I am Constantin I.  Năstase, teacher, a war veteran and a general in rank, brigade general. I was born on June 3rd 1915,   in the midst of the First World War, when my father went away to fight and left my mother with me in diapers, with two small children, a sister Zina, aged 5, and a brother aged 2. Moreover, there were two veterans, two freefolk, my grandfathers, called Costea Năstase and    Ghiță Năstase  , they were both descendants of the freefolk of old times.

I was born in Mioveni, in the former county of Muscel, currently, Arges county.

Well, here are several facts. My parents had seven children, I attended elementary school in Mioveni, there was a school with only one classroom and one teacher. Then in 1930, although my parents already had a son who was attending the Pedagogical College Carol I in Câmpulung, they sent me there as well. It was the last year I could go there. In September I passed the admittance exam, with scholarship, the school was covering 2 thirds of the fees. A solvent paid 9000 lei, a semi solvent paid 6000 lei and the scholarship holder paid only 3000 lei. Which was very good for us. I graduated the Pedagogical College, I had only great teachers, from whom I learned plenty of things that guided me through life. First of all, discipline, respect for the elderly, then that is where I learned how to graft , how to lop a tree, to plant it, and, well, the common decency one needs in life. After that, I graduated in 1938. After graduating the 8 grades, we had to pass an exam for the certification as a teacher which was held in a center in Pitesti for several such pedagogical institutions, there were several in the county, the pedagogical College for girls in Pitesti, Târgoviște, several colleges, and , anyway, I was well prepared and I passed the fourth in that examination center. This was a great joy for me and my father, since I no longer had a mother. She had died when I was in 5th grade. So, I graduated in 1938, In the fall, I was called to military service. I was assigned to the 19th Infantry Regiment in Caracal and I went through training  in the school in Ploiești. I graduated this military school with the rank of second Lieutenant. In fact, they were supposed to discharge us, but, on the contrary,we were mobilized and sent in the field to Basarabia, in  the county of Cahul. Over there, our regiment took up position, I was in charge with,  I was a plutoon commander in charge of anti-aircraft machine guns, we ensured the anti-aircraft guard.  And then there was the Ribbentrop Molotov  pact, that issued a term for the retreat of the troops and the population, but the second day we were taken by surprise by the cavalry on a hill and we had to retreat. We crossed the river Prut through Fălciu and we took up position on our side, on the Prut, where we did not stay long. We were sent to another area. Up until then we were guarding against the Russians and then against the Hungarians. We made camp and I spent 9 months on the whole on the area after graduating from military school. Well, anyways, my life s been more on the military side, I was mobilized for more than 1200 days, not adding the altogether 18 months spent on the area. I took part in the Odessa campaign. I was with the 19th Infantry Regiment, but I was assigned in the 6th campaign of the IVth Army. I was no longer with the Regiment, I was with the IVth Army. That was a disaster, heavy fighting, after the attacks that field was covered with corpses, with lifeless soldiers.

Anyway, through our efforts, we came closer to Odessa, after several more intense attacks, we made the Russians to capitualte, on the 16th of October, I think. We were sent back home, I was demobilized. You should know that thecampaigns in  Odessa, Stalingrad, the Don bend, were the  heaviest fights in WWII. Because so many sacrifices were made ther. On the 1st May 1942 I was mobilized again and sent away to Stalingrad with my Regiment. We embarked, if I were to describe what went on on that day, even the day before, but when we left for the area, this 19th Regimant had barracks close to the Carcal train station. people, women carrying children, men, old people crying. When the train pulled  there was so much grief. A tragic scene of last farewells. One goes off to war but does not know  whether one will come back. That s it. Any soldier leaving to war, didn t know if he ll ever come back. We got up on the train and there were carriages with horses and some train wagons for the personnel. I waited, I was wishful to see someone from my home. It was quite far from Mioveni to Caracal. And I saw no one. The stationmaster came and waved the train to leave, the conductor signaled us to go in the wagons, I squeezed near a window and oened it, looking for my father come to see me off. And he was not there. My father? Well, my father gave 4 sons to the war. 4 sons. So, one in Câmpulung, one in Pitesti, one….and I was in Caracal. Whom could my father see off? My mother was gone. He had other younger children at home. So I didn t blame him, on the contrary, I grieved for him, he gave 4 soldiers. Out of the 4, one died in the Tatra mountains, he was a teacher, one was wounded, with a brace in his lung, Ion was less badly wounded and I came back from war sick in the lungs.

In the trenches, where I spent so many months, a trench is like a zig zag ditch, approximately 1,5 m wide, where one stays, sleeps, eats, stops the enemy assaults. Severall times. It had been drizzling a cold rain for 5 days and we were in the trenches, us officers too, with the guns close at hand. Every day, every hour, someone died, of hunger perhaps, filth. Closing on the fall of 42, there was a rumour. We fought until we took up a position which was a big mistakes, since we camped in a field, we should have took up position on the Don river. That gave the Russians the opportunity when they counter attacked, to go unobstructed. The winter was, like minus 40 degrees Celsius. And a whitish transluscent  fog, made of ice crystals. One could not see beyond 2 meters. Meanwhile, the Russians prepared themselves, they summoned all their reserves from Leningrad, Moscow and the far East, because the Japanese had lost a city over there. And they came closer, crawling,  marching only during the night. And in this freezing cold and fog, the Russians were equipped with 3 500 canons, Katiușa. 12 divisions of soldiers in our vicinity, 3 tank units, 2 cavalry units, these were their forces that attacked us on the 19th of October. It was snowing. One moment. Since the winter was so cold and harsh, a part of the Russsian generals requested the delay of the attack. But the others would not. So they attacked us. At 7:20 in the morning, the trumpet called and the artillery started bombing us for a whole hour they smashed us , like the wheat in the mill. Some made it. However. After one hour there came the assault of the soldiers from the 12 divisions. We rejected 3 assaults, they took a break and in the late afternoon they came back, we had suffered heavy losses, the rain, that shower of bombsshells, 3500 of them, we lost equipment, we were wounded, several tank and infantry units crossed over our lines  and then it started: the Russian counterattack and the decline of war.

So, we were surrounded, I barely managed to break through. It was night, freezing cold. As I told you, they had even wanted to postpone the attack, I crawled back with my orderly and he gathered other 6 soldiers who had made it out with great difficulty. It was a great risk. on that night I started wandering. But I didn t leave until I collected all the soldiers who had made it out, all 6 of them and my orderly. At night, no compass, no clothes fit for that freezing winter, we were sort of lightly equipped, no food. So we went. One morning we came into a coppice by a river to rest. And at some point we thought we could see in the distance a group of soldiers. And we thought , that s it, we re finished. If they re Russians, they re going to shoot us. But they weren t. They were Romanian soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Regiment in Vâlcea. We met, their Commanding Officer was a Lieutenenant, and he tells us that the Russian kill officers, just like in Katin, in Poland, where they killed, they shot 25000 soldiers. And he urged us to strip us of the officer insignia. And we did. But then I woke up. Why did I do that? If I am to die, I ll die as an officer. And I felt bad for stripping them off my coat. Then I put them back somehow, since I had no needle and no thread. So, that s what  I said. If I am to die, I ll die an officer, not a coward. To betray my country.

We wre on the way. There wasa sudden blow that separated us from the guys from Vâlcea. We each went our separate ways. On that way, thousands of kilometers, you can imagine, we went into a house. We were dead beat, my guys, the soldier s feet were frostbitten, putrid, and those women, there were only women and two old men, they reluctantly let us in. And we lied on the floor, on some mats. All of a sudden the Russians got to the outskirts of the village and the women woke us up. Unshaven , starved, we ran into a deserted colhoz. And there, in a hole in the ground, we found some barley. We took it and put it in the bags and that helped ud fool our hunger. That was on the Donets. We would  fall asleep, we barely slept anyway. We ran into a military camp. We were smokers, I had a cigarette, but no light. I went over there, only afterwards I learned that they were also Romanians, an artillery regiment, from Carcal as  well, but the artillery  always stays behind the front line, so they had time to retreat and they were camped out. And there came this short agile guy who recognized me, came and hugged and exchanged stories.

We finally made it to the Nistru, we crossed it at Tighina. After crossing it, I kneeled, said the Lord s prayer and said, Oh God, I am born a second time. I was all skin and bones. An I went on a military train with these guys, from Oltenia, since  my regiment was in Caracal. The doctors checked us all and they told me I was gravely ill with my lungs, they sent me to the military hospital in Craiova where I stayed foe a month and they released me. The doctors tried to be encouraging but was circling the drain. After everything was over I spent 2 years in and out of hospitals in Bucharest to get better. I was lucky because I met a doctor, named Ionescu, who was a friend of mine and he helped me a lot.

These are war stories. The war was barely over, when came another one: the communism. What can I say. They can arrest me, but I was always against communism. I was a patriot, I went to war, I even wanted to push these barbarian Russians all the way beyond the Urals. But no such luck. a big mistake was made.  The Americans, the British and the French, when the frontline reached to the Nistru, should have held a council, signed an armistice after  asking their demands. Not leave them to their own devices once the peace was declared.

They started with rations, they took our land, our cattle, people went poor. We were starving, if wemanaged to get some food, they forced us to also buy old, expired stuff. I always fought them and I suffered the consequences.

How do you suppose that is: I broke into  a house, I robbed, I was tried and convicted and then you let me go? This cannot be. We keep going downhill. I am a Romanian patriot and I want to live free.

( de aici incep golurile. traduc pe sarite dar nu marchez  cu (…) ca e prea mult)

When I went with my regiment at the edge of Basarabia and the Russians tried to chase us away, I went with my whole being to fight them. Not to conquer, but to make out country whole again. Antonescu was wrongfully convicted. The king Mihai should have helped hime, not to give him to the Russians.

(We still had some borrowed  land with wheat on it, under the communists that is)

The Russians arranged the prisoners in a line and shot them. That s how it happened. Very few made it alive. The most critical moments were the those when I made a break out of the Don bend. I carried in my pocket a small icon of Saint Gheorghe, the ones people placed by the burning candle in their homes. The war is.. man is no longer the supreme being, to shoot your brothers. But if one needs to, it has to be done to protect what one loves.

Only my father was left at home, he sent me a few letters. I was sympathizing the Bratianu family on the political scene. My father was a liberal, he was also elected mayor a few times, he did some great work I like freedom, without ever abusing  it. I admired them.

I am a liberal by orientation.

During the communism, there were all sorts of workers for the Securitate who were snooping, you know, but they knew I wanted nothing to do with them. I started this museum. Together with my daughter and my son, they re both teachers, with no other help, we started to gather these items from all over the country.

We never interacted with the local population in Basarabia.

We were glad to be pushing back the Russians. I tell you from my heart, Germans were more tolerable than the Germans. The Russians were barbarians, they robbed and stole.

My mother died young, in 1935, my father never remarried.

During communism, I could not feed my children. No bread, no maze flour. I went with my wife to a plot of land and smashed some grains og wheat, went to the mill and got some flour from that guy so I could bake bread for my children.

I did not like the army. The army is rigid and I like freedom. I got The Romania crown with a sword and ribbon for Military bravery and the commemoration cross.

I sometimes got in trouble with the Securitate. I minded my own business. There was a committee that came to check us. Some of my colleagues, even from school, bore me grudges, because I was opposing them, when they made mistakes or abuses.

My father had to support 9 children. Everyday we needed 9 pieces of bread on the table. My parents were very hard working people.

I taught Math and Physics.

Two of my  teacher colleagues turned me in to Securitate and I had a file. I got a call from Bucharest asking me to go there and see my file at the Securitate. I asked the guy in the archives to give me copies and I have copies.  All sorts of rubbish, the things they said in their statements about me.

I was a model teacher. People regret me. I was punctual and demanding. This is what I learned from my teachers in Câmpulung. Good students always esteemed me. I retired in 1970.

My father used to sleep in the garden with his head on a brick, for fear of communists. It was a true terror. One night they came and picked me up, kept me in Pitesti all night, not asking anything, just to harrass me. And I came home on foot.

I write, I read. I am an active man and I have always been. I published article for the school, for the church, for the country.

My family were good Christians. I was an elementary school teacher. On religious holidays, they went around the village and gave away food and stuff to people. I was always a believer, like them.

I stand by what I said.

I am an honoured citizen of the city and of the county. I have a Negru Vodă medal from the Archbishop, I have over 50 diplomas. I initiated the Cathedral in Mioveni. I worked to gather funds. I have my pew in that cathedral.

Q: Can you give us a small autobiography, that should refer to your birth, eduction, the date you were mobilzed?

A: Of course. My name is HaraIambie Cacina, a brigade general, I was born on the 22nd of February 1923, right after the first World War, a few years after. Right from my first days, my family and I felt the after effects of WWI. In the commune called Arini, county of Suceava, an area placed on the border with the Austrian Hungarian Empire. The border  went along my commune for 19 kilometers, from Gura Negre village up to Zugraveni, on the left side there was the Austrian Hungarian state, and on the other side, the commune Arini was part of Stefan cel Mare’s Moldova. It was never occupied. In 1917, when WWI started, after king Ferdinand and the Bratianu family that held power at the time declared war on the central powers, in the northern part of the country, Vatra Dornei especially in the beginning, the war started overnight. Even though down south, there was also war, long before that.  There were some heavy blows on our part of the county,  even now, 100 years later, the whole territory of our commune is furrowed by trenches from the war, where there are dead that were never burried and their cartridge belts, 100 years later. It is interesting,  I just got back from Vatra Dornei, even now, these old cartridgeblelts surface from the ground, the traces of war are still visible. In that area, there were some of the most important battles. I started off with this information, because my father fought with the 24rth Infantry Regiment in the battles of Marasesti, in WWI. He was twice decorated at the front, one medal was Bravery and Faith, which we treasure, all the living children, two out of eleven. As young children, he would tell us about all the battles in our country and about the war.

Q: How?

A: We were curious and  we would ask him, he was no great story teller, but this he told us, about the first world war.

Q: What details can you remeber of what he told you?

A: In Marasesti, he was several kilometers away from the light artillery. He remembered all the details of what happened. All the help they got from our allies, especially the French, about the battles that went on up north, in my commune, although we were part of the Entente, like the Russians, they did not help us then, only later when the front line reached the planes of Moldova. Also, nor the French niether the English could help us until the frontline reached over the mountains, in the planes. In our area, where there the heaviest battles, only the Romanian army fought. That is why the losses were immense. He had all these documents that he showed us and these decorations that he held onto dearly. We were 7 boys and all of us in 1944 when the turmoil and manouevres of WWII, in which our old father took part, he was also mobilized and sent to a fix plutoon, to Brodina in northern Bucovina. When the Russian came for a second time, my father was still fighting.

Q What is your father s name?

A: Vasile Cacina. He was an example for us because he told a lot about these things. I may be inclined to talk a bit excessively about it because for us it was important and we suffered a great deal from the effects of the war. Even in 1924, 1925 in the northern part of Bucovina, where there had been many dead, cholera, all the disease of trouble and war, cholera and scarlatine rampaged throughout the county. Of course, even after the second World War there was tuberculosis and other diseases. And then we were mobilized. In the first World War, everyone in the area went in refuge with the army. The people in my commune went to Mălini, in Moldova, in the second WW, others came to us in refuge, as the frontline was in Moldova. But my father spoke a lot about the war. Right in 1941, when the war broke, in my commune we could hear the canons for a long time. The battles in Basarabia and northern Bucovine, we could hear the booms of canons, until the battles went further away, over the Nistru. Upon their return, in 1944, again. We were a bit older then, and three of us were mobilized as was our father. First, we marched , since Moldova was more burdened by the war than other regions, the Germans instructed us within paramilitary organizations and since the age of 16 all the older boys were trained for war, with war weapons. We were ready for war at all times. This is why, in February  1944, when the front came back after the break at Stalingrad, the common alliance that came back from USSR, we were ready and we started on a 1000 km march, I with 3 of my brothers, all 4 of us. Even though we were not wearing uniforms, we were premilitary and we were compelled to. If any one of us deserted, it was…. We had no youth, all of us in northern Bucovina. I did not know youth. From the age of 16 we had to prepare for war. That march of 1000 km, we were bombed twice, once in Ramnicu Sarat and once near Ploiesti, on foot, most probably the American planes spotted troops on the march, even though we weren’t in uniforms, but they must have taken us for troops on the march and bombed us. There were several dead. I won’t forget that march in filth and without food…

Q How long did it take?

A : A whole month, 30 days, 40 km each day. I still remeber our stops, we lived at the mercy of the locals, in some towns, the army had a cauldron of soup made and fed us, otherwise we lived at the mercy of those people.

Q: What were those places?

A: First day, we got to Campulung , 40 km The second stage was in the mountains, a commune near Mălini, another 40 km, then on the Bistrita valley, at Bicaz. Then, another 40 km, near Piatra Neamt. The shoes were torn, we were barefoot. It was very difficult.

Q: What could the locals provide you with for food?

A: In Moldova it was more difficult, because people were really poor. I remember once that I had managed to get an egg for each of the brothers. As a favour from our leaders, because I was representing our family, my younger brothers,  we were all camped in one place. One of those eggs, the youngest’s had gone bad and I, as the eldest,  had to give mine up so that he could eat. It was tough. I can’t forget about the egg, when he saw his was bad, he started crying. Tough, very tough. Once we made it in Oltenia, Slatina, I was mobilized on the spot, but my youngest brothers joined as well. I was away with the 4rth Heavy Artillery Regiment, we could not communicate for a while, and they volunteered for the front. Lazar and Traian, the youngest ones,died at the front.

Q: Where?

A: I don t know. Somewhere in Ardeal, anyway.

Q: What year?

A: 1944. So the two of them died, only the one that was one year younger than me survived, he had a large family, ten children, Alexandru, he died recently.  That was a very hard time. With my Regiment, since I had that military training, in two and a half months, I was in communications battery, 150 heavy artillery, we were sent to the front. Even though the battery’s main quarters were in Bacau, part of it was temporarily relocated in Oltenia, we were sent to the Pascani front. Canons fired upon us, the Russians kept advancing without us being able to stop them and we realized we needed to retreat in order  save the heavy canons because they had become worhtless since the Russians came with their T34  tanks. When they came the second time in 1944 with the help from the allies, they advanced more easily, our resistance was almost pointless and we managed to save the canons at lesat. Units that had stayed back in Moldova and were caught by the Russians were made prisoners and sent to Russia, even after the 23rd of August. We spent two, three weeks on that front, and then came the 23rd of August. We all thought that night the war was over. We listened gleefully in my unit, the sedentary part of the regiment that was in Moldova, we listened the message from His Majesty and for one night we were happy because we thought we had peace. Right after the declaration of WWII against the Germans I was turned over to the mountain troops in Brasov, where there was already fighting going on. We were sent over there because we were all raised in the mountains, we could ski, so we were sent from the heavy artillery units to the mountain troops in order to get us to the front. In Brasov the Russians had not reached Predeal yet, the Germans were opposing, although they had been summoned to retreat; they went back only 10 kilometers, till they reached Bod. They had been allowed to go with all their weapons and equipment. They were just asked to leave, but then they turned  back and  the war started. There was in Brasov some heavy resistance,  also in Fagaras, and our mountain troop unit, a rather large one stationed in Brasov, the 1st mountain division, led by a famous general, a WWI veteran, who led us straight into war at Sfantu Gheorghe where we were met by a strong resistance from the Hungarians and the Germans. For me that was one of the most difficult moments. The Hungarians resistance, on what was the border at the time, at Sf. Gheorghe, they were well equipped, they had 24 tanks, a large German unit, and the rest of them were Hungarian border patrols. On our side there were only 2 divisions, the 1st  Mountain Division, led by General Dumitrache. I did not have a high rank or anything, I was a mere corporal, group commander, with the 2nd Mountain Batalion, 1st Company, 1st plutoon and even 1st Group, that was a coincidence. There were heavy battles in the area. Not far from Sf Gheorghe, the second division commander  was killed 500 meters away from us, it was a bomb that injured him severely, he was taken to hospital in Sinaia but he died in hospital. He was the first high rank officer to die at the front then. On the 8th September we took Sf. Gheorghe and I could see the Mountain Troops and the Tudor Vladimirescu division raise the flag up on the city hall in Sf. Gheorghe. We took the time to smoke a cigarette, there was a cigarette factory there, and there was a moment of peace, the fire had ceased. The war did not end  there of course. The German army retreated towards Tg. Secuiesc, where there was heavy fighting. One of the moments I cannot forget, before Tg Secuiesc, it was right before taking Sf. Gheorghe, we were surrounded, the enemy was before us, one night, before September the 3rd, a unit fell on our back and we were surrounded. In military terms this is one of the most difficult situations in war, being surrounded, without any  way out. For 4 hours they kept shooting behind us. One of our company commanders could speak German and he asked them to stop shooting, in German. And they stopped.  We were still being shot at from the front but at least they stopped shooting at us from behind. I have only one piece of shrapnel , I was not badly wounded, it was just my figer split in two, I had it bandaged and kept going with the finger on the submachine gun. They surrendered then, Germans left behind the frontline that were being hunted in the mountains, near Brasov, Caraiman. There were two plutoons who were caught, around 60-70 people and we made them prisoners. They asked us not to give them over them to the Russians. But we had orders to that effect.  So we had to turn them in. We made it out of that situation.

After that, we went on towards Tg Secuiesc, many of those in the German units had gone, the Hungarian border patrols had disappeared as well, but they destroyed everything behind them, towards Baraolt, all the bridges were blown up and they burnt down all the armament, tanks, all the vehicles. A disaster. And they left in a hurry. Only then did we understand why. The Russians were advancing towards Ardeal throught the Oituz passing and they were afraid of being surrounded. That is why they had retreated. And we, our unit, our batalion, were directed some place else, at night, we left the front behind us and went along the Târnave, in Târnăveni. Here we met the Germans’ resistance, there were some battles, not far from Tg Mureș, a few days in a row. From here we went on with our unit, a few companies to Oarba de Mureș. Here was the biggest resistance. The enemy , you may have heard it before, the altitude is around 600 m, a few peaks, a hill on the shore of Mureș. The German unit, an elite SS unit, was placed on top of these peaks, at 600 m altitude, a flat ground where they had taken camp. And from there they had a very good position, together with all sorts of equipment and armament. They must have had a goal in mind, probably to cross over the Mureș; that’s where they raised the biggest resistance and this presented an obstacle for our units. The 4rth Army commander was the famous general Avramescu, he had fought in the USSR, who was also the head of the Mountain troops, one of our greatest generals. The rumour in the area, Oarba de Mureș, was that it was possible to capture them, taking them from the flanks. In a village from that area, called Ilieni, there were several units trying to get to thouse high grounds where the Germans were camped, including the guys who made pontoons. But the Germans’ field advantage gave them the possibility to destroy all pontoons  and all the means for crossing over the Mureș. Many of our troops, we lost those 11.000 soldiers there, because the crossing of Mureș was a huge obstacle. Each time we tried, the Germans smashed us. During the night pontoons were being built. All the attacks at Oarba de Mureș were short and new units kept coming all the time. No unit could hold more than 2 days in a row, only 2 attacks, 3 at the most, because they were scythed by very well camouflaged fixed machine guns, besides the Germans having the high ground and unobstructed view of any of our moves. From what we know now, the 4rth Army commander, general Avramescu had requested several times to approach from the flank, using the 30 aircrafts stationed in an airport a few kilometers away; we discovered only years later that the Soviet general in charge of that action, of freeing the Northern Ardeal , these operations were coordinated by the 2st Ukrainian front, but marshall Malinowski, who led the 2nd Ukrainian front passed through the territory without a fight and left it to the Romanian Army. I wouldn’t like to make it any longer than it should be cause there is plenty to say, but now we know that Malinowski, the Russian general did not allow the Romanian Army and the 4rth Army commander, general Avaramescu, to occupy the area and use bombing to ease our soldiers efforts. Hence, the loss of those 11.000 men. I made it out unharmed. Our Mountain troop units, a company and a half, we retreated towrds Luduș and then marched towards Cluj. We were sent there because even if the war was over, there was chaotic shooting. For a whole month we rummaged the area looking for guns stolen by young civilians, from the hill of Feleac that they used for shooting at night.That was basically my experience at the front. We had amazing reception,  together with my CO, who was from my commune, we were granted a 2 day leave, and came to Vatra Dornei, and all the villages in Ardeal welcomed us, Romanians, with amazing enthusiasm. That joy I will not forget, all the flowers, it was….

After that I had positions of responsibilities, I became a career soldier, an officer in the Romanian Army.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about what happened to the Romanian army in time, after the royal army became a people’s army, after the Russians came….were there any changes?

A: I have been through that as well. The most hurtful thing was that the great commanding officers, who had been victorious on the Eastern front, even on the Western one, were liquidated. The Russians killed general Avramescu even before, on the way to Germany, they shot him in Budapest, our great general, who coordinated all the operations in WWII.

Q: Do you know the circumstances of the killing of general Avramescu?

A: Yes. The Russians never forgot he had fought in Caucaz and many of their people had been killed under his command of the Mountain troops. And that is why they killed him. Right after the war I witnessed and I m saying it with pain in my heart that all the great commanders who had fought in the first campaign, Moscow and Stalingrad, the same who fought for the freeing of Ardeal, were arrested and tried in the 50’s for having been part of the bougeois army, as they said. Many were released but many died in the communist prisons.

Q: Have you ever had the chance to speak to any of them?

A: Yes, General Manoliu, who was also from my area, from Șaru Dornei and I knew him. He had the same fate, he had been in charge of a Monuntain troop brigade and had fought in both world wars. He was telling us the reasons for being arrested. Officers in the Romanian army came from well off families, land owners, who could afford to send their offspring to military school. Every girl who wished to marry an army officers needed a substantial dowry and that is why the officers were society’s elite. That was the army requirement. And the communist turned this against them.

Q: Do you think there were lists and informants? How did the Russian leaders know who had fought in the campaigns at the Eastern frint?

A: Easy. Among other things, the Russian officers always had a very capable intelligence apparatus , called the NKVD, which they used to subjugate us while they were here in our country. They were something to be feared and I never underestimated them. They had an extraordinary police, that succeeded in watching our every step. All the high positions in our country under their occupation were under their control. We had Soviet councillors, in industry, but all the more in the army and police.

Q: What sort of influence did they have in each field ? Were their intentions manadatory?

A: At first  it was a matter of revenge. The terms of the truce were particularly burdensome. We had to pay, for the next 20 years after the war, war expenses, what they claimed we had destroyed  over there, and we had to pay a huge amount. Besides the fact that we never recovered the treasure in gold we had placed with them. After the war they made us pay dearly. That was it. We were pained because we fought by their side in order to Free Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, until the last minute. But were always discontent, because they never acknowledged that, and not only the Russians, the British as well, Churchill played a big part in it. They turned us over to the Soviets and never acknowledged our rights as part of the winning side. We were not entitled to the rights that the winning belligerents had. Even the French, who never did much fighting, they surrendered quite lightly in WWII. They were occupied within a day. We fought and helped freeing others as well. That was never acknowledged.

Q: What do you feel about Romania entering the WWII?

A: From my heart I tell you: I never blamed Ion Antonescu for declaring war when he did. He had no choice. Our situation in 1940 was one of the worst possible. A third of our territory was under occupation, that is when we surrendered to Hungary, we had several ultimatums, Russians wanted Basarabia, Bulgarians wanted the south and in 1940 came the Hungarians’ claim for Ardeal. All these ultimatums came in 1940 when our country had been left in a dire situation, king Carol had left. Antonescu was right to do what he did. History might have judged him if he hadn’t. Our main supporters, the French,  were under occupation. They were our hope, they had the Maginot line, but they couldn’t resist. We were left to fight the Russians that came in hoards, all ready. There were several Soviets marshalls on a mission to occupy out country. Basarabia was no longer enough for them.  They had plans to take us over altogether. Marshall Antonescu had no choice. We risked being occupied and losing everything. We had no one else. The trouble was that our borders were unsafe. Around us we have Bulgaria that was against us, Serbia was not friendly, in Poland there was a terrible war going on for a few years. All our neighbours were at war, Hungary was against us and had occupied a piece of our land, the borders were unsafe, not like in Finland, a small country who fought the Russians and could not be defeated because they had safe borders and could protect themselves from the Russians. We were in danger to disappear as a nation. Jukov and two other Soviet marshalls had whole divisions ready to come across Basarabia and occupy us. Antonescu was not in a hurry to do that. He delayed the decision for several months. The German Foreign Ministry reprimanded him at the moment of the decision saying that it was necessary for the Germans to occupy France and Paris for us to change our minds. And then he told us to prepare for the crossing of Nistru the following day.

Q: What bad memories do you have from the war? or one  in particular that stuck with you ?

A: From during the war? Interesting. One forgets everything. First I missed my family very much. The fear of death  tends to go away, a fear that any man has. But one gets used to all the bombing. Some died the very first day, others after a month. I was lucky. And I got used to the situation. Between attacks we would even crack jokes, making fun of the tension.

Q: One positive moment, or image? A nice memory from the war?

A: Retreating from Oarba de Mureș, together with my CO, we walked part of the way home, going on that 2 day leave. We had the most wonderful welcomes all across Ardeal, for 3 days as the trip lasted, they would not let us go, they were so happy and grateful for our help in the eliberation, they made us take part in their celebrations.

Q: Throughout the war, had you been in contact with your family?

A: No. Only when I got home did I learn about my brothers.

Q: Were you politically affiliated or inclined at the time of the war?

A: My father was. Our area was the birth place of the legionnaire movement, it was in turmoil even before the war, that was a fascist  organization, led by Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, who was a criminal. And my father was a fierce opponent of this movement. My father was re-elected mayor in 1938, he was a member of Nicolae Iorga’s party, the great savant, and he had a small party. I had no other political preference, because I liked that small savant party. But my father was at war with the legionnaires who were spread across our area. I witness the killing of a young engineer in church, 22 years old, he’d just graduated college, and they shot him in church. In 1940-41. We really hated them for their crimes and their were really influential in the area. This is why it unnerves me when I hear people nowadays flirting with this fascist movement that I do not wish to see born again. No other politics, though. I became an army man. I adopted the politics of my country. Even now, I just listen and cringe. I was a member of the Communist party, because there was no other option at the time, as an officer. I left the army in 1950, because I had a tooth against the Russians. It so happened that after I joined the army as a professional, I was sent to the Yugoslavian border, to gather information. There was huge trouble between their leader, Tito, and the Russians. Lots of pillboxes were built then, the Banat was full of them, it was like a new war. And they sent me to that border, as a young intelligence officer,  and I spent 2 years there. Each day there was shooting on both sides. I got out of the army and I worked for years as a  state company director.

Q: Did you, at any time, feel that you were being watched?

A: Oh, yes. of course. During the communist regime, if you had any sort of position in service, you were watched. In the army there were Soviet councillors assigned only for that job. The Soviet army, while here, was keeping a close eye on things through its Soviet councillors, well trained for that. Until 1962 or 64 when the Russians left, thanks to Gheorghiu Dej. But even him they killed, after declaing himself against them, he was irradiated.

Q: During the war, did you witness the nature of the rapports between Romanian and German officers and the one between the Romanian and Russian officers after the 23rd of August?

A: The differences, you mean. The German army members were very elegant. They treated us humanely. Whereas the Russians ….they enjoyed their vodka, they made scandals, there was always trouble with them. Low educational level, compared to the German army. The Germans were rather cold and distant, not the Russians though.

Q: Did you receive any reward from the state for your participation in war? Any form of acknowledgement?

A: Decorations. I got the medal Eliberation from under the fascist yoke. It was the acknowledgement for being at the front. What hurt me the most was the fact that right after the war was over, there was  a parade in Bucharest and the army went under the Arch but we did not receive the status of a belligerent country. After we paraded, they even wanted to stop that. The Russians did not want us to be shown, out of spite for the Eastern campaigns. For a while the Russians pressured us not boast about our part in the war.

Q: What was the atmosphere within the Romanian army before the 23rd of August, compared to the one after that date?

A: Before our declaring war, the atmosphere was… it was not quiet. Because Europe was at war. Our army was preparing for war. Our borders were not safe, so the army was under tension. Worried about the situation. After August 23rd, we had to tolerate the Russians for a long time, and I am not ashamed to say that after being at the front, my generation, the 1944 contingent, the first to be mobilized, took part in the reconstruction of the country. All of us. Most of the hydroelectric plants on the Bistrita, Prut and others were built during that time, the Transfagarasan as well. I’m not praising the communism, but it was done with the direct participation of the men who had been in war, myself included. And that is no small matter. I was a director in Baile Herculane for 10 years, from 1962, until 1970. I rebuilt everything that was destroyed during the war, I rebuilt the resort.

