József Róth

József Róth (1913-2003)

Agronomist, former chairmain of the Jewish Community of Balassagyarmat. He was born on 21. July. 1913 in Deménd (today Demandice, Slovakia), died in Balassagyarmat on 19. July 2003.

He was born in the era of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy on 21. July, 1913, as son of Jenő Róth and Margit Pick in the village called Deménd, in the District of Ipolyság (Sahy), Hont County. His ancestors for several generations were land tenants, merchants trading with grain and cattle in the area. His grandfather Simon Róth (who was buried in the Jewish Cemetery of Ipolyság) leased the land of Aladár Huszár in Ipolybalog. His father, Jenő Róth was born in Kistompa (today Tupá, Slovakia) - or according to archive sources in the neighbouring Felsőszemeréd (today Horné Semerovce).  He was a soldier in World War I. He managed a farm in the estate of Count Soóky in Deménd (Demandice) and in Érsekvadkert, runned a pub and a store and he was also a municipal representative. Maternal  grandparents of József Róth lived in  Balassagyarmat on Kossuth street.  As a preschool child he witnessed the occupation of the city by the Romanian Army in the autumn of 1919 (recently in the building of the former kindergarten an elementary school is functioning on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky street) .


After finishing jewish elementary school in Balassagyarmat, he studied in the Balassi Grammar School, then he attended High School in Békéscsaba to the Hungarian Royal Governmental Agriculture High  School, predecessor of the recent János Harruckern Public Educational Institute, where he graduated in 1931.  During the high school years he resided at Ferenc Manheim's house, who was the principal teacher at the Congressional (Conservative) Israelite Elementary School in Békéscsaba. After graduation he started to farm in the estate of his father, he naturalized new agricultural methods, mechanized the farm (with american tractor, threshing-machine, milking-machine). He was one of the firsts who owned a car in Érsekvadkert (a Lancia).  He provided job, living to dozens.


In 1933 the Jewish Community of Vadkert (among them the Róth family) donated for building a Synagogue led by master builder István Réti.  There was an article in the jewish weekly newspaper "Szombati Értesítő (Saturday Bulletin)" of Balassagyarmat about the deposit of the cornerstone of the new church on 5. May, 1933.  Later, the building of the synagogue was expanded, and the two parts together forms the recent Community House.

He was called up for military first between  5. October 1936. and 20. September 1937.  In the army he served as a rifleman with the rank of chevron-corporal (in the Hungarian army chevron meant that the owner is a baccalaureate and their military service was one year shorter) and squad-leader.  Between 1938 and 1945 (with snatches) he served for 53 months first in the infantry, and then as a jewish military force laborer.  In 1940 as a "good patriot" he took part in the occupation of Northern Transsylvania, but later he became a stigmatized jewish forced laborer wearing a yellow armband. In February 1942 he was called up to forced labor to Hevesre, from there he was taken to the region of Kiev- Shostka (today Shostka, town in Northern Ukraine), and Nezhin (today Nizhyn, town in Northern  Ukraine by the river Ostor, along to the Kiev-Kursk railway, appr. 115 km from Kiev) to an operational area. (Below you can read his letter sent from Kiev - in Hungarian)


In June of 1943 he was temporarily dismounted but in April 1944 he was called up again to Jolsva to forced labor, thus he escaped from ghettoization and deportation to which his family falled prey.  He himself was captured by the Soviet Army in the Carpathians on 20. May 1944 and was taken to a POW camp to Stari Sambor (today Sambir, Ukraine).  He got home from there with a severe sickness (typhus fever). As he returned home he realized that all of his  property had been lost, he re-started his life alone. Finally, nobody else returned home from his family - his parents, grandmothers, his sister, Valika with her 5-year-old son Ivánka  died in Auschwitzban in June 1944, his brother-in -law, István Földes, former first lieutenant, land holder from Illéspuszta (Iliasov)  was executed by the gendarmes in the forest of Lillafüred (near to Miskolc)


He opened a variety store and practiced with farming with Miksa Reich and Gyula Nikolszburger (Nógrádi). He married in 1948 to Edit Goldstein from Ságújfalu who survived the hell of the death camp of Auschwitz and later the forced labor in Germany.  They had two daughters, Ágnes and Valéria.


In 1949 his hose and store was nationalized (today there is a café on the same spot). After that he was working in the Elizabeth Mill in Érsekvadkert as a clerk. Later as he was an agricultural expert when the co-operative  was formed in 1961 (its official name was Hungarian-Czechoslovakian Friendship Agricultural Co-operative) he was offered a job as chief agronomist and chief  stock-breeder until 1973,  when he retired. His colleagues known  him as a „modest, respectful, sympathetic, fair, very kind" person, who  completed his tasks precisely and efficiently.  We can say they liked him in Vadkert.

Memorial speach of József Róth on 1. September 1980.:

 Esteemed Ladies And Gentlemen!

My dear compatriots of Érsekvadkert!

I am deeply shocked standing in front of this monument.  I was moved by taking note that inhabitants of Érsekvadkert would like to commemorate to the lost  civilians of the village: soldiers who died in the fronts of the war, in the fights which were absolutely unwished by us, to the people who were deportated during the fascist hate and who never  being returned. This memorial is a touching memory of my childhood. It remembers to the fallen of World War I.  It's an uplifting feeling now, that the victims of World War II which caused much bigger and more severe loss will get a worthy commemoration. Many of us has dear, lost relatives. What does this touching ceremony is warn us?  We should never forget - not just today, never ever - the unhuman days, the bloodshed of World War II  and the victims. If we practice like this and raise our children to keep these sad memories , we will be worthy to our dead relatives who had to give their lives for a cause which was already lost.

My dear compatriots of Érsekvadkert!

I thank this village for this kind - and for me sad and uplifting - gesture  in the name of myself and my co-religionist, my faith commune.

God bless this village!

József Róth

He moved to Balassagyarmat in 1964 with his family. In 1979  he became the chairman of the diminishing Jewish Community of Balassagyarmat. His name is associated with the raising of the Holocaust Memorial in the Jewish Cemetery of Balassagyarmat, and with the organization of the yearly Holocaust ("martyr") commemoration.  From 1992 he became the president of the István Kertész Foundation which was founded for preserving the jewish heritage of Balassagyarmat.




Articles of Endre Szabó from the county newspaper, Nógrád Megyei Hírlap, on the occasion of his golden wedding (January 1998) and his 85th birthday (July 1998). 

He died in 2003 a few days before his 90th birthday.



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