Spring brought the escalation. The capital of this investment, accumulated with such
perseverance over the months, could not be allowed to remain idle. Under the direct
supervision of the Ministry of the Interior’s representatives, students were screened and
graded like so many cattle. Those considered “re-educated” but not capable of carrying
out specific missions, were sent to the “work colony” (actually an extermination camp)
along the canal that has never been completed to this day. With them were sent students
considered definitively “new men” and able to supervise not only the labor but also
qualified to control the “output in the area of education.” Those not sent to the canal were
distributed as follows:
a. The most reliably re-educated were sent to Gherla prison in the north of the country.
Their selection reflected indirectly the basis on which they were first separated into
categories on arrival at Pitesti and before re-education, according to their respective
sentences. Those who had been given the longest sentences, having received the
harshest treatment, furnished the largest contingent of the “trusted re-educated” going to
Gherla. Others in the shipment were those sentenced to less than ten years. These were
not considered sufficiently reliable in themselves but were included so as to be kept
under surveillance and eventually put under unmaskings once more as it turned out, soon
after their arrival at Gherla.
b. Students with diseases of the lung were sent to Targu-Ocna prison in the Bacau
region, which was reserved for them. It was called a sanatorium but the difference
between it and other prisons was in name only. All prisoners with infected or injured
lungs were sent there from all the prisons in Romania, but the number sent was
controlled, as the authorities’ objective was to exterminate, with as little commotion as
possible, but completely, as many as they could. In 1951, sick inmates numbered only
1,000; the majority of inmates at this prison were brought there from the re-educated
student group to carry out the unmaskings thoroughly and with dispatch, and actually
outnumbered their sick victims.
c. Students considered trustworthy but who had not received sentences from a court of
law were sent to the Ocnele-Mari prison in northern Oltenia, where many Romanians,
who had been arrested in 1948 but had never been tried or even accused, were confined
just for having been guilty of holding positions in the so-called bourgeois governments
prior to Communist occupation.
The Aiud prison, notorious for its own extermination treatment, was the only one to which
no re-educated students were sent, just why is not certain. One reason may have been
because it had been, since 1947, the prison to which any condemned person who was at
all prominent was sent, and consequently some attention of the West was already
focused upon it; sending re-educators to it might have revealed to the West the
Communists’ unique methods of “re-education.” On the other hand, the reason may have
been simply that there could not be spared enough re-educators to work over the 3,500
prisoners housed there it would have taken almost the entire output of reliable and expert
re-educated men to do it. But it was rumored among prisoners that Aiud was just being
left to the last.
There was, of course, some pretense that this distribution of the students was made on
their own initiative and that the Communist Party had no voice in it at all.
In the spring of 1951, long before the closing of Pitesti prison, a secret meeting was held
in which only members of the O.D.C.C. participated. It was chaired by Turcanu; no
official representatives of the Ministry of the Interior appeared. The “work” performed up
to this moment was evaluated. It was established that the “re-education of the students
was an accomplished fact and that the results were encouraging;” that through the
unmaskings “a great service had been rendered the Party and the working class”
because through them had been discovered all the “bandits who were not denounced in
the previous investigations,” and that all resistance “within the Pitesti prison” was broken.
These statements of Turcanu were followed by “propositions,” actually a memorandum
drawn up in which the approval of the Ministry of the Interior was requested for
expansion of the experiment to all the prisons in Romania, for the re-education of all
To what degree the “memorandum” came from the “initiative” of the students is plain, I
believe, from this account of the affair by the student S.B.:
“I had just been brought from the room in which I was undergoing the tortures of the
outer unmasking, into the cell that served as the O.D.C.C. office. I was to complete and
put down on paper some declarations I made the day before and inscribed on my soap
plaque. Turcanu and three or four other men were in this room evaluating declarations
made by those preceding me. I couldn’t make out what they were discussing as they
were speaking in such low tones. But suddenly a misunderstanding seemed to develop,
possibly over some statement in a declaration, and the discussion became louder and
more heated. One of the men, quite tall, whom I did not know, opposed Turcanu openly,
whereupon Turcanu jumped up as one possessed by a boundless fury and attacked him
unmercifully with blow upon blow. Not only was this man subsequently removed from the
unmasking committee, but he was downgraded to the “bandit” category and subjected
again to unmasking. And the beating, the demotion, renewed torture all this not because
he had failed to declare something, but simply because he had contradicted Turcanu!
But then, perhaps he was simply a scapegoat, as it would seem that every now and then
a loose-tongued collaborator, however willing, has to be sacrificed to stimulate blind
If a simple controversy like this, over a remark by a third party, could bring Turcanu to
such drastic action, then who would have the temerity to refuse to sign and applaud a
memorandum prepared by him? And one important enough that it was to be sent to the
Ministry of the Interior!
The contents of this memorandum compared to those of any resolution “adopted” in a
“Communist confab” were as alike as two drops of water. First came eulogies of the
Party, then a report of results, followed by the classic Communist “constructive
propositions” and finally the “pledges” to carry out to a successful conclusion the various
labors “for victory of the working class,” etc., etc. Rounding off the document like a seal
of approval was the series of well-known epithets against imperialists, Fascists, wealthy
landowners and all those who plot behind the scenes for the overthrow of the order
established with the help of the Soviet Union, et cetera ad nauseam.
After reading it aloud, Turcanu had the 40-odd O.D.C.C. members present sign it, then
forwarded it, according to the participants, directly to the Ministry of the Interior via the
prison’s political officer. This “initiative” was so much the more monstrous because the
motto: “Their destruction through themselves” was so evident throughout. But since
precautionary measures taken by the Communist Party had failed to cover up the
phenomenon entirely, the open participation of political officers in producing such
documents was necessary, to give the impression of normalcy and official sanction.
