Alois Roth 1894 - 1945
Born 8.12.1894 in Obergünzburg
Died 22.3.1945 in Mauthausen
Alois (Aloisius) Roth, born on 8 December 1894 in Obergünzburg, came from a long-established farming and innkeeping family. Alois Roth, the fourth child, grew up with his six siblings in the centre of Obergünzburg. He attended primary school from 1901 to 1908. A that time Obergünzburg was a small, rural, market village with around 1,700 inhabitants in the Allgäu region of Bavaria.
Until 1921 Alois Roth lived in his parents’ home on the market square; various addresses in Obergünzburg are recorded after this. Roth moved away from and then returned to Obergünzburg four times. From about the beginning of 1940 until his deportation to Auschwitz concentration camp on 15 February 1944 – from there he was deported on 26 January 1945 to Groß-Rosen concentration camp and on 15 February 1945 to Mauthausen concentration camp – witnesses remember him living in a disused railway carriage. For a long time already this carriage had been jacked up at the eastern edge of Obergünzburg, right by a small stream. ‘There was a table and some old chairs in the railway carriage, as well as a stove with lots of wood’, reported to a witness.
This witness also remembers that her father (she herself was about nine of ten years old at the time) often said: ‘We’re off to see Alois [Roth]. He was talkative, a jocular person who had a lot to say. He knew a lot and liked to talk. He was a drinker and always had a beer to hand; when you came over he took out a crate of beer from under a berth. Then the conversation always got going.’ Another witness also went to visit Mr. Roth with his father: ‘We’ll go and see Lois [Alois Roth], he has something to say. We stayed with him for a while because he was so entertaining. We just liked it.’
Alongside his ‘living space’ Alois Roth received a clothing ration book, and otherwise provided for himself through menial and casual work, food donations and through small ‘acquisitions’ and through ‘errands’ for third parties. During the 1930s, Roth was frequently held in the local lock-up for a few days to several weeks for theft, fraud, not paying for meals and ‘disorderly conduct’. At least two longer jail sentences of several months for theft and fraud are also known about.
Another witness reported that, when he was 13 or 14 years old, Roth approached him ‘in a brown suit, a black floppy hat on his head. That was how he always appeared on Sundays at church time. Back then he spent a lot of time in the ‘Grüner Baum’ [local bar], was at ‘home’ there so to speak. No one spoke of him with respect.’ Another witness also remembers Alois Roth well; ‘My mother went to school with Alois Roth, therefore he came round to us on the farm pretty often. Sometimes he came specially to see my mother and said: “Marie, don’t you have anything for me?” Sometimes he would take a couple of eggs from the chicken coop in passing and then say, “Thank you very much, Marie”. Mostly he didn’t work; we let him get on with it, he wasn’t hurting anyone. Roth wasn’t bad, was harmless, wasn’t political.’ But, continued the witness; ‘Everyone had to work back then. Roth didn’t have regular work.’
Some people in the village refused to put up with it any longer. In 1944 one of the witnesses was involved in agricultural work at Günzach station, near to Obergünzburg. Between shifts he went to eat at the station café. The café also served as the waiting room for travellers. During the meal a policeman came into the waiting room with Roth; the witness heard him say to the then barkeeper, Kämmerle: ‘Give me another beer. We won’t see each other again, they’re taking me away.’ Alois Roth died on 23 March 1945 at 5.25am in the infirmary camp at Mauthausen concentration camp.
International Tracing Service Bad Arolsen, prisoner index card for Mauthausen concentration camp, 126.96.36.199/1725234/ITS Digital Archive.
International Tracing Service Bad Arolsen, death register for Mauthausen concentration camp, 188.8.131.52/1290232/ITS Digital Archive.
Gemeindearchiv Obergünzburg, Bestand Arbeitsgemeinschaft Lokalgeschichte [Local history working group], Zeitzeugenprotokolle [witness statements] 3.5.2006/17.1.2007/27.5.2014/9.7.2014.
Staatsarchiv Augsburg, Amtsgericht Obergünzburg [Obergünzburg local court], Gefängnisbuch A [Prison book A].
Translation into English: Joanna White