Maria Luise Roth-Höppner

* 1930

  • "... we visited our father a few times in the Fundulea labour camp, but not often. I think we first visited him in November. December-January.... And when we went back in March, we were told they weren't there any longer, that the camp had been closed down, and that they had been transferred to Ghencea. Every time we went to see him, the prison visits were held outside. When we got to Ghencea, father was outside. He was so weak, he was only left with his big nose. They were working in the field. In winter?! Outside in the field?! They moved them there because they didn't have anything better to do, they wanted to torture them. I remember, once we got off the train, there was a group of prisoners who was just arriving. My father wasn't among them, he had stayed back 'home', so to speak, to wait for us, but the other ones were walking in line, just the way you see in films about Siberia, crossing over the railway tracks to the field, there. What were they supposed to do? They probably had to dig ice or something like that.... they had wrapped their feet and everything, so that it would be more protected. And there were also a lot of elderly people... Anyway, every time we visited him, my father was in a very good mood, and he kept telling the guard: 'They're the best children you could ever imagine'! And he spoke only of politics. The guard had no idea what he was talking about. He kept asking: 'How about uncle Konrad, how is he?' We knew, of course, that Konrad Adenauer was the chancellor of Germany. And we also knew that, if he was asking about a Konrad, he meant him, we knew our father, plus there was no Konrad in our family."

  • "We stayed in Codlea for a long time. I don't know about the others, when exactly they were moved to Codlea, but they took us all from Codlea to face trial. We stayed there also after the trial.... (sighs) not exactly a year, but almost a year. I don't know why they held us in Codlea so long. But I didn't mind because my brother was there as well. Of course we couldn't stay together, but we communicated all the time. I remembered one instance, with the guards. There was this very disgusting individual, an officer on duty, who used to come... perhaps you've heard from others as well about how they used to come for the morning call, the evening call, with these wood mallets, knocking on the bars. There was also a nice one, he was a sergeant. And his superior, the officer of duty, was the most disgusting. And he was afraid of his superior. But he also used to leave... after the call, he would disappear somewhere, I don't know exactly where. And for Christmas, the 'Little One', how he used to call him, came with the hammer. The officer on duty was standing at the door. He had this large wood mallet, he would hit the bars, as I told you, and then under the beds... and the 'Little One', when he knocked on the bed, he threw a little fir branch with his other hand. On Christmas Eve! If the other guy had seen him, I really don't know what would have happened to him."

  • "And in Oradea there was another regime, with the reeducation. I don't mean reeducation in the sense of that in Piteşti. Heaven forbid! It was a more softer reeducation. First of all, they would bring us newspapers. I've never read anything in my whole life the way I used to read those newspapers: from the first to the last page. I even read the ads because I wanted to know what was happening outside, I had no clue what was going on in the world. You wanted to know everything, even about this or the guy who died, what changes were going on, that they were giving I don't know what... well, everything that you could read in those newspapers, things you don't even pay attention to nowadays. But these were the first newspapers after five whole years! Of course, there were no other newspapers except for the communist ones. In Arad, they started giving us various books. Books written by Romanian contemporary authors, but also Russian writers."

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    Sibiu, Romania, 09.12.2009

    duration: 02:37:43
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Mister, I don’t like you and I don’t like the communists!

Maria Luise Roth-Höppner
Maria Luise Roth-Höppner
photo: Arhiva foto a Memorialului Victimelor Comunismului şi al Rezistenţei - captură din "Memorialul Durerii" (realizator Lucia Hossu-Longin) - episod dedicat lotului "Biserica Neagră"

She was born on June 24, 1930, in Sibiu, in the family of a politician by the name of Hans Otto Roth, representative of the Transylvanian Saxons in the Parliament of Romania in the inter-war period, after the unification of Transylvania with Romania on December 1,1918.  As a Member of Parliament, first in the Chamber of Deputies, and then in the Senate, in Bucharest, he focused his attention on the integration of the German minority in Romania. Taking a stand against German National Socialism, he protested in 1933 to chancellor Adolf Hitler  against the persecution of Jews. From 1935 until 1948, he worked as a lawyer in Bucharest and as an editor for the Siebenbürgisch-Deutsches Tageblatt (German Newspaper of Transylvania), the most important German publication in South-East Europe. After the Soviet occupation of Romania by the Red Army in 1944, along with Rudolf Brandsch, he tried to draw up a statute on the rights of the German minority. In 1948, Hans Otto Roth was arrested, only to be released after 6 months. On April 15, 1952, he was arrested again, receiving an administrative sentence of 24 months. The grounds for his imprisonment were mentioned in his detention file: ‘former deputy and senator’. He died on April 1, 1953 in Ghencea camp. Maria Luise attended school in Sibiu, in German language. After the Second World War, after the nationalization of the educational system, she had to take the Baccalaureate exam in Romanian. She pursued a degree at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics in Bucharest (between 1948 and 1952), and, in 1972, received her PhD in Physics in Hamburg. During college, she was part of the national shooting team for women, but was excluded in 1952, following her father’s arrest. After graduating from university, Maria Luise Roth took a position as a teaching assistant at the Physics Department of the Forest Institute in Braşov. In 1958, Herbert Roth, the brother of Maria Luise, received a letter from West Germany written by a former Romanian political detainee of German nationality, Fritz Theil. Maria Luise Roth thought the letter was of interest for those who had relatives living in West Germany, and decided to show it to the senior pastor of the Black Church in Braşov, Dr. Konrad Möckel, who made a copy of the letter. The copy of the letter was found by the Securitate upon Dr. Möckel’s arrest, and, as a result, Herbert Roth was arrested on July 7, 1958, while his sister was taken into custody on July 14. Following the trial from November 1958, Maria Luise Roth was sentenced to 6 years in a correctional prison, as was the case of her brother. After having been held in custody for several months at the Securitate headquarters in Braşov, Maria Luise Roth was transferred to Codlea prison. She was also detained in Miercurea Ciuc, Gai (Arad) and Oradea prison, from where she was released on June 24, 1964. After her release, despite all efforts, Maria Luise didn’t manage to find any suitable employment. In 1969, Maria Luise Roth emigrated to Germany, along with her brother and mother, where she received her PhD and became a researcher. In 1947, she married Wolfgang Höppner. After 1990, Maria Luise Roth Höppner moved to Sibiu, where she is still living.