Now appeared on the scene, for the first time officially, a superior officer sent direct to
Pitesti by the Ministry of the Interior, one Zeller, a colonel from the General Directorate of
Penitentiaries. Even though he visited prisons dressed in a military uniform, Zeller was
actually only a colonel in the Securitate, and worked directly under the orders of another
such, Colonel Dullberger (later Dulgheru) and also General Nicolski, the General Director
of the Investigations Service in the Ministry.
One of the many missions entrusted to Colonel Zeller was the supplying of labor hands
(i.e. prisoners) to the canal camps. At this time he was empowered to select students
“who were fit to leave.” As a matter of fact, the majority of students were of the opinion
that he should know because they were sure it was Zeller himself who directed the
unmaskings, or at least was among those directly responsible for them. Here are some
details to support this conviction:
The qualification for being “fit” for canal work was to have undergone unmasking, though
officially this was called being “physically fit.” Preceding the medical examination which,
by the way, was perfectly inhuman, lacking the most elementary human decency Zeller
would turn to Turcanu who was seated next to him, and ask, “Does he deserve to go to
work?” And on the answer given by Turcanu depended Zeller’s decision.
The goings-on in the cells at Pitesti were reported directly to Zeller in a full unmasking
session by bloodied students. Likewise, at Gherla, a desperate prisoner, perhaps
imagining that a vestige of human feeling yet remained in the heart of a Communist
officer, stepped out of line and bekan to relate with tears in his eyes what he and others
in cell 99 on the fourth floor were suffering in the autumn of 1951. Zeller, though he
feigned surprise, took no steps whatever.
He personally saw to it that no student left for the canal before having “made his
unmasking.” Ironically, in 1952, when the Pauker-Tescovici faction was liquidated and
the Experiment suspended for the time being, Zeller put a bullet through his own head in
an orthodox cemetery, at that! Sometimes destiny is just: Zeller committed suicide among
the dead whose faith he had labored so hard to destroy.
That the regional Securitate of Pitesti knew everything that happened in the prison, is
pretty well proven by the testimony of O.C., a student from the Polytechnical School in
“I was arrested in Bucharest several weeks after most of my colleagues had already
passed through the Rahova Road [Bucharest’s Securitate. Ed.] and the Ministry of the
Interior investigations. Because the dossiers for the whole group were almost completed,
the interrogating officer did not insist too much on details from me. But after declarations
were made by those who preceded me in unmaskings at Pitesti, the Ministry requested a
Supplementary investigation of me. Since it was considered unnecessary to transport me
to Bucharest for the investigation, an officer of the Pitesti Securitate was charged with
completing it, and this took several days. It so happened that I had known this officer in
my high school days and we were both naturally greatly surprised to confront each other
in these circumstances, but since there was another officer with him, he pretended not to
know me. But the next day, when the investigation became more or less routine, the
officer was unaccompanied by the second one and, miraculously, his tongue loosened.
“At one point, he changed the tenor of the discussion entirely, and asked me somewhat
parenthetically about what was going on in the prison. I had not yet made my unmasking
and had no suspicion of the horrifying reality of tragedy after tragedy being enacted
there, possibly in the very cell next to my own. I had heard shouts and thuds that
penetrated the walls somewhat, but did not realize what caused them. Without realizing it,
I was being put through the ‘waiting period’ or psychological preparation of my nervous
system screams and thuds heard later would already have been registered in my nervous
system as ordinary happenings. So I told the officer honestly all I knew about the prison
up to that time. He stood a moment, thinking. Then he asked me:
“‘What do you know about unmaskings?’
“‘What are those?’ I asked in my turn, surprised.
“‘Listen to me well,’ answered the lieutenant. ‘In your prison some unusual things that
have not ever happened before are now taking place. I cannot give you details, but I can
advise you as a friend not to resist anything demanded of you, for it is useless and very
dangerous. Make your unmasking, in other words, relate everything you know which you
may have neglected to declare in the Securitate’s investigation. But to make it still easier
for you, I suggest you ask to report to the prison’s political officer he is in a position to
advise you better. Tell him you want to unmask yourself but that you do not know how to
go about it, and he will help you.’
“I wanted to get more information on this, and asked him to explain further, but it was no
use ... When I returned to the cell I requested the chief of my section to allow me to
report to the political officer.
“Now, although I am naturally timid and was still suspicious of the deceptions practiced
by the Ministry of the Interior, particularly at the office of the Malmaison [Military Prison
in Bucharest] secret police, I somehow never suspected my former schoolmate, the
lieutenant, of possible duplicity, and in fact complied with the advice he gave me almost
at once without a second thought. My hasty decision I now regret, frankly speaking, only
to the extent to which the evil I did to those who came my way after my unmasking was
not justified by my own suffering. But the example of those who suffered so much before
I did what I had to do is quite eloquent: with or without suffering, I would have ended in
the same place.
“As I was saying, I asked to be taken out of my cell to the political officer in order to
make my unmasking, though I had no idea what this meant. To my surprise, they came
the very next day to take me to Turcanu!! He was awaiting me in the shower room and
expressed surprise at my request, for I was the only one, he said, who had asked
permission to make his unmasking without being tortured, without even being asked to
make it. He was surly in manner, but seemed to have some good will toward me,
explaining in some detail what was expected of one in unmasking (we were speaking of
the outer unmasking only) and especially insisting on my being absolutely sincere,
pointing out the consequences of any attempt to deceive.
“As during the Malmaison investigation, I was faced with making some declarations that
broke my morale; what I added to them at Pitesti did not carry much weight. I thought
that this interview was all there was to unmasking. But upon being taken to another cell
and placed in the position of ‘assisting,’ I was terrified by what I there witnessed. But any
resistance was impossible; even if possible it would have been worse than futile. Then
followed the catastrophe, my inner unmasking and its consequences ...”
With the exception of those with tuberculosis, O.C. was the only student I knew who
made his unmasking without first passing under the bludgeon. His was in fact a case
entirely separate from all others, for much later at Gherla he was to play one of the
dirtiest possible roles, long after other students had recovered from their “purification.”