Q: Did you have direct interactions with the Soviet councillors? How did they treat you?

A: Yes, indeed, there was one Soviet councillor that knew me in the army and then in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He wanted to have me sent to Moscow for training, which I firmly declined. That is why I had to leave the system. It would have been bad for me, as it had been for others. They would be sent on missions that were unfit and they would be then arrested. So I stayed away from their offers.

Q: The social aspect of your life under the three regimes, the royalty, the communism and after 1989, the democracy. Can you tell me about your family throughout all that? What were the economic means until the war?

A: With difficult. We were a large family, in the rural area, in the mountains, where wood was the main resource. We would carry wood on Bistrita on rafts. My father was a good rafter and ever since the age of 5 I did that. My old father had a longer route, all the way to Piatra Neamt. We, the children, accompanied the rafts only half way, 40 km, to Borca.

Q: How many of your siblings were schooled and up to what grade?

A: Mostly primary school, only a few attended trade schools , like mining or such. For instance I hadn’t had the chance to graduate the Pedagocical Institute in Vatra Dornei when I left. I completed my education only afterwards. I graduated highschool, superior Trading College, Military School.

Q: How did you spend your free time? then and even now?

A: I enjoyed working. I had no hobbies in particular. My work, I was very ambitious and involved. I strived to be the best. From my family I learned building wooden houses, with my own hands.

A: As a child, in the Dorna area, what was the situation of your household? how much land?

Q: Quite a bit. We had around 60 hectars. But it was mostly woods and rough land. We had cattle. On our land they discovered some ores. So the state took it from us. We tried to get it back but someone else had beaten us to it.

Q: Professionally speaking, do you think your career would have been any different if you had lived in different times? Without those Soviet councillors, for instance, would you have stayed in the army?

A: I think so. I liked the army. I liked discipline and order. But I had to stop.

Q: Ideologically speaking, all this communist regime, was there any conflict between the official doctrine and your personal veiws and beliefs? As it was quite a bit of a difference from the royal regime and the communist one? How was it for you?

A: I regretted it. During the monarchy, especially after the moment of August 23rd, when our young king made that wise decision, I felt sorry to see him exiled and I wished he would return.

Q: One final word for those who may listen to this in 5, 10 or 20 years.

A: I very much wish to see our young people who left abroad for work to come back. I , our family,  we managed it. My brother had 10 children, no one left, they all live here and I’m happy about it. All the mean things in our politics that lead to hate amongst ourselves, Romanians, it saddens me. I’m 97 now and I m gladly looking forward to the centennial anniversary when we should take the opportunity for a general reconciliation. We should come to the realization that all this dissensus does not benefit us and no foreigner would ever have our interest closer at heart than ourseves. Each to his own, And that is our biggest hurt, we wonder, why is that? It’s sick politics for us, veterans.

Q: Any word for the diaspora.

Q: Come home. I see many that start longing for home after a while and decide to come back. Even though there is much freedom there, I m sure they will be back. As they are starting to.

My name is Iașchevici Carol Corneliu. I was born in 1920, on the 28th of October, in Pașcani, Iași county. Since I was 10 I lived in Cernăuți, until the age of 16 , when I left to Cluj. From Cluj I left to Târgu Mureș to finish school, where, at the age of 21, I left to Constanta, being evacuated on account of our territory being ceded to the Hungarian state. At the age of 21, in 1941, I was called to arms, as the war had started.  As soon as I reached my unit, I was sent to Ovidiopol at the front in Odessa, where I took part in the the clearing of the last remains of the Soviet Army until the month of December 1941, when we were all brought home to our unit, the 39 Infantry Regiment, 14th Division, second Army Corps. Hence, I was sent to the reserve infantry NCO  (non commissioned officers) school in Făgăraș. I stayed here for 6 months. In June 1942, I graduated and I was sent to my unit, which, as I said, was stationed in Florești, Soroca, the 39th Infantry Regiment. I was sent right away as a NCO to the 4th Pioneer in Cernăuți, where I was trained as a tank hunter and leader of groups that destroyed pillboxes. After one month I returned to my Regiment, as a machine gun plutoon commander, in preparation for the front. That was in July 1942. The regiment was training for battle, mainly on the Nistru riverside, in order to get us accustomed to the Don landscape. In August, around the 20th, I can’t remember exactly, but anyway it was sometimes after the 20th of August 1942, we set out to the frontline. Our departure to the frontline, it was very interesting. The regiment is ready to marche, the priest is giving us a heartening speech. First of all, he is giving us absolution for our sins, so we may have a chance at Heaven if we die. He first asked us whether we had ever stolen. Most of us raised our hands, 3000 of us. He asked us whether we had killed. Some of us raised their hands, that means that they also killed. Meanwhile, our unit is ready for battle, ready to start off, all geared up, except for my plutoon who still hadn’t gotten the horses for the machine guns. Every second now, the order to march would be given and I had the machine guns and the ammunition on the ground. To my extreme relief, there came the horses, but without their equipment suited to carry the machine guns, which I cannot remember  what is called. Finally, we set off. Music was playing ahead, the priest told us we were absolved of our sins and we can all die as heroes for our country. And that we should all know that starting then, there was to be no mercy, this word was to be erased from our vocabulary. Everything we would run into was the Antichrist and we needed to kill.  The Regiment commander spoke and heartened us to fight till the last second, till the last drop of blood, not give an inch, the word retreat was erased from our vocabulary. The music started playing, the regiment was on the move, the plan was well laid out, we were to take the train to Zaporoje. Then we were to embark on different trains, Soviet ones, and ride victoriously all the way to Stalingrad. That was the theory. In reality, though, we left, but after crossing the Nistru, we were told that the bridge over Nipru had been destroyed by the Soviets and we needed to march. And we kept on marching, day after day, 40 km per day, with all our guns, because all our horses had died in the meantime. The men were carrying the guns. That took us a whole month, day in, day out. When we got to Rostov, we were given command to march 60 km each day. So, we marched 600 km in 10 days. All this time, German officers in their cars passed us by and they constantly yelled at us Schnell, schell, schnell, that meant, quick, quick, quick.  Why? We were long overdue taking up postion because the German 6th Army planned to launch the decisive attack against Stalingrad. And that was up to our arrival. Because we, the 300 000 people sent over there, victims of the war, were destined to be a shield, a shield, to defend the flanks of Stalingrad from north to south, 150 km each, lest the Russians break through and surround the 6th Army. So our presence there was decisive, but we were not prepared at all for this, neither physically, nor equipmment wise. This is how we finally reached positions near Stalingrad, in October 1942. I was a machine gun commander in the 3rd Army, 39th Infantry Regiment, in Kletzkaya, north of Stalingrad, right in the bend, that’s why we call it the Don bend. That’s where the river Don made a huge bend and that is where we were supposed to go, in theory, but we never made it that far, on the riverside that is, because the Russians, the Soviets had two bridgeheads, Kletzkaya was one of them, nearly 40 km away. We never saw the Don, we were inside that huge bend. Then a big mess started. We were stationed near the German  6th Army. They had one diet, we had our very own, typically Romanian. Plain water nearly, and even that every couple of days only. Poorly equipped, because that is how we were equipped and treated , as victims who were supposed to remain there, under the Russian grounds. That’s how we were selected, in fact, we were the people the country could do without. Most stayed home, they gave everything for that, their house, their million. I only had  in my plutoon really poor people, deprived of any means. All were poor, in dire misery, their families burdened by 6,7, 10, 12 children, and they were mobilezed at the front. I was the youngest of them, 21 years of age, they were 18, 32, 26 years of age. People with huge problems, they had sick wives back home, they had children, all of them had . My heart aches when I remember and here I am, talking about all this because the lady asked me.

I was in the 14th Division but we cooperated with the 13th Division because the enemy, the Soviets that is, were harrassing, teasing us. We had been given orders to not give an inch towards West, but not to take an inch towards east either. So it was like a sort of game, we kept playing back and forth, day and night, hassling each other, no fighting, just hassling. And we were quite few in comparison to them and we kept hearing strong noises from our ditches, because, that’s where we stayed, in the ditches. There was  rumbling of tanks, day and night, we would communicate to our quarters that we had powerful forces around us, but they did not always consider it. This is how we spent day after day, under really gruesome circumstances. We were underequipped, only in our drawers, not even shifts, so to speak. They had probably thought it wiser to save money on our equiment, since we were disposable elements, to be sacrificed for nothing. We had no business being there. But nature or God made it so that in November 1942, the Russians launched a massive attack, huge. The biggest battle ever known to humanity took place in Stalingrad. Over 4 million people were there. We tried to cover the needs of 2 divisions, the 14th and the 13th. We were close by the 6th German Army, who were supposed to give the final blow to Stalingrad, a big city, spreading on over 50 km. And one fine morning, the attack started. It’s very hard for me to talk about it, it’s impossible to describe. It was a real hell, hell came down on earth. Imagine, almost 4 million people on a 70 km perimeter, wrestling amongst themselves, with all the military equipment unleashed. Hell on earth came down. Everyone had one purpose only: to get out, to escape the disaster. The Russians were really well equipped, guns and clothing, boots, thick long coats,  we only had short flimsy coats, British boots or wherever they’d been purchased from, the soles were damaged and torn, we were mostly barefoot, or we had boots with wooden soles. We were in the middle of winter, it was an utter disaster. In 2 days we were wiped out. Our whole army mobilized there, small for the whole length of the front line, 300 km, 150 on one side and 150 on the other side, all of us who survived were left in the veld of Russia, in that snow, huge horizons with no human soul to lay eyes upon. We were left with no support, no food, no clothes, no guns. The Soviets surrounded us almost 60 km deep, they could have killed every last one of us but they left that task to nature. Harsh winter came  upon us and horrible starvation. They concentrated their efforts on the 6th Army. That was their goal, because we were only a shield for the 6th Army, and once they destroyed that shield, they went over to the 6th army until they wiped them out for good. And they left us in the veld of Russia in the snow and freezing cold. We ate frozen horse meat, since there were hundreds of them dead, we ate all we could, maybe man ate man, who knows. There was no food at all. The locals were starving, they were dismally poor, they had no food for themselves, no heat, cause they ddidn’t use wood for heating, they used manure as fuel. This is how over a month passed, us vagabonding about, like rogues, almost barefoot. We had absolutely no support whatsoever. And we went down southward, towards Rostov, and we kept on westwards, with the compass hanging by the neck, and we reached Donets. And then we reached these cities, in the southern part of Ukraine, in a coal mining region, I don t remember any names. We reached two checkpoints: one that sorted us, as fugitives, let’s say, and 60 km away another checkpoint where new combat units were being reassembled, like from one regiment they would muster a plutoon. I forgot to say that our retreat was not always on the run. We went up to another river close by and tried to fight but that was of no consequence to the Russians, because we were not a force to be reckoned with. They had their dealings with the 6th Army, which was the biggest and best German army intent on wiping out Stalingrad and then towards Caucaz.

Once we rejoined the Romanian troops, we started to regroup our forces and rejoined our army, had some meals, we fought the Germans as hard as we could. The Germans were also retreating but in an organized manner. Everything organized was wiped out by the Russians. Since  we were not organized, they let us be. This lasted until general Antonescu became aware of our dismal state and ordered us to be taken back home. Thus, in January 1943, we came back to the country, by Ungheni and we joined our regiment. Then came a new war era. Here, we spent a very interesting time  that is not much talked about. We were never praised for being to battle near Stalingrad. When other troops came from Romania, they would let us know what was going on back home. There was a lot of talk. Some were pro our troops being in Stalingrad, other were against it. Among the latter were Maniu and the National Peasant Party that were not in favour of our crossing the Nistru. Others were for it, such as Antonescu, who had made this commitment to Germany, in the hope that, once the war would be won, we would get back the northern part of Ardeal. Which was actually good thinking, but he had no support from the king’s entourage.

After we got back home, we, the officers, were sent over to Basarabia to instruct the Basarabian population that were apt for batle, in their homes. Our government did not really trust them, because they were mixed: half Romanians, half Russians, that is half capitalist and half communist. And this was the safest way they could think of, and we treated the Basarabians badly and instructed them as civilians and thus turned them from friends to foes. I was lucky, I don t know why, God maybe, and I was called to the regiment headquarters to be informed that I was to go to Lugoj, to join The 17th Infantry Regiment,as an instructor for the school of NC officers. No. I was wrong.

No, I was in Basarabia where I tortured these poor innocent people, waking them up at 5 in the morning and hitting their backs with the shovel to instruct them in that ploughed ground and then we were taken to Iasi to the 13th Infantry Regiment because…..Still…. No, that’s right, I was sent to Lugoj, where I stayed for 6 months, I trained one promotion of NC officers, and again I was lucky to be moved to the 1st Railway Regiment in Focsani. I went there and I was sent to the 12th company in charge of building railways, in Moghilev. Hence I was sent to Ketch in Crimeea, to take charge of a ferryboat with 50 people, that I took to Odessa, in Bugaz, the Carolina island, where the Nistru disgorges into the Black Sea, right there. Here, for 6 months, between October 1943 until 1944 I helped carry with an improvised ferryboat taken from the Greeks, ammonition and gasoline. But many other things kept happening.  In March 1944, we were all wiped out. The Russians had taken over the whole Nistru, they were in Odessa, 40 km away from us. Our units were given a general retreat order. Our army was guarding the Black Sea coastline and I was with a group that ensured transportation of ammonition and gasoline. I would like to add something. There was an interesting situation that I have not spoken much about, because even in this situation where I was obliged ,togeher with my people, in very primitive conditions, even more primitive than those of the people who built the pyramids in Egypt, to ensure the transport  of 12 wagons on this ferry. More often than not, instead of ammonition or gasoline, there was salt in those wagons. In Russia, there was no salt for livestock, and there was no petrol, and people werecrawling with lice. Our generals, our merchants were doing trade all this time. Instead of carrying ammoniton and gasoline I was smuggling salt. I reported this at the time but for nothing. There was another very interesting event in March 1944, when all units were ordered to retreat from the coastline, at some point, a special train pulled next to the pier. I still don’t know what it was, general army headquarters, or the 3rd or the 4rth Army commanders. 6 generals and their suite got off the train and asked who was in charge. I was a NC officer of 20 something and I saluted and stated my name and rank. Quite arrogant and full of himself, one general ordered me to ensure the crossing of that train over to the other side of the port. I said, with all due respect, this cannot be done. Hearing this, he just looked at me as if he had not heard such a thing before and asked me to repeat. I said again that it could not be done because we usually transported 10 ton wagons, whereas the wagons of that special train were 70 tons each. Then he called another general with silver epolets, which meant he was in administration and told him to stay behind with me and see the thing done. And then he turned to me and said: I have a very important mission. I need to get back to Romanian territory right away, to Sarata, to create a frontline, to hold back the Russians. I said nothing. And then he left. I told the administration general that was left behind that the solution were two dinghies I usually carried my load with. I could carry everything in that train, together with all the people, around 100 of them, over to the other side. And he said yes, and this is what we did. Sarata was a small town 100 and something km away. The general was really pleased and said he’d get us decorated with the highest awards. Nothing of the sort happened.

They left, the Russians followed us and we got orders to retreat to Fierbinti, Ilfov county, near Bucharest. Thus, in April 1944 we ended up close to Bucharest. But, I’d like to say that we were horrified. We went into a bar where we partied really hard and got really drunk. My guys splashed wine over my epolets, all sorts of crazy. The moment we got there, there were hundreds of planes flying over Bucharest and the slaughter started. We then thought that the local population were the real war heroes. The smoke and hell alone falling over Bucharest. We had heard of another raid like this, led by the Russians, that had destroyed the Northern Railway Station and Grivita. We then kept our mouth shut and never spoke to the people we met again, because we were then taken to Iasi region. A new front line was formed: Pascani, Iasi, Ungheni and Chisinau. Antonescu declared that that was the place where a new war would start that would finally crush the Soviets. That was around 1st of May 1944, when I got to Iasi, together with my unit and I was stationed in the Socola railstation, with a train fully equipped for interventions on bridges and railstations all over the front, between Targu Frumos, Iasi and Ungheni. Here, the war was like the one in Stalingrad. Just hassle and mockery from the Russians, playing with our nerves. All day long, no big war was happening, a few planes flew now and then and dropped a bomb here and there. Just to mess with us. It kept us awake. A psychological game. We got used to it.

Once, there was a horse in a meadow, grazing peacefully, and there came a wolf pack led by a shewolf. The horse went crazy, the shewolf went back and the second day the same. And it went on like this for several days in a row until the horse got used to it and kept calm whenever the wolfpack came near. And when the wolves were sure that the horse was already used to it, that is when they attacked. This is exactly what happened in Iasi.  It got to the point where I was called to the quarters, me, a low rank NC officer, stationed in the stables, in Scanteia. A few high ranking German officers, a few Romanian officers and me went up to Podu Iloae and I was ordered to build a bridge over   some river  in 7 days. And that was it. But I had a lieutenenant, an architect and active officer. In the Romanian army active officers were the elite, they had special privileges, and this Iliescu was my CO. He didn’t come along that day, he sent me instead. This Iliescu died in a bomb raid and I was left on my own. We were taken over there, train and all. On our left was the Romanian army, down in that river bank, on the other side were the Russians, 300 meters apart. And I was in the middle, on that railway, sent to build a bridge . They left me to build it in 7 days, which I could only do because there was a bad drought, there was almost no water. That is how I built that bridge in 7 days and on that night at midnight 2 heavy German locomotives tried the bridge. It held. They found one fault with this: there was no camouflage. I had tried to camouflage it but the artillery guys had not let me cut trees for it, because it would have left them uncovered. I left and a few hours later the Russians destroyed the bridge. That happened in July. It was a war of wear and tear of the nerves. The Russians had all kinds of nations, even Mongolians, one infantry captain sent a soldier with a cow to browse. We were already confused, the army was just hanging around, and the moment we were the most relaxed and unguarded, no idea there was a war going on, on the 19th of August 1944, the Russians attacked us by surprise all along the front line. From Chisinau to Piatra Neamt, they destroyed everything German and Romanian, and the same old traditional story starts over, we start running towards south, towards Focsani, where there were some fortified Romanian lines. And down we go until we get to Marasesti, in a few days, on the 23rd of August 1944. Everything around us was on fire, villages, towns, only flames at night, this is when we were told that we had switched sides and that the Russians were our allies and the Germans had become our enemies. Then disaster strikes: we no longer knew who the enemy was. The Russians thought we were the enemy, the Germans thought us allies, we knew otherwise, a total confusion. We had orders to retreat to Pucioasa. I called up all my men in Marasesti and told them, starting now, we part, everybody leaves on their own and we rally in Pucioasa. We met in 2-3 days in Pucioasa, after a lot of mishaps on the road, where we pledged oath to the new situation and became allies to the Russians, and then we were shipped off to Urziceni by train. And then to Ciulnita with the mission to stop German troops from marching towards Bucharest. Here I am in Ciulnita, and my CO calls me and tells me that the railway station is no longer operating and that I need to organize its defence and to blocade the road parallel to the railway. That was really difficult. The cornfields went far into the horizon, 2 m high, only a column of dust indicated the road. I asked my CO what I was supposed to do if any cars were to pass, since I had no idea which were which, Russian, Romanian. Pay no mind, he said, shoot. I think I was an effective and direct participant in the 23rd of August events. I was in complete favour of it, it was a blessing for us, otherwise  both the Russians and the Germans would have annihilated us. Romania would have become a redoubt difficult to take down, the Carpathians would have become terrible shelters for the Germans, the war would have kept on for much longer and the population would have suffered immensely. That is why I always supported our king in whatever he did. He was accused of many things but he had no other option. He was backed in a corner, as he always had been, with the tough life he had in his family. I have always held him in high regard, especially since he was born on the 21st and I on the 20th. We were close. Since I spoke of the king, I was not really political, my going to war was forced upon me, I see myself not as a war veteran but rather as a victim of the war. Because there are 2 kinds of veterans, willing and unwilling. Most of us were unwilling. The active officers and NC officers I don’t consider veterans, because that was their job. Going back to the king. I was part in those events, and here I really think I had a contribuion. In Stalingrad my only merit was getting out of there alive.

I always approved of the king, Ferdinand, who was a very intelligent and understanding man, who supported our best Romanian politician Ionel Bratianu, the maker of Romania, in my opinion. King Ferdinand was the one who understood him and supported him, body and soul, as well as queen Maria. Queen Maria supported him in the Paris conference, when our traditional friends were opposed to the Ardeal returning to the Romanian territory.

Q: What do you feel about Ion Antonescu?

A: I think very highly of him. He was a great patriot, a man who sacrificed himself, in full conscience. He took the bull by the horns. In order to do that, one needs to take into account from the very beginning that they would lose. In his desire and love for the country, I have a high esteem for him. He took it upon himself, what everybody else dodged. Maniu, the so called great patriot, he eluded it, a two faced man, hesitant. Bratianu went off grid. All the others went aol. Antonescu was in fact a man, a patriot a lover of the country, and the legionnaires won him over, even though he was not one of them, he only had the same feelings for our nation which he could not express outside that organization. This is how he ended up as head of a dubious organization, partisan of the Germans, but he had the following premise: there was no other way. Romania was backed into a corner. The Germans promised the return of the northern part of Ardeal to Romania in exchange for our participation in the war. Who wouldn’t have said yes, as a lover of the country. But the Germans were sly. They asked Horthy for troops, human shields in exchange for he rest of Ardeal. And Horthy said yes. So, at some point in Stalingrad, both us and the Hungarians were there to support the German troops. Each with a dfferent goal. He was a true general, not a a puppet, which we had plenty of. Antonescu proved himself a Romanian. All our units were maimed. Out of every 4 other batalions, one batalion was left in the country, in secrecy. We had like an invisible army at home, because he knew we had an enemy in the West: Hungary. We had an army stationed in Transilvania to watch over the country. On paper there were more of us at the front. In reality we were fewer. He played a big card. He was not an anti semite. He was a capitalist. Rich Jews were the ones who gave financial support to Romania at the beginning of the war. Romania was a poor country. He never ordered the slaughter of anyone, under any circumstance. Those were just individual actions. Furthermore, he died with great dignity. He never asked for mercy, he played his card, he was a true gentleman who deserves to be honoured.

The war did not end on the 23rd of August. We, the soldiers accepted it willingly not out of some need for fight, because we, Romanians, are not a warrior tribe, but rather peaceful people. The Russian population had nothing to suffer from us where we passed. We never killed or tortured anyone. We only took food because we needed to eat since we were starving. But the Germans were murderers and Romanians were not. Our hope was that on the 23rd of August the war would be over. But the real war would only just start. Once we got to our senses and understood what was going on, who was truely our enemy, the Germans that is, because at Stalingrad we thought we were fighting the Russians but in reality it was the Germans we were fighting, they would always defy and mock us, always treating us like a second rate army of illiterates. No matter what we said.

Q: How did you come to see that?

A: They said it very clear and plain, there was nothing to figure out. They called us gypsies, stupid, good for nothing, idiots.

We were honest towards the Russians, we really felt they were the enemy, but while in Russia we understood that we had no business with them. The priest told us we would meet only antichrists. When we went to war, most of our troops were peasants, 99% of them, all the city people had  found a way out. Up until then, they were all crying out loud all over the place about how much they loved their country, but when it all started they disappeared. These soldiers, these peasants were very religious. When the priest spoke to us and told us to have no mercy and kill, they were bewildered. But once a soldier, always a soldier. When we got toR ussia, do you know what we found? In any home we enetered, however small or poor, there was an icon and a candle in the corner. Really tiny houses, all straw. In the veld of Russia, we got into houses where they used human manure for heating. Horrible poverty. But they had faith. I had paid 2000 lei to fix my teeth before going to war. On the day I had to do it, all paid for, I got so nervous and scared that I got up and left. While at the front I was in such pain, one sergeant named Mihut, a country boy, amazingly bright, I told him he should have been the  ministry of war, he knew and could do anything. He took me to an old couple and the lady held the candle near my mouth, and the old man took out my tooth with a wrecked pair of pliers. And I asked him what would happen to me and he told me, nothing, He’d given me one liter of beet wine, and I had my tongue in the hole left after having my tooth pulled out. What if he ‘d taken the wrong tooth out?

All I’m saying is those Russians had real faith, a lot more faithe than we did. So, our soldiers were confused. We had been told these people were like rabid dogs, but they were not, it was more likely we were the rabid ones. When we left at the front with the Russians, we were part of the Soviet units, 1st Ukrainian Army led by Malinovski.  As long as there was food, everybody had food, when food was out, nobody had it. Our troops received food according to rank. They were really optimistic and this did us good, very interesting. When on a break, we would stay away, because we thought they were bad, but while on break they would play the harmonica and sing,  but we would keep our distance because it was difficult to see them as allies all of a sudden. All through the war it was like that. They were open and talkative, especially since they enjoyed the bottle, us too, but nothing compared to them. We would drink from small glasses, they had big ones. We were not used to it. They thought we were reserved towards them, but we were reserved towards the big glasses.

After that we went through Hungary and Austria and on the 9th of May I was behind Wien.  I was told that anyone in the army  who had anything to do with the railways, needed to go home right away to join their units. The country needed operational communications as the whole system had been destroyed by the Germans in their retreat. The roads were in a poor state, the railway was everything. And on the 17th of May 1945 I reported to my unit. They told me: when you left to the army, we granted you one year of absence with no pay. And it’s been 4 years already. Your employment agreement was suspended and you no longer work for us. You are fired. In 4 years I got no money whatsoever, never slept in a bed, and now this? What do I do? Your business. I went to see the engineer in Constanta. I was sick, had troubles with my stomach, I was in a really bad shape. The engineer, a guy from Ardeal told me to go to the Railway Hospital in Bucharest for a new contract. If the doctors over there declare you apt for work, we can take you, because we need you. This is what happened. After having been bombed numerous times, they checked me up and declared me fit to work. God took care of me. So I gotmy job back , with 77.000 lei salary. With this money I couldn’t even buy a pair of boots. I was still in army clothes. The inflation was so high, they were talking in millions, and I only had 77.000 lei. No home, no nothing. I started life over.

I call myself lucky compared to many others. I once read the official paper of the Railways about an opening at the Ministry of Transports. I prepared in Maths, Physics and Chemistry and I passed . I was elated. I ended up in Arad and became a citizen of Arad, in 1946. I got married to a very good woman, and we have been married for 68 years. I am happy and content about everything around me. I ‘m sorry that we are not more supportive of our governments. In my view, all governments after 1989 had only good intentions but without resources. They all wanted the good of the country.

Q: Please tell us some things about the coming of communism in Romania.

A:  There are many versions.

Q: Tell me the version you lived.

A: First of all, the communism was not brought to Romania. It was born in Romania. The Social Democrat Party, the only party that acknowledged this. King Mihai said it plainly. In 1921 the Communist Party started in Romania. The Communist Party was not brought on by the army of the poor from Stalingrad. We came back full of resentment for those who had stayed home, for those who mocked everything and lived in lust and luxury at the army’s expense. Everything they stole in Romania was balanced through the accounts of the army. The ordinary soldiers got nothing. The reserve officers and the NC officers had different treatment than the active ones. I led a machine gun plutoon and the active second lieutenant was in charge of riflemen. My responsibility was way higher but I stayed with the troops in the trenches, and he stayed in the shelter playing games where it was warm. Our revolt was inevitable. When we retreated they all disappeared, they all ran away. The batallion commander came to inspect me and when the bombing started he lay in the ditch and asked his orderly to lay on top of him. And why? So that he would be sheltered. When I protested, he became cross with me. He took the gun from a soldier and came to me and showed me a metal part that was rusty. We had no ammonition, I had to collect the cartridges, he kept telling me that widows paid taxes and I needed to collect cartridges. You know what they say about the Russian boot? Until we had that one, we had the arrogant, haughty, dirty boot of the Germans in our country. They mocked us and our women. They stamped them on their bodies to compromise them. As king Mihai says, I say: the communism was born in Romania, it was not brought on by the Russian boot. First there was the Social Democrat Party. It was led by men with great political expertise and great intellectuals. A big part of them went over to the liberals, you know, right? And in 1921, the Communist Party was created. It was part of the Communist Internationala. First it was the Communist Party from Romania and they turned into the Romanian Communist Party.

Q: Did you have any political affiliations before the war?

A: None at all. I was revolted.  While in highschool, at about 14 years of age, I went home with a big metal cross around my neck. My father challnged me and I said something about the Jews. He then slapped me hard over the face, on both cheeks. In order to answer your question I need to go through a few details. In 1946 I voted in the elections, I voted for the sun, the democrat parties block. It wasn t the communists. Liberals, peasant party members, Tatarascu, all the big names in Romanian politics. All these fragments from other parties formed this block and won in the 1946 elections. The right wing dominated them, not the communists. In 1946  I was living in Arad. The election system was based on a certificate issued by the city hall, which proved you had the right to vote as a citizen of that city. In order to receive this certificate, as a non local, I had to get a paper from Constanta to testify that I was an honourable citizen, with no prior political activities. On the election day, there was much chaos. The liberals were very well mannered. Which is no longer the case. They’re fiesty and loud. Back then, they were people of finance, sober and well respected, as was their extraordinary leader. Life was not easy. After the war, just like before the war, everybody strived for a better life.

Q : What advice did you receive from your parents?

A: Life was really hard. Expectations were really low. People contented themselves to be who they were, without any protests. I knew such wonderful quiet and kind  people. On our street, everybody helped everybody. In my apartment building, we don’t know each other, we don’t communicate. Whenever I have a quiet moment of reflection on my own, I  have a feeling of being on a mountain top alone. People were more communicative and joyous and shared everything. Nowadays they are all closed up and morose.

Q: Why is that, do you think?

A: Back then people helped each other because life was very hard, but we were used to making ends meet on our own. People never expected someone else to fix their problems, as it is now, when everybody expects the authorities to clear the snow in front of their house. The doctors were a rare breed, as was medicine, we cured every disease with aspirin. No dispensary in schools, we would work our way through schools, not ask for scholarships. Train tickets? I would have been the laughing stock if I  had even dared to ask for such a thing. Everyone expects to be handed over what they need. Nobody volunteers to work now. There was a different regimen for teachers. They had an 8 hour work program.

Q: Do you think that is a bad thing,  that people sticking to their own fields of expertise is not recommended?

  1. I plead for being reasonable. We cannot have expectations as high as others who work harder. We got to the point where people think it’s not necesary or recommended to study more than the bare minimum for survival, reading, writing , adding and substracting. And those who struggle physically and intellectually and financially to go through higher education are not properly

I was an unwilling war veteran. Nobody asked for my opinion or consent when I was called in the army. I never went willingly. Only on demand. But they never asked. I might have even consented. But once they did it like that, you can realize how I felt. Every action calls for a reaction. Mine was a negative reaction. I went with no enthusiasm. Only because I had to. Second, we, the anonymous, people who went through the hard times of the WWII, both soldiers and civilians, are not acknowledged.

Third, I am not at ease with this title, of war veteran, I am a victim of the war, along with the other millions of victims, for entering a war we had no business with, with a righteous goal on one hand , to get back Basarabia, and the people accepted it , with great effort and sacrifice. I had no soldier under my command that was well off, only the poorest of the poor and uneducated. And this year, when our country celebrates its centenary, nobody talks about this immense sacrifice people made back then, to save this country. They only talk about our so called friends now that terrorized and slaughtered us during the war. With no mercy. They would stop the trains, people would get out and run in the fields and they would gun them down. And I’m done.

I was born in the Maiorești commune, who, at the time, it was a large commune, it had a mayor and a public notary and everything. Now it’s only a small village because everyone left, just as I did. I am a proud son of a peasant, and I did farming work at home until I graduated 7th grade. Our household had 10 people in all, grandpa, grandma, mother, father and 6 children. I was the eldest. My father sent me to watch the cattle, when I was 14,  on one such occasion, and one of my uncles came and spoke to me. You see, my father was a harsh man and he liked things done a certain way. That was when I lost the cattle in a clover field, one of my mother’s brothers sent me there. I gave the cattle water, one of the cows that was pregnant but still had three more months to go, collapsed and started wriggling its legs. I knew from my family that was the case where I needed to slaughter it and drain the blood so the meat would be edible. I had a small pen knife and I started to cut her throat. One man passed by in a cart and told me my father would kill me because of that, because he was so harsh, you see. Iwas crying and ran away. My father came with some other people and took the cow home where he slaughtered it and started giving pieces of it to the neighbours. But the calf was due as a tax for property. I hid in a neighbour’s hay shed for three days. One girl, Emilia, 2 years older than me, would come and bring me a small plate of milk and some bred and would lie to her mother saying she had a small kitten to feed. I came out after 3 days. My father called me to the house and fed me. Then he brought a small bag and a whip. And he beat me hard, gave me the bag and sent me away, saying that I was never to return home. I left crying, on the left side of the Mureș, at the Aluniș Mureș  train station. I knew geography and history, I liked them in school. I crossed the river on foot, through water, my hemp pants and shirt were all soaked. I asked around the station about a train to Bucharest. My plan was to go and learn a trade, since I liked machines. Our lives were very difficult back then. When my father put the mamaliga on the wooden platter, he would take the thread and cut it and would say: do you know how much goes into this mamaliga? you need to go and plough the field, sow, put fertilizer. That was his theory. So back at the station there was one pointman, God help him, the pointmen and brakesmen saved me, and helped me get to Bucharest. He showed me how to get on a freight train. Back then, pointmen and brakesmen would hold the trains, not the mechanics.

