Victor Rona

Born December 26, 1928 - Satu-Mare, Rumania

Victor was born on December 26, 1928 in Satu-Mare, where he lived with his parents and his older brother Erwin. His father, Alexander Samuel Rona, had attended university in Budapest, and he was a professor in the State Commercial College in Satu-Mare. His mother, Magdalena (Balkany), was active in Jewish communal activities.

Jews comprised 20 percent of the population of Satu-Mare. They took an active role in the development of commerce and industry in the city, and were found in almost all professions.

When Hungary annexed this part of Rumania in 1940, it passed antisemitic measures barring Jews from various professions. Victor's father lost his job, but he became director of the Jewish High School, which was founded in 1941. Life for the Jews of Hungary became extremely difficult, but few felt that their lives were in danger.

As a high school student, Victor excelled in literature, music and sports. He won a medal in a fencing competition against a non-Jewish team, despite the prevailing antisemitic attitude of the period. He took piano lessons, and he spent hours working on his stamp collection. He was also active in several Jewish youth organizations, where he was well liked.

In March 1944, Germany invaded Hungary. Two months later, the Jews of Satu-Mare were suddenly forced by the Germans to live in a sealed-off ghetto. Deportations to death camps began almost immediately. Victor and his family were deported on May 30, 1944.

Strong and healthy, fifteen year-old Victor was chosen for forced labor instead of immediate death. From June 1944 until April 1945, he was sent to four different slave labor camps in Germany. Somehow he survived the horrors and terrible deprivations of the camps. He was liberated in April 1945.

Five days later, he died of a bayonet wound in his left arm that he had received in a labor camp two weeks earlier. He received no medical help.

Victor was sixteen years old when he died.

In This Section

Buy Tickets Contact Us Simon Wiesenthal Center

Become a Member Volunteer Calendar

Sign up for E-News