Hans Otto Roth Collection at Black Church Archives Brașov
The Hans Otto Roth Collection includes documents gathered in the period 1919–1951 by the creator of the collection in order to illustrate his activity as a political leader and journalist of the Transylvanian Saxons who opposed both the pre-communist extreme right movements and regimes and the communist regime.
Brașov Curtea Honterus 2, Romania
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Name of collection
- Hans Otto Roth Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
The Hans Otto Roth Collection was created between 1919 and 1951, when its creator was one of the most important political leaders and journalists of the German minority in Romania. The documents which make up this collection were collected and organised according to the priorities of Hans Otto Roth’s political and journalistic activity. The documents are organised along two principles: chronological and thematic. From a thematic point of view, the documents are structured according to Roth’s most significant actions, such as his struggle against the takeover of the denominational schools of the Evangelical Church of Augustan Confession of Romania by the German Ethnic Group (an organisation controlled by the local Nazi movement), or his opposition in 1945–1948 to the implementation of abusive legislation concerning the German minority in Romania. It is interesting to note that the Roth Collection includes numerous duplicates of documents. This suggests that its creator had a double purpose in his mind: on the one hand, to bring his opposition to certain abusive measures to the attention of as many decision makers as possible, and, on the other hand, to preserve at least some copies of documents recording his actions.
The chronological limits of the documents in the Roth Collection reflect the period of his public activity. The year 1919 marks the beginning of Roth’s activity as deputy in the Romanian Parliament representing the German minority. The last year of Roth’s public activity may be considered to be 1951, because in 1952 he was arrested by Securitate. It is not known how the Hans Otto Roth Collection was saved after his arrest and imprisonment or how it became part of the Archives of the Honterus Parish Community, today known as the Black Church Archives and Library after the popular name of this historical parish church. The fact that Roth had several residences in different cities (Brașov, Sibiu, and Bucharest) accounts for the failure of the Securitate to confiscate all his documents. While those found at his work residence in Bucharest were seized by the secret police on the occasion of his arrest, the others could be at least partially preserved. According to Thomas Șindilariu, one of Roth’s acquaintances must have taken these documents and deposited them in a location owned by the Evangelical Church of Augustan Confession of Romania. However, there is no historical evidence regarding what happened to the Roth Collection between his arrest in 1952 and its official registration in 1962 in the recently established Archives of the Honterus Community. This institution was organised in accordance with the law of 1957 that allowed the creation of denominational archives. In 1958, the documents in the possession of the Honterus Parish Community were taken over by the Archives of the Community, and administered under the direct supervision of Gustav Markus, a former owner of the local Corvinus Publishing House and a person very familiar with the cultural heritage of the Transylvanian Saxons. Markus played a crucial role in preserving Roth’s documents and including them among the records of the newly established denominational archives. The Hans Otto Roth Collection was registered and archived in 1962, which meant that from this year onwards the collection was officially in the possession of this institution. The preservation of this collection represents an example of a silent but resolute resistance to the communist regime, which involved risks, as its creator Hans Otto Roth was perceived as an enemy of the regime. The Roth Collection remained in the possession of the denominational archives even after 1971, when the communist authorities issued Decree 472 regulating the transfer of church archives of historical value to the State Archives.
According to this decree, only documents concerning the current activity of the church were to remain in the possession of the denominational archives (Şindilariu 2005, 50–52). Thus, in 1974, after losing a large number of important historical documents, the Archives of the Honterus Community became an institution dedicated to serving the administrative activity of the local parish of the Evangelical Church. The Hans Otto Roth Collection had not been nationalised by the communist authorities, partly because of the ignorance of the employees of the State Archives in charge of selecting the collections to be transferred, and partly because Roth’s position as general curator of the Evangelical Church between 1932 and 1944 could have justified the keeping of his documents in the Archives of the Honterus Community. Since 1989, several Romanian and German scholars have carried out research in this collection, and in 2003 Klaus Popa edited a volume of documents concerning Hans Otto Roth’s activity between 1919 and 1951 on the basis of the records found in the custody of the Archives of the Honterus Community, also known as the Black Church Archives and Library (Popa 2003).
Description of content
The Hans Otto Roth Collection includes four boxes of handwritten or printed documents, which reflect the activity of its creator as a political leader and journalist of the German community in Romania. Most of the documents are authored by Hans Otto Roth himself and represent memoranda sent to the Romanian state authorities in order to draw their attention to various abuses against the German minority, correspondence with personalities of the time, articles for German-language newspapers in Romania, reports written as general curator of the Evangelical Church of Augustan Confession of Romania, and excerpts from the press.
These documents deal with very diverse topics: the Nazification of the German community in Romania and the opposition to the increased influence of Nazi ideas and organisations on the Romanian Germans; the deportation of Germans from Romania to the USSR in 1945; the nationalisations which affected the Romanian Germans in the period 1945–1948; and the internal struggles within the Evangelical Church for the election of a new bishop in 1945.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 100-499
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 100-499
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
- Șindilariu, Thomas
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
- Popa, Klaus, ed. 2003. Die Rumäniendeutschen zwischen Demokratie und Diktatur: Der politische Nachlass von Hans Otto Roth, 1919–1951. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag.
Author(s) of this page
- Petrescu, Cristina
- Pintilescu, Corneliu
Arhiva şi Biblioteca Bisericii Negre (Black Church Archives and Library), Hans Otto Roth collection, IV F 247, dossier no. 237.
Arhiva şi Biblioteca Bisericii Negre. 2016. “Archiv & Bibliothek der Honterusgemeinde. Institution. Projekt.” Accessed December 12. http://www.honterus-archiv.ro/institution/projekt/.
Arhiva şi Biblioteca Bisericii Negre. 2016. “Archiv & Bibliothek der Honterusgemeinde. Institution. Kooperationen.” Accessed December 12. http://www.honterus-archiv.ro/institution/kooperationen/#c9.
Baier, Hannelore. 1996. “Arestarea politicianului Hans Otto Roth în 1952” (The arrest of the politician Hans Otto Roth in 1952). Anuarul Institutul de Cercetări Socio-Umane Sibiu 3: 97–105.
Frühmesser, Thomas. 2013. Hans Otto Roth: Biographie eines rumäniendeutschen Politikers (1890–1953). Köln: Böhlau.
Kroner, Michael. 2016. “Roth, Hans Otto.” In Ostdeutschen Biographie (Kulturportal West-Ost). Accessed December 14. http://kulturportal-west-ost.eu/biographien/roth-hans-otto-2
Myss, Walter. 1993. Lexikon der Siebenbürger Sachsen: Geschichte, Kultur, Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft, Lebensraum Siebenbürgen. Thaur bei Innsbruck: Wort und Welt Verlag.
Popa, Klaus. 2003. “Beschreibung des Nachlasses.” In Die Rumäniendeutschen zwischen Demokratie und Diktatur. Der politische Nachlass von Hans Otto Roth 1919–1951, edited by Klaus Popa, 10–15. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag.
Şindilariu, Thomas. 2005. “Kriegsverluste, Wiederaufbau und Enteignung. Zur Archivgeschichte der Honterusgemeinde in Kronstadt ab 1944.” Zeitschrift für Siebenbürgische Landeskunde 28, 1: 40–56.
Weber, Annemarie and Hannelore Baier, eds. 2015. Quellen zu den Deutschen in Rumänien 1944–1953: Eine Sammlung. Köln: Böhlau.
Șindilariu, Thomas , interview by Pintilescu, Corneliu, November 29, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection