From the Ghetto to Auschwitz and Back – Transgenerational Trauma: The Case Study of an Oradea Jewish Family that Survived the Holocaust and of their Descendants

From the Ghetto to Auschwitz and Back – Transgenerational Trauma

The Case Study of an Oradea Jewish Family that Survived the Holocaust and of their Descendants




Oradea, Holocaust, Jews, Transgenerational Trauma, Survivors


A city in present-day Romania with a multicultural, multiethnic and multiconfessional history, Oradea (Nagyvarad, Grosswardein, Varadino, Magnum Varadinum) has had from its very foundation an entirely distinct geopolitical reality, its century-long existence being marked by a wide variety and continuous differentiation, which penetrate deeply into every aspect of everyday community life. The Jewish community, actively present since the 18th century, carved out a place for itself and represented a hub of Jewish emancipation in the episcopal city, which was often a battleground for the hegemonic local forces, the reformed Transylvanian ones, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. After a long and relatively peaceful period of Romanian rule (1918–1940), following the Second World War the population of Oradea was shaken by racial laws issued first by the Romanian authority and afterwards by the Horthyst occupying forces (1940–1944) in Northern Transylvania, which concentrated Jews for deportation in the second biggest ghetto in Eastern Europe after Budapest. The demography of Oradea showed the loss of one third of its residents. Out of nearly 30,000 inhabitants, barely 2000 survivors returned, and the transgenerational trauma sent its echoes through time to the fourth generation, that of today’s teenagers. Their grandparents and great-grandparents, returned from deportation, had to go through another trauma and persecution, with the communists’ coming to power in 1948 and soon afterwards, that of the ‚red antisemitism’. The ways this trauma passed down across generations and deepened during communist totalitarianism, its masks during the postcommunit period, as well as the means of limiting and combating it are the ramifications of the topic which was examined not only theoretically, but by concrete examples of original case studies based on face-to-face interviews and microhistorical accounts received from the descendants of concentration camp suvivors. To these we shall add several examples from post Shoah memoirs of Oradea survivors and their descendants.

Author Biography

Raluca Lazarovici-Vereș, Faculty of History and Philosphy, Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania

Graduate of the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures of Università degli Studi di Padova (Italy) in 2004, with Magna cum Laudae, she completed specialisation courses in  European  Studies  at  Universiteit van Amsterdam and in International Law at Sorbonne (Paris), earned a Master’s degree in The Didactics of Italian Language at Univ. “Ca Foscari” in Venice and a PhD in Philology / Romance Languages at Università degli Studi di Torino (2009). Following the return to Romania, she founded in Oradea, in 2013, together with her husband, a classicist, the Ratio et Revelatio Publishing House, for which she translates, coordinates the Literature, the Philology and the History series, edits volumes, is an author and an independent researcher. In 2023 she defended the PhD thesis in History at Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca. She taught at different Italian and Romanian universities. Areas of interest and research: Romanian literature during communism, the literature of Romanian exile and emigration, the history of the Jews, the Holocaust, the history of Italy and of the Italian diaspora, the history of minorities in Romania, the didactics of foreign languages.