I get on a brake cabin and got to close to Miercurea Ciuc, I was wet and cold and had to get off because the train was dismanteled. There, another pointman showed me to another train towards Brasov. I spent 6 days and night on train until I reached Bucuresti. From Brasov I got on a train to Comarnic.

Q: How was everythig?

A: I was curious and excited even though I was worried and upset. From Comarnic, a brakesman got into the brake cabin and beat me up, then he let me go to Ploiesti. Then another train. The trains ran much slower back then, not like nowadays. Another brakesman got in and I wanted to jump off the moving train but he stopped me. He had this small wooden chest and flag with him. I was crying: please don’t beat me I need to get to Bucharest and learn machine trade, ever since I was a little boy. That brakesman asked me to tell him the whole story. I no longer had the bag where my father had put a piece of ovenbaked cornbread before telling me to never go back home. That brakesman told me that train would take me to Chitila, near Bucuresti. I was to walk for 1,5 km all the way to Cățelu station, where there would be a train full of workers from Pitesti. I was to take that train, unnoticed, and get to the North station. Once there I was to go right for 1 kilometer until I would reach Matache Măcelaru market. This man took out a piece of bread and lard and fed me. I was famished. I reach that market and beg the people selling there for a loaf of bread. One produce merchant took pity on me, asked me to tell him my story, arranged a cot for me under his booth. And told me we were to wait for some driver delivering produce from the country. This guy’s brother in law had a big workshop on Polonă street and it was worth asking if he took any apprentices. I spent a couple of days under that man’s booth, he gave me some food,  and I was content. The driver came and looked at me. I was filthy from the train brake cabins, from the smoke. He said his brother in law needed apprentices. After he unloaded the produce from the truck and then got me in the truck, first time in my life in any car. I was fascinated by his driving. When we got to that workshop, the owner, master Jenică, that is Jean Popescu, he asked me my story. He said he would keep me for 3 years without pay, he would feed me and clothe me but he would also teach me trade and give me a start. I thanked him in tears. He called a 3rd year apprentice and told hime to take me for a bath and then give me some clothes, that were too big for me. He had a cook that prepared meals for us, all 3 apprentices. Each day at noon, she would bring us food and I was happy to be fed. I would sweep the yard, get under cars. He had 2 mechanics and 3 apprentices. Big shop for that time, Polonă street 124 rth. First year went by. I was so fast and sharp. Then, in the second year I became second hand to my master, who was in love with some actress at the National Theater. He would take me in the car with him  when he met her, in all kinds of places, Râioasa  forest and such. He owned land and had hunting guns. He would give me one and would tell me to stay in the car and wait for them at the edge of the woods. They would walk around in the woods and he told me to wait there and shoot anyone who got close, he would cover for that if it happened. I prayed no one would come. 2 years went by. It was in 1937 when I got to the 3rd year. The mistress would come over  and he instructed me to tell her where he was and what he did. She would call me little Ionică. I was so small, you see, it’s a pity I don t have any photograph from that time. She would come and ask of the master’s whereabouts. I would tell her as instructed. The 3rd year. Master Jenică would stamp my training card each month  for the Work Authority and during my third year he told me I was supposed to register at the Work Authority. He said he would start paying me. Yes, sir, master Jenică. I had wages of sorts. Not in cash. We were 3 apprentices and he sent us to the movie theater. But we had rules and curfew and he disciplined us, mainly by beating us. But he made us all whole men. 6 months after I finished my training, he said to go with him over to some shoemaker to order some fancy shoes and then to a tailor and order a suit for me. The mistress was to buy me shirts and ties, magpies we called them. When I got my qualification as a mechanic, I told him I wanted to learn how to drive. He agreed and taught me. This is how I made my way in the world, all dressed up. Once, when I was walking downtown two girls passed me by and commented laudingly on my shoes. Another time, I was walking alone on the streets, I saw a peasant in front of me. I saw the clothes, he was a war veteran and had free pass on trains. He delivered produce to grocery stores each morning and went back home by train at night. I passed him by and then went back and greeted him, since I had recognized him. He greeted me back, surprised as to how I knew him. For almost 4 years I had not written home. Nobody knew where I was. My mother, God rest her soul, held services for the dead for me, because people were found dead in the Mureș river, on the train tracks. I told him my status. He told me nobody home believed I was still alive and that I should go home for a visit. I agreed and accompanied him everywhere in the city that day. In the evening, since I had money from my master, I stopped a cab and took him to a restaurant where my master and his mistress used to eat and had me wait outside in the car with the gun. But he kept sending me food. When I got there with old Gheorghe from my village, there was a scene for dancers there. The waiter let us in. We ordered food and the guy was bewildered by the almost naked girls on that stage. He spent the night at my place. I gave him the adress and in one week’s time he came back with my father. One of the mechanics let us know two peasants were looking for the kid, that’s what they called me until I left. The master let them in. My father said he had come to take me home if the master agreed. The master reprimanded my father for beating me up and chasing me away. My father was crying and begged him to let me go home, since nobody in my village knew if I was alive or not. The master agreed. It was 1940 . I was working at my master’s shop and he paid me but retained most of the money, he’d give me only some for what he thought I might need for expenses, in order to keep me out of trouble. I went back home with my father and we got there around 6, 7 in the evening. At 1 in the morning people would still come over to see me alive. My master had given me three months wages in advance to have a grand return and pay for people’s drinks and music and dance and all in my village. And we held a party. In 1940 they issued the decree about the cedation  of the northern Ardeal to the Hungarians. I couldn’t speak a word in Hungarian. Romanians were really oppressed and were not allowed to speak Romanian. I wanted to go back to Bucharest where my living and my work was. It was nearly Christmas when I got the call to the army, the Hungarian army. The Hungarians made a thorough census of the population, with all the information. They had me registered as a mechanic and a driver. Around Christmas 1942 I was called to arms and I was really upset about it, very determined to go over the border to Romania. From my village to Reghin it is an 18 kilometer distance which I walked. I had both my Hungarian and Romanian identity papers. There, I went to see the owner of a grocery store and told him I wanted to go to Romania. I asked for his help. He told me he would give me a demijohn with spirit, mixed with sugar, cinnamon and clove, which I was supposed to take to the border. My story was that I wanted to hold a party for the seeing off of young men going to army, as it was the custom. I went to the broder guard picket, at the crossroad between the road to Târnăveni and the one to Luduș. One kilometer away there was the Romanian flag. It was January already, really cold. I was warmly clothed. The guy at the picket could speak Roamnian. I told him my story and showed him the demijohn. I showed him the paper  I got for mobilization. They called 3 more guards and on some benches in the picket there were guards sleeping. They fed me and kept me over night. I would go out and looked for a way tot the Romanian flag and barrier, one kilometer away. I feigned to be sick from the stomach. At some point, there were 3 guards from one side, 3 more from the other side coming to drink. Then they left, they exchanged guards at the picket. I went outside again, pretending to be sick again and they did not notice. I started walking slowly towards the barrier over the field. When I got to the Romanian picket they stopped me. I told them I was a refugee. They would not let me and tried to send me away. I lay down to the ground. Two guards kept watch on me. They came to strip search me and looked for grenades and weapons. I told them who I was and where I wanted to go.  They took me inside and I slept there together with some other men they had caught on the border. In the morning there came a train from Războieni. All of us got on that train, under army guard and were taken to Câmpia Turzii to a home for refugees where they fed us and issued us refugee papers. They told us to wait to be distributed. Romania was under siege, because there was big trouble with the legionnaires and people were not allowed to travel by train without permission. There were patrols going about in each village. If they saw three people talking, they ordered them to split and go away. From that refugee home I started off to Bucharest. I went to the train station in Câmpia Turzii and asked a pointman for advice. He said that he had received orders to pay great attention to the points because a train had just passed and it would return right away. He told me to wait by the tracks further away from the station. It was really cold. The train comes and some people get off it I could hear them talking. I kept watching. for the right moment to grab onto the engine. I grabbed onto the grid from the mechanic’s cabin, one foot on the buffer and the other on the traction hook. The engine starts, and all the way to Brașov he made no stop. When the engine passed through the railroad overpasses where there was snow, I was all covered in snow in that cold. That kept on for more than 2 hours. 30 more minutes and I would fall off, frozen. Once in Brașov, a patrol came over and barely took me down, I could hardly speak. They took me in to defrost and in the morning they started asking me questions. I told them I wanted to get to Bucharest. They said I could not and told me to find someone, a place to stay in Brașov and find work there and stay. I had a cousin who was with the police. I called him and he came down there, all surprised to see me there. He took me to his house. He had 2 daughters, I stayed there for about 2 weeks, but his wife had no job and I said I needed his help to find work so that I could earn my keep. He said he would take me to the canon factory in Brașov where they needed mechanics and drivers, as they worked orders  from the army. So he takes me there, they draw my hiring papers and send me to the Army mobilization center to be exempted from military service, as an employee for that canon factory that worked for the army. That’s what I did. I ran into a lieutenenant who searched my papers and to whom I told why I was there. He first cursed me quite nastily. You are one of us. Where do you want to go? To the mechanics division in Buzau? Or in Brasov? Ok. He drew the papers, it was about 10 o’clock am. He let me go with a guard that escorted me to the bombardment fleet and from there they took my clothes and at 4 in the afternoond I was all dressed up a soldier. They took me to the dorm room. I spent one month in training, but that was supposed to last 3 months. They mustered a mechanics plutoon and took us to the hangar so that we could specialize in airplanes. The airport and the hangars were close to the airplane factory in Brașov. I finished my training tere. In May or June, we get orders to prepare the airplanes. We would take care of them because those planes were meants to land on fields, on rough ground and we needed to ensure their maintenance. First we went flying over the mountains to Buzau. From there we flew to Focsani. Barely a week later they moved us to an airport, in a forest, near Sihlea, between Focșani and Râmnicu Sărat. Time went by. June 21st, Marshall Antonescu said: Romanian soldiers, I give you order to cross the Prut! 2 o’clock in the morning they gave the alarm to prepare and test the planes. At the break of the day, about 4:30, 5 in the morning, the first plane took off to Basarabia, which was occupied by the Russians. The Țiganca forest, full of them, equipment and all. First bombardment was upon that forest. We came back. From 3000 m high, I could see them coming out of the forest like ants. My mission was to stay in the back and tend to the plane, once it landed. In my village there was this cantor who used to preach about faith to the women and say: there will be a drought, there will be a flood, they will come with iron beaked birds that will shed fire upon us, they will burry us alive. I was about 10 years of age and told him nevermind that, old Grigore in the valley has a gun and he can shoot down those birds. And he’d send me away to mind my own busines. That is what I remebered then. We were the iron beaked birds sheding fire upon people.

Time passes. Basarabia is freed. We get to the airport in Tarutino, then we went on following the German and Romanian frontline to Nikolaev, in the winter of 1942; then to Kivoerod, then to Nipopetronski, when the Germans and the Romanians were campaigning in Stalingrad. From there we moved after a short while to an airport in Odessa. There we stayed for a very long time, ’43, ’44, and the situation turned. The Russian frontline advanced rapidly westwards. The Germans were retreating. We were always behind the frontline, would cross the operative lines and bombed the enemy. And then we would get back to the base, 150-200 km away. We went on a few missions when we were in Odessa. There were 7 of us on the plane: two pilots, the board mechanic, the radio operator, and three air shooters. One at the front, one up and one down. After the bombing, on our way back, the plane reached  something  like an air pocket and one guy from Basarabia, Ciocion Ion was his name, jumped off the plane and opened the parachute. We had orders that in such a case, to shoot the jumper down, lest he should get to the enemy. I say that to the shooter and he just let him go. We went back to the base. The planes took off in 3’s to go on missions. All three of them went back and there were 6 more on the ground. In the afternoon the Russians came and started really heavy bombing from their planes and destroyed almost all of the 9 planes we had there. We could no longer go on missions and we got orders to retreat to Bucharest. I was also a driver; it was June, July, maybe and  the bombardment  fleet commander, Gogu Popescu, who knew me from before, took me as a driver when he returned from Odessa. I stayed at his house, shared the room with his orderly. Each morning we left to the airport in his car. On August 23rd, King Mihai was announced to give an important message for the country. The commander ordered me to prepare the car in case we might need to go to the quarters. After the message was aired, we get into the car and reach the quarters.On our left there was a German guard, on the right there was a Romanian guard. They salute us, not knowing about the king’s message on the radio. I stayed in the car in front of the quarters. At some point, there was a machine gun rattle. We thought we should run. There were some pilots called to quarters that went in but  then the German guard did not let anyone go inside. The Germans occupied the airport and everything. What were we supposed to do? Behind the quarters there were some trenches, by the Crenciului creek valley. The commander decided we should hide there. All night long, there was shooting, we didn’t know who shot whom, there were also the sounds of plane engines. We stayed there the day after. At daybreak, the second day, a Mountain troop batalion crossed over from Întorsura Buzăului, and they took the airport back. The Germans took their planes and left with whatever they could. Then, everyone in there got to the quarters. The nights spent in the trenches were cold and miserable. And the commander said to put the bonnet on the tip of the bayonnette and lift it. The Germans shot at us, knowing we were there. The bonnet came off. After they took the airport back, we stayed at the quarters. Our troops were advancing freeing Ardeal. They freed the airport in Cluj, it was close to winter, about November.  From Cluj we bombed several places in Hungary. From there we went along with the Romanian and Russian troops, chasing off Hungarians and Germans, and we got to Miskolc airport, in Hungary. I don t know how long we stayed there. We got to another airport, somewhere in Czechoslovakia. And from there, again, we went towards Germany. We soldiers didn’t know exactly where we were, There was a mission to bomb Germany or Austria and when we got back from there, taking photogtraphs, we chased some German fighter planes. The shooter said that we were being folowed. Behind us there were three Messerschmidts, like flies, coming after us and our shooters started firing so they kept their distance. The plane started smoking on our right and the pilot declared we needed to force land. Luckily we flew over several towns and fields and there we decided to force land. The pilot was very skilled, Ședeșiu Ion by his name. He nose dived the plane, full throttle, there were power lines on both sides. The pilot reared the plane violently as we were nearing the ground at high speed, then a second time and reduced speed, and we landed on our belly. I was behind the pilots, they had damaged their legs in the landing, everyone fell over all over the place. The shooter from behind fell on my back and shoved my nose in the pilot’s seat. I had my nose split in half all the way. Once the plane stopped, it started burning low. We got off the plane. I had all the tools on me. The door was jammed. I looked for the sledge hammer and grabbed it. I was the strongest of them all, the least harmed. We got off with great difficulty. They were all wounded. We made it onto the ground. The observer said we should crawl as far away from the plane  because we had ammonition on board. The fire was getting larger and he was worried the plane might blow up if the flames got to the fuel tank. We walked a short distance and we heard a big boom. The plane twisted towards fuselage. Then the cartridges started to pop. We were crawling with the cartridges flying around us. In about one or two hours, a Russian car approached. Alone in the field, the plane was burning. 2 Russian women and three Russian men lowered the shutter and started carrying us into that car. They threw us in and started off. We drove for about an hour, after they bandaged all of us, me for the nose haemorrhage. They also bandaged my eyes. They took us out, I could not see where they were taking us. Ever since we got separated on that day, I never heard from those guys that were on the plane with me  again. The shooters, the radio operator. The worst thing is not being able to speak any foreign language at all. I could hear German, a  bit of Hungarian, the Russians speaking. They helped us around, took me in an elevator, they dragged me on a bed where I stayed till morning. Someone then came and took off my bandages, my nose was crooked, all stitched up. I looked in the mirror and I started wailing about my trouble, scared that nobody would look at me again with that nose. That’s when I heard a voice calling in Romanian asking who I was and what was wrong. A woman came to me and asked about me. I asked her where she was from. She was from the Târnava Mare county, her husband had been in the SS, and he had been killed somewhere. She had gotten a job as a nurse at that hospital and that is when I learned we were in Vienna, which I hadn’t known before. She said she would take care of me, she took me to a room in the hospital, talked to some doctor there. Only the next day she came and took me to see a German doctor. He looked at me and told her to tell me that the surgery had to be done without anaesthetic because the wound was too close to the yes and there was a risk of me going blind. I agreed. They took me away, bound my hands and feet. They took out the stitches one by one and I was dumb with pain. I only groaned. He cleaned it, cleaned and stitched me properly this time. They carried me away into a room. This German woman, Gerda, warned me not to move my jaw at all, even if I was thirsty and needed to drink. She brought me tea and gave it to me in a spoon. She warned me not to speak in order to heal . She kept coming and taking care of me. I started talking in a few days and told her all my troubles. She was 2 years older than me. She said she would go on taking care of me. She brought me everything she could muster, the best she could. I spent 3 months in that hospital. After one month she asked if she could lie down in bed with me. I was shy. nevermind she said. And we fell in love. Gerda asked me to stay with her, she said she would teach me German, find me a good job, as a driver perhaps at that hospital. My parents, ever since I escaped, in 1941,  knew nothing of me, until 1945. God was kind to me, we made friends, she really took care of me in a special way. On May 3rd I fell, on the 9th there was the cease fire. And I was looking out the window at the Russians firing their guns up. And she pulled me back so I would not get shot by accident. I healed and then got out of the hospital. I told her I needed to go home and let my parents know I was well. The people were again surprised to see me. I went back to the fleet, gave back my pistol, I put on civilian clothes. I was scared about the Germans coming back, as the rumour went around. There was this first sergeant, Hedeșiu, when I was demobilized. He drew up my service record stating I had been assigned only on Romanian territory, lest the Germans caught me afterwards and do something as a revenge if they learned I had been on bombing mission there. We had heard the war was still not over, cause the Germans had the atomic bomb. I was glad about him drawing up my records like that.

I went back to my village then. Nobody knew me, again. I didn’t stay there long and went back to my master. In Bucharest there was trouble again, again with the legionnaires, and marshall Antonescu, a sort of siege. I barely made it to Bucharest. It was 1945, after the war ended.  The year before, Bucharest was smashed in bombings. My master had a big villa, which the enemy  must have mistaken for a significant target. The workshop was bombed and their house, which was huge, also. Behind the house everyone had to dig trenches, as an order from Antonescu, as a shelter in case of bombing . A bomb fell at one end  of that trench and killed 48 people that were taking cover in there. No master. Where was I supposed to go? I went over to one of his friends’house, master Fănică, who I knew had a cab company. I went to see him and he recognized me as master Jenică’s kid. He gave me a cab to work, 20% off. I worked and earned honestly and he was pleased. He told me to go out late at night because that was when the good pay was. But I had read in the paper, Informația Bucureștiului, about a driver having been found some place, murdered by thieves. I was scared and told him I would rather return home with the car at nightfall. I didn’t like working as a cabdriver anymore. I read an add about Grivița Roșie, for  the construction site in  Salva Vișeu, that were looking to hire mechanics and drivers.  It was  about March 1946.  I go there and get hired, I get money for the road. They showed me 20 trucks for which they were looking for drivers. (…..)

We parted in tears. I loved Gerda, she had saved me.  It was a passionate love but I missed my village, I missed Romania and my master. he had died in the bombing. Our separation was the hardest thing, I hope she is well and sound. When I left home, she gave me provisions for the road. But I didn’t know which way to go. I asked people in signs. The bridges were broken, the trains didn’t run properly. I had been in that hospital for 3 months, long after our troops had retreated. There was no one. The Germans were retreating and pillaging on their way. I finally made it on a train that was supposed to go to Romania. A Russian armed with a gun came in and pointed it at me. I explained who I was and he signed to me to get off the train, that was already moving, 10 maybe 15 km per hour. I wanted to jump but I might have placed my foot wrong and was struggling and he shoved me with his boot. The train had engines at both ends and it was going up a slope in a curve and when I fell off the train, I hid in that curve for fear he would shoot me. My bandage came off. In the distance I spot a dusty road. The Russians had the bad habit of shooting at everything and everyone, no explanation asked and given. I started towards that dusty road. There was a car approching me from behind and I was really scared that the Russians might shoot me. My aviation uniform was blue, very similar to the Germans. I thought I was done with. I wait by the side of the road and salute when the car passes by. They stop. I start crying soldat rumânskii. He signs me to get up in the car. There were three Russians singing in there. One of them asked me if I had any food. I said yes.  He takes out a can of food, slices it with the bayonnette and gives it to me to eat. Then he pulls out a mug and pours me some wine from a demijohn. I tried to refuse, on account of the treatment after the surgery. But he wouldn’t have it. He made me drink over and over again and I got really drunk after all this time of abstinence. I got to a small town. We got to an official looking building where he sits me down  and then sends me on my way. I wander about confused, asking around, Romania, Romania, I was scared even to speak, because I didn’t know who I might be talking to. I end up getting on a random train, I couldn’t catch even a word in Romanian. After crossing a big bridge, the train arrives in Carei, in Romania. I stepped down the train, kneeled and kissed the ground, thanking God I had made it back home. I walked and took trains in turn until I got home to Maioresti. Again, there I was, to their surprise, still in my uniform. Then I got to Bucharest but I found nothing there. After that, from 1946 till 1949 I worked as a mechanic at that construction site in Salva Vișeu. The director noticed me for being a good mechanic. I replaced another guy who was an absolute disaster. That guy left and I met him, 6 or 7 years later, when he was the head of Securitate in Cluj. He recognized me on the spot. The general director took me as his driver. He offered me to chose from several options for an education and a career. Army, workers university to become an engineer. The army I was fed up with. As for the university, I had no means to support myself for those three years. He told me I could get married to one of the pretty girls on the street, go to Bucharest with her, find her a job to support me while I would be studying. I said I could not do it. After 3 years in Salva Vișeu, I went to Piatra Neamt for another year and then all around the country where they were building railways. Once a month I needed to go to Bucharest  to get a paper certifying the equivalence of studies in work. Then I went to Orăștie, in 1952 I got married, we had our children, I was making good money as head of the garage, we bought a piece a land and started building a house.

Q: Did you join the Communist party?

A: Yes. I spent two years as a driver for the head of the forest direction. Some party guy came and said they needed someone to appoint as technical inspector at the City transport company. I passed an interview and after one year two party guys came and asked me to join the party because they said I could not hold a high position without it. In 10 minutes I was made a member. I spent 10 years at that transport company as a technical inspector.

Q: Have you ever been asked to join the Securitate?

A: No. I was a technical guy. I was never sorry. I am happy now, with my children and my grandchildren, even if it was not always easy. We spent 26 years building our house, we had to rent places. When the children were very young, I remember going to a center downtown where they had the only TV set in town and we watched the movie Robin Hood. My life was not easy.

Q: What was the most impactful thing you remember from the war?

A: Everything, every mission was very difficult. One expected to die at any moment. I was a very hard worker, very dilligent and industrious. I was fast and neat. God helped me through all my troubles, because life is made of both good and bad. Whenever I got on that plane to go on a mission, I prayed to God to help me see the ground again. But you never knew. At my current  age I can declare that I am the happiest man alive. I am well respected, especially in the Veterans association, I meet the president of the local branch each Tuesday for talks.

Q: Have you been in contact with any of your comardes from the front?

A: No. Ever since we got separated after that crash, I never saw them again. I was never a big guy but I was really quick on my feet.

Q: Please, tell me a bit about yourself.

A: I was born on the 23rd of February 1923, in Gorunesti, Vâlcea county. Right after middle school, I went to the Military school in Craiova where I stayed for 4 years. But I was the only country boy in that school. Everybody else came from upperclass families, generals, landowners. My nickname was Mocassin boy (rough equivalent of traditional leather shoes worn by peasants). And it s not as if I was held in high regard by the school management. In the 4rth grade, I fell sick and they sent me to the military hospital in Bucharest. Once I came back, the school year ended and I did not graduate with everyone else, I was supposed to take my exam in the fall, but when fall came, I didn t get approval for this, so I ended up thrown out of the military school for being a simple country bot. My father decided to send me a pedagogical school. I could only find a place in Tg. Mures. I got accepted and one year later, part of ardeal was ceded to the Hungarians and thus, the pedagogical school in Tg. Mures ceased to exist. I was assigned to the pedagocial school in Craiova, which I graduated in 1943. While I was in military school, I really liked French. One of my professors pointed me towards some extra French classes  in town, so I was really fluent in French. I was supposed to continue my studies in France but then the Germans came. They came in Craiova, the headmaster was quite a Germanophile, he agrred to host the German military headquarters in our school. The headmaster warned me to not let anybody know that I knew French, since they weren t keen on it. That was my first contact with the army. I graduated in July and in September I got mobilized and sent to Bălcești, Vâlcea county. I was sent to a military school for reserve officers. But I wanted to go to a similar school in Ineu, near Arad.

Q: tell me a bit about the war.

A: When I was mobilized, the first part of the war, in Russia, was already over. I was sent to the 2nd Dorobanți regiment in Rm. Vâlcea. They didn t accept me in the school for reserve officers, because I had poor eyesight and I needed glasses. Even now, the same. I cannot see a thing. I had to go to Craiova and my father gave me some silver coins. I gave two of them to some doctor there and he said other people paid him to send them away from the regiment while I paid him to get accepted. So he declared me apt for the military school for reserve officers in Ineu, Arad county. Even though I had spent 3 years in the military school in Craiova, I started with the first year. My plutoon company commander liked me.

One night, we got news that, they had learned about a lady spy in a cove nearby Ineu, and that we, the students from that military school, needed to go there and capture her.

Q: What other elements for her identification were there? How did they come to know she was a spy?

A: They knew she had been launched from an airplane from Germany in that forest and they assumed sh must have been a spy, of course. I was a plutoon commander, I took my plutoon and the company commander and deployed them on the field in order to capture that spy. I warned them to be careful and have the guns ready. When I got closer to that place, the woman came out aiming the pistol at me. One of the guys saw this and shot her in the arm holding the gun. They took her away and I got a 2 week leave for the success of that mission.

I spent very little time with my  Regiment, most of it I was with the military school. In the vicinity of the school, there was quite a bit of flat land, a few hectars, where they had trainings. At the end of that land, there was a river with water mills. Beyond that rivere, there was a forest, where we would take our breaks in the shades. Our schoo, got orders to retreat to the mountains, along this river and guard it until the Russians arrived. That s what we did. I was a second year and had a machine gun in my plutoon. The Germans attacked us and advanced towards the river. I took position by a tree trunk and had a first year student with me to supply me the ammonition. But the rule was to first spot the machine guns in a battle. I was it and therefore they targeted me. The guy who was there with me stopped reloading me with ammonition because we were under concentrated fire and he didn t want to be exposed. Meanwhile, the Russians arrived. They immedately replaced us, we left to a village nearby, Joia Mare. I don t know what happened after that. My captain asked me why I exposed myself shooting with that machine gun. And I said we were at war and that was my duty. Down there in Joia Mare, our company was split in two. Our captain got orders to march in a cove 200 m away to the left of the defense Hungarian line. I proposed to the captain something to come to the Russians help. To take my plutoon crawling  close to the ungarian troops and open fire, which they surely did not expect. And that would scare them away.  One of the officers agreed with me. I got approval. I asked my plutoon to spread in a single file, next to each other, guns loaded and ammonition in their pockets and start crawling towards the enemy. Some of the guys in my plutoon were ok with it, others thought I was crazy. And that is what we did, When we got close to them, about 100-150 m away, we started heavy shooting. That scared them indeed, because, you see, in war, the defense is under attack when they send airplanes and bomb raid it to clear the path for the infantry. When the Russians came they came straight to the place where we kept shooting. We retreated and they continued fighting until they took a huge part of theat defense line. That is where the breakthrough to German territory was made. Word spread out as to who was the author. So I gained some sort of authority, which I claimed, to my captain s dislike. That was my mistake, I am aware of that, but I asked to have the captain s ear at all times. We retreated afterwards, the Russians did wonders with that breakthrough in the Hungarian and German defense line. We were on the move and stayed in villages where we could find shelter and food. We met no trouble back then.

Q: What did you feel about Romania joining the war?

A: I m going to anser with a soldiers song: Last night near Prut/ The war started, / Romanians go beyond it again/ to take back by guns and shields/ the land that was lost last summer/ We march onto Basarabia/ full of grains/ full of harvest/ and in Bucovina, full of songs and flowers./ We march into the fight,/ Dear comarades. And this I think answers your question. Getting back Basarbia as necessary. Basarabia needed to reunite with mother land.

Q: What was the worst impression from the war that stayed with you in time?

A: I couldn t say.

Q: How about good impressions? A joy?

A: After the war ended, everything was…. I don t know, I never thought about it.

Q: Is there any event that made a strong impression on you during the war?

A: This. Living in the military, what we did for our country and for the Romanian army. Even now, anything for the country, even if i m old.

Q: Were you in contact with your family?

A: Back then? Yes. My father was also on the front, as an officer dealing with military hospitals. When I got that two week leave in Rm Vâlcea, he was stationed i the building of Mircea cel Bătrân highschool, that had been turned into a military hospital. I knew he was there and looked for him. He was surprised to  see me.

Q: How did you take the decision to cross the Nistru?

A: When we crossed the Prut into Basarabia, there was talk about the Russians having uprooted the Romanian local population and moved them beyond the Nistru into new settlements. I was for crossing the Nistru to get to those people. That was what we were being told.

Q: What did you think about Antonescu?

A: I liked him then.

Q: Did you have any political affiliation before the war?

A: No.

Q: How about after 89?

A: No, I did not. In that regard, I minded my own business.

Q: What was your relationship with the officers during the war?

A: I thought I was better than them. We the students of military schools, thought we were better trained than the old officers. We knew more practical things.

Q: When you came back from the war, did you share stories with your family?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you remeber what it was like in the army before and after the 23rd August 1944?

A: I couldn t say. I was not living with the army back then so I have no information.

Q: But do you remember the changes occurred in the transistion from the royal army to the communist one?

A: I m sorry to say that I don t.

Q: How was your interaction with the Russians officers as allies?

A: Very good. We supported them in their efforts in order to help free the Romanian territories from the Russians. Which was not their main concern of course.

Q: I meant after the alliance with the Russians.

A: Nothing special. The bare minimum.

Q: Do you remeber what your life was before the war? family income? way of life? how did you spend your time?

A: My father was a school teacher in the country. He was well off and life was good. We had the respect of the community. Our home was in Bălcești, and our main activity was maintaining the household. We organized balls with the young people in the village. Once the Communist regime took over, there were no more balls.

Q: Why do you think that was?

A: Very good question. Because most of the young people had graduated schools and had changed their priorities, they were looking for jobs.

Q: What about the ones that came after you.? Were  there any social or ideological barriers?

A: No, I cannot say that there were. It s just that the elder people would no longer open doors for this kind of stuff. For instance, we used to have balls at the school, that was no longer allowed.

Q: What hobbies did young people and children have before the war?

A: They looked forward to a very full and rich life.

Q: Did you maintain contact with your friends?

A:  My friends, part of them, were not accepted immediately after the war. They preferred young people who were enthusiastic supporters of the Communists.

Q:  How many joined the Communist party?

A: I couldn t say. Those my age hardly joined the party. I for one joined it only in 1967-68.

Q: Why did you join?

A: I was in a multi ethnical commune. In that part of Ardeal, men were mostly in the military. As a war officer, I had to be a battalion commander. At some point we got armamanent. And we had shooting training with the people in the village. Around 86, 87. Near Baia Mare. I was therefore in charge of that armamanent. I shared the responsibility with the head of the Miliția. And this kind of responsibility came with the obligation to be a party member. I had previously wanted to join the party but I had not been allowed on account of my family having been land owners. Which the Communists did not like.

Q: What other repercussions were there for you on this particular account?