THE EXTENSION INTO OTHER PRISONS
(THE FIRST PHASE)
Under the direct supervision of Colonel Zeller, the students from Pitesti were divided into
several categories on the basis of the severity of their sentences, their physical
condition, and especially their relative trustworthiness.
Those considered unfit for work, the irrecoverable tuberculosis cases, were sent by van
to Targu-Ocna prison, ironically called a “sanatorium,” where, of course, there were
invalids transferred from other prisons. Immediately on arrival all prisoners were
subjected to unmaskings, under the direction of Nuti Patrascanu, a medical student from
Bucharest. In this case the approach used was different from that of Pitesti. There were
no beatings, except when other methods failed. But these methods were much harder on
the sick and the infirm. Those chosen to undergo unmaskings were confronted with the
following ultimatum: “If you want to get medicine, you have to undergo your unmasking,
you bandit!” Anyone refusing to cooperate was faced with confinement in a dark cell,
devoid of fresh air, or a reduction to half rations, or both.
“Look, bandit, your health is imprisoned here. If you choose to undergo unmasking, you
shall receive the medicine you need, get well, and go home before the end of your
sentence. You could see your mother, family, live freely, and continue your education.
You must choose between life and death. Only you can decide ...” Even though the value
of the medicine was questionable, to the sick it held out a promise of miraculous powers
exaggerated in their minds by the fact that they could not get it, and the knowledge later
that such medicine was denied them accelerated the progress of their destruction.
This state of affairs caused a dramatic reaction. Virgil Ionescu, a law student from
Bucharest, who had partially undergone unmasking in Pitesti, tried to commit suicide by
slashing his wrists with a razor blade, in order to end his suffering. He was discovered
and bandaged, but only after losing a large amount of blood. This case was reported to
the administration, but unmaskings continued nevertheless. The other students went on a
hunger strike and warned the director that they would not quit until the prosecutor was
brought to the prison, told about what went on, and asked to put an end to the
unmaskings; but they were ignored.
One Sunday morning, a soccer game was being played on the sports field near the
prison, with a goodly number of civilians watching, among whom were many Securitate
officers part of the force guarding the hydroelectric works being built at nearby Bicaz.
Only a narrow strip of land, on which ran a railway line, separated the prison from the
soccer field, and when the students noticed the gathering at the stadium, they assembled
in the cells facing the game and from the windows began to shout, “We want the
prosecutor! We want the prosecutor! They are killing us! Help!” The prison personnel
were not able to shut them up right away and spectators at the game were intrigued by
the shouts for help which they could clearly hear.
This incident became the talk of the town for a while, and the Securitate officers,
following several indiscretions of prison personnel, came in and questioned the director.
Others, especially civilians, informed the prosecutor of the Bacau tribunal. And the
commandant of the Securitate, probably on his own initiative without instructions from the
Party, ordered an investigation into the matter. It turned out to be only a formal inquiry,
and the prisoners were then promised that no one would touch them and the guilty
parties would be appropriately dealt with. But though the beatings and the blackmail
stopped, and unmaskings for all practical purposes terminated, those who had tortured
the students went absolutely scatheless, continuing to make life miserable for the
prisoners and at the same time to hold the best positions in the prison.
In the Ocnele-Mari prison the unmaskings did not become any milder. In the large prison
population there, in addition to the “political detainees,” there were a great many
“criminals,” who were included with the political prisoners because their crimes, for the
most part minor ones, were considered to have political overtones. (These crimes
included possession of firearms, attempting to flee the country, cursing prominent
Communist personalities, etc.) The greatest proportion of them, though elderly, were able
to hold tools in their hands, so the Directorate of Penitentiaries opened a large furniture
workshop in which all those capable were obliged to work. This arrangement precluded
the rigorous isolation possible at Pitesti and prisoners could meet more freely and
exchange either information or rumors from the interior of the prison, particularly while in
The arrival of students changed all this. All the work in the corridors was taken care of by
students; the kitchen, watchmen’s duty, distribution of meals, the shower room, laundry
room, etc. became the responsibility of the students, a fact which created envy and later
hatred on the part of the common criminal prisoners who up to that time had had the
benefits of these jobs. Gradually the entire life of the prison’s interior fell under the
control of the students. They circulated freely along the corridors, entered cells whenever
they pleased, under pretext of housecleaning or any other excuse, eavesdropping by cell
doors and recording anything discussed inside, especially if the cells were occupied by
more important political personalities. They mixed unnoticed among groups in the
courtyard when outings for fresh air were permitted; they were to be found everywhere,
their ears peeled, gathering information for the “dossier” of those to be put through the
The first victims were chosen and isolated in the small cells of the prison’s north wing.
Among whom were: Atanase Papanace, a prisoner for three years but still not tried or
sentenced; the lawyer Mateias from Fagaras; the worker Gheorghe Caranica, a prisoner
since Antonescu’s time, held for over nine years and although he had served his time,
the Communists would not free him; the lawyer Nicolae Matusu, former secretary of the
Peasant Party in Greece and a refugee in Romania during the war, etc. There were
about ten in this first group of victims.
The re-educators, as they later admitted, did not expect resistance from these people,
considering their age. But they were indeed surprised. Not only did those men resist, but
the other inmates heard about the situation very quickly, and reacted. Prominent
personalities, such as Professor Mihai Manoilescu, former cabinet minister; Solomon,
Gheorghe Pop, Petre Tutea, Vojen, and others, immediately warned the prison’s
administrator that if the tortures were not stopped, they would all declare a hunger strike
resulting in mass suicide. Because there was contact with the outside world through
visitors or through incoming common prisoners, the directorate of unmaskings was
worried lest information about the atrocities get out. As a result, he ordered that
re-education through violence cease.
A somewhat unique case is that of the camps for extermination by slave labor,
established at the Danube-Black Sea Canal. Here, the principal means for
extermination was the brutally hard work. In its name the greatest abuses were
committed, as if for a mythical ruling deity, and the greatest crimes perpetrated. The
behavior of the re-educated students sent here by Colonel Zeller for “verifying the
sincerity of their conversion,” is here recorded.
