hungary, and I got along well with them too, there wasn't any problem. I couldn't say they were anti-Semite. However, there were people who always talked badly of Jews.

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

Other Person

Agnes Hirsch
Decade of birth:
City of birth:
Targu Mures
Country name at time of birth:
Romania (1920-1945)

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