A: Big ones. In the sense that I could not, nor my wife, continue my education, particularly university, because we did not have a blue collar background. For 30 years I taught Math without any fomal qualification. I was a highschool principal for 30 years. The raion was led mostly by Hungarians. At some point there came two Romanians as well, one of them fom Oltenia. This guy, in Ardeal there was this custom, once you had drinks with someone you got to first name basis. This guy was a local party oragnization secretary and I needed him in my activity with th schools, the boarding school, the school garden,  growing food for the children etc. Once they wanted to kick me out of teaching. There was a law that said that a teacher who struck a student is to be fired on the spot. At some point, this teacher comes and says: Headmaster, your son and another student left my class and are on the sport court playing with the ball. I called them and slapped both of them and sent them to class. The janitor comes a while later and calls me to the party organization quarter, because apparently the secretary had seen me slap the boys and decided to fire me. But the mayor and everybody else were indignant. I explained that he was my son and there was no law against that. Everybody else then stood up for me.

Q: Did you at that time feel any pressure on your rights to practice your faith, if compared to the time before the war??

A: Rights, you see, as a young child I stepped on the new rights. I didn t go to church, I only went once and I was told to cut that off. But before the war I used to go to church. I started going to church again only when I came to live in Râmnicu Vâlcea, because it was a larger community and lesser pressure on the people who attended.

Q: Any message for those who will listen to this 3, 10, 30 years from now.

A: They should know that young people in that time was the army of the country and that they fought and sacrificed themselves for language, faith and the Romanian territory, from border to border. That is what I would like them to know. For Ardeal. (Singing… ) This is what I lived and this is hat I wish, reuniting Romania with Basarabia and getting back the Romania from before 1940, because that was the large Romania.

My name is Ciobanu Gheorghe Florin, I was born in Iasi in 1930. My mother and parents lived in Roman. My mother had complications with the pregnancy, she got admitted in hospital in Iasi, Precista Mare it was called, and she gave birth to me and my twin and then we went back to Roman. We lived there until 1935. My mother broke up with my father. I stayed with my father and my mother took my younger brother.

Q: brave women, it was not common for women to get divorce back then.

A: True, but my mother was a midwife at the hospital in Roman and she helped with the birth of nearly evrybody in Roman. There were many Jews in Roman at that time. So, they separated. My father took me to bucharest and I attended elementary school on the Monetării street, near Piața Victoriei, and we used to live around Chibrit, on a street called Depozitul sanitar ( sanitary warehouse). Because of our situaion, my father getting married again, he must have had quarrel with my stepmother, so in 1942 he sent be to training the 1st Fighter Fleet in Bucharest, Pipera. I was 12. They had the operational airport there for the defense of Bucharest. There were 22 children under supervision at a warehouse company. Each of us attended the vocational school in Bucharest and we would commute to our unit. After school, we would be assigned to various workshops; I went through them all, shoemaking, tailoring, armament, and for the last part I was a courier between the 1st Fighter Fleet and the 3rd air base from the airport. After a while, we were assigned to our trades, I was sent assistant electrician at ASAN Pipera, where they did airplane maintenance, for all sorts of planes, like Messerschmitts, bombers etc. Because of the war our unit was disbanded. Throughout the war we took part in various events. We would observe  everything that went on with the plane, the preparation, the warming of the engines, when they got up to go on mission. There was a special squadron from Berlin, Germany, with pilots ready for the defense of Bucharest and one could see the difference between the possibilities of our pilots and the Germans. They were far better equipped and nourished than ours. For instance our pilots had to prepare for flight and sit on the grass or under the plane s belly whereas the Germans had sofas where they were served brandy, chocolate and other things. In 1943 they started to fly over Romania, the big units, the Americans started bomb raiding Bucharest. Part of them split and flew towards Ploiesti in order to bomb the oil refinery there, because was supplying oil from the Prahova valley to Germany. There were units where we had to work together with the Germans, until August 23rd 1944. I was in Popesti Leordeni that day. Our unit had been disbanded and we were left in custody of the army. Given the fact that army children had been discharged, I had nowhere to go, because my father wouldn t have. So I stayed in popesti Leordeni until the winter of 1945. A driver took pity on me and took me in his home, in Gura Ocniței, Gorgoteni, Dâmbovița county. I continued as an assistant electrician until 1950 when I was recruited to go back to the army. I started my service and on December 30th I was took the exam for the Military Aviation school in Focșani. In 1952 I graduated with the rank of aviation lieutenant. After that I was assigned to the hydroaviation unit in Palazu Mare, Mamaia.

Q: Going back to the war. What sort of relations were there between the German officers and the Romanian ones and later on between the Russians officers and our own?

A: Between the German and the Romanian officers there were relations as between allies, but you could see the differences of treatment. Their clothing, their food, the German unit was separated from the Romanian one, they had their own barracks and infrastructure. They flew together, they had the same navigation system and while there were some animosities, it happened mostly in the city, not in our unit. I was not really a part of these things, we had our own sectors to cover.

I can t remember anything about how things went on with the Russians because I didn t get the chance to notice. The Russians stayed with the 1st Fighter Fleet and we kept on separately in Popesti Leordeni. there was no connection.

Q: What did you do during the war? From start to finnish?

A: We had our dorms separate from the military, we were given clothes and sent to trade  school in Bucharest.We were sent by rotation to various trades, armament, tailoring, all the trades. We were rotated after 1 or 2 weeks until we chose our trade. And I chose to be an assistant electrician for the airplane maintenance. In the mornings we had separate reviews from the troops.

Q: Did you meet any pilots?

A: I knew one pilot, Chirvăsuță, who had struck down a British liberator, somewhere, and I took part in the verification of the maps of the area where that happened. In case of plane crashes, they placed the specific spots on the maps.

Q: What did they use these maps for?

A: These maps were drawn on sectors and regions and various scales and one could better observe the trerrain.

Q: What happened after the war?

A: After the war our unit was turned over to the Soviet army. Our unit was relocated to Popesti Leordeni, all the equipment, office supplices, machines, cars. Some of the officers went in reserve because they were part of the old guard, the capitalist society. And they had fought against the Russians. The aviation units were split in aviation groups. The 9th Fighter Group was part of the units that went to Stalingrad. I don t know anything about what went on there. There were some officers before August 23rd  that came back from the front and told things, not good ones, of course, they came back wounded, they told about the dead, planes taken down. We weren t really keen on hearing about it.

Q: Tell us a bit about the way all managment was changed.

A: After we turned arms against the Germans, some of the officers that did not integrate with the new regime were put in reserve and discharged. They were not given pensions, some were arrested after a while, but some remained active, those who went to war to the West front, In austria and Czechoslovakia.

Q: How did the officers take it?

A: They didn t like it of course, because they were unstopped, which meant they did not receive any pension and it was very hard for them, they had families to support. I can t remember any particular case, but there were quite a few. Most of them were adjutants, not officers, part of the unit that worked the hardest. The squadron commanders were full officers, these guys were adjutants, they had one, 2, 4 birds on the epaulets. They weren t happy at all, being discharged with no benefits, on the grounds of being opposed to the Soviets, they were marginalized.

Q: What else do you remeber? How was life for you before the war.

A: We children were well liked and protected by the officers, some gave us money or a pices of chocolate, some took us to their homes. We were more sheletered than the military. The army children were supposed to be loyal staff, after their eductaion and training they joined the army with valuable previous army experience.

Q: What sort of background did these children have?

A: They came from poor families. The ones that had no resources. It was not easy to become an army child, you needed recommendations and support. Us 22, many of them were poor with no means to live in their families.

Q: What else do you remember about the way of life until the war?

A: Life , even during the war, was a lot more stable and there was abundance. When i still lived with my father, in 1940-41, I could buy a bottle of Cotnari wine, a pack of carton free cigarttes and still got some change from 20 lei. Even during the war living was easier than after the Russians came.

Q: Once the Russians came, what happened to your life in general? What did the new regime entail?

A: Starting from December 1945 I went to a factory in Gorgoteni as an assistant electrician. Life was very difficult, because even though I had a paid job, I got enough to pay rent, buy food and sometimes buy some cloth for a pair of trousers. We got by with great difficulty.

Q: What did people talk about?

A: People worked and got by until they organized the land cooperatives. In 1950 I got mobilized in Târgoviște and joined the military school. My professors had high qualifications, some had two or three university degrees, in France even, and they had an extraordinary attitude towards us. They taught us things which we had no way to know about from our previous education. When I joined the military school, I teachers for all subjects, mechanics, elctronics, military tactics, military training, we were in Focsani, whwere there were two airports, one in the north and one in the south. This is where we did our training on all sorts of planes.

Q: What about Russian propaganda?

A: In our school, the classes were called divisions. All the subjects we studied came after the political activity. We needed to study political documents and learn from them because there were people assigned to quizz us on what we learned. It was mostly about the contributuion of the Soviets in our country, how the Soviet technology was years ahead the capitalist technology, their training as well, all the inventions supposedly came from the Russians. If anyone dared to disagree openly, they would be sent away from the military school. And we realized that and conformed. We were happy to become pilots.

Q: Many of the famous pilots that fought in the war ended up in Communist prisons. Were you aware of that at the time?

A: No. We were told absolutely nothing, it was all secret. We were only allowed to study the approved documents and it was all strictly confidential anyway, all our notes, we had to leave them behind. We had no Russians teachers. There were some commissioners assigned to our school. Only when we got Soviet equipment we had Russians specialists over.

We had German planes of all kinds. Only very much later we got the Yak 11, Russian equipment.

Q: What other significant moments from the communist era?

A: After I graduated the military school, I became a pilot in a hydroaviation unit that was disbanded in 1966, because the material was no longer up to date. Then, I went in reserve and got a job at the Mihail Kogalniceanu as an air traffic controller. In 1968 I was at the kogalniceanu tower. I remember one crew from Czechoslovakia landed on that airport, almost in tears about the events that were unrolling in their country at that time. That was when the security measures at the airport got stricter, we had officers from the Securitate in the tower, because there were rumours about the Russians preparing to invade Romania. Which didn t happen. There was a vibe in the air, until around 1980, things became more lax, we felt a bit freer. From 1970 until 1980 there were huge lines to buy food, we spent all night waiting in line in turns. Since 1980 it became even more difficult, because Ceausescu had the goal to pay all the national debts. My daughter was in college at that time and we had a hard time finding food to take to her.

Q: Your life in democracy?

A: In 1990 I got retired and we got more stable afterwards.

Q: How long were you in the military?

A: As a military child, from 1942 till 1950, and from 1950 unil 1960.

I remeber one thing. When I joined the militay school I had to go through all sorts of filters and went to take a bath, I remeber one of the adjutant telling us the communism would bite us in the ass And it was true, although while in school, we didn t feel it that much, we had a separat regime from the civilians. The menu was well balanced, all the pilots were well provided for. Only 1960, when I went in reserve I could really feel the hardships of civilian life.

One thing I remeber from my activity on the Pipera airport, from what an army guy was telling, there was an incident and a barrel of oil started burning near  the airplanes from a cigarette one of the mechanics had lit. A German officer wanted to shoot that mechanic but he jumped in a barrel of water nearby and that put an end to the dangerous situation. He had caught fire, you see, and he could have set fire to the planes. That is how he made it out alive.

My name Constantin Călina, I am a retired major, born on 13th of August 1931, in commune Prisăceaua, county of Mehedinți. When I was 12 years old, the teacher from my village recommended me for practice in trade in Turnu Severin. on September 1st 1933 I was hired as an apprentice, with permission to attend night classes in highschool in turnu Sevrerin. After my training I continued to work there as a vendor until 1932, when I was mobilized in the army.

Apprentices had to clean the store inside and out, arrange the merchandise, other chores. I learned about commerce, I had two older colleagues from Bucharest, with plenty of experience in sales. I had to pay attention to how they interacted with the customers. Private commerce was not easy then so one needed to be very attentive to the customers. They were used to bargain and if the customer didn t get what he bargaigned for they would leave and the supervisor insisted that they come back. There was fierce competition back then in commerce. From 1929 until 1930 there was that tremendous economical crisis, things got a little better after that. At that time, merchants were not that wealthy and the factory representatives came with sampls of merchandise and the merchants ordered and paid in installments. Money was scarce then and the rule was that no customer leave the store unattended properly and withbecause the Hungarians were very cruel toout buying. If the staff did not have  good selling skills, they had to work really hard to keep their jobs. Som stores had large windows where they displayed the merchandise. The store owners started to improve the appearance and conditions in the store. After selling the merchandise, the store owners would pay for it to the suppliers. The trade back then was mostly pinching, as they said. Some could not sell and go bankrupt, others thrived. The vendors had very low wages, life was quite hard. And then came the war. In 1939 Hitlr occupied Poland and started the war, tehn Hitler s friendship with Stalin broke, the Germans attacked Russia and ocupied several countries in Europe. We had trouble as well. 1940 we ceded Basarabia and Ardeal. Germany and Italy decided on this in Vieanna in 1940. That was a distaster, us leaving part of Ardeal and Basarabia. The Vienna dictate forbade any shooting, on either part, the retreating Romanian army and the others. The worst was the retreat from Basarabia, which was taken by force. The region was filled with pillboxes but Ribbentrop decided the army should retreat without any resistance. The soldiers were crying when they were leaving. The people in villages came at their gates to watch the army leaving and were crying, you are leaving, but what about us? They said they hid Romanian flags in their attics. There was a lot of trouble then, because the Hungarians were very cruel to Romanian, the priests, Romanians had a really tough time. The Romanian army had been stationed in Ardeal throughout the whole region and people s homes. The locals were very patriotic and loved them. The army marched for hundreds of kilometers during the retreat. The king was Carol the IInd, who was not a true king for our country. Besides divorcing his wife, he had relations with  inadequate countries. He imposed the royal dictatorship in 1938 until 1940. It was a big disaster in the country and they forced him to abdicate. He left  the country together with his companion, Elena Lupescu. And then  there the king Mihai. Lucky for us that Antonescu came along and he ruled the country and he was coonected with Germany and we got caught in the war in order to retrive the territories we had lost. I Germany was our ally, we had to retrieve the northern part of Ardeal. We went east to liberate Bassarabia. We went there toghether with the German army and Basarabia and the northern Bucovina were free within 30 days. The fighting went on in order to liberate the Romanian territories. The alliance was not dropped, we kept on going alonside the German army so that they can reach the Soviet Union, There was heavy fighting in Odessa, Crimeea, until 1942 at Stalingrad.

After working in that store, I joined the army, the 42nd contingent. In the operations for the liberation of Basarabia, many of our people were lost in Odessa and two new contingents were imobilized . My contingent, of people born in 1921, was mobilized in 1942 and sent over there. Young people from all accross the country were mobilized.I,  as a young recruit, along with other 4 or 5 young men, was sent to the 6th Heavy Artillery regiment in Timisoara. Everybody else were sent to infantry troops. because they needed men there, many had died from the infantry troops. I remember when I got mobilized and reached Timisoara on February 20th 1942, the regiments in Timisoara, there was talk among the troops, there was the 5th Mountain troops in Timisoara, infantry guys, and when they went at the front, within 3 months, not even 300 people came back out of 5000. Many of them injured. I stayed here in Timisoara. Lucky for us that in 1942, the 6th Heavy artillery regiment was stationed at the current Museum of Banat in Timisoara. In June we went at the front together with two heavy artillery divisions, that had 150 caliber howitzers, and 2 divisions that had 105 canons. We were very well equipped, armament wise, actually only late in 1939 had they purchased these  Skoda howitzers from the Czechs. On June 6th, this regiment and its divisions, 1800-2000 people in total, they left at the front. They went to Odessa where there were heavy losses. Once Odessa fell, the 6th regiment returned home. Only 3 divisions came back, the division that had canons carried by horses. They remained in Crimaeea. We came back to Timisoara, where we stayed until 1944. The big trouble was that all the fighting against the Soviets reached Stalingrad, they passed Odessa in Crimeea and got to Stalingrad. Lucky for the Soviets that they got help from the Americans, they gave them thousands of airplanes and tanks, all sorts of equipment in order to help them defeat the Germans. That was a hige help for the Soviet Army, because in December 1942, after Stalingrad, the German front was broken and all along the German frontline up until Minsk, they were forced to retreat, leaving behind hundreds of frozen of their men. The winters were really harsh and that was to the Soviets advantage. They spent the whole of 1943, starting December 1942, retreating from Stalingrad until they reached Nistru. In the spring of 1944, March or April, the Soviet Army got on Romanian territory. After all this time. How many people died in the Don bend, in Stalingrad, and all along the way, many heavy losses, equipment and everything. We got back in March . The Soviets were worn out as well, they came in Bucovina, they took Chisinau and all the northern part and in 1944 they pushed to occupy Iasi and the northern part of the country. The army, marshall Antonescu made a huge effort, there were some troops that had been  left behind , and he managed with these troops, to oppose resistance to the Soviet Army. Really heavy fighting went on north of Iasi. There is a small town called Lețcani and in the cemetery there are 1125 soldiers there. I have some lists of their names, because my regiment was also there in Moldova. In 1944 our regiment here in Timisoara had 2 divisions. The third one had been surrendered in Sibiu, after Stalingrad, in the Don bend. On April 14th or 16th, I remeber vividy, in 1944, our regiment, commanded by colonl Galgothy, we had very good officers, some had connections in Bucharest, got orders to depart. The Regiment commander called us all in the Museum s yard and told us we had to go to the Moldova front. The war is on Romanian ground, he says, we need to go to Moldova. Thinking of marshall Antonescu, praying to God, he says, God help us come back home. In 2 days we left. The regiment had motor cars, and we travelled to Arad, to Lipova, the roads were not paved. Lots of dust, we reached the outskirts of Sibiu, a huge column of cars and canons. I was 23 at the time. All of us were very young. We left Sibiu, we went on towards Brasov, passed Brasov until we reached Câmpina. In the meantime, the Americans came and bombed Bucharest and Valea Prahovei. Our state of mind was very poor, we all had families there, Turnu Severin, Craiova, Piatra Olt also got bombed. We reached Moldova on the 20th or 21st, in the evening, we had to travel by night lest we be caught by the aviation. They would have bombed us and smashed. We had to proceed very carefully. We reached Târgu Neamț, late at night, it was dark, around 8 or 9. The front was very close there in Tg. Neamț. Maybe 5 km or so, but thre was a bit of shelter from the mountains. We needed to prepare the canons at night, there was canon fire from the Russians all along this line, from Pașcani, Podu Iloaie, Lețcani, Iași and Chinișău.That is where we had stopped the Soviet Army. Our troops were afraid the Soviets might get around us, through Tg. Neamț and occupy Iași. Therefore, the commanders ordered the 6th Heavy Artillery Regiment to go to Iași immediately. That was the really fight. On the 29th of May until June the 4rth there was tremendous fighting north of Iași. But we were about 20 km away in Lețcani. Hundreds of Romanian and German airplanes flew from Buzău, where the airport was, and tanks. We succeeded to stop the Soviets there. They could not go further so we each held our positions. We were not able to push them further back 10 or 20 km. They could not enter Iași. The stress was huge. There wa sno moment of quiet, we never knew when the missile would fall, or the bullet.

Q: How long was this state of affairs?

A: From April until August. We were relocated, our regiment with its 2 divisions, to Lețcani, 20 km away from Iași. Day in day out, we did not operate the howitzers at night because the warhead was visible. The Russians planes flew at night, looking for villages that had been deserted and they were all camoflaged from the Russians attacks. We left Iași on July 5th or 10th, in order to prevent them to go around us. We were relocated  part in Lețcani, part in Podu Iloaie, part in Dumești and the rest in Hoisești. 4 places. We exchanges fire with the Russians. The Soviet Army were chasing the Germans, they had taken a big part of Poland, and they were also heading our way in their retreat. We resisted, the Russians never came. There was missile fire, to mark our positions. It lasted until August 20th. History does not cover a lot this date. Not even history books. On August 20th in the morning, the Russians were ready , on August 19th two Romanian divions, Tudor Vladimirescu and Horia, Cloșca, trained by them, were placed in Moldova. They killed them in the end. In the afternoon of 19, they started from 15-20 km, artillery fire. We were a bit unsettled. They stop this fire and start broadcasting on powerful speakers all along the frontline, saying to us to ready our horses to head for Bucharest the next day. The speakers were very loud and clear. And they kept on like this for a few hours all along the frontline, up to Chișinău. No one from our commanding staff paid any mind, thinking it was just Russian propaganda. And they did nothing. In the morning, around 5 am, there was a big missile fire, from 20 km away. Nobody gave any warning. The men went crazy with terror, many died , there was a guy 7 meters away from me. I think God was with us the ones that got away. Our troops began to retreat in a hurry,the Russians were coming. Once the artillery eased down a bit, we hurried to pack everything we could, canons, missiles, an be on our feet towards Vaslui away from the frontline. There was a big rumble. After the artillery, they came with hundreds of tanks all along the line and the infantry troops were bewildered, they all raised their hands. They thought if they surrendered, they would make it alive. They were made prisoners. I one day, all along the frontline, on August 20th, 120 000 prisoners were taken. From Iași to Chișinău. Many many troops. Some managed to run away. There was chaos, horses running in tears. We retreated and ended up in a forest, far away from Iași, late at night. We lost several men, 12 of them who died in people s yards, they were later found by the priest and the people when the came back to their homes. They burried them all in one place in the church yard, they did the same in Cucuteni, in Podu Iloaie. I forgot to tell you that in Podu Iloaie, when the Russians started bombing, they were taken prisoners, a battery of 42 men, with their lieutenenat, Foarfecă dumitru, they were simply taken prisoners, and only one of them made it back home after 4 or 5 years. We met later at the Veterans Association here in Timișoara. he said they had taken them beyond Stalingrad to the coal mines where they worked them to death. He said there was almost no food, they fed them potato peels, it was indescribable, typhos rampages among them, and Stalin eventually decided to let them go. This is how they ended up back, some of them, in Iași, Tighina, where they had organized some recpetion centers, around 1948, 49. Most o fhtem were destroyed, it is horrifying to think what could happen to us humans. ery few made it. In all of our county, there are only two other guys from my Regiment, one in Sân Nicolau Mare and one in Timișoara. I have a photograph of the only  five survivors but some of them died in the past years. But most of the veterans have died. Wars only bring distasters. So many destroyed families. In order to learn actual statistics, I visited the Military Archives in Bucharest. Colonel Oșca as in charge there and when I explained the reason for my visit and get authorization to go to the Archives in Pitesti. I went there several times , some of them were reluctant to grant me access to documents. it must have something to do with the fact that decorated veterans got some benefits and the ones who had not been awarded any medal did not. They must have been reluctant to give away documents on this account.

The demobilization. When we left Iași, we spent 4 days on the road. From the 20th of August, 21st, 22nd, 23rd of ugust when the armistice was announced on the radio by the king. I was in Tg. Ocna, late in the evening, around 11 pm. On the truck. The king said the Romanian army had signed an armistice, which was not quite true, since an armistice cannot be agreed upon a nice chat. There was no truce. The Russians came and we merely stopped shooting. But they did not take that into account, since they had no notification from Moscow to stop fighting the Romanian army. The Russians kept fighting and pillaging people s homes, grabbing whatever they could, pultry, sheep what not. They  violated women and girls, shot the men, many atrocities, one cannot speak of it. After we heard the king on the radio saying the Romania army is to turn weapons against the Germans on our territory and cross the mountains to retrieve the Northern Ardeal. That was the slogan. from Tg. ocna we went on towards Ploiești. In order to get to Ploiești, one must cross the river Buzău, there are bridges for motor traffic and for trains. The Germans had mined the bridges and we had all the canons there. Lucky for us that the regiment commander and a couple of other officers who could speak German went to talk to the German CO of the troops located at that bridge. the colonel told us about it later. They acknowledged that the alliance had to break, unwilling to be killing each other, though. They warned the Germans to leave as soon as possible, because the Russian army was behind us and there was the risk of ending up prisoners for them as well as for us. They quickly took the mines off and we were able to cross towards Ploiești where there were many German troops guarding the oil wells. We passed through Urziceni to Ploiești, in Brazi where that big forest is. We ran into the Germans food depots. We hadn t seen butter throughout the war. The Germans had margarine. They were really well supplied. We only had a long soup. There were very many German troops that had started retreating but not without a fight. We got orders to fire some artillery missiles to scare them. In that big forest we fired some missiles and the Germans raised their hands up and passed us to proceed to transilvania. Immediately after their passing we set off towards Ardeal. Târgoviște, Câmpulung, via Făgăraș, we reach Sibiu, both division. The first division was heading to Mediaș, the second one, my division was heading to Aiud. Because the Germans and the Hungarians were attacking Romania, planning to occupy Alba Iulia, Mediaș and so on. They were not aware of aht was going on. Anyway, there were some fights in Mediaș, Aiud, Turda. In Turda there was a big mess, because the Soviet Army invaded like the Huns, you could see here and there a flock of sheep behind a Russian soldier on a donkey. They  were without supplies and they stole everything they could. Unheard of.

I remember the Soviet Army struggled for a whole week to take Turda. Because there was a spirit factory there. Our commander had learnt they always aimed such objectives in order to get really drunk and go to sleep at night. The Germans would come overnight and kill them all and then move on. After Turda we went on the road to Cluj. There was some free land with missile trenches like an invasion of moles or other furrow animals. When we reached Cluj, we were delayed, no fighting, but the bridge over the Someș had been blown up. We had to go around another way towards Carei. Our infantry lost over 100.000 men in Oarba de Mureș. A big disaster in that part of the country, in the month of September. I have a letter at home, written by some teacher about her father who died there, a very touching article she wrote, with some photos.

Q: What happened next?

A: Next we went back from Carei to Timișoara. After one month they started to discharge us, those who had been at the front. Because we had only few troops left, the Russians did not want us to go along to Hungary with them. They pillaged cars, factories in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. They didn t want us there. But the Romanian army kept fighting for a really long time. Until the end of the war. When they returned from Czechoslovakia they brought the Romanian army back on foot, all the way to Bucharest, you can imagine how thoughtful the Soviets were, who had taken power in Romania.

Q: What happened to the Romanian army after the Russians came? Did you stay on in the army?

A: No. When I was discharged I left for good. I was not an officer, you see. I was discharged, the Russians had taken the Prefecture, all those who had been party members rushed in to get jobs. Everybody was very disoriented, in all areas of the society.

Q: What were the major institutional changes that occurred after the Russians came? What can you remember?

A: Frankly speaking, aside from their own political agents, many other people, party members were appointed at the head of many institutions, factories and such, irrespective of their background or skills. I knew this guy, who had been a shoemaker in my regiment and the party named him directer of the slaughterhouse. And many such cases of people with no education who ended up running things they had no business with. In time, aroun 1948, they began to be more organized, the intituted the state trade, to organize the economy, the factories started working and providing jobs. The wages were really low, the sock factory in Timișoara employed 5000 women who were miserably paid.

Q: have you met any of the Soviet councillors that were named in key positions?

A: In Timișoara, no. Perhaps in Bucharest, in the capital.

Q: How did orders come from Bucharest?

A: By mail, by phone.

Q: What major changes occurred within the society after 1945?

A: The ordinary citizen in the city was struggling to find work.  In the countryside, it was a big mess. The people from the country had been promised some land. They gave them land and in one month time, in one year time they made them give it to the cooperative. They ran this cooperatives in a harsh manners, asking for heavy taxes. Most of the population was from the country and they could not make ends meet. The cities were less developed before but then people started to come to the city to make a living.

All the communces and all the villages were turned into cooperatives. The peasants had to work the land and they could not take anything for themselves.

Q: Do you think this was the moment when the Romanian peasant learnt to steal?

A: Yes. This collectivization in agriculture meant, first of all, that most of the harvest was taken by the state. The worker was entitled to insignigicant quota from it. And that meant they had to steal. Those who were caught wre tried and imprisoned. There were many peasants who went to prison for stealing harvest off the fields. That is probably when this thief mentality began.

Q:  What can yo tell us about the elections in 1947?

A: I wasn t into politics. I never had any affiliation. Where I got my training as a vendor I was not allowed because that affected the customers decision to purchase. So the owner did not allow us to deal with politics.

Q: What were the changes in commerce after the Communists came?

A: They started to wipe out the old merchants. They lay heavy taxes on them, they lacked money or credit, they could not buy any merchandise so they ran them out of business. They later organized the city cooperatives, with staff and stores. June 11th  they nationalized the factories. And then they instituted the state trade. Which was a good thing for the customers. Because the merchants from before were not very honest with the customers, pricewise. The state trade practiced fixed prices. Before the war there private store owners. The only criterion for appointing people ti run institutions, factories or stores was the party memebreship. Ypu could not get a job of any significance if you werent a party member.

Q: What do you think this meant for the society, a progress or not?

A: Progress? Yes, of course. They were running things, it was all papers.

Q: But the fact that thy named people with no skills or training to run things, did it bring progress in the society or not?

A: In some places yes. In others, not so much.

Q: Could you elaborate?

A: To give you the good managers? They ran things, they wanted big wages, everything was about accountants and taxes.

Q: Tell me about the life  you lived before the war.

A: My parents had 4 children, 3 boys and one girl. I was the eldest and needed to help out. Ever since the age of 8 or 9 I had to work in the field, help with the livestock. I left home when I was 12. The teacher in our village had good connection with the merchants in Turnu Severin and they asked him to recommend an apprentice. He told my mother because my father was away with work, he worked as a clerk at the townhall. I left to Turnu Severin when I was 12. My mother got a letter of recommendation from the treacher and he instructed her to tak me there, it was uite far, about 60 km. In 2 days we joined a trasnport of cereal to Turnu Severin. I was not unhappy to go. I did love my brothers. But I ha d jo other option. When I got tu Severin, quite late in the evening, we found this merchant. When we got there, the man looked at the letter from the teacher Mitucă and took me in. He instructed my mother to not pay m any visits for a whole year because otherwise there was the risk that I might get homesick and run away. She agreed and indeed she did not visit me for a whole year afterwards, poor woman. There were some people coming to the city from my village and bringing me messages. I had a colleague at the store, 6 years older than me. other members of the staff were married, they had families. This one guy I luved with at the owner s house, food and board.

Later on I stayed in commerce. The owner wanted to retain me as an employee.

After the Communist regime came, I was a sales representative for a hat factory. The department store Modern in Timișoara opened and then the system changed. They worked directly based on centralized orders from Bucharest and they delivered to the stores. They told me I could get a job at a workshop in the factory. I declined because my training was in sales and trade. So I asked him for a recommendation to find a job in the state commerce. I could not find the director, the secretary prevented me. I left a message about my intentions and she melted. She was a Jew, like most people in commerce. She let me in. He said I was to present to my new job. As a seller, first time. 2 months after he put me in charge of a whole silk department, with 4 other sellers under my supervision.

Q: The silk came from Romania?

A: yes, but also imported. București and Sighișoara. The imports came from Czechoslovakia and Austria and others. The manager sent me to work at a big warehouse in Gheoghe Lazăr and came to check two weeks later and could see the way I had arranged things, the merchandise and the flow. He asked who was responsible. The supervisor told him about me and he decided to take me to the departement store and put me in charge of the department. He then promoted me as a quality controller. I was supposed to go to factories and check the conformity of the merchandise. For two weeks. I enjoyed commerce, but honest commerce, not to trick people. I later got to the Consumer cooperation because they lacked trained people. Or honest people, as I was. In the end I became a director in 1952. For 3 years in one place, I got transferred from Timișoara to Oravița. Then the cooperation in Timișoara transferred me back here where I was a director for another 2 years. Then they changed me.

There was an order for all workers in the state commerce that were not party members to be dismissed. And I got fired. That was in 1968. I did not join the pary. I went to the Central Committee to file a request. My boss told me he could lose his own job if he insisted to keep me on. I did not want to join the party. I continued to work there but not in a managing position. When I retired in 1981, 37 years ago, the director asked me to stay, willing to pay me from a special fund. But I said I did not acknowledg him any right to give me anything. I would give myself. He could see he had no chance to keep me. I was specialized into organizing the commerce, into nvestments and  providing amenities for the commerce network. Since I was not a party member, he could not help me. I got a job afterwards. The largest stores in the county of Timiș, if you pass by this commercial complex in Recaș you can see his sign. I brought this brand, shoe brand from Bucharest, Lux it was called, they had quarters accross the street from the Telephone building. I showed my former boss. I did my duty everywhere, and nobody had any complaints about me. Starting with my certificate from my boss in 1942. When I retired I had the right to work. I had a reputation in the area. The cooperatives in agriculture had quality controllers in charge of purchases. I had the opportunity to work for one such cooperative 25  km from here. I only had to go there once a week. I got 3000 lei for this, just like my former director. The irony was that when I retired, after 45 years of working, starting from 1945, but they  acknowledged only 30 of them.

I was born in the commune of Mălini, county of Suceava, on March 27th, 1927. My name is Raznoveanu V. Dumitru.

Q: Please tell me what happened with you life during the war?

A: I was born in the time before the second world war and I had to go through all the troubles of the second world war. The biggest trouble was that in 1941, my father, who had 8 children at home, was called at the townhall because the authorities recquisitioned his cart and horses. Under these circumstances, he needed money. He took me to work at breaking stone at thequarry in Păltinoasa. all manual labour, with the hammer. I worked there for 3 years, until my father managed to buy another horse. In April 1944, he got called at the townhall and sent to deliver the townhall archives to Pitești. It was mandatory. After he delivered the archives, he came back via Focșani.

Q: Let us finish the story of before the war first. What happened?

A: My father fought in the first world war, as a sargeant. Ever since I was a little boy, he would tell me about his devotion at the front. He was in the border patrols, as a private carrier in the forest. He had 2 horses and carried wood from the forest to the factory.This is how I fell in love with the army. ven before being mobilized, I used to drees up as captain Jianu for the New Year s holidays, as it was customary. I dressed as a soldier. When I was in premilitary training in 1941, I had a wooden gun. And I became a group commander in Văleni, our CO was professor Ene Jenică. I spent 2 months on a plantation in Varfu Stănișoarei.

In April 1944 I was mobilized at the front, they took us to Caracal. In Focsani I ran into my fathe, on his way back from Pitești where he had delivered the archives. He asked me if I had eaten anything, which I hadn t. The he parked the car on the grass and took some food out of his bag. Some soldiers came and started asking questions: why was the cart there, what I was doing there. My father told him how we ran into each other and one of the gendarmes pulled out one of the horses, the good one my father had managed to buy after 3 years of hard labour at the quarry and took it across the stret to a house. And my father was left with only one horse and could no longer stay with me. The two gendarmes forced me to get into a van, where there was another premilitary guy, and they took me to Miroslăvești to assist the evacuation of the area. They cleared all the houses and took the people on foot to a cove nearby and get them out of the frontline way. It was when the eastern front turned towards west. There were planes. They kept me there until after the 23rd of August when they released all of us premilitaries. There was this other guy with me, he was from Botoșani. And I came home. Here, there were Germans, Russians, in Mălini. My mother and my younger siblings had been evacuated to Borca, Neamț county.

My youngest brother was in cradle. My father was also evacuated with only one horse for the cart. They stayed there until August 23rd when the army retreated.

Q: Did they tell you about their experience over there?

A: Once my father was left with no horses, they were taken to Borca, where they stayed in various cabins until they came home in August. The house had been broken into, the stables were ruined, they had seven children to look after and half a bag of flour. Under these circumstances, me being the eldest, I got a job as a forester at the Râșca factory, in Slătioara. I worked there until I got called to the army in 1949.

Q: Let us go back to 1944. Tell me what did you do then?

A: They had us march to Focșani where I met father. They took me to assist the evacuation procedures in the region, from April until AUgust.

Q: How did people react to being evacuated?

A: They had to be taken out of their homes by force, they were not willing to leave everything behind. I would assiste the police troops, help them pack and load so they could leave out of harm s way.

Q: What did people pac before going?

A: Whatever they could. Some food, some clothes and everything else was left behind. Cattlestocks, dogs. They let us go in August. My parents came home also in August.

Q: Do you have a special memory of that time that stayed with you?

A: The saddest event was my father losing that horse.

Q: Anything else that left a strong mark on you?

A: The worst was that our family of 9 had no food, no food at all.

Q: For how long?

A: The saddest memeory is that after I came back they made me go work on the plantation for 3 months. We got a mug of milk in the morning, a lof of polenta and some chees for lunch, and some light meal for dinner. We stayed in a cabin, together with other workers. My motI was with my cart her had packed me a tow shirt like we used to have, all white and after sleeping in that cabin, we went to the forest and I kept scratching and scratching until I took the shirt off and under my armpits I could see lice like ant swarms. I tried to shake it and took another one from my bag. The sad thing was that we planted the trees there and in 1956 when I went in reserve, I was looking at that beautiul forest  in Vf Stânișoarei, but now it is a sorry sight, the hills are bare now, they cut down all the forest.

Q: What did you do next after the evacuation stopped. What do you remember fro when the Russians came?

A: In 1944, with all the hardships we had, when they took me to premilitary training, people saw me off in tears, as in a funeral, because the rumour went that the Russians would take us away and we would never come back. My parents went home crying. Another moment was when, being in charge of a cart with horses, at the outskirts of Dealu Târgului, coming from Rădășeni, there were convoys of Germans retreating towards Gura Humorului. One car tipped over a cart and the od was blocked. The cars could no longer go through. I had my own cart, at night, two Germans came and pulled me out of the cart, knocked me to the ground. One of them came on top of me, his knees pressing on my chest and was fumbling for the pistol to shoot me. At this point, I was 17 or 18, I rolled over and got rid of him and managed to run away. He fired some shots at me but he didn t hit me. I went around to the last of the carts that was retreating with the premilitary, I got in and hid under covers.

Here in Spătărești, the Germans chased one of the premilitary guys in a motorcycle, they caught him and shothim down, leaving him on the ground like a dog. I don t know what they had against him.

Q: Do you think they would have shot you too?

A: I managed to climb into the cart and hide. They couldn t find me. I have an injury, from working in the forest and my leg hurt so that I could not run.

Q: After the Russians took power, after the collectivization, what was it like?

A: After my parents came back home, I got a job as a forest worket at the Râșca factory in Slătioara, where I worked for 5 years. When the factories were nationalized, they lost all our work records. After the nationalization I kept working at that factory.

Q: What was the difference between the two regimes in that factory?

A: All the time I worked there, there was no cabin, I slept in a hut. I made fun of a guy who became a colonel in the army, he was in Elena Ceaușescu s entourage afterwards. He used to work there as well. Very poor conditions. My father received food for the children but I would save food to take home to my parents. When I first bought a pair of boots, I had only worn mocassins (opinci) until then, I was about 18. I wore those boots a few times in church and left them at home. When I was called to the army I wanted to put them on but someone told I shouldn t take them with me because they would get stolen. My fathere found some mocassins (opinci) and that s what I wore going to the army. The army gave me army boots. A few months later I sent a package home containing my civilian clothes, I was a group commander. We would first put the clothes we took from the basement to dry, behind the barracks, I had a few men from Oltenia in my group. I took my mocassins (opinci)  out so they would not make fun of me. We used to make fun with my family aftewards that the mocassins (opinci) were the only thing I never sent back home from the army. The clothes were lost on the way.

Q: What changes were there in our society?

A: In 1949 they forbade beatings in the army. Only a few officers slipped us some hits whenever they had the chance but officially beatings were forbidden. I remember that during the premilitary training, there were gangs of bandits in the mountains,  around 1948, 1950, and one of these groups shot a major down and we took him down on stretchers to be taken to hospital.

Q: How long did you chase the bandits in the Făgăraș mountains?
A: All the years I was in the army, in Orăștie, we were called to aid the police and chase them in the mountains.

Q: Why were they hiding?

A: They were bandits hiding away in the mountains and that major was on a mission to catch them. On our patrols, we went on different slopes of the mountain. We ran into a group of these fugitives. The police apprehended them. remember stayinng in a house at the edge of the forest. I was already an officer, after I went to the military school in Radna and in 1951, August 23rd I was made lieutenant. And I was assigned in București.

Q: Tell me more about that time

A: As an officer in the army I was called to aid the police all the time, on various missions. In Bucharest, at various events, festivals, gathering the manifest spread by the Americans from airplane, in 1953-1954. They scattered manifestos gossiping about the communists, I don t remember exactly what. They said our life was hard, the people were being exploited. My mission was to gather them and deliver them.

Q: What did you feel about that, deep inside? What were your thoughts?

A: My thoughts…were .. Ever since I was a little boy, I was very devoted to the army. (reading from the backside of a photograph. )

I left home a young man at the call of my country/

I have no regret for doing my duty both as a soldier and as a war veteran.

Q: Who is in those photos?

A: Me. Hwen i left to the army and when I graduated the military school, as a lieutenenant. In time I got promoted until I made colonel.

Q: What else do you remember  from that conttroversial time in the Făgăraș mountains? What did you know about them?

A: Due to my good results as an officer, I was schooled and named head of the encryption office. I had three soldiers trained in Morse and I would encrypt and decrypt the messages. There was a Congress in our country. All that was said in the documents I would decrypt and they would take it by military mail. If they threatened to kill me and I could not duvulge the secret of the cipher. I was an encryption officer. Around 1953-1954.

Q: What messages were these?

A: The soldiers were trained to intercept messages in Morrse from one military unit to others in the whole country. It was about maintaining the secret in communication among unit. Meetings, military operayions, political issues whene there were meetings.

Q: Did you ever received and decrypted or encrypted any message containing information about a rebellion against the Communist regime?

A: No.

Q: Any information concerning those bandits in the mountains, then?

A: I was a plutoon commander, with 40 soldiers under my command.

Q: Were you allowed to shoot these bandits?

A: No. I woud get orders to go on patrol covering a certain area in the mountains. As I patrolled with my soldier, it was early spring, there was still snow in the mountains, I could not let my soldiers lie on the ground for fear of them getting sick. i remember once I spotted a small house covered in straw. I went over there with my sergeant. I knocked at the window, an old woman came out and I asked her to get her husband. I asked him if he d been in the army and he said yes. I told himmI wanted to spend the night at his house with my 40 soldiers. The old woman said there was no room. I promised we would be no trounle. We took out the bed and the table and cleared the room. I organized the soldiers to sleep in that room, all neat and orderly. The old woman, more at ease then, offered to give us some apples. I sent two soldiers to help her carry the basket of apples from the cellar. Each soldiers got 2 apples. They fell asleep at once, in the morning we woke up early, put everything inside the house as we had found it, and the old woman praised us for our discipline. She even asked us to go back the same evening.

Q: Did you manage to get some information from her concerning those bandits you were chasing?

A: it was only talk about that major that had been shot.

Q: Did you catch the guys who did it?

A: Other patrols did, on other slopes of the mountain.

Q: If life was difficult for you, who had the basic needs for clothes, shoes and food covered, how was life for the bandits?

A: We had very well trained soldiers. There was one sergeant Cotrigpșanu, from Borca, who was able to execute any order I would give, whatsoever.

Q: Was he also a good shooter? Was he trained?

A: We had to cover only a sector in the mountains. Once we got to the edge of that sector, we would get back.

Q: How long were you there in the mountains?

A: For about a week or so.

Q: Did you catch any of these bandits.

A: No. Other patrols and the police.

Q: Do you still have friends from that time?

A: No.

Q: Were you in communication with these other patrols?

A: Only the police officer that was in charge of the operation had a communication station. We knew the roads and assisted. We used maps and compasses and we stuck to the route we had established at the basis. One time, we went to an application in Bacău. I took an exam, both written and spoken, and they made me a  plutoon    commander at HQ. There were a few officers, teachers, captains and majors who were sent on application in those Făgăraș mountains. It turned out they had excellent theoretical training but no practical skills. They got lost in the woods. The police spent a whole week looking for them . There was this manifestation in Piata Victoriei recently and I paid attention. I was interested to see how they flew stones at the police and I noticed that the police do not have proper military training/ They can t handle a gun.

Q: After the war ended were you ever in the position to fire a weapon?

A: Yes. In 1956 I was sent in reserve, when they decided to cut doen military personnel. As a lieutenant major I was named a party activist and commander of the patriot guard for 22 years, I had custody of the ammonition reserve. I surveyed training shootings. I retired in 1987 and in 1986 was the last time I organized an application for the shin the CC. ooting ranger battalion in the defense. In Șoldănești. I had supervision from the Central Committee and from the  Bucharest unit I was part of in the army. After that, I sent my report to a colonel and it made its way to a party official with the comment: He led the application better than an active officer. We recommend him for promotion to the next rank. So they made me colonel. In 1984.

Q: After 1989 did you learn about the anticommunist resistance in the Făgăraș mountains?

A: After I got my training in the military school and became en encryption officer I no longer took part in such missions.

Q: After the regime canged again in 1989, did you learn that the bandits you helped chase were in fact member of the resistance movement against the communist regime?

A: I had no dealings with these political issues. When my father took me to work in the quarry, I was in 7th grade. I was to take my 7th grade exams in a center in Găinești. My father told me we needed to buy a horse and if he could manage with only 4 grades in school, I would be fine with 7. He wouldn t let me go take that exam and I had trouble in the army. Devoted as we were, I was sent to more schools, I was in charge of the choir, I graduated a lieutenant, second of my class. I was then assigned in Bucharest and then appointed an encryption officer. I was recommenden for the Military Academy. But they always turned me down because I did not have the certificate for 7 grades of school. I lodged in Bucharest with a family of professors who, when they heard about it, looked for a solution. They requested the transcripts from my school, with my grades and all, for the 7 years, and I went to be examined with the 7th graders. I passed the exam and got the certificate. I was 24, 25 years of age. I went to night school. But the Math teacher made a pass at me, she was about my age. I was embarassed. I took notes, I had a blackboard in my office and prepared thoroughly. The last year of highschool they sent me in reserve. I managed to graduate ag=fterwards. I really loved the army, I had good results as an officer, I was really devoted to the army, which ensured me this spot with the party, but I do not have the necessary number of service in the army and I do not have a military pension, even if I am a colonel in reserve. I sent petitions to the government. They replied that I had not contributed to the pension fund as a military.

Q: This point goes outside the purpose of this interview, which has sociological and historical goals. When do you feel was the best time for our country: during monarchy, during the communist regime or now, as a democracy? When do you think it was better at an institutional level?

A: I was a very good student while in school. As a student in military school, I realized I was better than most.

Q: What I would like you to tell me is your opinion on when was Romania at its best, out of these three regimes?

A: During collectivization, I thought it was a progress. I heard many people regretting those times. People who were in the cooperative they have pension.

Q: From your personal point of view when was your best time?

A: When I went in reserve. I was dilligent and they appointed me commander of the Patriotic Guards Battalion. I kept my work as an officer. Organized training shootings, I was photographed in all the military parades in the city. In Bucharest, I took part in a parade, and they used me for that because I had a nice allure.

Q: have you ever learnt that those bandits in Făgăraș were in fact part of the resistance movement against the communists?

A: In our mountains, there was a gang, they were called the gang of Cotoc, who were thieves.

Q: That is what I am asking. Did you later learn that these people were not thieves but they were part of the resistance?

A: I don t think they were what you are saying. Thses guys were thievse who didn t like the regime and stole from people. They were thieves.

I was really devoted to defending my country. As a war veteran, I am president of the local organization, I was elected as such. This is the protocol signed by 13 war veterans, all older than me,  when they elected me. I wanted to turn them down but they made me. I accepted on the condition that the older veterans sign a support document.

I was born on December 1st 1922, My name is Mastraghin T Marin. I started military service in 1943, my contingent was mobilized ahead of term, with the Pedestrian Gendarmes Regiment on April 1st 1943. I was recruited in the 3rd Company, having as Supreme commander Linaru Alexandru, and as Regiment CO Ariton Ion and his adjutant Alistar Virgil.

Q: What operations were you involved in during the war?

A: It was war when I got mobilized. The war had started in 1941 with the Russians. I got my training, a military school I graduated as a corporal. In 1944 I got to train the next contingent as a group commander and until 1944 at the time of the armistice, on August 23rd, the Germans started bombing. The Stuka airplanes nosedived and threw firebombs out the window down on civilian homes and killed the people inside.

Q: How long have you been mobilized alonside the Germans and how long alongside the Russians?

A: After the armistice, everybody became friends with the Russians, the whole country, not only my regiment. I forgot to say that on April 4rth 1944, the Americans started bombing us, with 250 kilo bombs. A few months later, there were still unexploded bombs. They came to us and asked us to volunteer or dar straws for the clearing of these bombs. One of my comrades, Tudorache Ion, from Aricești Deletin, Prahova county, volunteered as a head og squad. He died when he tried to tackle a warhead, the bomb exploded and he died. The bombing started in Vhitila, along the railway up to the North Station. After the armistice, when we befriended the Russians, we started fighting the Germans. My regiment was stationed behind the Prefecture. Down from the Senate bridge there was the Socek store and nehind it there was a square of buildings where the German headquarters were. We got orders to dislocate them and make them prisoners. Iwent with my group along the river Dâmbovița, which had been engineered, had concrete walls and was very deep. And we went along the riverside until that store. The gates opened and lest we lose them, we opened fire with CSRG machine guns and other guns. They fired back. Beyond the river Dâmbovița, there was a machine gun crew, from the 5th Machinegun Company in our Regiment. And we had machingun crews and they strated to fire at the Germans, otherwise we would have been overwhelmed. At that point, they closed the gates and I took my group and went back towards the Mihai Voddă bridge at the Regiment quarters. Later in the evening or even the next day, I can t remember, some of our troops went over there and pulled the Germans out of there and they had them quartered in some buildings near a football field. After a while, I went with my group and took them to the Pedagogical School Elena Doamna, in Cotroceni, on Panduri street.

When we took the Germans away they were reluctant to obey, they built a pile of money which they set on fire. One of my solfiers attempted to take some of that money and they struck him. Stubborn Germans. At that school where they were quartered they were brought food from the Swedish Embassy. We guarded them until the end of February when the Russians came and convoked the commanders of our regiment and gave them to choose one of two options: at the front or dibandment. The commanders chose the latter. Then we were discharged. In summer we were called back, each man was called by the county geandarmes unit . I was called to the unit in Arges and I completed  my military service there, until June 1946.

Q: What did you feel about Romania entering the war?

A: Romania going to war happened also because of the fact that the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Molotov, and the German Foreign Affairs Minster, Ribbentrop, decided to take away part of Ardeal and Basarbia and we had to go to war to retreive our territories.

A: What about now? In retrospective, how do you see this decision, Romania going to war then?

Q: The army s job is to defend the whole of the territory and the people. They had to go to war.

Q: What bad memeories to you have from the time of your service?

A: The fact that the beating was common and allowed. The commanders beat the soldiers. All the way to plutoon commanders. They trained us, we sometimes could not answer properly, or we didn t move fast enough. There were plenty of reasons.

Q: What about a nice memory?

A: There is one. I wa sthought to be the most clever soldier in the whole company, 4 plutoons in all.

Q: Who did?

A: Because when We got an inspection from the high rank officers, they used to call me to answer their questions. I was asked questions even by my own CO s.

Q: Did you enjoy that?

A: Of course. Another thing that was reallly bothersome was the lice. They had even gotten to the storage rooms where we had the new equipment. We disinfected periodically, some water tanks, called ovens, with fire underneath, the steam would come up and they held the equipment above to kill the lice.

Q: Is there any event that left a lasting mark on you?

A: The bombing. In the summers of both 1943 and 1944 June, July and August , we were stationed in Pantelimon, in the trenches covered with tree branches. When they bombed the Malaxa factories, where they produced the locomotives, we were 2, 2and a half kilometers away and we were shaken pretty baf in those trenches. I told my guys, cross yourselves, cross yourselves.

Q: Wrere you in contact with your family?How?

A: I had one of my brothers in Bucharest and I would sometimes go and see him. There were 8 of us, 2 boys and a girl from my father and his first wife, and another  5 of us with the second wife, my mother that is. After that my mother s younger sister adopted me since she couldn t have any children of her own. That is why my name is Mastraghin, because my parents name was Alexandru.

Q: And you were brought up on your own?

A: Yes.

Q: How did you take the decision to cross the Nistru back then?

A: I understood that we were obliged, after we took back Basarabia, we should have remained there, indeed, but thare wasn t really a choice, the Germans dragged us eastward. When they reached Caucaz, near odessa, the Germans retreated and left out troops on their own. Someone told me once that one time a care full of Germans was about to leave and one Romanian tried to get in as well and they hit him with the bayonette, cutting his hand off and leaving him there. We were under their boot,

Q: What did you think of Antonescu then?

I liked him because he had been a legionnaire, and they wanted to wipe out the Jews in 1940, but the army would not allow them. Antonescu was with the army, and the head of the legion was Horia Sima. The legionnaires would splash gasoline on the soldiers in the army and set them on fire. Antonescu tried to emprison him. Horia Sima took off in an airplane and they kept searching for him for several years after that. In 1945, 1946 when I was the Geandarmes Legion in Argeș, we got reports from Titești – Perișani, concerning the respective code,  the legion that is, that there was no news.

Q: Did you have any political sympathies at the time?

A: I did not agree with the killing of Antonescu. I had no political affiliation. And during the Communist regime I ended up a party member because my teacher had enrolled me. The headmaster of my school. Only when I came back from the army he announced me and asked me not to embarass me.

Q: How about 1989, did you join any party?

A: No way. I was indeed a party member but anyone who was persecuted by the Communists was sent to me and I would protect them. I sheltered them I would not turn them in. I recently got a business card from a young man who is deputy prefect in Slatina, Mircea Argesanu. His father was chased and persecuted by the Communists. He used to work for me. I was first forest technician . His father called me upon his death. he had 2 boys and a girl. One of the boys was a poet and then there was Mircea who is now a deputy prefect in Slatina.

Q: What were your rapports with the officers?

A: only too good. I told you, when we had inspections, they would call me up.

Q: Have told about your experiences to your family?

A: My wife never cared much for my experience in the army. I got married on December 27th 1945 and I got discharged in June 1946.

Q: What was the atmosphere in the army before August 23rd and after?

A: I don t know about any difference.

Q: Can you tell me anything about the transition from the royal army to the communist one? What were the changes?

A: The army changed when they exiled the king in 1947. He left the country and the army remained under the command of Russians officers.

Q: Did you know what plans had the Russians about the changes in the army?

A: A part of our army, taken prisoners bu the Russians, were asked to join the Russian army and when they came back they brought along the new methods. When I was with the gendarmes legion, there was also an inspecorate. There was one colonel, a former teacher at the inspectorate, and another colonel at the legion.

Q: Did you have any interaction with the Soviet offciers?

A: No. Only once, my legion commander, I don t remember his name, was called to Bucharest as a defendant in the trial they had for the war criminals. He sent me to the railway station to hold him a seat on the train. One Russian came to remove me. I struck him and he went away. When my commander came, the people in the next compartment told him laudingly about the incident. He then offered me a pack of 100 cigarettes, one comrade to another. He then told me to get in the carriage and stay there, arm at hand and guard the carriage and the horses lest no Russian take it from us. That was in the fall of 1945.

Q: Socially speaking, what can you tell me about life from before the army.

A: I was raised by my adoptive parents and felt no love. My father, being childless himself, showed me no affection. In my free time he made me work. He had some vines and he made me gather stones, get food for the horses. In the commune Olanu, former county of Arges, currently Vâlcea.

My family made their living off the land they had, enough to support themselves. The land was collectivized. At that time, in 1962, I came here in Băbeni, obliged by my bosses, they gave me an apartment, I had to bring my family, my wife and two children. The unit manager gave me a place to stay to come work here, which I was reluctant to do, because I was a bit wary of bookkeeping.

Q: Was it a newly built place?

A: No, it had been previously lived in. There was what was called a colony before. The director called the adminstrator and he told me to be patient and wait for the guy to leave the house before I moved in. From November 1962 until March the next year. The house had been nuilt by the factory. These houses were mostly destined for the people from Basarabia. When the Russians took Basarabia many of them came here.

Q: Have you managed to retrieve the family land?

A: Yes. I had to sell it. I couldn t  farm the land.It was very costly.

Q: When were you adopted by your ant?

A: When I was 2. But we were never fara apart. I tried to go back home to my parents but my natural mother sent me back. My adoptive parents thought I was not aware who my real parents were, and they did not like it at all when people dared say I was not their son.

Q: Did they trat you kindly?

A: My adoptive mother, yes. Him, not so much

Q: Once you completed your military service, we were married. My adoptive parents had a house with two apartments in it. We moved there and lived next to them, in one of those apartments. Until I got a job, we were into farming. My father in law owned about 20 hectars of land, besides forests. I could not take it all, to farm, because in 1951 I got a job as a forester and I risked losing my job on account of being a bourgeois. The final collectivization was in 1962. After a while I attended the technical college, I became a technician and this is how I came here, in Băbeni at the factory. The director in Olanu was a former engine mechanic, a fierce communist and he would not let me stay there anymore. I did not like being involved with the party, I just had to, to keep my job.

Q: This resistance, let s say, of yours, did it impact your life in any way?

A: No, you see, I was always a good worker and never got into conflicts. People could retire at the age of 60, on request, or they would be retired at the age of 62, by law. When I filed a request to be retired at 60, the director begged me to stay on, but I said no. They replaced me with someone but he was no good.

Q: Did you receive any religious upbringing?

A: Orthodox. My mother would take me to church. And I kept going even during the communist regime. I had religious services fro my friends, my colleagues or my comrades from the war that died. For instance, we had one comrade, Ionică Barbu, who was a decorated veteran, he got some land on this account and some extra benefits. When held the speech at his funeral, the priest said he had not known I was a poet.

Q: Do you have any words for those who might listen to this years from noe?

A:  I am sicontent. The people who declared themselves revolutionaries had more benefits than us veterans.

Mastraghin Tudor Marin, aged 95, almost 96.

 

Mihail Popescu

I was born in Vieroș, on November the 3rd 1923, in a family of peasants. I attended elementary school in Vieroș, 5 grades, then my father sent me to the cantor school in Câmpulung. This school provided three qualifications: cantors, state bank accountants and sanitary agents. I chose to become an accountant. I worked as an accountant at the National Bank in Pitești. I still have a former colleagues, aged 103, she lives in Trivale. On November the 1st 1943 I got the mobilization order. When I left to the army, my father was alrady at the front. I went to the military center at the 30th Dorobanți Regiment. They assigned my to the 31st Regiment in Calafat. I stayed there for 6 days and I got scabies and lice. I got orders to go to the NC officer school in Radna, Arad county. When we got to Timișoara in the evening, we had missed the connecting train, we had to spend the night in a stable. But I first went to a farmacy to get something for the scabies and lice and they gave me some ointment, advising me to break the crusts and apply it on my lesions. On November 10th we arrive at the school in Radna, each of us sat on his own trunk on the court of the school. We stayed there until they organized us. We had to go through a medical exam first and the doctor saw I had had scabies. We then had to pass a physical exam, which I took and then there was the written exam. We wrote on our trunks. There were 800 students from all around the country. We passed the exam, I was the 300th of the 800 . I was assigend to the 2nd Battalion, which had 4 companes. I went to the 6th company, where I had a captain, Fătu Ioan, who later became a hero. We were a company for quick intervention. We had to train in all sorts of weapons and tactics, apart from aviation and marine, since we had no trainig amenities for those. In military school, we had a room with sand, with a large bench full of sand and in bad weather we would go to train in there. Our commanders were 2 years older than us, they had been in the military school in Bucharest. They were very demanding because the country needed competent staff. Our training was very professional. We trained also in skiing. The food was really bad. The training was quite harsh, the lights went out at 9 pm. At 9:05 they gave the alarm. So we went marching until 1 am, with no rest or water breaks. At 1 am we wouls set en route back to quarters. At 5 am we would get to our quarters, just when we were supposed to get out of our beds. And we continued with our daily routine as if we had spent the night tucked in  our beds and rested. This was our training. We had to gear up on count, and strip just the same. The food was really bad. Two of us would go scouting for greens to add to our intake. I got promoted up to the rank of sergeant, on September the 1st 1944. We were very attentive to gather the manifests spread by the German airforce. On August 23rd, Antonescu wanted to conclude a truce with the Russians but the political parties ibstructed him. He went to see the king Mihai, who had him arrested. He was taken to Moscow and kept in prison for 2 years. He was then sent back home, tried and sentenced to death.

Q: Going back to your experience from the war.

A: It was Semtember 13th 1944, near Păuliș, the 5 th company was the reserve of our battalion and was stationed ina  village. Back then a plutoon was made of 4 groups, each men each group. A group was assigned to guard the posts. The others had to go to the kitchen to get the daily rations. In the meantine,  this German airplane comes up from beyond the hills of Zarand, and starts firing at the plutoon who was in the middle of the road. A real slaughter. 7 pupil sergeantsdied in the spot, 22 were wounded and the sergeant major died in hospital in Deva the next day. The other guys carried the wounded back to school, from 10 km away. We, the 6th company were in Păuliș at that time, near the graveyard. That plane who had attacked the plutoon on the road flew over us and caught our regiment carrier, that is the cart and two horses that were bringing food. The horses were killed and the cart smashed. Our captain said to me we should go on a scouting mission. So we went. The field was all corn. we walked 10,12 meters by the edge of the cornfield to take cover in case of need. At some point, I heard motor rumbling. I had a machine gun with a 40 cartridge loader. I laid on the ground, ready to shoot. An enemy motorcycle with a sidecar, equipped with a machine gun and a bulletproof car came down the road. I thought I could take them. But the captain ordered me not to. They kept going and we went back. When we got to the anticar ditch. We dig waist deep individual holes and we take position there. In the morning of September 14th, the Cross Day, the Hungarian artillery started firing. One could not see a thing, it was almost dark from the dust and rubble raised by the bombing. The German airforce flew over and bombed us.  We managed to push back 6 enemy attacks that day. Two tanks tried to cross the bridge, my loader , I had an anticar canon, with missiles design to break tank tracks. Two days earlier I was on the porch of a house in the west Păuliș. We cleaned  our guns and we cleaned ourselves from lice. My loader, a guy from Oltenia, from Motru, an only son with no father, he was a bit sad. He told me he wanted to give me one pair of shifts and one shirt of the two each he had. If one of us is to die, let us write to each other s family. That was on the 12th. On the 15th we were in the anticar ditch. My Motreanu jumps from the ditch and goes to the first tank. He covers the visors with the tent sheet, raises the turret lid, the crew were inside the turret basket.  He then pulls the safety pin off a grenade and throws it inside the tank. He puts the lid back on and jumps off the tank but was gunned down and died.

When we were at the front our mail was censored. We could only write postcards, not letters. I could not write to his mother about his death, I could  not even find a postcard. We had plenty of dead, to cut it short. In those parts of Arada, there was the 4rth Army, led by a general, Maciș Nicolae, who had only one eye, the left one. The right eye he had lost at Oituz in 1916. The minister of War wanted to have hiem retired but he would not have. He said he could serve his country just as well with only one eye.

Then the Russians came. They had him suspended from command and sent to Bucharest to stand trial. The Russians gave strict insturctions on how the trial was to be like. They sentenced im to death. And king Mihai commuted his sentence to life emprisonment. He died 5 years in prison in Aiud. This general Maciș on the 12th of September called colonel Petrescu, the commander of the NC infantry officer school, in Radna, and proposes to form a detachment for the defense of the Mureș gorge from the Hungarians. The colonel does as instructed. This detachement was made of 800 pupil sergeants from the military school in Radna, the 1st battalion   of the 96th Infantry regiment in Caraș Severin, 600  hundred soldiers, and the 61st Heavy Artillery division from Craiova, with 200 soldiers, 1800 men total. The motto of this detachment was: one cartridge, one man, one missile one tank, resistance to the last man standing, with no option for retreat. They stood by this motto like the Bible. And this led to really heavy losses. Thus, the military school in Radna loses one captain, my company commander, captain Ioan Fătu, 2 second lieutenenants, Cizmaru Gheorghe from the 6th company and Popescu Darius, from Segarcea, Olt county. He was in the 1st plutoon, 1st company, 1st battalion.There also 12 pupil sergeant who died and lie in the military graveyard in Radna. 22 students were made prisoners. Only 2 of them came back. One of them, while crossing the bridge in Budapest acrsoss the Danube at night in a convoy, he could swim and jumped off the bridge and made it out. The second stayed as a prisoner  of the Hungarians for 7 months. He was beaten, tortured,   in order to divulge his unit  and mission. When the war was almost over, the convoys of prisoners were i=already in Austria. Many of the prisoners were handed over to the local population as help in their households. He was assigned to a man who had plentu of livestock, horses, oxen, cattle, pigs and so on. The man of the house was at the front and the family treated him well, he was all skin and bones and they took care of hime. At some point, together with another comrade, Constantinescu Valeriu, also a prisoner, decide to escape from the camp. The woman agrees to help them and find civilian clothes, food for two weeks to last them while they go through the Hungarian veld. They go to the road, they get caught, sent to trial and sentenced to death in front of the firing squad. The sentence was to be carried the next day. Meanwhile, an officer from the Hungarian army comes by,  actually a Romanian from the part of Ardeal that we had lost . He whispers to them that they could make a break since they were guarded by only one man. At night, they choked the sentinnel and ran away. The Russians had gotten closer, the 53rd division of general Malinovski. One could hear the missiles, they went over to the Russians and explained their circumstances. One of the Russians offered them food and cigarettes and let them have a carriage and 2 horses to go back home. I don t know exactly how they managed to come home. The man I knew died 3 years ago in Timișoara. He was a forest engineer.

Q: Did you stay in the army after the war?

A: No. I went in reserve I was a civilian. In 1965 I filed a request to the Minster of National defense to get approval for a reunion of the former comrades from the war. I got an answer from general Burada who told me to go see reserve captain Nicolae Toma in Bucharest, on Giurgiului street, 63rd-65th. When I got that letter, I kew he was my former plutoon commander. He organized our reunions, the first one in 1969.

Q: Please tell me what you felt about Romania going to war?

A: Romania needed to go to war because  we had to get back our territories and I welcomed the order from general Antonescu. We went to Basarabia and then we onwards. Our military rules stated that the fight needed to go on until the final destruction of the enemy. The Germans made a huge mistake. Russia was half destroyed. The Germans wasted time in France, England, Northern Africa and so on and their Russian frontline was weakened.

Q: What was the bad thing that left the deepest impression on you?

A: The Russians: they are a savage people. Savage. They only went to battle while drunk. The difference between a German and a Russian was that the German would pay for a hen he took, whereas the Russian who took your pig would shoot you if you resisted. In Tisa  I saw a convoy of oxen taken by the Russians as a prey. They came all the way from Costești, Argeș county. They had also taken people to care for the cattle. While talking to one of them, he was wondering whether they would ever be let go. I told him that they might get away but the oxn not. I don t know what else happened.

The Russians, I know many such cases. King Mihai would not let Antonescu to conclude the truce with the Russians.

Q: During the war did you write home?

A: yes, but only rarely did I get replies. My father was at the front, there was only my mother at home.

Q: Did you have any political sympathiies?

A: No.

Q: Can you remember anything of the nature of the relationship existing between the Romanian and the German officers, prior to August23rd, and between Romanian and Russian officers after that date?

A: I was sorry for the Germans. Tey were a civilized people. The Russians were barbarians. After the armistice, our divisions from Moldova retreated to Ploiești. 130000 soldiers were disarmed because king Mihai had instructed the army to be friendly to the Soviets. They were embarked on freight trains, closed up, with no food nor water or any amenities, not even for physiological necessities. No one knows if any of them came back.

Q: How were the Russians treating  the local population when they came over.

A: They pillaged all they could. ifogot to say that 20 students from our detachment were taken prisoners. While on march, they were not fed and they would fall off their feet after a few days. Whoever fell to the ground was shot by the Hungarians and left to lie there to be eaten by dogs and crows. There were also 80 pupil sergeants who were wounded, 2 of them were crippled. One lost his left hand, the other lost his right leg.

What I meant to tell you is that on the train taking the 1300000 Romanian soldiers to Siberia. When the train had to stop at crossroads, they would open the wagons and take out the dead leaving them on the ground. They died of thirst or starvation.

After the war, there was an order concerning the minority ethnics. All ethnics aged 14 to 40 were taken and sent to Russia to help rebuild Russia.

Q: HAve you had any acknowledgemtn from the state?

A: I got two decorations, Virtue and Faith, by decrees number 330  and 331 signed by the king.

Q: How was the transition from the royal army to the popular army?

A: The army remained the same. But after the war there were very difficult circumstances. Officers were discharged with no pay and left to manage on their own to make a living. The Russians promoted second lieutenenants, shoemakers, tailors and such. They were called the army of Diribau. They were mocked.

Q: What was intearction with the Russian officers, once we became allies?

A: None. But after the war I was a member of the liberal party. One evening I got a visit at home from two men in civilian clothes. They said I was to accompany them to Secutitate for a statement. I realized they were onto me. A 100 m away from my home, one of them they had been watching me for a long time. I said nothing. They took me to Pitești in prison. I stayed tere for one and a hald ear without trial, without even an interrogation. I just stayed in the cell. The conditions were harsh. Every morning at 5 they woke us up and the bunk was aligned to the wall and we had to stand all day long until 9 pm.

Q: How did you take it?

A: One day, a guard came and told me to pack my bag. I thought I was being transfered to another prison. They took me into an office instead, and asked me to sign a statement saying I committed to duvulge to no one where I had been, whom I had seen, any of it. Otherwise I was to come back. I asked for a paper saying that I had been hels in prison all that time. he said I should be thankful for making it out.

Q: You wre held in the infamous prison in Pitești?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you happen to meet Nikolski?

A: No, I didn t. I heard of Țurcanu, a former student who allied with the gurads and beat the hell out of the prisoners. I never met him. I heard he was tried and shot afterwards.

Q: Your political enprisonment affected you in any way, your professioanl life?

A: No. I was an accountant.

Q: Did you ever feel watched by the Securitate?

A: We each had our neighbour in charge with communication with the Securitate. One needed to stay clear of everyone, nobody knew who they were.
Q: Did you feel you were living in fear?

A: yes, one needed to be very careful.

 

Emil Olteanu

My name is Olteanu Emil, colonel in reserve, I was born  in 1922, on August 25th, in the village Livada, commune Izlod, Cluj county. I staysent my penal file to the notary public whose job was to ed in my home village until I turned 20 when the northern part of Ardeal was ceded after the Vienna dictate. i had two of my brothers who had fled to Romania and that led to me being persecuted by the horthyst military.

Q: In what way?

A: I attended a friend s weding, where there were 12 of us young men. We partied all night, after a while we got called to the townhall, all 12 of us. A junior sergeant and a corporal from the Hungarian geandarmes came and asked me what my name was in Hungarian. the mayor translated, I said my name and they replied in Hungarian saying, fuck him he s pure Romanian. They started beating me up. They kept asking if I had sung in Romania. I had. Had I sung Romanian patriotic  songs. I hadn t I had sung folk songs. More beating, more punching in the stomach. Had I cried Romania? No, i hadn t. More puching in the stomach. I started giving them the asnwers they wanted. I said I had cried Romania, I had sung in Romanian. They sent my penal record to the notary public whose job it was to handle it. he sent my record to the Military tribunal in Cluj. One night, I with two other mates, went across the border in Romania. We met 300 hundred other Romanians that night who had also crossed the border in Romania. We had obviously each left in a hurry, in our pj s and such.

Q: When was that?

A: In 1942, in May. I got refugee papers and in the fall I got a job at a factory in Ocna Mureș, Alba county. I saw posters that said they were looking for vounteers in the geandarmes units. I took an exam in Timișoara and I went to the NC Geandarmes Officer number 3 in Timișoara. I got military training for the front  which was inevitable. One year later we were taken to Drăgășani, for the second year of training. We had one day per week of military training and the rest of the time we ahd theoretical training, we studied the penal code, the penal procedures. I became an officer in the criminal police later.

On April 4rth, Bucharest was bombed. There were 1000 volunteers who had joined this school in Timișoara, we were coming out of the mess hall, the whole battalion and we saw hundreds of airplanes flying over Drăgpșani. We were informed right away that the capital was being bombed by the British and American airplanes. That night we got ready for war, equipment and ammonition and we were shipped to Bucharest by trains. We got ther in the morning of the 5th of April. We were quartered at the Pedestrian Geandrames Regiment for a while. We helped clean the yard of the premises then the alarm was raised. Everybody was supposed to take shelter when the alarm was raised, but we had no room to take shelter.The whole battalion went into the regiment garage. 100 m away from us 2 firebombs dropped on the building of the Cartea Românească Publishing House. The  building kept burning for two days and 2 nights after that. They had us stand around that burning building to guard. King Mihai passed by me while was on guard and I salued him. hey had us transfered to a a unit in Ghencea and quartered us in a garage. Another bomb fell in my vicinity. I had my gun ready to shoot the airplanes if they came close enough. There were airfights between our fleet and the Amercians. One heavy artillery missile, as big as my hand,  that had hit an American airplane, fell down at my feet. I could have been a hero if it had fallen on me. I burried it and reported it to my CO who reported further and they decided that we needed to build sheletrs. We built shelters, round ones, we dug them in the ground, deep enough.  to stand in, and we also dug some tunnels to have room for escape in case the bombs fell on the shelters. While in Bucharest we had to take extra measures because since April 4rth until August 23rd, Bucharest was being bombed almost day in and day out. After each raid our school was assigned for protection measures. On August 23rd our whole battalion went to Cișmigiu ready for battle. The German planes tarted bombing us. several men in my plutoon were wounded. the 1st and 4rth company engaged in battle with a German battalion quartered in Băneasa. 32 of them died there. After the armistice we were assigned in various posts, police units, geandrames units, all over the place where we were needed. We were all single. I was assigned to an intervention unit in Drăgășani. The Soviet troops were advancing before the signing of the act between the Entente and the Soviet Union, so the Soviet troops were advancing towards Ardeal. They stiil made Romanian soldiers prisoners and they disarmed Romanian troops. I went to see the garrison commander, captain Troceanu and asked him what I was supposed to do if the Russians came and tried to disam me. he told me I was to surrender my pistol, since there were plenty more guns but the likelihood in case of resistance was they would canon all Drăgășani and destroy it. We guraded the Telephone Palace across the street from the Postoffice Palace. a drunk Russian came over to me and asked me to give him my pistol, cursing me in Russian. I shived him and he fell, I ran and hid behind a concrete pillar. The Russian had a pistol with 72 cartridges. He started shooting all of them at me. I was assigned to various geandarmes units in Vâlcea county, then in Sălaj and ended up in stau Mare.

Q: What did you feel about Romania going to war at that time?

A: Romania had been maimed. We had lost Basarbia, Durostor and Caliacra. I had a brother living in Durostor, he was a geandarme there and he came to say goodbye to my parents when Ardeal was lost. The country was destroyed. But measyres were taken , I remember orders from the Internal Affairs Minster s office, all sort of frauds, I took over the miliția office in Satu Mare where there was also a geandrames legion, and I read what had happened after the Union in 1018. Gangs of thieves pillaged the country but the ploice and the geandrames units brought order. So it was necessary for Romania to go to war, otherwise, Romania would have meant Moldova and Muntenia only.

Q: What baf memories do you have from the war?

A: The war is not good for anyone. The attacker loses, the defendant loses. Especially, you see, all the heroes we have in our country. Romanians have one of the harshest histories in the whole world. I was not a very good student of history but I have read about the battles led by Stefan cel Mare, Tudor Vladimirescu, Horia Cloșca and Crișan, Avram Iancu, all the ancestors who had fought hard to build our country. many heroes, probably more than any other country. But they fought and built a beautiful country. Nowadays we Romanians fight among ourselve. I am 96 and never thought I would live this day. I read the book written by Vasile Lucaciue, there is a statue of him in our town. He was imprisoned for our language. I never would have thought that.

Q: What about a good memory from the war?

A: Only from after the war. We went from place to place trying to establish order in the country, I mean, we the geandarmes.We aided the army, we went on patrols, 7-8 officers and NC officers and we would walk the streets in order to prevent crime. There was random verifications. I have good memories from after the war, but now…I don t know.

Q: What was he event that left the stringest mark upon you from the war?

A: When the missile fell down at my feet and I made it out alive, 5 times I escaped death.

Q: How did you maintain contact with your family all that time?

A: Postcards, back and forth, even in Ardeal, that  was then Hungarian territory.

Q: Did you or your family have any political sympathies then?

A:  My brother was a clerk at the Courthouse in Gherla, 6 km from our village and he was the head of the social democrat party in Gherla. In our area there was a landowner with more than 100 hecatrs of land. he had a piece of land in the center of our village. My brother intiated a petition signed by many people and took it to the Minster asking for the expropriation of that peice of land so that people could build houses there. One of the secretaries gave him a hard time an sent him home before risking to be arrested. That was somewhere between 1930 and 1940.

Q: All your of  family were also members?

A: No.

Q: Did you join the Communist party after the war?

A:  As graduatea of the NC geandarmes officer school, we were called the watche dog of the bourgeois. In 1954 they fired me on this account. There was a Soviet councillor with the Minstry of Internal affairs for a while and he started firing geandarmes aeound 1946. In 1949 they created the miliția. I was sent in reserve in 1954.

Q: On what grounds?

A: On orders of a regional director.I looked for a job. I got one right away with the help of a chief accountant in Aiud, an acquaintance of my brother s. I got a job at a British – Romanian transport company for a while. I then moved on as an adminstrator of the Sanitary College and the I worked for the County hospital as an adminstrator.

Q: What did you think of Antonescu?

  1. he was a great Romanian. it s a pity what happened to him but one could not help it.

Q: What do you think of king Mihai? How did people see him?

A: I felt so sorry in 1947, I was a  secretary at a geandarmes sector in Sruduc, Sălaj county. I almost cried by myself when I heard the news of his abdication.

Q: Were people aware of the pressure on this abdication?

A: Of course.

Q: What did they think about it?

A: They were all sorry.

Q: Did anyone have any clue of the major changes that were about to occur in our country?

  1. No one had any clue whatsoever.

Q: Did you meet any of these Soviet councillors?

A: No. My father was a participant in WWI in the army of the Austrian empire. I remeber him telling us he had fought in Bosnia and Hertzegovina and he was made prisoner in Russia for 2 years. He spoke very good Russian. When the Russians came to our village and they stopped at our house. They gave him a demijohn of spirit. My father told them about the beating I had gotten from the Hungarina geandrames and they wanted to shoot the mayor as a penalty. But my mother ran ahead of them throught the garden because it would have been a sin. And he got away.

Q: Were you ever in contact with German or Russian officers?

A: No.

Q: Have you ever received any compensation from tha state for your participation in the war?

A: My rank, my decorations and the benefits we get from the Association.

Q: Please tell us something about the way your family lived before the war?

A: Farming.

Q: How much land did your family own?

A: 4,2 hectars. That was my family s land. I have been struggling to get it back, fighting the Prefecture and the justice system. They issued no less than five property titles for this peice of land. I have a whole file on this and I keep trying. But there is no justice. I wrote to the Minstrer of Justice who sent me to the Prefecture and they said it was a justice matter . I have 5 replies from prosecutors. I am stuck.

Q: tell em how people spent their free time before the war? What about after the war? What did free time mean

A: Until the war, people had no quarrels with each other. They gathered for parties, either in pubs or in someone s house. The elderly used to play patriotic songs at weddings and parties, after the Union in 1918. They partied well. They sang a song about the union of all Romanians. The same song we sang with the battalion. People would shout in the streets: we want the Ardeal!

Q: what did people do in their free time during the Communism?

A: They worked. After work and on Sundays they would meet for drinks in their homes.

Q: What did they talk about?

A: Not politics, the party ruled with an iron hand.

Q: From a cultural perspective, what did you do?

A: We sang, there were various singing groups and organizations, The Guards, The Hawks of Carpathians, the premilitary organizations. They sang patriotic songs in every gathering, they recited patriotic poems.

Q: What came instead with the Communism?

A: There was one teacher from Bucarest who hosted gatherings for the Communist youth organization and he made the Hungarians sing Deșteaptă-te române (historical song, currently national anthem).

Q: What else?

A: Folk and patriotic songs.

Q: The same as before the war?

A: Yes, of course.

Q: Were there movie theaters and cultural centers?

A: They sang so beautifully. There were all sorts of parties but they had no quarrels like today.

Q:  I would like to know what impact had the communist ideology on your life and the change of regime in 1989? How was your life different?

A: My life did not change. I joined the geandrames forces, then I joined the administration.

Q: Were you a party member?

A: They ahd to make me a member on account of my job. Around 1970.

Q: When did you retire?

A: In 1984.

Q: How was your life after taht?

A: I lived on my pension and I served as a secretary  at the Vereans association.

Q: Did you have a religious upbringing?

A: Yes. As a young child, my mother would teach us to go to church on Sundays together. I sang in the church choir when I was in elemenatry school. I went to church all time. Even  during Communism. My father refused to join the collectivization until we asked him to, lest we lose our jobs.

Q: Did it matter in your professional life you being a war veteran? Were you respected for that?

A: Yes. I am on the internet, singing a patriotic song during an interview.

Singing:

Come, Romanian brothers,

Let us all unite,

Let us march in triumph,

To victory in sacred battle,

To make our dear Ardeal whole again.

We had a proud dear country,

We had and we will have it again,

The enemy laughing today,

Will tremble at its sight.

I would start the singing, as a war vete

 

Ștefan Grosu

Right from my birth, from my baptism, God sent me a fierce angel that held my hand and kept me on a righteous path, from my christianing until this very moment,     until the age of 100. He kept me out of danger, even though I had met hardships all these years, but nothing to ne sacred of, just average. I have been very very well. My grandfather, my parents had three daughters before me, I came along about 10 years after. I was born on the day of St. Dumitru, but my grandfather insisted I be named Ștefan, like his father and like my own father. My son I named Ștefan as well. Years went by and I was called to the army. I was born in Șugag, Alba county. At the sheep pen, there was only my mother, God rest her soul, and her father in law at that time. My father ahd taken the cattle up in the mountains, because the Hungarians kept taking them to slaughetr them in wartime. He could not come back in time, and the water source was quite far. And she would bathe me every other couple of days, because the water was scarce and lest I should catch a cold and die. This too passed and I ket growing up, I went to school. My father sent me to guard the sheep from the age of 7 until 15-16 of age. When I was about 60, I started over with the sheep.I never had more than 200 sheep.  When I was 90 I got a work record, because I spent all the time with the sheep. My biggest trouble was that I lost my wife a very long time ago. The sheep I gave to my children.  I kept 70 or 80 of them, even now I still have a couple to give to oen of my children.

Q: What was your life like during childhood?

A: Good, good. I went to school until I graduated the 7 the grade but when I went to the army, I could not read, I could barely write my own name, because my father was friends with the school headmaster and he would pay him something to let me pass the exams so that I could watch the sheep. That too, passed.

There caem the years of the army. I was sent to the border patrols in Corabia. I was supposed to be discharged in 1940. But i ahd a big mouth and I got quickly promoted. After 2 exams I was made sergeant and became head of a border picket. From 1941 until 1945 in port in Corabia. The border guards stayed in the country to maintain order. That is why I told you before about the angel Jesus Christ sent me to hold my hand and keep me here. It was hard here as well, not often did a day go by without a border guard getting shot down from his horse. But I only went on patrols once a week. This too passed, I came back home. In 33 years I realized I needed to get married.

In Corabia I was head of a picket and had 60 guards under my command that rotated from one picket to another. Each week I would go and sign the orders. If one of the guards made a mistake they would ne sent at he front. But I was more honeste than a bride on her wedding day. I did not want to make any wrong move. My colonel was named Petrovici Petre and he was an adjustant to Mihai.

Q: Mihai who?

A: The king Mihai. I was and was in service as an orderly for Mihai for 3 months. I ll tell you about it. When I was his orderly, but i don t think I polished his boots twice. I only made sure his clothes were in order, because he had so many ordelies, you see, each with his own task, I was well fed at the mess hall, whatever I liked, I got.

Q: How was Mihai treating you?

A: Really really well. He only had kind words for us, not to lie, not to be arrogant, to treat evry citizen with humanity, not to think we were somebodies and pay no respect to the others. He prayed a lot. I could see him do that. There were parties at the Danube, I prepared the fire and made lamb on skewer. They would buy a bowl of fir wood and they liked to keep the wine in that bowl, they enjoyed the taste of it. So I was never without wine, because they never drank all of it, see. He had like a mania, he listened to everyone s troubles. But he did not like being lied to. Whoever did that to him was out. Nothing. Whenever he went to get reports or on reviews, he would shake the soldiers hands.

Q: When was that?

A: In 1941.

Q: What else do you remember of Mihai?

A: From my undertsanding, durong his reign, the common people had helped, but not much. But any man that went to the nobles to ask for help received a bag of wheat or corn, or a piglet , even thought hey had to pay in work days for this. But these were the orders for the whole country. There were very wealthy land owners in Bărăgan, there was this colonel who I told you about,  had married  a jobleman s daughter and got 4000 hectars of land as dowry. People from 7 villages worked for that nobleman. Vișina Nouă and Vișina Veche, From Carcal to Corabia. Petrovici Petre was his name. I don t think he is around anymore, since I haven t heard anything about him. The people that worked for him, like I did, if they wanted to go somewhere else for a better pay, he had over 100 employees at that time, he had a bakery and what not. When I wanted to switch places for wotk, they would ask where I ahd been before and I lied. When he found our about it he asked me why I lied. He whipped me on the back and sent me back to my previous emplyer. If you asked for forgiveness, he would forgive you and keep you.

Q: this happened on this nobleman s property?

A: yes, I saw it with my own eyes.

  1. Was this a common practice?

A: Sure. It was the law. A peasants child, however good a student he was in school, I believe it must be in history somewhere, but the education was expensive, the peasants could not afford to pay, so it was always them, the noblemen who got the best education. In our Șugag, there was another guy, also a shepherd, who was brilliant in school, we were the same age, the teacher told his father to find a way to send him to school. His father sold 300 sheep with lambs and in the end he got admitted and he was a teacher for a long time and he later became a myor until recently, in his 90 s. He died.

Q: Going back tot he wartime. What did you have to deal with?

A:  There were illegal crosssings of the border. Whoever did that was either sent to prison for life, or he became very successful. They had huge deals, smuggling. With the Hungarians for instance, they smuggled oil across the border and brought back sugar. There was one place  called Valea Neagră, at the border with Hungary. They had a sort of a bow with a string  during the night they would smuggle. Before I went there it was quite a widespread practice, but once I got there, with the war going one, they became more cautious. But Towards January 1942, I never heard of such stories.

Q: What were your orders?

A: We had orders to summon them to surrender, then shoot in front of them, if they were on water, and if that did not stop them, we had orders to shoot them. We tried to shoot at the legs but it did not always happen.

Q: And you had to shoot them if you caught them crossing the border?

A: If they did not stop, of course we did. First we summoned them by a single gunshot in the air. All the incidents had to be noted in the register, with all the details.

Q: How many men were under your command.

A: 60. After the armistice in August 1944, a company came to the port to help us stop the Germans. The CO was a major, but the Germans had plenty of armanent. And then came airplanes, 7 of our planes came down but only one German plane was hit. The port in Corabia, and thIt was late at night, around 1. e railway were destroyed then, the church as well.

Q: Did you have any contact with the German officers? As far as I know, the Germans had laid out and built some silos to muster cereals from the area and ship it off to the front. How did you collaborate with the Germans that were our allies until August 1944?

A: Very well. One day we would go to turn in the  food we confiscated and many times there were only the Germans: There was someone in charge of collecting it and sending itaway to the front. Sometimes it was also livestock. They bought them from the locals and brought them over to us, we registered everything we received, and we would take evrything to them with documents. I had some proposals to put something on the side but I never accepted, I only walked a straight line. For instance they wanted me towrite off  a cow out of 70 or 80. The live cattle were shipped to Russia on German boats. The Germans were treating us very well.

Q: Where were you on the day of the armistice.

A: In Corabia.

Q: How did you learn about the armistice?

A: It was late at night, around 1 o clock. We were warned to be extra carefull and not let anyone pass, because the Germans had become the enemy. we got a phone call from the quarters.

Q: What else did they tell you?

A: We were instructed in meetings to treat any foreigner well, not to him them, feed them and so on. A German was parachuted around here and they brought them to the picket and he stayed with us for a whole day and nigrht. He spoke nothing, he never accepted anythig to eat or dink, I tempted him with a glass of water but he wouldn t have it. He said nothing. He just waved us off, We got orders to tie him up and take him to the quarters in Caracal. I took him there and thurned him ine but he stil would not say anything.

Q: What happened to him?

A: i don t know what happened to him afterwards.

Q: The Russians came. Did they come to the border?

A: Yes, they were really dangerous. There came some motor units, they would ask for food and paid for it, I don t remember how much a rubla was worth, and then Kozachs came on horseback. They were a disaster. Even this colonel, Petrovici Petre, they ran into him in the street, they took his clothes and one of them gave him his own clothes in return. They were already our allies. They shot people, they only made troubles.

Q: Such as?

A:  If they ran into a couple on the outskirts of the village, they would snatch her from her husband s hands  and if the man resisted they would shoot him straught to the heart. this I saw with my own eyes.

Q: When was that?

A: Let me be clear . In 1944, I don t remember the date. That s right on August 23rd. This lasted foe about 10 days. Then most of the Russians went away, onl a few of them remained here, so our people could control them, if they went crazy. They would catch them and take them to the Russian quarters, there was in every major city. They would put them in jail. We had a center in Caracal, but we had to have all the papers in order, only for major crimes. e were allowed to shoot at the legs. But sometimes we missed. And we could get in big trouble, be taken to court and send to prison. It was really messy, until the end of 1945.

Q: What else do you remeber, things that left a mark on you?

A: It was hard. After tha war we had to pay war penalties to the Russians. The peasant had to give away all the harvest. They came to inspect on site, in the man s yard, orgarden, one Romanian and one Russian, and checked the premises. They took everything, even if that meant that the poor man was left with nothing. Each man had to find a way to survive.

Q: What did you do once you came back from Corabia?

A: Sheep.

Q: Did you also have a quota due?

A: Of course. I had to pay in cheese, wool, lamb and sheep, but I still got something for them. We negotiated contracts in the fall, for tis much cheese, that many sheep, and if we needed money during winter, they would give us. In the spring we would give them the products. And they still paid us something. During Ceasusescu we did not have a bad life. We went to spek to a president of a cooperative, we came to an agreement and there was no trouble till the following year. But now, in my opinion…

Q: Did you have any political sympathies before the war?

A: No!

Q: After the war?

A: No way.

Q: Did you join the Communist party?

A: No.

Q: What about after the Revolution?

A: Still no. Just same old me. In my opinion, whatever party came to power, ever, the peasant still got whipped. So, in my view, there is no way any party can do better. We are too ruined. I watched some TV but then I stopped, they blame each other. Ceausescu gave them work, a child once out of school could easily find work. Now they finish school and it s still the burden of the parents to support them

Q: How was your life until the war?

A: Good. Duing summer we were up in the mountains with the sheept, once the fall came we had a big party and all through the winter, no Saturday passed without a party in the evening.

Q: How long did it last?

A: With us, until 15 16 years ago. Nobody stopped us, not even under the Communists, nor after the Revolution. It s just that we changed, we became more reserved. Many left, I came here, even in Mărginimea Sibiului, Alba Iulia, the same thing happened.

Q: Where did you take your sheep?

A: In my youth, we would go to Timișoara, Bprpgan, we would spen a fortnight on the roads with the sheep. I was the first from Mărginimea  to go to Bărăgan with the sheep, in 1971.

Q: Did the authorities try to obstruct you?

A: Yes, they did.

Q: Why was that?

A: Because we happened to go over their lands. When I went for the first time I bought a map. I would go to Alexandria, then take the road towards Giurigiu and went around Bucharest to Lehliu. or 12 years in a row. They had a good cooperative president there. A firm man.

Q: Why did you stop goin on that route?

A: The people got their lands back and fenced them. Before, the cooperative had 12 000 hectars of land.  Now we have a deal with some landowner.

Q: From your point of view when do you think the best life was?

A: I had the best life from my youth until I lost my wife. Then there was some good times and then some bad times. And in the past 20 years, I had the most fun ever. They called me on TV shows, I go to Herculane.

Q: do you know any arm song?

A: Long live king Mihai and the rulers of the country/

We are the proud bloom of the country/

And we are called the border guards.

We were the first to cross the Carpathian mountains,

and were victorious at Oituz.

Oituz moans, crushing its stones

and the country is a grieved mother.

Children be proud from Dorna Vatra, to Năsăud.

Q: Tell me something about the king time. What were people saying when the king abdicated?

A: Everybody was crying.  I was a simple shepherd but I was really happy. The townhalls all across the country were really helpful, they explained everything, if people had any trouble, they guided us and gave us advice.

  1. So you went to war in the border guards units. What did you think about Ion Antonescu at that time?

A: I don t know about other people, but me and some people I spoke to at that time I liked him. But everybody is different and we cannot all have the same opinion.

Q: How did you feel about the decision to cross the Nistru?

A: In my opinion, when the Romanian army crossed the Nistru, they had to. From I heard, even if the German would not let them pass, they would still go across. Even if the king Miahi ahd maintained the alliance with the Germans, he would have lost even more, and many more would have died. Thus he got help from the Americans. Antonescu was a bit wrong then, because he took a 3 day break, He was certain the Americans were opposed to the Russians. And Hitler went over to the Americans to negociate. Cause the Germans, if they had succeeded to occupy the whole world, but God would not allow this.

Q: What else do you remember from the time you were the king s orderly?

A: I din t know what they spoke about when his friends came over. He would call me to the guest rooms but I never stayed to listen to what they said. he always taught me instaed to pray to God and never take advantage of another man s work.

Q: have you ever had the Romanian flag with you, while on the road s with the sheep?

A: Yes. We carried it in our pockets, because we could run into Hungarians. If we ran into trouble with the police for instance and they saw us a true Romanians, they would go easier on us.

Q: Why did you carry the flag with you?

A: because we are true Romanians. Even today I have it at home, I wear it pinned to my chest, because I feel a true and proud Romanian. i have always had it.

Q: Did your parents have the flag in their home?

A: Yes. When I was a young lad, all the women had a belt, three fingers wide, in the colours of the flag. And they used to wea it at celebrations or on holidays. Evrybody wore them. We had watches and wore it in our pockets. Very few people still have it. Nobody gave any order to that regard, I did my own thing.

Q: Before the Union ? What was it like then?

A: It was really hard for Romanians. In this area of Mărginimea Sibiului there were mostly Romanians. My mother gave birth to me during the war and the Hungarians were after our sheep especially in the fall, when they got  fat. But we would take them to the mountain trails and nobody could track us.

Q: What about the story of your birth?

A: I was born on october 26th 1917, I always celebrate my birthday on that day, but my birthday was registered on November the 2nd, two years later. That was the custom and it was done so that the boys could get stronger before going to serve in the army. I heard of people declaring the birthes even after 4 or 5 years. And it was difficult  for them because they had unregistered jobs and they had to keep working for another 4 or 5 years. But my generation was the last to do that. there was a decree that forbade that.

Nicolae Streian

My name is Streian Nicolae, I am almost 95 years old, in the commune of Fârlea, Timiș county. As a civilian a was a Matehmatics teacher at the two prestigious National College in the Timiș county, Coriolan Brăticeanu and Iulia Hasdeu. I a am war veteran and was part of the Păuliș detachment 74 years ago. Păuliș is a big beautful rich commune in the Western Plane of Banat between Arad and Lipova. It is placed about 18 km away from Arad and 8-9 km away from Lipova. here, as a part of the Păuliș detachment, made of the students of the of the infantry NC officers in Radna, Arad county. In 1944 I was a student of their school. Our barracks were in the vicinity of the Monastery of radna, only a wall separated us.

I would like to say that books have been written  and movies have been made about the Păuliș detachment. However many of these are, they could never fulli picture the living reality of the things that went on 74 years ago. Who are these students of the NC ofcier school? They are young men, 18 to 20 years of age, recruited from around the country. We went form the highschool teachers to the army teachers, the officers. Romania in 1944, as the whole of Europe, as at war. Here we got intensive war training, before August 23rd 1944 as well as after. I admired the officers of the Romanian army that were training us for their general knowledge, their patriotism and their professionalism in their area.

This is what our officers were like back then, the same as they are today and as they have always been.

In 1944 in September, a soft beginning of fall, after breakfast, although we had shooting training on that day, we were informed it had ben canceled and that we were to gather in the quad of the school s yard. Once we were all gathered, the junior sergant majors brought us special equipment, as we had never had before. We each got a rucksack, a haversack, a tentsheet, a food pack, a can of water. After all of us received these, the school commander came , colonel Alexandru Petrescu, a tall slim man, accompanied by 2 or 3 other officers. After he took us all in with his eyes he gave us such an ardent patriotic speech that even though we had been standing at ease, guns by our sides, we immediately assumed position. he said to us, I know because I have been watching, so I know you are well trained, well prepared for war, for battle. Now we are going into battle. In the western part of our country foreign trrops, foreign hostile armies have come. They came with the intention to advance along the Mureș riverside deep in our territory. We will go and stop this enemy army from its advance and make it turn back. I am ordering you to march to Arad, each company in their order. With our commander at the front of the line, and our officers  next to our companies and plutoons, we set off on the road. The atmosphere in my company , in my plutoons was optimistic. We were not afraid of dying, we were keen to go to batlle. it was very touching when the people from Radna came at their gates and waved  in sympathy at us. They must have had an inkling as to where we were going, two old women with black scarves on their heads were wiping their tears. This is when we thought about our homes, about our own mothers. We marched at a leisurely pace. From the opposite direction, there was another column of civilians, with carts pulled by oxen, or by donkeys, full of produce. We didn t know where they were coming from or where they were going. They were heading towards Lipova, in any case. God was on our side and autumn was gentle, neither heat nor cold and no rain. The fields were flat. I was born in the mountains, at the feet of the Padiș mountains, all valleys, and forests and springs. Back there, everything was flat plane all the way to the horizon, scattered by fields of sunflower and vines. At some point we were ordered to stop marching, we were gettin closer to Păuliș, we could even see the church steeple in a distance. We formed the battle front, each company, each plutoon, and he war started immediately. I remeber that the first attack and the first fire was shot by the enemy army. It was a war to the death, uninterrupted. We did not feel hunger nor thirst, only the desire to vanquish, our youth, our patriotism led us to victory.

Q: How long did the battle last and please give us a little more detail about it.

A: It lasted for about 8-10 days. As I was telling you, our thoughts were with the Romanian soldiers from 100 years ago, when the told the enemy at the Oituz pass  Here you cannot go through! That is what we told the Hungarian army, that they could not go through and we would not let them advance. After heavy combat, with many dead, we became even fiercer when we heard the news, passed fom one man to another, that even on the first day, the commander of a company had fallen heroically in battle. His name was captain Fătu. In the meantime, perhaps in the nick of time, the Romanian army arrived. Cavalry on horseback, cars, infantry. When they saw how young we were compared to them, they hugged us, especially the officers. I don t know how we looked, filthy, unshaven. Our new ally , the Soviet army, arrived, and the fighting went on. after the Hungarian army was defeated, it went on. This battle near Păuliș, was well known both nationally and internationally and the students of the NC officer school got the name of the Păuliș detachment. The fighting kept going for the whole next month all over  the Ardeal, next to the Romanian and the Russian army. Only on October 25th 1944, the whole of the Ardeal, the Romanian Ardeal had been liberated from the fascist , horthyist, Hungarian and German domination. The last place was Carei. I am proud and I thank God I got to this age and that in WWII I was a part of the Păuliș detachment, I was a part of the Romanian army, as a sergeant. May our sacrifice, the sacrifice of those who fought in Păuliș for their country , of the heroes fallen in the line of duty, may it be with us always. I can add that the war went on for many more months in other countries until in 1945 Hitler s Germany capitulated and peace was installed and the people and local authorities in Radna, Arad, Lipova, the Romanian Orthodox Church zealously commemorate each September the heroes at Păuliș. Outside  Păuliș, a grand monument was erected in the memory of the heroes fallen at Păuliș.

Q: Could you please describe in more detail what happened in that battle?

A: It was an uninterrupted war. We the young men fought agianst this army, superior in numbers and ewuipment. The fighting was bloody and many comrades fell wounded. There was a service that collected the dead and the wounded, I don t know where they were taking them, perhaps to the hospital in Lipova. The authorities in Radna and Lipova burried the dead in Lipova in the centre of the town, where the heroes in Păuliș have their own cemetery. In the middle of that cemetery  Captain Fătu lies in his grave. i went there and I saw with great emotion how the graves are cared for and embellished with flowers and all the names of those who perished there are engraved there. According to what was written in the press that I have read only later, 171 students died at Păuliș. Around 400 of them were wounded, officers included. Păuliș will forever remain the our history as an act of patriotic bravery of the young men who fought for thir country. I recommend to the young people of today, I used to be a teacher, to remember that we were also young once, but  for us the country and our love for it came above anything else. I didn t know at the time our commander gave us the order to march in the quad that day that I would be a teacher but if I had somehow managed to record the speech he gave us before our departure, I would have played it not only to my students but to many other people.

Q: What happened after that, what did you do next?

A: After the Ardeal was liberated, in October, the students from Păuliș, a part of them, went along the Romanian army to liberate Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The ones that stayed went back to school. They were young students and had to complete the last year of stusies. I was amongst them. We went back to our quarters, we were lined up in our yard and colonel Alexandru Petrescu, the school commander came to us and each of one us gave a full report on where we were from and what school we went to. Thus, he shook each of us s hand and we then left to complete out education.

Q: Where did you go ? What did you do next?

A: I graduated the Pedagogical College, I went to the Babes Bolyai in Cluj to study Math and I became a teacher and I taught for 35 in Lugoj in the 2 National Colleges, Coriolan Brăticeanu and Iulia Hasdeu.

 

Q: What did you think about Romania going to war at the time?

A: Even though when we were in school we had no access to meadia, we thought it was a good thing that Romania went to war but we felt they should have stopped after the liberation of Basarabia. When they reached the Nistru thay should have stopped and this way many sacrificed lives would have been spared. But, as an ally to germany, we probably had to follow this course.

Q: What is your worst memory from the war, something that stuck to you your whole life?

A: All along the war, I come from the country, you see, I had four other siblings in the war, I was the youngest. Life for the peasants, the ones that had gone at the front, either in the east, or in the west, many doed for the country, there were many widows and orphan children after the war, and life was really difficult for the people in villages. I came from Gladna Română, Fârdea. I remember the joy we had in 1945 when in broad daylight on May9th, the bell at church rang so strongly. That only happened on holidays. But they rang so loudly and everybody was talking about the end of the war and peace had come. Germany had been defeated and the war was over.

Q: What was the event that made the longest lasting impression on you.

A: Our mother died in 1944, July or August, and not even one of her 5 sons was able to come to the funeral. I was the only one who could be there, but only after the funeral. The others could not be there at all. My relatives old me the funeral had been special one, because 5 sons in war was a first. People came to the funeral from all the villages around, and also the local authorities felt compelled to participate. The mayor, geandarmes, the teachers. My mother, aged 52, died while 5 of her sons were fighting at the front for their country.

Q: What happened to your brothers who were in the war?

A: Two of them, the eldest, one aged 34, Remus, married with a child, and the other, aged 30, Leonte, fell as heroes in battle. Remus fell in the fight in Moldova when the Russians had taken over Iași and were advancing towards Bucharest. That was where he died a hero. Leonte was in an artillery regiment in Bucharest and up until this day we never heard any news on how he died. We thought he must have been made a prisoner, bu not even today, do we know what happened to him, where he died, where he fought. The other two, one was in the geandarmes troops, one was in the infantry, they came back atfer the war and started their own families.

Q: Did you maintain contact with your family during school during the war?

A: I could not be in contact with my brothers at the front, because I had no idea where they were. I did, however maintain contact with my mother and with my other siblings, there were 11 of us in total, 7 boys and 4 girls. We wrote letters and postcards.

Q: What did you think about Antonescu at that time?

A: I personally thought he was an accomplished military leader, who led us into war, a commander, I knew very little about his life but I knew he had been decorated by king Ferdinand for his contribution in the first world war. My comrades and I thought the best of him. We did not know what the press wrote about him later on, him being arrested, or him being against the Jews, and other such things, but I think his death sentence and execution was too harsh a punishment.

Q: Did you have any political sympathies brfore the war?

A: We students had no political preoccupation, the only thing that caught my attention as a college student at 16 was the legionnaires coming into power in 1940. They were well liked in their youth organizations, their songs, their sacrifices, their sacred bonds. I liked them then but it only lasted from September  1940 .until January 1941. In our school we never had any… We would hear of one teacher or another being a liberal and such, but we had very little notion of politics. I knew from my parents that Iuliu Maniu had been a great politician and that the Brătianu family had had a major contribution to the Little Union and the Union in 1918. I don t know whether the history books said the same things but that is what we knew about politics at the time. Our main concern was the study. We had no dancing, no pubs, we soent our whole days with the books in hand. Our teachers were eminent, they were our spiritual parents who tried not only to teach us but also to educate us into a civilized and Christian conduit.

Q: Could you tell me something about the schooling system from the time of the monarchy? What was being taught in schools, what were the relations among children and then with a comparison to the same things during the Communism?

A: In the time between the teo world wars I was a student in elemenatry school and highschool, and I got the best education ever. Our religious education. When in highschool, we started the mornings in prayer, in each classroom we had a n icon of Jesus Christ or Mother Mary and the protrait of the king. At the end of each day we had a special prayer, as well. We had religion taught by a qualified teacher with books and everything. I was in boarding school, on Sundays we would go to church together with our classmates, in Caransebeș we had the Archdiocese, but on some weeks the whole school would go to another church in the graveyard where our teacher was a priest and the older boys took part in the service.

I remember at the end of the first trimester we would go to confession and when we came back from Easter holidays, we had to bring certificat from our local priest testifying we had attended service in church. I went to church regularly on all my holidays, I had my own pew, since I had a good voice I also sand during service. The priest gave me this certificate and I showed it to my teacher. That was our religious education, very useful for the students , for the young ones and for the society as a whole. After the Communist educational reform in 1948, there was a substantial impact on the young population this life in an atheist state. When I graduated the Pedagogical college, head of my year, I had a Communist headmaster and I got the offer to stay on as an educator. immediately after that reform, all the icons from all the classrooms were removed. All the protraits of the king and the queen were removed.

Q: Do you know where they were taken?

A: No, only the school management knew what they had domne with them, they never showed up again. The school separated from the church, the church from the state. Religion was removed from the programme, religion teachers had to reorient to another specialty, because in all schools, starting with the elementary and ending with highschool, religion had been removed from the curriculum. So you see, what moral impact this had on the young people, this atheist state, with no God, with no religion. That was school during the Communism.

Q: Could you please extend this comparison to other aspects, to other subjects?

A: I would like to say that all the people my age, or even younger, remember with great respect and high esteem the schools they attended, their teachers, whereas all the subjects were taught by qualified and well trained teachers ans i much enjoyed them. In all subject, either Math, Geography, History we were expected not only to know the information, but our teachers strived to educate us, as spiritual parents. That did not happen in the Communist schools. Without religion, withou faith, the respect for the teachers and for the whole sosicety was gone. In my opinion, this Communism, which lasted for quite a number of years, has don a lot of damage and made the people regress.

After the Revolution I saw on TV the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, teoctist, saying that in Romania, after such a long Communist regime, there are no children left unbaptized. Which means that even the party activist continued to christian their children and they could not entirely destroy this faith and this religion the Romanians had. Romania owes much of its history and its accomplishments to the contribution of the church and its priests. They helped form the language and the national identity of Romanians. I remember that the Metropolitans were part of the country s council, both in Moldova and in Țara Rpmânească. They helped govern the country. This had a very positive impact on the young people, but not only on them, as a means of education, if compared to the Communst atheist period. Wehn I was a teacher, there would be dancing nights or other such activities like trips, on Saturdays and Sundays, to keep the children away from church. I remember some party activist calling the school and reporting to the headmistress that some students had been calling people to church by beating on the whick at Easter. So they were so keen on preventing young children from having contact with religion and the priests.

Q: What did the headmistress say or do?

A: She called the teacher on call and told him about it. The church was very close so he went over there and found a couple of boys there at the whick. He pulled them back to school by their ears. Then she called he party to report the resolve of the matter, telling them it was only a couple of unruly students who had been brought to order. And that it would never happen again in the future.

Q: What else can you tell me from your time as a teacher? What did the History teachers talk? The books had changed.

A: I was a Math teacher and I was friends with History teachers; during that time there was a History textbook written by a guy named Roller or something like this. It was filled with lies, but as far as Mathematics wer concerned, I enjoyed teaching and I loved my students, which they could fell and I never had any discipline or truancy problems with them. I was quite ambitious so I went through all the professional degrees.

Q: Could you tell me something about the community spirit in your childhood? Did peeople help one another? How did that change once the Communists came?

Q: Pople in my village helped each other a lot. In work and in other life events. If there was a wedding , the whole village were invited , the whole village would go to a funeral, they were all like a big family. And this was very beneficial. But in the communst era, this changed, there was a lot of abuse with the collectivization. The ones who were a bit more well off, through the hard work of their families, they called the kiaburi, had them arreested and sent off to Bărăgan.

Q: Do you know any such cases?

A: Yes. My village was in the mountains and there was no collectivization. But in other areas, I knew people in the steppe, especially in Timiș county, arounf=d Lugoj and Timișoare that were deported. They told me when they came back about the night when the army came and told them to pack the minimum and leave. They got them on freight trains, got them off in the middle of nowhere in Bărăgan and told them that was their new home. They left everything they owned behind, everything their ancestors had worked for. There were many such case in this area, in the whole of Banat, Timișoara, Lugoj, Reșița, Făget . That is how their deportation went. I knew about these things after some of them came back from Bărăgan.

Q: What else can you tell me about the cultural life and how people spent their  free time before and after the war?

A: In my village people continued to do the same things after the war as they did before it. We did not have a cultural center, but there was a private owned larger all where people held events, balls on holidays, Easter, Christmas, the saint patron s day, which was the biggest holiday for the village. In each village in Banat the church has a patron saint, and the priest had a big party, for several days in a row sometimes.Many people came from other parts of the country, everybody wore their best clothes, traditional clothes. Here in Lugoj we have the same feast which we celebrate with great pomp. I remember one such occasion in my village when I was a University student, on September the 8th, St Mary s holiday, all this party was happening in the churchyard. Two of the villagers, members in the parrish council, came to me and said ( in my village they called me Mr Niculăiță) that the priest had been dead for a while and no new priest had com yet. So they could not start the ceremony and asked me to do it. They announced the opening of the ceremony with my role in it and the causes of that role, and the music started playing loudly. I was a good dancer and my date was a beautiful girl of about 16 or 17. And I started dancing my pants off I was all covered in sweat. Then everybody started to dance. This is still a lve custom. My grandchildren already let me know they expect me in the village for this special holiday, soon, in September.

Q: How many of these traditions were kept during the Communist era?

A: They were kept alive and maintained. They were less connected to religion. The priest opening the celebration is an honorary role by tradition. Everybody prepares all sorts of delicious foods and drinks.

Q: Do you have anything else to tell me?

A: Two minutes.

Nicolae Muntean

I was born in Slănic Prahova, just across the saltmine, in 1923, on October 23rd. I lived there for 25 years, then I got married, but in the meantime I went to war, before I turned 21. I was assigned to the 5th Pioneer Regiment in Focsani, 4rth company and then got transfered to Ghirdoveni. On may 20 th 1944, I was mobilized and got my training with lieutenenant Tănăsescu. I spent 3 months in training, the proper way, it was during Antonescu s regime, I was assigned to a Pioneer plutoon. Our job was to track the American pilots and take them to the townhall. Before the army I was trained to be a carpenter, got my worker permit in Ploiesști and got a job. The premilitary service was mandatory at that time. The commander had a grudge against me for some reason and he assigned me to MTR (Young Romanians Work). I worked there for 6 months but I was a trained carpenter and I had it easy, since I got people to help me. When I was discharged I came back home and the got mobilized in Ghirdoveni. Afetr 3 months of training with a an armored unit. Our job was to destroy armoured tanks with trotyl, we learnt how to do that. On August 23rd, we were inbtraining, someone came and handed our lieutenenant a letter. He read it and told us we had peace. They must have been scared we would run away, we were just kids. So we believed there was. peace. They took us to Filipești to spend  the night. At one point in the night they woke us up and took us to Zahana, at the produce market. we were stationed there to guard the road from Ploiești to Târgoviște. We stayed on each side of the road, dug holes in the ground, deep for a man to stand in. We were looking out for cars from Ploiești to Târgoviște. The German army , you see, it was a strategic road. While we waited there came a truck full of German soldiers. The commander got out and asked them to surrender. They raised the white flag and surrendered, all the soldiers got out of the truck, laid their weapons on the ground in a pile and we let them goe. Such were our instructions. They left, we kept waiting there, another truck with German soldiers came and our lieutenant summoned them. They started to fire with the machine guns. Our commander jumped back into his hole and we got all away unscathed . But the road was scythed. After that there came a whippet. They had heard the machine guns fire. They fired a bombshell and destryed the truck, Nothing was left of it. We kept on waiting until we got orders to leave for the frontline in Buda. I don t remember how we got there. Beyond Buda, there was a locust forest, where there was a German unit and we had orders to march towards them. The railway from Buda to Brașov was passing by that forest and we approached it from the other side. The Germans could see us but we could not see them. We got there in the morning while it was still dark. We marched for a while, we deployed in a fighting line and we got ordered to march for 10 meters then lay on the ground, take cover, start shooting and then stand up. We did that but we couldn t see a thinh because of the dark. But the fighting was so fierce that sparks flew all  around us, as well as bullets and cartridges and bombshells. They hit my helmet. Our lieutenant was hit in the jaw. He managed to tell his adjutant to take over command and he was taken away to the hospital. He got better after that and came back to us. While we were advancing, the adjutant told us we were on our own, each of us. Th order remained the same. Advance for 10 meters, lay down, dig some dirt for cover in front of us, start shooting and then advance some more. One of the guys in my right was hit and was left behind. We kept advancing in that field when we heard a huge boom, my ears started ringing. On the railway coming from Buda to Slănic, there was an armoured German train and they started firing everything they had at us from that train. Our guys mined the train and it blew up. After that big noise, the fighting stopped and the Germans surrendered. We advanced and we tried some water for fear it might be poisoned. We were really thirsty, we couldn t get enough of it. The Germans might have poisoned the water.  On that field a big German hydroplane was hit and crashed with 4 generals on board. We learnt that from our commanders. We found food laid out in the place where we found the Germans, we had some ourselves, drank some water then we had to pack up our things and get back to our regiment in Ghirdoveni and we got leave to go home. On my way home, the train passed by the German armoured train that had been blown up. There only large chunks of steels lying about by the railway. Going to Slănic by train , I could spot on the road of Slănic the German army pulled over in order to cross towards Brașov. But they got stopped by the students from the military school in Slănic, when they fired some shots at them. They got scared and everybody stopped. All the cars were queued for kilometers. I spent a few days on leave at home and then came back. We spent 8-10 days marching from Buda to Ghirdoveni. We marched at a slow pace because we were tired.

Q: What changes occurred in your life ?

A: I completed my military service and in 2 year s time we were sent to completion. In the fall of 1945 we were taken to Ardeal, to Budapest in fact  but we didn t know that at the time. I immediately wrote home saying I crossed over to Ardeal. After crossing the Romanian border, then the Hungarian one, we reached Budapest , a whole company, where we went to the Romanian consulate. We rested for 3 days and then they asked us who wanted to go back home and who wanted to stay there. There was a colonel who came and asked us that. It was a while before the first of us said he wanted to go home and then evrybody said the same. Only 8 of us wanted to stay, myself included.

 

Q: Why did you wish to stay there?

A: I was curious about the language, about what was going on, I knew I was at the Romanian consulate, I wanted to serve my country. 8 soldiers stayed there, the rest went back home. We took turns to guard the telephone, we communicated with a general in Vienna, general Balosin, made calls to Romania and we had to transmit from Budapest to Romania. This was our job. We stayed there for a while, we talked, I was sent to carry letters to commanders in Arad, I went, then I came back and I had a passing permit in three languages: Hungarian, Russian and Romanian. In Hungary was under Russian command and I had to get stamps from them as well. We had some spare time to walk about the city and the colonel sent us over to the house of an acquaintance with some food. he sent me and another soldier all the way to Balaton Semes. We stayed there overnight and during the night the Hungarians surrounded the house. We heard but we could not speak. Our hosts came out and talked us out of that sutuation. The next morning we went to the Balaton lake and visited it. Then we went back.

 

Q: When did you come back?

A: I stayed there for 6 months.

Q: What did you do when you came back.

A: We were reassigned somewhere else. They sent us to build a bridge over Olt in Caracal. Then we came back to the army and were sent to ensure the security of the railways and of the roads.

Q: After that, in 1946, 47,  48what happened ?

A: In 1946 I got discharged with the military record on me. I got a job as a carpenter, making furniture at the saltmine in Slănic. I worked there for a while, then i got married to a girl from Dâmbovița, in Vișenești, We had 3 children. A boy and two girls. The boy died at the age of 14 but the girls still live, one in Moreni and one here, next to me.

Q: What did you feel about Romania going to war at the time?

A: I thought it was necesary to defend our country. I was distinguished for bravery.

Q: How about now in hindsight?

A: The same

Q: What bad memories do you keep from the war.

A: i was never cross with anyone. I thanked God for staying alive, I am happy by nature.

Q: What about good memories?

A: I had a very goos and smart wife, bright children

Q: And from the time of war, any good memories?

A: Going back home in one piece. My father went to war in Moldova in 1918, in Oituz. He was a decorated sergeant. he told us about the war. One time a bombshell hit the horse he was riding, the horse fell and he kept going until they won.

Q: What was the event that made the most important impression on you in the war?

A: Our victory.

Q: Did you maintain contact with your family during the war?

A: Of course. I called them from Budapest and told them where I was and not to worry. During the war they sent me letters wishing me well.

Q: How did you take the decision to cross the Nistru?

A:  I was aware of that. i thought it was unjust. The Germans had occupied us and then dragged us to fught the Russians. We prefered the Americans and they were on the Russians side. You see? That is why we were ordered to not harm any of the fallen Amrican pilots. We had to protect them and take them to the townhall.

Q: Who gave these orders?

A: Our CO.

Q: What did you think about general Antonescu?

A: He had a lot of wrong ideas and led us into war.

Q: Did you have any political sympathies before and during the war?

A: No.

Q: Were you a member of the Communist party?

A: No.

Q: What about after 1989?

A: I did not join any party.

Q: What can you tell me about the atmosphere in the army before and after the armistice in August 1944.

A: We were happy about it. I was glad and I thank the Lord I held tight.

Q: After August 23rd 1944 did you wish to stay in the army or just to complete your military service?

A: i just completed my service and went in reserve until I got discharged. While in Budapest they asked us whether we wanted to stay on int hte army but I would not.

Q: Were you aware of the things that went on in the army, about the changes that occurred during the transition from the royal army to the popular army?

A: I din t know about it.

Q: Was there talk about how the Communists came into power? Were you aware of how th elections went under the Russians influnce?

  1. I voted like evryone else and I lived a good life even then. I minded my own business.

Q: I was a very good worker and I worked a lot and earned  a lot of money. Had they taken into account the money I earned, my pension would be much higher. I paid a lot of taxes but they didn t take that into account.

Q: Were you aware of any oppression on the population or parts of it that went on during that time?

A: I had no oppression. I was free.

Q: Not on you, personally, I get that. But there were people imprisoned on political grounds in Aiud and Gherla. Were you aware of that?

A: Yes, I knew about that. Those who refused to give away their fortune or their land got arrested. I never knew anyone like that in person.

Q: What was the social life before the war and how did that change after the war?

A: My social lufe was very good. I had a job, good pay, I minded the children. Before the war, I worked to help out my family, what else?

Q: What about your free time?

A: I studied, I read a lot, even now I do that, I try to keep informed on how to have a better life. I study the Wholy Book, because I have had faith eversince I was a young child.

  1. So, you did get a religious upbringing…

A: yes, I did.

Q: In the Communsit regime, did you keep going to church?

A: Yes, I was fine, I had no trouble.

Q: Have you ever had contact with the Soviet councillors, either in the army or after the war.

A: When I was in Budapest, I was relocated to Szentes for a few months and before I went back, the Russian CO wanted to shoot me as a spy.  I told him I had their stamp on my permit. So he called to Budapest and got things clear.

Q: have you ever felt the need to get involved in politics?

A: No, I always headed my way, I was never opposed nor in favour of anything. And God helped me.

Q: What did you know about the elections or the collectivization, about how the Communism took over?

A: I knew beforehand the Communism would take over?

Q: How?

A: From the biblical prophecies I knew about that. You see. I knew and I kept going. We were free as a religion, as a church. 7th day adevntist.

Q: Since when?

A: Since forever. My parents converted to this cult.

Q: What role did religion play in your life?

A: A big role. I led my life according to the Christian principle of being at peace with everyone.

Petru Nistorescu

Petru Nistorescu When I was at home, I was the youngest of 4. We lived off livestock and we helped out caring for them. When I was young I worked as a day laborer. In 1937 the premilitary service became mandatory.  I joined this service from 1937 till 1939.

Q: How old were you?

A: 18. Then , in March 1939, I got mobilized with another contingent. The war had started while I was in the premilitary service. There were 2 Regiments, 92th in Zalău and the 76th in Basarbia in Bălți. The national day was celebrated on May 10th, and that year was the last celebration I took part in the parade in Zalău. After the training I was assigned to the 2nd Regiment, a machine gun battalion, the 18th division. When I was mobilized they assigned me to a specialty company, My CO was Zănescu, the one who was with the Tudor Vladimirescu division. The secret there was the Morse alphabet. This is what I learnt as a young recruit. When they assigned us, this is where I ended up, with the 92nd Regiment. The last parade I was in was on May 10th in Zalău, and from there they sent us to the Țiganca railway station, on the Milistrău hill, at……, and from there on towards ………. Then to Șocuta Mare and to Câmpulung. The road splits there, one towards Baia Mare, the other one to Satu Mare. We took the one on the right, towards Baia Mare and we reached a commune called Lăpușel. Here we were stationed and while we were there, the Ardeal was ceded. And that was when it was the hardest. We had the tent sheet, the shovel and 50 cartridges, helmet. They did not send us back in the country, they took us to Saxaru, towards Baia Mare,  and we were ……  but we did not surrender. The Hungarians were advancing to Câmpia Turzii. The border was set at Câmpia Turzii and we stayed there for 2 weeks, where the border was set. And when the border was set, we went to Orăștie to join our Regiment, all geared up for war. When we got to our regiment in Orăștie, those who had been mobilized, were discharged and sent home. Both regiments, the 92nd and 76th. Only the active part remained. I was an active part. Then, they brought instructors for the training of the 1941 contingent. There was a personnel school, when the recruits came, the DND did no longer have a battalion, only a ompany, there was no more transmissions, so they assigned me to an instructor for machine gun training. I trained the 1942 (contingent) with machine guns. After that, how can I put it, after everything was over, on January 21st 1941, Antonescu took on dictatorship. I was in Orăștie. This is when they killed Iorga. We were gathered in the quad and told us that everybody would have…….. and the legionnaires killed them. They pulled him out of his bed at night and killed him. Then Antonescu took charge. The became worthless. And on June 22nd the war broke. Then Antonescu gave the order Soldiers, cross the Prut! The 92nd regiment was not all taken to the front. In July they sent only the ……company. There was a ………company. And the regiment, Odessa would not fall so in September they sent the rest of the regiment. We, the DND, they left us there, scared we might be attacked by the Hungarians. Hitler in person came to talk to Antonescu and offered him assurance. Then Antonescu gave the order, as supreme army commander. One colonel, I don t remember his name, did not want to leave to occupy Russia in a cart. He could not do it and he resigned. So Antonescu had him replaced and that one took us all the way to Stalingrad. When we were in Stalingrad, there were very few left. Let me tell you about Stalingrad. From Crimeea…..When the war started, there was no more regiment 76th, only the 92nd. Odessa had not fallen completely and in September they sent the 92nd Regiment as well. Then Odessa fell. Then, the cheif od staff said he could not go in carts with marquises to occupy Odessa. Wehen they were in Stalingrad, how should I say, what happened in Stalingrad, we were taken to Crimeea. When they took us there, we gost disembarked in Odessa and from there on we continued on foot and we crossed over the Bug, for 140 lkm and then another 60km to……….On foot. In K…….they had us cross the Nipru and put us  on trains and took us to Crimea , in Krasnadar, the capital city of the Tartars, which is all rocks, one goes in through a gate and exist through another 15 km away. The houses are all rocks. From there, they took us to Sevastopol, Țiganka railway station where the 92nd Regiment was and had us stationed there. The staff consisted of teo operators unrolling the wire, myself, in charge of the telephone exchange, one that was…….., another two at ……….and seven pioneers. When they had us stationed at the Sevastopol railway station, they were digging shelters. As they worked during the day, when they were digging some for our group, there came a……… and killed everyone on the spot. So we were left understaffed. We stayed there from March till April. from there they moved us in the Șulii Valley, where there was the Crimea fortress, such as the one in Costesti. And there we took up the Germans position, there were Germans there. And we stayed there from April until July 1st, undeground because we were waiting for a new canon. Whent it got to the railstation, they starting firing it and when they did that, everybody was hoping they would be using bombs. This went on for four days in a row. And then Sevastopol fell. Our regiment took the 1 and the 2nd bastion, we moved twice. And I …. you see, everything was mined, everything. While I was moving the exchange, there was one soldier walking in front of me, followed by our lieutenant and I was the third. A mine blew up and the soldier died on the spot, the officer was injured and I was unharmed. When we got to Sevastopol, it fell, then they sent us back and they sent us back cause ………….did not fall, and………..And there we go, and i was not even wearing a helmet, if you can believe it. I was not in direct combat at the frontline. And when we retreated and we were asked to come to the troops at ………..because it was still holding. And when we got there, it had already fallen. From there they took us back to Bakisaray and there we stayed for two weeks to recover and they took us marching to ……….., these two cities that were not on the shore. And there king Mihai and Antonescu came and decorated us. Because when Napoleon fought there, all of Crimea fell but not Sevastopol. And that is why they decorated us. Then they had us marching to, I can t remember the name of the city just now, where the division was. From there they took us to Kerch, that had fallen even since fall. And this Kerch was on the shore of the Azov sea and there were still catacombs there and there were  still Russians down in those catacombs. Then the 24rth division passed to Caucaz willing to take over Baku and Batum. The oil. That was the plan. They kept us there to help while they were passing. After they passed, there were no more cities. They took us out of Crimea in trains to Volnovak. Two contingents, 42 and 43 , had arrived from the country and from there they completed our troops. And they had us march for 400 km until we crossed Rostov. When we crossde Rostov, our division arrived at Krasnadar, in northern Caucaz. The order came. Two trains were put together. The first one was destined for the operative part, horses, carts, the oeprative part. The second train ……..We the command group in BMB Let me tell you how it went. were held back to go on this second train so they would not be on their own. The next day we were told to go to the Kalmuk veld. The train did not go to Krasnadar and this is where they went. When we got to the Kalmuk veld, at………, there was nobody there. Then, the command group I was part of, led by captain Guriț if I remember correctly, were taken to a citu called ksai, on the aksai river, where we were stationed until they got there. I, together with another guy, Gheară, were assigned to guard the first stret, sentinels to the 1st battalion. Each had two men in posts. During this time, when the troops got into the city, the Russians, closed all exits on our side. They did not come towards us. Let me tell you how it went. I had no food, after the 7 days I stayed there, So I went down at some mill and took some flour. And we went to zaika to have some braids baked. The old woman had two daughters, the youngest one helped , but the eldest would not, even if I showed her the gun. The woman baked us 14 braids, 14. She put them in the oven to bake. During that time I could hear some noise and when I go outside, the train no longer got into the city, it made its way back. I thought about leaving the braids and join them, but I did not cause when I got back inside the old woman had taken ot the braids. This guy that was with me, Gheară, we split the braids , when we got outside we split ways and I never heard from him. There was a cart with haversacks. I only had a cap on and it was winter, they had ear-muffs in that cart and I took some and put them on. i gave the man in the cart sime braids and raced to 101 with him. They came back with the combat train, we got some artillery and they took us back and took position on the riverside. But the bridge was broken, nobody could cross anymore. The Russians did not head in our direction when we took positions until they closed all the streets that were exits. So they took both positions and that was it. And the majority of them came exactly on the street I was on . Then when we were in position, they started firing the canons and we ran away. When we ran away, my neighbour was there, it so happened, a car passes by, then comes back, they told us to run lest the Russians catch us. When we heard that I dropped everything including the food bag and my gun and started running. That s how I got away. I ran all night and the next morning, there were many of us, a truck came loaded with sacks of dried potatoes. And they would throw sacks to us and this is what we had as food for two days. Throughout all this time there was one major and we asked him what we should do and he told us we should go towards sundown. And when I came I ran to some batltle posts and got a new gun and they assigned a major, I cant remember his name ot where he was from and he formed a position with us. And took me as an agent. We had a signal and whenever we showed it to a Romanian car, they would take us in. There was this wooden church which they scattered and built  fires. From their side the enemy could not see the fires. And they broke positions, at night they got orders that they should start the attack at 6. Then they sent me at night to go from one fire to another and let them know. In the morning, nobody would leave because hey were afraid. Then  some German tanks came and only then did they start to leave. I never ever saw as many dead and wounded as on that day. So many died. The Germans stayed there, we retreated and the regiment was turned into a battalion. On December 22nd they took us to the Don Bend, and there in an empty house I set up the exchange. There was only me and a guy named Boca. Around midnight the phone rings, I report, it was the brigade general who asked to spek to Boca. He said Dear Boca, pass on the order for retreat to the company because lest they be discoverd because at a certain point the Russians broke the front and they would fall on our back.  Then that Boca guy left on the spot, I did not even know his unit. Then I gave the order, me, when they heard that, there was no organized retreat, Everybody went on their own. Some right away, some were caught by the Russian tanks, they passed right by me. The latter were doomed. I was carrying the exchange, I was never in direct combat, I was always at least half a kilometer behind the lines. A truck full of soldiers came and it did not stop. I take my exchange and a guy grabs my hand. But at the last moment he snatched his hand and i was left there for a fool. And I came from Demeber 24rth until March 1943 I came on foot on the left side of Don. I canr imagine how many kilometers that is. And when I was in Rostov, I crossed the bridge and unti March I came on foot. When I got to the Azov sea, I cought up with the regiment. and their commander asked Hitler for approval to restore the division since it was gone. He got the approval. Then, they stopped there. When we got there, he was about to leave to Romania. I was healthy but I wanted to go to Romania myself. So I scrubbed some petrol on my leg and got a blister. Then I was full of lice , they were visible and wanted to go to and see a doctor but he told me I was late and that I should come back tomorrow. In the meantime, our host took my shirts and boiled them to kill the lice and I did not go to see the doctor the next day. But he sent the agent to search for me so I had to go shirtless. When I got there, he was away again and I had to go the next day. The next day, nobody was allowed to leave. And I stayed on for another year. From the whole 92nd Regiment they put together a company which they included in the 112the Regiment and they formed two regiments. Out of two regiments , there was a rehabilitation battalion. That s where I got. They would dend people on 10 day leaves, according to seniority. When it was my turn, I was to leave all my gear in Tighine, spend 10 days at home and come back. When it was time for me to go back, the police chief in the village asked me to wait until he phoned for instructions but he did not know how long the train ride through Russia would take. So I was 10 days late. I was scared. When I got to Tighina, I found nothing of the gear I had left behind. What was I to do? How was I to go without a weapon. I begged them to give me a gun and they gave me a crappy one. When I got to the Regiment, they told me I was to be courtmartialed. When I left there, there was the cart coming to fetch bread for the unit. When they saw me there, that s the way it was back then, if someone came back from the country he was seen as a god. Everybody came around me, fed me, but some people are wicked , you see. And some guy, reported me to the captain and told him I had arrived and he sent for me. This captain was a German ethnic, he was not Romanian. When he saw me he asked me first if I had a gun. I said I did and that it was decalibrated. I told the truth. Stop talking to all the fools, I told you what to do, I m going to have you courtmartialed. So he sent me to the unit, they took the crappy gun and gave me a good one. There was a guard post by the sea that watched for the Russians coming from the sea. They sent me to that post without any specific mission. I just waited for the geandarmes to come and take me to be courtmartialed. In the end, what do you think happened? The Morse alphabet was no longer necessary, so they made me a radio operator. When they formed the battalion to go at the front, and they were giving all those speeches, the general , the command group was right at the front, I was he radio, first , I was third. The general called out in ager and the serageant said he could not answer. He gave order to our captain to take us marching to the edge of the village, it was before Cheristmas, but the captain did not obey the order, he let us be. We were about to be sent at the frontline. Some guy with a list came and started calliong out names. Whoever heard his name was to step foward but hen the captain intervened and said that those of us who had been longer than 24 months at the front, were supposed to go home. Then they to us to our unit, they took all our equipment, even our clothes and gave us some rags. No belt. And they had us march from Nipru, through Transnistria, on foot. In Transnistria we found Antnescu. They kept us there for 15 days, they would not let us go home. The Jews were cursing ANtonescu. They started training us again and we asked for our situation to be cleared. They took us by train to Odessa then put tgether a train that took us all the way to Botosani. When we got there, I asked for civilian clothes from home. They sent us our good clothes but then we were announced that we had to go back at the front. But they let us go home to leave our clothes behind and on January 7th came the order to go at the front. When we reported in a commune over a hill from Botosani. It was 1943. When I came from home, I was sent back at the front. But I had some luck then. A captain came trying to recruit instructors for the officer school. They did not have a radio instructor. He ordered those with ranks to step forward. He asked me what my mission was at the front. i yold him I was in charge of radio then he told me to step away and replaced me with someone else. While in the Regiment I never stood guard but when I got there I had to, because there was no one to do it. I stayed there until March 23rd. That is when the fronline got to Botosani and they took us on foot to Visina Noua. A commune called Prastavăț. That is where they took the regiment. When we got to Prastavăț, they mobilized the 45 contingent and they made me instructor for the radio group. There were to army children, aged 18, mobilized for 3 months trainig in order to go into combat. They came to me gladly. I was fed up with the army so did not cause them any trouble. In the end, when they finished training, they were mobilized again. The regiment came apart and I was supposes to be reassigned to the 27th, I don t remember where, in Bacău. One of those army childrem I looked for him. He issued me a dscharge order and a green mobilization paper. he gave me both. I was supposed to wait and see how things went and fill out the mobilization form . I was lucky. I was afraid though. In March I reported to the regiment, the 27th and they sent me to the other front. I stayed at the front until May 9th, till peace was signed, in Czechoslovakia in Brcko Brno. Then from there, I came back by train. When the war was over.