The Peninsula Labor Colony was the pompous name for one of these camps which
nurtured crimes against human beings, crimes committed by the use of methods as
bestial as those in the extermination camps of Communist Russia. The Colony was
opened in the fall of 1950. In an open field on which the thistles grew and where in the
past grazed the sheep of the Valea-Neagra village, on the edge of the Siut-Ghiol lake, the
first barracks were built by common criminals and “pioneers,” after first surrounding
themselves with three rows of barbed wire.
Under the supervision of armed-to-the-teeth troops, there arrived from various prisons
throughout the country massive transports of those who, for the next three years, were to
fight hunger, cold, wet ground, and especially the viciousness of the Communists who
stood over them while they dug a simple hole in the ground several miles long, for no
other purpose than that of burying in it several thousands of exhausted bodies ...
From Pitesti were sent about 300 students, all of whom had passed through re-education
and were under sentence of less than ten years. When the first contingent of students
arrived the colony numbered over 3,500 political prisoners. The students were quartered
in barracks No. 13 and No. 14, each barrack having a capacity of 150-170 prisoners.
The students were put by themselves as a precaution, so they would not make contacts
which could “deteriorate” their condition, especially in the evenings after work, because
once inside the barracks, administrative control was next to impossible. A quartering of
students in scattered groups throughout the various other barracks in the camp would
have weakened not only the foundation of their new convictions but also their shock
potential, on which the Communists were counting greatly at the beginning.
The living conditions and routine at this canal camp were totally different from those at
Pitesti prison. In place of the hermetically closed cell, supervised by the administration
through a peephole in the door, here you had barracks simply partitioned into four
sections, each holding forty beds each.
Prisoners left in the morning from an open area outside called the “plateau.” All work
brigades assembled there and one could talk more or less freely with other inmates quite
a contrast to the strictness and permanent isolation maintained at the Pitesti prison.
Although the administration’s orders forbade mixing of the brigades while preparing for
roll call, in practice the measure remained ineffective, for several thousand prisoners
stepping out of barracks in the half-dark of early morning could not be efficiently
controlled. Also the spirit of solidarity, which prevailed at that time at the canal among the
prisoners, demanded a measure of foresight in the administration to prevent an
immediate contamination, an inverse shock, as the students knew nothing, absolutely
nothing of what was going on in other prisons.
In addition to the two special barracks reserved for students, there were three reserved
for Legionaries who were considered dangerous to the colony’s discipline and who were
subjected to a very rigorous control and surveillance. These barracks were designated as
A, B, and C, and were closely watched because the solidarity of the Legionary group
was only too well known. Another barrack, designated O, held all those prisoners who
were being punished for acts inside the “camp.” They were almost all headstrong,
insubordinate, and were in permanent conflict with the officers there and the political
officials sent by the Ministry of the Interior.
In the two student barracks, a climate of terror like that at Pitesti was maintained to the
greatest extent possible from the very first evening. Some time was allowed for observing
the students’ first reactions. The shock was supported quite well, at least so the
experimenters thought, as the students did not falter in their habit of blind obedience.
The first mission entrusted to the students coming from Pitesti was that of overseeing
work on the construction site. Students were named brigade leaders, in other words,
made directly responsible for the output of those in their charge. They were ordered,
first, to increase the amount of work to be accomplished, and second, to see to it that
“bandits” were killed slowly by cumulative physical exhaustion without anyone’s being
able directly to prove premeditated extermination.
Many of the students fulfilled their “mission” with zeal. From among the names of those
who will not be easily forgotten, I give here several that are representative: Bogdanescu,
chief of all students at the canal and first brigadier; Laitin; the Grama brothers (one of
whom later hanged himself); Enachescu; Cojocaru; Climescu; Stoicanescu; Lupascu;
Morarescu; etc. In addition to their contribution to the construction of the canal, the
students had to continue the work of unmasking other prisoners. For this they resorted to
a new method which, besides producing the desired results, was supposed also to test
the feasibility of applying the system under different conditions. This method, broadly,
was as follows:
After the evening roll call, when in the camp’s interior any kind of movement was strictly
forbidden and the guards walked their beats armed, the individual in question was
discreetly asked to step out of his barracks and invited to follow the person waiting for
him, who was none other than a student from barrack No. 13. Usually the student
covered him with a blanket so he could not see where he was being taken. All of this took
place under the eye of the guards who pretended to see nothing. The only ones
permitted to walk between barracks after lights-off were the students charged with
bringing in victims.
Once the prisoner arrived at the students’ barracks he was subjected to the known torture
methods. But here in the camp one could not ignore the fact that the victims yelled. At
Pitesti the prison’s isolation made it an ideal place, but at the canal camp the proximity of
the other barracks created a great inconvenience. But this difficulty was resolved by the
use of an old method quite dear to the first police of the Communist regime in Russia. To
cover the shouts of the victims, a group of students was constantly engaged in making
noise! They would sing in loud voices (no large earth-moving machinery could be
brought into the camp to provide a racket) not exactly songs but what amounted to
frenetic shouts of joy, changing melodies, and explosive yells, in order to cover up the
agonized yells of the tortured victims inside the barracks.
Many were the victims of unmaskings at the Peninsula and some of them paid with their
lives for the mistake of accepting a student’s invitation. One among the victims in
particular, whose case shook the entire “colony,” was Dr. Simionescu.
Dr. Simionescu was a distinguished figure both in the old Romanian political circles and
in the medical societies. Professionally very well prepared, he was one of the best
surgeons in Romania before the war. He was a man of deeds; he occupied no definite
position in the hierarchy of officialdom.
