MUDr. Ján Roda

* 1952

  • "In high school, we already talked a lot about politics. I remember one scene with a teacher in which we discussed the Russian occupation. There was a certain scenario of what we were supposed to say. The teacher asked one of my classmates what kind of help it was and suggested that it was international/internationalist, but he said interventionist, so the teacher kicked him out of the class. It was clearly a charade; the teachers didn't believe it, and we didn't believe it either."

  • "I remember the elections - how we were pressured to vote because it was compulsory. I put my ballot paper in my pouch and left with it. I told my father, and he was terribly scared. So I had to promise him that I would destroy it immediately. I kept them in my dorm (dormitory). He knew that if anyone learned about it, they might kick me out of medical school. He wasn't afraid of that because he was young and thought nothing would happen to him."

  • "All he said was that when he finished medical school, just before the college closed, it saved his life. At the beginning of the war, they didn't take Jewish doctors to the concentration camps because they needed them. They only took him to the labour camp in Sered, where the conditions were quite human. They were merely working there, and apparently, there was no great abuse of people. Well, during the uprising, the camp was dismantled, and my father went to join the partisans. He said that he probably wouldn't have survived if he hadn't been a doctor. That was passed on to me as well. He always pushed me to do my exams on time. That was his experience."

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    New York City, 03.12.2023

    duration: 01:39:23
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
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A Jewish doctor, who carried his trauma to the US

Ján Roda was born on 14 December 1952 in Žilina, his parents were also from Zilina. They were of Jewish origin, and both survived the holocaust during World War II. His paternal grandparents perished during the holocaust, and he didn’t know them. The whole family, especially his parents, were severely impacted by this. His father, Juraj Roda, was a physician, and his mother, Marion Pearl, was a housewife. Both parents came from rich Jewish families; they were secular and only attended the synagogue during big religious holidays. Jan’s father studied medicine at the Charles University in Prague; his job as a medical doctor saved his life during the Second World War because he was needed by the regime of the Slovak Republic. As a physician, he participated in the Slovak National Uprising; after the war, he joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. His son understood the lack of freedom of the communist regime already at the grammar school. He knew his parents didn’t talk about certain things at home. They were afraid of the regime’s repressions because his father was investigated at the beginning as a Jewish physician during the show trials with the enemies of the regime. After the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops in 1968, he however didn’t consider a public protest. With his father, a communist, he argued often about the nature of the regime at home. He lived through normalisation at the university in Prague, where he studied hygiene. He didn’t participate in the activities of the dissent but was active in the local Jewish community. After completing his studies in medicine, he started to work as a hygienist in Rimavska Sobota. He wanted to work as a psychiatrist, which he was already interested in at the university. After 2 years after completing the compulsory military service, he completed the postgraduate medical certification in psychology. Shortly afterwards, he decided to emigrate to the US, where he, after completing further education and training, started to work as a psychologist and psychoanalyst.