Q: Where were you on August 23rd?

A: In Prastavăț. I was exchanged for seniority at the front. a that time I kept asking my company commander to send me home for 5 days, but I did not get an hour even. He was to scared. On the night of 22nd August. Other than me and two more guys, one of them from Gorj, everybody came from Moldova and Basarabia. The guy from Gorj was on call at the phone at the cityhall. They got order to wake up the recruits and he woke me first, since we were friends. We took the lightbulbs out . At daylight, ammonition, armamanent, they took all the children to disarm the Germans. Someone had to go and fetch the medicine for the horses. So I ask the captain, what I do? He asked the colonel and he said I was to go. When I went, it turned out well. When I got there , I waited for the morning to report. There was this sergeant who said he had another delegation for me if I was willing. Where? In Petroșani, where I am from. He gave me papers and sent me to Petroșani where there was a big school. The trains did not run properly, so dropped by my house. The commander was a dumb captain. When he saw I was late he put down on the papers that I had not reported, to harm me. In the end, the store was in a big school, and I had brought equipment, trousers, that sort of thing. There, who do you think was on guard at the door? My godfather. He gave me two wagons to load the equipemnt and got off at Petroșani. So I paid a man to help me load at the railway station, When the first waggon was done they came and sealed it and I left home and stayed for a while. But when I reported I learned the waggon never reached Prastavăț. There was no list, so I turned out very well.

Q: What did you feel about Romania joining the war?

A: It was a necessary stept for Romania. There was no choice.

Q: What was the worst memory you have  from the war? From Siberia?

A: I knew I was never going to see Romania again. Either killed by shooting or dead from disease. My elder brothers all died and I kept living for so long, after all this suffering, almost to be a hundred.

Q: How about a good memory?

A: That I made it back home.

Q: Is there any event that made a strong impression on you during the war?

A: Our conviction that we would no longer see out country. There was an order from the Americans to let us go from Siberia. They took us to Iasi.

Q: You being a prisoner, did it have any impact after the war?

A: They knew, I told everybody. They treated me well, poeple in my village, my friends. They treated us well, war veterans.

Q: Were you in contact with your family?

Q: How did you take the decision to cross the Nistru?

Q: What did you think about Antonescu?

A:  We needed to die.

Q: Did you have any political affiliation before the war?

A: I did not care for politics back then.

Q: Were you a member of the Communist Party?

A: No, I did not join. I managed without it, I was fed up with the Communists from Russia.

Q: How about after 89?

A: No.

Q: What was your relationship with the officers during the war?

A: Not bad. The officers did not treat the soldiers badly, once they knew they were going at the front.
Q: How were the people in Basarabia treating the Romanian army?

A: Quite alright. They gave us some food, those who had something to give. They were really poor, you know.

Q: When you came back from the war, did you share stories with your family?

A: Yes, my family, my friends, people from my village.

Q: Do you remember what it was like in the army before and after the 23rd August 1944?What was the atmosphere within the Romanian army before the 23rd of August, compared to the one after that date?

A: I don t remember.

Q: Have you had any acknowledgement from the state for your participation in the war?

A: A little bit of pension.

Q: Do you remeber what your life was before the war? family income? way of life? how did you spend your time?

A: We lived off the land. We had land and cattle and we lived quite well. I had 3 other siblings.

Q: Were they collectivized?

A: Not until later.   After that, I got a job as a receptionist and a storage manager. I later worked at the roads department.

Q: After August 23rd 1944 did you wish to stay in the army or just to complete your military service?

A: No , I did not stay in the army.

Q: In the Communist regime, did you keep going to church?

A: Yes, of course.

Q: What did you know about the elections or the collectivization, about how the Communism took over?

Q: What were the relations between the German and the Romanian officers before August 23rd and between the Russian and Romanian offficers after that date?

A: The Germans were correct but distant, the Russians…you can imagine how I feel about them after being in Siberia.

Q: Do you remember the changes occurred in the transition from the royal army to the communist one?

A: No. The social transition was good for those who joined the party. I did not join so…

 

Mihu Pavel

 

My name is Mihu Pavel, I was born in a commune called Deal, in 1920, July 13th. I was the 7th Dorobanți Regiment, the 1st Company. I was mobilized in 1942 and sent at the front in Russia.

I fought in Russia and us Romanians liberated 7 priests from prison and they went to a big monastery down there and they took us Romanians to a church, they had mass in Russian and people translated it for us in Romanian. We took them for saints.

We got there and did not know where to go next.  A cart came on the dirt unpaved road. We got in their way. The Major said we should run away lest be taken prisoners. They took us in the cart.

We went to Sighisoara in a hospital and Queen Maria came and visited us. I had a cousin in Brașov, I was considering having surgery and consulted him, but it was live or die and I decided to have it. When I woke up, there was this nurse. When I opened my eyes she ran called for the doctor . And I was looking out the window at the Russians firing their guns up. And she pulled me back so I would not get shot by accident. I healed and then got out of the hospital. I told her I needed to go home and let my parents know I was well. The people were again surprised to see me. I went back to the fleet, gave back my pistol, I put on civilian clothes. I was scared about the Germans coming back, as the rumour went around. There was this first sergeant, Hedeșiu, when I was demobilized. He drew up my service record stating I had been assigned only on Romanian territory, lest the Germans caught me afterwards and do something as a revenge if they learned I had been on bombing mission there. We had heard the war was still not over, cause the Germans had the atomic bomb. I was glad about him drawing up my records like that.

I went back to my village then. Nobody knew me, again. I didn’t stay there long and went back to my master. In Bucharest there was trouble again, again with the legionnaires, and marshall Antonescu, a sort of siege. I barely made it to Bucharest. It was 1945, after the war ended.  The year before, Bucharest was smashed in bombings. My master had a big villa, which the enemy  must have mistaken for a significant target. The workshop was bombed and their house, which was huge, also. Behind the house everyone had to dig trenches, as an order from Antonescu, as a shelter in case of bombing . A bomb fell at one end  of that trench and killed 48 people that were taking cover in there. No master. Where was I supposed to go? I went over to one of his friends’house, master Fănică, who I knew had a cab company. I went to see him and he recognized me as master Jenică’s kid. I worked and earned honestly and he was pleased. He told me to go out late at night because that was when the good pay was. But I had read in the paper, Informația Bucureștiului, about a driver having been found some place, murdered by thieves. I was scared and told him I would rather return home with the car at nightfall. I didn’t like working as a cabdriver anymore.

When we were at the front our mail was censored. We could only write postcards, not letters. I could not write to his mother about his death, I could  not even find a postcard. We had plenty of dead, to cut it short. In those parts of Arada, there was the 4rth Army, led by a general, Maciș Nicolae, who had only one eye, the left one. The right eye he had lost at Oituz in 1916. The minister of War wanted to have hiem retired but he would not have. He said he could serve his country just as well with only one eye.

Then the Russians came. They had him suspended from command and sent to Bucharest to stand trial. The Russians gave strict insturctions on how the trial was to be like. They sentenced im to death. And king Mihai commuted his sentence to life emprisonment. He died 5 years in prison in Aiud. This general Maciș on the 12th of September called colonel Petrescu, the commander of the NC infantry officer school, in Radna, and proposes to form a detachment for the defense of the Mureș gorge from the Hungarians. The colonel does as instructed. This detachement was made of 800 pupil sergeants from the military school in Radna, the 1st battalion   of the 96th Infantry regiment in Caraș Severin, 600  hundred soldiers, and the 61st Heavy Artillery division from Craiova, with 200 soldiers, 1800 men total. The motto of this detachment was: one cartridge, one man, one missile one tank, resistance to the last man standing, with no option for retreat. They stood by this motto like the Bible. And this led to really heavy losses.

After 3 years, some were sent ahead a few months prior and they thought they were being taken to hospital, some were from Apoldu de Sus, some from Luduș, some from my commune. A woman The Germans were retreating and pillaging on their way. I finally made it on a train that was supposed to go to Romania. A Russian armed with a gun came in and pointed it at me. I explained who I was and he signed to me to get off the train, that was already moving, 10 maybe 15 km per hour. I wanted to jump but I might have placed my foot wrong and was struggling and he shoved me with his boot. The train had engines at both ends and it was going up a slope in a curve and when I fell off the train, I hid in that curve for fear he would shoot me. My bandage came off. In the distance I spot a dusty road. The Russians had the bad habit of shooting at everything and everyone, no explanation asked and given. I started towards that dusty road. There was a car approching me from behind and I was really scared that the Russians might shoot me. My aviation uniform was blue, very similar to the Germans. I thought I was done with. I wait by the side of the road and salute when the car passes by. They stop. I start crying soldat rumânskii. He signs me to get up in the car. There were three Russians singing in there. One of them asked me if I had any food. I said yes.  He takes out a can of food, slices it with the bayonnette and gives it to me to eat. Then he pulls out a mug and pours me some wine from a demijohn. I tried to refuse, on account of the treatment after the surgery. But he wouldn’t have it. He made me drink over and over again and I got really drunk after all this time of abstinence. I got to a small town. We got to an official looking building where he sits me down  and then sends me on my way. I wander about confused, asking around, Romania, Romania, I was scared even to speak, because I didn’t know who I might be talking to. I end up getting on a random train, I couldn’t catch even a word in Romanian. After crossing a big bridge, the train arrives in Carei, in Romania. I stepped down the train, kneeled and kissed the ground, thanking God I had made it back home. I walked and took trains in turn until I got home to Maioresti. Again, there I was, to their surprise, still in my uniform. from my commune saw my brother in Miercurea and told him I was alive. He would not believe it. I remebered how many died from around my village. Who was to care for the others from other parts of the country? Moldova and the rest.

 

Q: What did you feel about Romania joining the war?

A: It was a necessary stept for Romania. There was no choice.

Q: What was the worst memory you have  from the war? From Siberia?

A: I knew I was never going to see Romania again. Either killed by shooting or dead from disease. My elder brothers all died and I kept living for so long, after all this suffering, almost to be a hundred.

Q: How about a good memory?

A: That I made it back home.

Q: Is there any event that made a strong impression on you during the war?

A: Our conviction that we would no longer see out country. There was an order from the Americans to let us go from Siberia. They took us to Iasi.

Q: You being a prisoner, did it have any impact after the war?

A: They knew, I told everybody. They treated me well, poeple in my village, my friends. They treated us well, war veterans.

Q: Were you in contact with your family?

Q: How did you take the decision to cross the Nistru?

Q: What did you think about Antonescu?

A:  We needed to die.

Q: Did you have any political affiliation before the war?

A: I did not care for politics back then.

Q: Were you a member of the Communist Party?

A: No, I did not join. I managed without it, I was fed up with the Communists from Russia.

Q: How about after 89?

A: No.

Q: What was your relationship with the officers during the war?

A: Not bad. The officers did not treat the soldiers badly, once they knew they were going at the front.
Q: How were the people in Basarabia treating the Romanian army?

A: Quite alright. They gave us some food, those who had something to give. They were really poor, you know.

Q: When you came back from the war, did you share stories with your family?

A: Yes, my family, my friends, people from my village.

Q: Do you remember what it was like in the army before and after the 23rd August 1944?What was the atmosphere within the Romanian army before the 23rd of August, compared to the one after that date?

A: I don t remember.

Q: Have you had any acknowledgement from the state for your participation in the war?

A: A little bit of pension.

Q: Do you remeber what your life was before the war? family income? way of life? how did you spend your time?

A: We lived off the land. We had land and cattle and we lived quite well. I had 3 other siblings.

Q: Were they collectivized?

A: Not until later.   After that, I got a job as a receptionist and a storage manager. I later worked at the roads department.

Q: After August 23rd 1944 did you wish to stay in the army or just to complete your military service?

A: No , I did not stay in the army.

Q: In the Communist regime, did you keep going to church?

A: Yes, of course.

Q: What did you know about the elections or the collectivization, about how the Communism took over?

Q: What were the relations between the German and the Romanian officers before August 23rd and between the Russian and Romanian offficers after that date?

A: The Germans were correct but distant, the Russians…you can imagine how I feel about them after being in Siberia.

Q: Do you remember the changes occurred in the transition from the royal army to the communist one?

A: No. The social transition was good for those who joined the party. I did not join so…

 

Roșca Gheorghe

 

My name is Roșca Gheorghe Ion, I was born here  in 1921 on September 24rth. I was recruited in Craiova, I became a sergeant. Then I was sent to the NC officer school in Radna . I was on duty on August 23rd.

 

Many were the heart-rending and touching scenes I witnessed during the war which were to me a revelation of the strange nature of the Roumanian people. With their superstitions, their childlike piety, they combined melancholy and fun. I have seen a devoted wife, after seeking her husband all along the shores of the Danube and in all the hospitals, finding him at last, broken down and disfigured, to greet him with a mere nod of the head before taking up her post at his bedside, there to nurse him day and night. I have heard some brave hero crying out in his agony for his mother, and covering the hands of that mother with kisses.

Once I was sent for to the town to a young man whose leg had been amputated, and who was in inconsolable despair.

Not having been present at the operation, I did not know which leg had been taken off. I sat down on the side of the bed, and remained talking to the poor fellow for a quarter of an hour, he smiling sweetly at me all the time.

When I arose, my ladies of honor discovered that I had been sitting on the stump of the lost leg. I still shudder whenever I think of my stupidity.

“You poor fellow!” I cried; “it must have hurt you terribly.”

“I would have borne it many hours for the sake of listening to your voice,” he replied.

A handsome young man had died in a tent opposite to mine, and the next morning dawned cold and dreary, for it was November.   The fog shut us in like a wall, and the ground was like an oozy bog. All of a sudden a man and a woman came forth from the fog like spectres. The woman wore nothing but an old gray chemise, scarcely reaching to her knees, and about her worn old face hung the rags of what had once been a white linen wrap. She came forward on her bare feet through the deep mud, her arms clasping a bundle of linen for her son. She asked for him, and before I could get to her she fell on her knees with a heart-rending cry. A soldier with brutal haste had said to her, ” Your son died in that tent yesterday.”

The clean white shirts she had so lovingly brought for him slipped from her hands into the mud, and tearing her hair and smiting her breast, she cried again and again, “Raduu, my son! Raduu! Raduu! Raduu!” She would listen to no comfort, accept no food, no shelter, but rose at last and went away through the fog, turning back at every step to cry again the name of her lost son. Her figure assumed immense proportions in the heavy air, and her voice rang out strangely through the damp gloom; and when she was out of sight we could still hear the cry of “Raduu! Raduu!” The scene haunts me often now.

 

On Christmas eve, after a long severe frost, a thaw rendered the streets of Bucharest impassable. I was to go and meet the King, who was returning as a victorious hero after 5 months’ absence. I thought it would have been a delirium of joy to me. But I had suffered too much; I had lost the power of rejoicing; I did not know how to be glad. The last days before Plevna had all but destroyed all three armies at once. After a terrible snow-storm the cold had been 20 degrees below zero. The Danube was so encumbered with ice that not a loaf of bread could be sent over it. If Osman Pasha had held out 3 days longer, every soul would have perished.

And now the road between Plevna and Nicopolis was covered with famished crowds. I know not how many left Plevna, but only ten thousand arrived at Nicopolis!

The King started the next day on the same road on his way home to his capital. He had to leave his sledge, for it jolted over corpses. Horror-struck, he mounted a horse and pressed on along this pathway of death.

There were groups of the dead sitting round the last fire they had lit in some deep rut, carts overturned, driver and buffaloes alike frozen in their places, standing up stiff as statues. There were the dying, their arms upraised to heaven in a final petition before they sank back with a last sigh and expired.

At the battle of Grivita sixteen thousand men had fallen; one battalion of cavalry had lost one-half its numbers; and for three days the enemy’s fire made it impossible to pause for a moment for food or to bury the dead in the trenches.”

In a twist of faith, troops made up of ethnic Romanians found themselves fighting against each other on multiple occasions, as recalled by Octavian Tăslăuanu in his memoirs: “We cursed the destiny that pushed us to fight brother against brother”.

Born in Transylvania, Tăslăuanu was enrolled in the Austro-Hungarian Army but later deserted and joined the Romanian Army. He created the Volunteer Corps unit, made up of thousands of Romanian soldiers – deserters from the Austro-Hungarian army who joined the Romanian Army in their fight to liberate Transylvania.

Although I was hungry, after seeing so many dead bodies, I didnt need any food anymore. I made a crossfor Jon Calin, a good friend of mine.Nicula Simion helped me and with tearsin the eyes, we put it to his head saying“May God rest him in peace“

We did a cross for soldier Paler too. Butthere were so many dead, it wasimpossible to bury them all. How manybullets were shot on that field […] how many young men crushed in the prime of life. How many widows are left only on this day 14 to August! And how many children deprived of their dear father …

… And its said that we now live in the age of culture

We entered a forest which was filled with civilians, chariots and whole families. The Russians couldn t take them anymore. The poor people –  especiallychildren, how they were crying …

I saw two carriages pulled by men and women, their horse had died from exhaustion. They were pulling the wagon filled with luggage, and the poor children were walkingbarefoot behind the carts. It hurt my heart to see the misery they had ended up in. In Prusani, I wanted to buy bacon from the canteen which belonged to the Germans. But they didnt want to take my money, they took only German money. And our moneyare worthless. … Upon seeing this, I hurt deeplyknowing that the Germans were fighting with us, but our money were not good enough. We – the 31st regiment – fought to liberate this city. Wepushed out the Russians and we lost so many boys during the fight

During the brief occupation, the Germans extracted over 1 million tons of romanian oil from Ploiesti oil fields . The captured Romanian soldiers were sent to labor camps, where they registered one of the highest mortality rates. Businesses, village peasants and Bucharest inhabitants were pillaged of virtually all their belongings. Germans gathered over 2 million tons of cereals. Crimes committed by the Soviets. .Under pressure from Germany, King Carol II of Romania ceased north Transylvania as well. Public outrage forced the king to abdicate and he was replaced with general Antonescu. In a desperate move to recover lost territories from USSR and prevent the threat of communism, Romania allied itself with Germany which, unknown at that time, was the country that had divided Romanian territory (the secret Hitler-Stalin pactbecame public only in 1989). For Hitler, Romania represented an ally against bolshevik communism, but also a valuable oil resource. See secret recordings where Hitler talks about it. The oil was payed with German gold, the fact that it was Germany itself who had allowed annexation of territory becoming known only decades later. The WW2 facilitated the installment of communism in Romania and eastern Europe. In 1947, Ana Pauker became foreign minister in the new communist regime. Captain Ioan Boroș from the 16th Regiment was killed on June 29 1940, at 4 am, in Herta (northern Romania). On June 28 1940, northern Bucovina and Bassarabia were occupied by the Soviet Army.

Herta did not find itself within the official boundaries of northern Bucovina. When Soviet tanks entered Herta on the night of June 29, captain Ioan Boros tried to mediate with the Russian army but he was shot on the spot. One year later, Herta was liberated. With tears in my eyes I’ll tell you that I dont wish upon my greatest enemy what me and my comrades experienced there. It was inhuman. We sati n pits covered only by a sheet tent. It was minus 41 degrees. I had to assure changingsentinels. I was going to every soldier on every post. Once I went to oversee theexchange and I found a soldier ‘who didnt respond to the call. I yell at him and … nothing. He was frozen like stone. He was lying down, with the rifle between his legsand his head leaning on one side. He was dead! Totally frozen, poor thing. I started to cry a little, me and the other soldier I was with – I cant remember his name. Then I told to the next soldier whom I left there “Dont do like him!Dont sit down no matter what happens! Patrol Continuously, walk ten feet all around, you understand?!“. I didnt have time to cry too much back then, I’m crying now, excuse me please.

After the Christmas of 1941we receive some packages from home. There wasnt much in them … we had a few pieces of meat, and a few of cake … Me and a comrade we go down into my pit to eat. How must couldve that last? About 20-30 minutes. My comrade died eating the cake his mother had sent. He died right in front of me, from the cold. He had only stopped long enough to eat the package from home .We were working to strengthen a position on a grasslandhill. One time I see a female coming towards us. I greet her in Russian, she answer in Romanian. She asks what we’re there and she says, my husband and I invite you to our home. After that she tells me that she arrived in Crimea immediately after it the first World War. She had a Russian lover, got pregnant,  had already 12 brothers at home. When her father learnt, he beat her up and she had to leave home. Oh Lord, how muchpoverty those people endured in that to house! She already two dead sons in theRussian army. Poor people were eating only corn. I gave them whatever food we hadevery single day for a whole month, for as long as I occupied that position

I walked with these legs 5,000 kilometers through Russia. I dont know how I was able to do it. When we got to Stalingrad, it was already late. The Russians started to push us towards the Don river (its estimated 150.000 Romanian soldiers died here – source). The river was frozen so what do you do?! Many fell straight in the icey water and died, the ice broke with them. When I saw that, I ordered my men: “Everyone on the ground, crawl after me. Stand 5 meters from each other. Understand?!“. This is how we crossed the river. Thirty years later in Deva, I ran into a former comrade who stopped me on the the street to thank me for helping him cross the Don. He cried, I cried … Six weeks laterwe got to Dniester river, we ate only corn on the way there. We found corn and and we split it. Each one had 10 corns. I’d take three grains, then bend and pick up some snow to help me stop the thirst as well. 92 Infantry Regiment was already destroyed. They sent me to another regiment, I cant remember which one. We arrived somewhere near Iasi, Romania on August 20th. The Russians hit us with that cannon truck Katyusha. Out of10 men, only I survived. Can you imagine that? All the others died. Some killed on spot, others died from serious wounds You know why I think I escaped? When I left home, my father came to me crying and hugged me. He fought in the First World War. He told me: “Kid, dont aim at anyone. If you dont do it, no one will aim at you either “. And thats how it happened. Once, when we were under attack, the Russians pushed us back into the ditch. My colleague was hit directly in the head. I felt something warm under my chin.the bullet that killed him had wiped my chin. Other times I was shot near my arms, legs, but it only went through my clothes. We brought reinforcements. We receive an Oltenian (from south-west Romania) in theplatoon. It is night. In the morning I see a Russian prisoner who escapes from the trench and runs away. I cry out to the olteanian: “Dont shoot him he has children await him at home!“. He shoots him. The Russian falls down. After 2-3 days, he asks to go to the neighboring platoon where he can see the shore. After an hour or two, the Sergentfrom the shore tells me to go get my man. When I go there, he was dead. Shot by aRussian. Poor guy took a bullet straight in the head, although he was in the trenches.

The squadron planes were painted in white, with a visible red cross on the fuselage and wings. Despite these markings, the planes were still targeted by the enemy. Later on, the planes were painted with camouflage pattern.

Many soldiers fells in my hands, and the ones who were getting better would tell me “Dear sister, thank you for helping me!”. Others died, this was war, you didnt have what to do. When we had to amputate a leg, I’d hold the hand of the soldier and the doctor would cut. He’d give an injection with anesthetic, two soldiers would grab the soldier and holdhim tight, while the doctor cut the leg with the saw. When the soldiers woke up, they had no leg anymore… how much the poor soldiers were crying. Towards the end of World War Two, King Mihai of Romania removed the pro-Axis government and signed a pact with the Soviet Union. Despite this, Romanian soldiers were not spared and many ended up in prisoner camps or Soviet gulags. I noticed that prisoner of war picked up some grass from the side of the road and began to eat it. I warned him loudly to stop eating it, but he continued. I ordered him to come to the shore, and when he reached it, I noticed there was foamaround his mouth, he was fainting and then started having convulsions. He was taken tothe medical room for medical assistance. We found ourselves surrounded anddisarmed. I started to tear away my stripes. I knew Russians were killing everyone from the higher ranks, I was already a sergeant. They took away all our food. I had thee mergency food: a tin can of 100 grams of beef and a loaf of bread. I couldnt hide the bread, I hid the tin can, wrapped it in my clothes. When the Russian did the frisk search, I took clothes and said I only have my shirts here. That 100 grams tin can savedme life. They put us in a cattle wagon. We traveled for two weeks. We were not given any wateron the first days. Some of the men drank their urine, I tried but I couldnt do it. I sat next to the door. Outside it was cold. The car was warm because it was full, we were all crammed in there. There was condensation at the door. In the morning I’d lick the door edge to calm my thirst. Along the way, many died in the wagon. Every day – two, three, four men died. Every night night I’d eat a spoon from my tin can. If I didnt have it, I would’ve died right there in that cattle wagon. After a few days with no food, no water, the door opened suddenly in a train station. The Red Army soldiers yelled out at the prisoners to make room near the door.The soldiers put a bucket of water in the wagon. One prisoner could contain himself anymore and he threw himself on it to drink directly from the bucket. A few moments later, the others jumped to pick him up. The prisoner had drowned in the bucket.

After two weeks of torment in those wagons, we ended up somewhere in the Ural mountains. I first worked in camp number 185. After that we moved to Camp 165. We atetwo salted fish and 200 grams of bread a day. They made us walk from the train to the camps. Many men couldnt stand up anymore. They couldnt walk anymore after those two weeks during which, when the train would stop and we’d cry for water, the soldiers beat us up with sticks . I am taken from the camp in the Urals and sent to the former USSRborder with Finland. The Russians built silos for food, half buried in the cold ground. The locals didnt like to perform that kind of work. In order to receive the full portions of food, as small as it was, the Romanian prisoners were forced to do the work and reachthe full norm. The locals began to create all sorts of problems for them, from being camp informers to making bad jokes. When the food trucks were passing along, the women in the trucks used to throw each of us one cold potato. We’d burn it and eat itwith the peel. It was so good when could catch it. But the kids of the Russian military constantly put out the fires we made. Q: What did you feel about Romania joining the war?

A: It was a necessary stept for Romania. There was no choice.

Q: What was the worst memory you have  from the war? From Siberia?

A: I knew I was never going to see Romania again. Either killed by shooting or dead from disease. My elder brothers all died and I kept living for so long, after all this suffering, almost to be a hundred.

Q: How about a good memory?

A: That I made it back home.

Q: Is there any event that made a strong impression on you during the war?

A: Our conviction that we would no longer see out country. There was an order from the Americans to let us go from Siberia. They took us to Iasi.

Q: You being a prisoner, did it have any impact after the war?

A: They knew, I told everybody. They treated me well, poeple in my village, my friends. They treated us well, war veterans.

Q: Were you in contact with your family?

Q: How did you take the decision to cross the Nistru?

Q: What did you think about Antonescu?

A:  We needed to die.

Q: Did you have any political affiliation before the war?

A: I did not care for politics back then.

Q: Were you a member of the Communist Party?

A: No, I did not join. I managed without it, I was fed up with the Communists from Russia.

Q: How about after 89?

A: No.

Q: What was your relationship with the officers during the war?

A: Not bad. The officers did not treat the soldiers badly, once they knew they were going at the front.
Q: How were the people in Basarabia treating the Romanian army?

A: Quite alright. They gave us some food, those who had something to give. They were really poor, you know.

Q: When you came back from the war, did you share stories with your family?

A: Yes, my family, my friends, people from my village.

Q: Do you remember what it was like in the army before and after the 23rd August 1944?What was the atmosphere within the Romanian army before the 23rd of August, compared to the one after that date?

A: I don t remember.

Q: Have you had any acknowledgement from the state for your participation in the war?

A: A little bit of pension.

Q: Do you remeber what your life was before the war? family income? way of life? how did you spend your time?

A: We lived off the land. We had land and cattle and we lived quite well. I had 3 other siblings.

Q: Were they collectivized?

A: Not until later.   After that, I got a job as a receptionist and a storage manager. I later worked at the roads department.

Q: After August 23rd 1944 did you wish to stay in the army or just to complete your military service?

A: No , I did not stay in the army.

Q: In the Communist regime, did you keep going to church?

A: Yes, of course.

Q: What did you know about the elections or the collectivization, about how the Communism took over?

Q: What were the relations between the German and the Romanian officers before August 23rd and between the Russian and Romanian offficers after that date?

A: The Germans were correct but distant, the Russians…you can imagine how I feel about them after being in Siberia.

Q: Do you remember the changes occurred in the transition from the royal army to the communist one?

A: No. The social transition was good for those who joined the party. I did not join so…