Arrested in 1949, he was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for having “plotted
against the legal social order”!!! Although he had actually been in the past an active
member of the Cuzist Party, he was arrested for having kept in touch with a group of
political personalities in the National Peasant Party. He was sent to Aiud to serve his
sentence where, in the spring of 1951, I shared the same cell with him for a while. At the
beginning of March he was with a large group of us prisoners brought by van to the
canal, where he was to continue serving his sentence at labor, even though his age was
too advanced for it.
I, who am endowed with a quite robust physique, was astonished that the elderly doctor
never complained, not even when we were obliged to unload wet dirt from freight cars in
bitter cold or freezing rain. After a short stop at the Poarta Alba camp along the canal,
we were sent on to the Peninsula camp on May 5, 1951. The presence of Dr.
Simioneseu in the camp was immediately noticed, for he was the only “cabinet member”
to have arrived up to then. (The Communist puppet directors of the Romanian prisons, in
their simplemindedness, referred to all former high government officials as “cabinet
members,” and they extended the designation to the doctor, even though he had been
only a highly respected professional man.) The re-educators turned him over
immediately to Bogdanescu. They could not forget that the doctor was a member of the
generation that had constituted a permanent stumbling block to Communism in Romania.
One evening he was invited into the students’ barracks, and it was at this time that his
Calvary began. I could not learn exactly which tortures were inflicted on him that night;
the doctor himself related nothing. But the traces left could not be hidden, for the next
morning, before the brigades went to work, the doctor went to the infirmary with three
broken ribs, and his whole body was black and blue, with here and there globs of
coagulated blood. At the infirmary, in addition to the regular personnel, the camp’s
director, Lieutenant Georgescu, was present; for no medical diagnosis was accepted as
correct unless it had been approved by one of the political officers.
The physician asked Dr. Simionescu about the cause of the lesions only as a matter of
form for he, as well as everybody else in the camp, knew very well by whom and how
they were inflicted. Simionescu replied briefly, without much detail, that he had been
taken to barrack No. 13, where he was tortured by the students for reasons unknown to
him. Then Lieutenant Georgescu, who had thus far watched the examination in silence,
intervened. He, whose duty it was to maintain “legality inside the camp”, shouted:
“Bandit, you are the victim of your own convictions! Those whom you, as a cabinet
minister, were charged to educate, have beaten you! It is a pity you escaped so lightly!
Get to work now and don’t let me catch you here again, for if I do, I’ll break your legs as
well!!” Naturally, the camp’s physician dared not recommend any kind of treatment.
From that instant, Dr. Simionescu was practically condemned to death. He was tortured
in the students’ barracks night after night; he was subjected day after day to toil beyond
his strength in the special brigade supervised by students. His body was enfeebled by so
many beatings at night; and when at work he could not perform the labors his tormentors
demanded, the students beat him into unconsciousness right under the eyes of the
Securitate’s guards. He was old enough to be the father of any of the students who
Another and more subtle form of torture was also applied to Dr. Simionescu. He was
forced to deceive his own family. At the canal, unlike the other prisons, prisoners were
allowed to communicate with their families under certain conditions. There was a
permanent shortage of foodstuffs, and in keeping with the Communist principle that “the
enemies of the people must not feed on the backs of the people,” the food distributed by
the camp’s administration was so insufficient that the inmates were subjected to a slow,
methodical starvation that could be relieved only by the packets of food that prisoners
were allowed to receive from the families outside. This provided a simple and easy
means of keeping the slave-laborers under perfect control, for, of course, the precious
privilege of receiving such indispensable nourishment was granted only to prisoners who
fulfilled their labor norms and obeyed every caprice of the administrators and guards.
The arrangement had the further advantage that it placed a great burden on the
impoverished families of the prisoners, who had to support their loved ones with goods
taken from their own meager rations. The added hardships and sacrifices thus imposed
on the families were, of course, not unpleasing to the Communists.
Dr. Simionescu took advantage of this privilege or “benefit” as it was called. So his
torturers forced him to write home the appeals they dictated. He was even visited by his
wife after a time. Throughout this visit a representative of the political officer was present.
The doctor had to lie, saying that everything was fine, that no one should worry about
him and he was doubtless glad to keep up the spirits of his wife, who did not even
imagine that she was seeing him for the last time!
From the parlor the doctor was taken directly to the students’ barracks. There he was
forced to crawl under the “brigadier’s” table, while above him Bogdanescu, together with
the re-education committee, feasted on what his wife, through hardship and privation,
had managed to bring him from home.
“You have sucked long enough the sweat of the working people, bandit! When you were
banqueting, the workers were shot because they fought for a piece of bread. Is it not so,
Mr. Minister? From now on it is your turn to suffer in order to pay for the sins of
yesteryear.” The derision was, as usual, followed by a beating, which was all the
half-starved man received for the food brought him by his wife who had, by the way,
been reduced to the utmost penury by the confiscation of all their property.
His anguish lasted quite a long time, until in despair he decided to cut the thread of his
life. In keeping with his principles, however, he wanted to die, not by his own hand, but at
the hands of his torturers. So in broad daylight, at work, although exhausted by beatings
and lack of sleep, and brokem by labor and unspeakable humiliations, he dared advance
toward the line of uniformed guards and try to cross over to the other side. But where? In
broad daylight and in the middle of a zone full of watchful eyes? Any of the Securitate
soldiers could grab him by the sleeve and bring him back. He could hardly walk. Thus, he
did not run. The gesture was premeditated and it was consummated as he had foreseen.
For the mission of those guards was not to preserve lives, but to liquidate as many as
possible, especially when they were given a “legal” opportunity. When Dr. Simionescu
reached the danger zone, a short burst of shots was heard: a Securitate man had
emptied his automatic pistol into the doctor, who had collapsed only a few yards from
him. Several men went to pick up the victim and bring him to the working area. He was
still alive, and could have been saved. But this was not to be. He was finished off before
the watching students, who, in their turn, were astonished by what they were witnessing
for the first time. The doctor’s body was carried into the center of the encampment so all
the “bandits” could see and take notice. Then it was hauled to the Navodari cemetery for
burial among his former companions-in-agony killed by bullets, hunger, or torture without
a service for the dead, without a cross, without a candle, just exactly in accordance with
The soldier who shot Dr. Simionescu was rewarded with a bonus, a promotion, and a
Dr. Simionescu’s death could not be kept secret, as was that of so many who were killed
in prisons. Many outsiders knew what went on in the canal labor camps. Contacts
between prisoners and persons from the “greater prison” (as the canal laborers called
the Communist-occupied country outside) was inevitable, because quite frequently
outside technicians and engineers either sought the technical assistance and advice of
their confreres in the camp or used the brawn of inmates without “professional
qualifications,” which included lawyers, priests, doctors, and other well-educated men.
Many outside even had in the camp a brother, a father, a colleague or friend; or if they
had none of these, they saw in the prisoners their own brothers, i.e., people like
themselves. That is why the help of those who were still relatively free was
unquestioningly given, materially and morally, with all the risks that this involved. And not
a few men ended up behind barbed wire, side by side with those they had helped.
One such person, either directly or by letter, informed the doctor’s family. Someone
came and claimed the body. Someone else, it seems, requested an audience at the
Ministry of the Interior to get an explanation of why he had been shot to death. The
authorities could not pass this off with a casual explanation, and shortly thereafter, a
colonel in the Securitate, Cosmici, accompanied by his colleague Colonel Craciunas,
arrived at the canal to begin an investigation. Here, as is normal Communist practice,
you have superiors investigating their own subalterns, who had faithfully carried out
orders issued by the very Ministry of which the investigators were a part and which had
ordered the whole experiment in the first place!
Several persons were called into the office and interrogated quite summarily, more often
than not on matters quite unrelated to the matter in hand. Then the colonels departed for
Bucharest to report their findings.
At the beginning of September, or perhaps the very end of August, a group of about ten
students from the canal camp were selected to be sent somewhere. It was learned later
that they went to the Ministry of the Interior for questioning in connection with
Simionescu’s death, but the students, who had been told to bring all their baggage with
them, jumped to the conclusion that they were to be freed before the end of their
sentences for behavior conforming to Communist expectations, especially since they
recalled the semi-official promise given them at Pitesti. At the gate they were put in
chains! This was a special mark of attention enjoyed only by those sentenced to more
than fifteen years, or prisoners who were apprehended after escape, but the students
took the chains as being just another cover-up, concealing an intention to liberate them,
and so left the camp somewhat joyfully.
But the sight of chains on those departing students signaled a change which could have
been foreseen by the prisoners better initiated into the mysteries of Communist logic.
When a change is in the making, even one of minor importance, there are clear
preliminary indications, the most obvious one being that the officials in charge are
removed. In Communist theory it is axiomatic that as an ideology, Communism is
infallible, and errors, when committed, are due to opportunism or the incompetence of
the individuals called on to apply the “Party Line.” Such being the case, the one who
pays the piper is naturally not the one who issued the orders, but the one who carried
them out and life-long dedication to the Party will avail him nothing. If Molotov could not
master all the working rules of Marxism in fifty years, what can one expect of less
talented and less experienced individuals? Invariably, when any project or policy that is
initially applauded as a triumph of Communist genius and planning, is changed, the
blame for the change is laid on the shoulders of the individual who had the misfortune to
carry out the orders. The scapegoat idea is so deeply embedded in Communist practice
that it is considered a law. And this pattern was, of course, observed at the Peninsula.
The first obvious indication of coming change was the removal of Georgescu, the
administrative head though perhaps the man least responsible in reality, who was sent to
a post of lesser importance, but not otherwise punished. He was replaced by another
prison director, Captain Lazar, a militia officer notorious for the terror he imposed at the
Fagaras prison, where former army officers accused of collaboration with Antoneseu or
of having joined anti-Communist brigades were imprisoned, together with practically all of
the old regime’s police force. Each of the prison directors had a favorite means of
punishment and Lazar chose the beating pole.
Other changes followed at the Peninsula, as if by magic. Students were taken out of
barracks No. 13 and No. 14 and scattered throughout the other barracks. The special
work brigades which had inaugurated a terror theretofore unknown were disbanded, and
the re-educated students were removed from positions of trust which they had held. But
the change was even more far-reaching than this. Lazar himself became a different man.
In contrast to his brutality at Fagaras, he now appeared to be a civilized man with whom
one could talk!
He rejected carloads of carrots and pickles destined for the prisoners’ diet on the pretext
that one cannot accomplish work with undernourished men. Sanitary conditions became
tolerable; working hours were reduced; production quotas were reduced to more
reasonable levels. Except for those who were always disposed to interpret the course of
international politics by the degree of “the soup’s viscosity”, no one considered this
change as indicating a permanent new era, for what Lazar did was on orders from
Bucharest. But this change was truly amazing and unique, for no other director, either
before or after him, ever showed a similar attitude. And as an irony of fate, his own
daughter fell in love with a prisoner and did everything in her power to influence her
father to behave humanely.
The disbanding of the brigades headed by re-educated students and the replacement of
director Georgeseu produced an evolution of the Pitesti experiment along novel lines. It is
quite possible that the initiators of the experiment might have decided to test the
“re-educated” under conditions different from those under which they had undergone
their unmasking at Pitesti. The memory of those conditions was kept fresh in the minds of
the re-educated students by a sub-group completely loyal to the political officers at the
canal. Each group seemed to alternate in dominance, through conditioned reflexes
established at Pitesti. But what happened among the students thereafter deserves
particular attention because it discloses totally unforeseen aspects of the human soul at
least of the souls of those who for more than two years had been transformed into
something other than human beings.
Escaping from the terror of their former milieu, from that closed-in hell in which they
reciprocally tormented each other; seeing that the administration no longer supported
those in charge of maintaining the atmosphere created at Pitesti; and finding that on the
contrary they were looked upon with a significant “lack of understanding,” the students
gradually began to change their own attitude toward both their colleagues and the other
prisoners. Little by little, where before even the thought was impossible, some began a
process of self-examination, of critical analysis, or, as it was said back home, a digging
out of the problems covered by the ashes of terror. Timidly at first, then with greater
daring and in increasingly greater numbers, the students gradually began to see things
through their own eyes and to draw logical conclusions without quailing in fear of being
suspected of thinking other than as ordered.
This process was prolonged and quite painful. It seemed like a returning from Hell, on the
way out of a hideous, deformed world a return from other shores, or an awakening from
a long nightmare that left visible marks on body and soul. They were like blind men
beginning to see; they feared the light, were suspicious of it, considered it unreal,
impossible. But as a dam is slowly eroded by the water escaping from a fissure, so their
doubt was gradually worn away and slowly replaced by a love of life, of honesty, of
dignity, the beast of yesterday reverting to manhood.
The wide diversity of character among the victims accounted for the wide range of time
taken by their recovery. Some who had suffered less and were naturally more pliant
regained their old selves almost immediately. But for others the comeback was most
difficult much time had to pass, month upon month, their wounds being too deep to heal
rapidly. The deeper contoured structures, which had yielded with great difficulty and
shown the greatest resistance during the unmaskings, also retained the most stubbornly
the alien shape that had been imposed on them. Moreover, the students suddenly
expelled from barracks No. 13 and No. 14 and scattered among the other prisoners
found themselves in radically changed circumstances. They also had to reckon with
some of the political officers and the stool pigeons who served the Communists without
being forced and even without being asked, all of whom saw in the students’ possible
comeback a danger to their personal “careers,” (even though a decrease in the number
of informers would normally have enhanced each one’s value). In any case, a whole host
of different attitudes bristled and clashed under the horribly unnatural conditions of a
slave labor camp.
But in many of the students, little by little, the wounds of the past whose scars would
perhaps remain forever, began to heal, bringing a certain self-control, but not
forgetfulness that would never come.
But the Communists will not give up. They will only change the application of
“re-education” and perhaps improve the methods.
-A total of 11 camps, according to Ion Carja’s Intoarcerea din Infern ... pp. 12-14.
-See above, p. xxx. It is noteworthy that while the party to which the doctor belonged
was emphatically patriotic and nationalistic, he was convicted of association with
members of the most “democratic” of the political parties, one whose leaders had on
several occasions sought “negotiations” with the Soviet. (Tr.)
-Scryabin, better known under his Russian alias of Molotov, was one of the leading
agents of the Jewish revolution in Russia, having begun his criminal career as a
Communist conspirator in 1906, and held positions near the top of the Soviet government
ever since the overthrow of Czar Nicholas II. He was a member of the triumvirate that
succeeded Djugashvili (alias Stalin), but was, with his confederates, replaced by
Khruschev in 1959 and exiled to Outer Mongolia. Thus at the time that he missed his
footing, he had more than fifty years’ experience in the Bolshevik terrorist organization,
forty of them near the top of the managerial hierarchy. It is to this that the author here
-It is not unlikely that the sudden change at the slave-labor camp was made to
determine the degree of permanence of the re-education in individuals of different
THE DEMON PERSISTS
At the time the experiment at the canal came to an end, unmaskings at Gherla prison, on
the banks of the Somes River in northern Romania, reached an intensity that perhaps
surpassed even the most difficult moments at Pitesti.
In contrast with what was tried in the prisons already mentioned, the system at Gherla
was designed to push the technique to its utmost possibilities, extending it to categories
of prisoners other than the students.
For this purpose, a sizable group of re-educated students was sent by the Ministry to
Gherla as a sort of avant-garde charged with laying the groundwork by gathering
information about the atmosphere and outlook among the prisoners there. When others
capable of work at Pitesti were sent to the canal, Turcanu was sent to Gherla,
accompanied by his immediate entourage who were most devoted to him and also the
most adept at use of the bludgeon. They prepared the way for the larger contingents that
were sent later.
Special measures were taken by the political administration of the prison in advance of
Turcanu’s arrival. The entire fourth floor was evacuated for use in unmaskings, and
placed at Turcanu’s disposal. All the students from Pitesti were to be incarcerated in the
cells on this floor, the top one of the main prison building.
Gherla prison was second in importance only to Aiud. Originally a reformatory for minor
delinquents, it was adapted to other uses as the conflict between the Romanian populace
and their Communist masters developed. It was then equipped with special workshops in
which the condemned, without regard to length of sentence or state of health, were
subjected to working conditions much worse than at the canal.
The hundreds of students transferred to Gherla were all left on the fourth floor in their
cells for quite some time, completely isolated from the rest of the inmates. Then their
screening began anew, under the direct supervision of the Securitate Lieutenant
Avadanei, the new political appointee in charge of re-education. The students were then
re-grouped and sent into workshops, with specific missions to accomplish.
Contact between the new prisoners and the old was established then without any
difficulty. None of the older prisoners could even guess that those newly arrived were
living in a different world and governed by laws other than human ones. Their reception
was as natural as could be, with much warmth, even with joy and relief, for the placing of
a student corps in their midst was a pleasant surprise and considered by the workers as
probably a mistake on the part of the Communists!
Soon, however, a very few of the new arrivals tried to warn their destined victims, for
despite their inculcated terror, a small grain of humanity, encysted in their souls, could
not continue dormant under the warmth of their reception by the older prisoners at
Gherla. Among the hundreds of students there were several who mustered courage to
caution one or more of the older men to beware of them. Great as was the risk they took,
equally great was the inability of those being warned to comprehend what they were
being told. It seemed to them incredible surely these warnings must be prompted by the
Communists, who for a long time had been conducting a campaign of defamation against
the students as a class. If a student spoke evil of his colleagues, how could the individual
being warned verify the statements except by asking another student, whom he had
known on the outside as a dedicated anti-Communist? And the contingents of students
sent to Gherla pretended to be still staunchly anti-Communist in order to gain the
confidence of the older prisoners and learn from them everything that might be useful to
The mad attempt by a few of the students to warn of what was to come was made in vain.
None of the workers would believe the monstrosities with which the students were
charged. For one thing, there was not much real opportunity for extended conversation to
elucidate the warnings, and there was always the risk of being overheard and reported a
danger that maintained the conditioned reflex of fear in the students. Although a few had
the courage to talk to workers in the prison shops, it did not enter their minds to discuss
among themselves the possibility of a general change of the state of mind induced by
their re-education at Pitesti. They dared not trust one another! So there was no
concerted effort made to warn the workers only a few scattered gestures by isolated
individuals here and there. But this did not prevent Turcanu from learning about what was
Among the students who arrived in the first lot was one named Rodas, originally from
Ploesti. When he first went to work, he met former friends in the underground, men in
whom he had complete faith. Taking advantage of a moment of freedom from
surveillance, he related to one of them the entire drama of Pitesti in simple words, trying
to make it clear to him as quickly as possible, as he knew he did not have much time. His
friend listened attentively, but could hardly believe what he heard. So he tried to verify the
story by asking another student whom he trusted. Actually, he hoped to get a repudiation
of a story that seemed perfectly incredible. And, as he had expected, the student put his
mind at ease, saying, “Rodas is an informer for the Securitate, and what he said is part
of an infamous plan set up by the Communists to compromise the students!” The worker
went to bed reassured; a heavy burden was lifted from his heart; and the next day he told
his friends to beware of Rodas. The informer immediately reported to Turcanu, for so far
as he was concerned, from his heart, too, was lifted a burden, for he, as it turned out,
was Rodas’s surveillant a pure coincidence!
The next day, Turcanu entered a cell on the fourth floor and ordered all the students to
face the wall. Then he called out, ordering somebody in the corridor to come in. When
the students were ordered to turn around, they saw standing beside Turcanu a person
with a sack over his head so they could not recognize him. And when in the silent cell
Turcanu jerked the sack off, they still could not recognize the man, for before them stood
a figure with a grotesquely disfigured head, his entire face one swollen bluish wound.
Large globs of blood covered his features, stringing downward over his clothes. The man
was visibly shaking on his feet, hardly able to stand upright. His whole body trembled as
though siezed with chills. A corpselike pallor spread over the faces of all the students as
they fearfully gazed, trying in vain to identify the victim and imagine a reason for such
“Rodas squealed,” said Turcanu, and then everyone understood. “I have ears
everywhere,” continued the monster. “A word to the wise ... to all who eventually may be
tempted to talk. This is the first case; the next one will not be brought before you to see,
for he will not live ... Just so you all may know.” This scene was repeated in almost all the
cells on the floor. After such a spectacle, could anyone contemplate warning the workers
I observed several times during my years in prison that witnessing the suffering and
torture of another often has a stronger psychological effect than one’s own suffering.
Prolonged physical torture eventually produces a sort of analgesia, which if it does not
deaden the pain of blows, at least diminishes its intensity. But invariably, when you see
someone else being tortured, the image produced in your mind becomes fantastically
exaggerated and has a truly polarizing effect on the consciousness. This phenomenon
was so useful to the Communists that they gave it a name, “witnessing-the-spectacle,”
and used it systematically in investigations in general, and particularly in unmaskings at
Pitesti. The individual who “witnessed the spectacle” was seized by such fear that his
very intestines froze within him.
The effect, then, that Rodas’s appearance had on the students at Gherla can be
guessed. Thereafter all the students were ostentatious in manifesting a provocative
anti-Communist attitude in order to obtain information for dossiers on their future victims.
In the evening they would dutifully prepare their reports for the committee, where
cross-checks were made.
The appearance of the students who were taken to the workshops was most deplorable.
The terror, hunger, and the regimen of isolation to which they had been subjected for
months on the fourth floor had turned them into living phantoms. Many workers, out of
love or charity, shared their own poor rations with them hoping to help. The student
accepted food, for hunger is invincible; but once his hunger was appeased, terror took
its place. And he would report in the evening that he had accepted Legionary help from
the so-and-so bandit!!
Little by little, day after day, the dossiers were being built up, with emphasis on
information leading to identifying workers who had the most influence in the prison.
Unmaskings were resumed, Room 99 on the fourth floor being retained for this purpose.
It faced northeast, away from the town, its windows looking down on the inner courtyard
of the prison, and was considered most suitable as no one from outside could hear the
screams and blows. It had two doors but was not contiguous to any other cell. Not far
away, however, still in the inner wing and on the same floor, were three smaller cells, 96,
97 and 98, which were kept for use in case of unusual resistance, as was another small
cell, 101, in the front wing. In these small cells veritable orgies of torture took place.
The activities on the fourth floor at Gherla could not be completely concealed from the
other inmates of the prison, especially those whose cells were on the floors immediately
below. They noticed first of all that while on the other floors members of the staff and
prisoners passed frequently along the railed balconies outside the cells looking on the
inner court, there was no movement on the balcony of the fourth floor. Some of the
prisoners wondered about this and guessed that something unusual must be happening
up there. Then one day they witnessed a remarkable scene. Suddenly, at one end of the
fourth-floor balcony, the door of a corner cell (Room 99) was flung open and out darted a
figure, his face covered with blood, who dashed along the balcony and down the stairway
pell-mell, yelling at the top of his voice that he was being murdered by his cellmates. In
hot pursuit came the O.D.C.C. boys out of Room 99, who caught him as he headed for
the administration office, and dragged him, screaming and struggling, back up the stairs.
Then all disappeared into Room 99.
The bleeding victim was a young student, Bubi Roman from Timisoara Polytechnical
School, who had been one of the most dedicated of anti-Communists.To quiet the talk
among the workers in the shops, the O.D.C.C. put into circulation the story that Roman
suffered from paranoia, and that his mental condition had deteriorated until his delusions
of persecution had become violent insanity. To make this fiction more plausible, for
several days thereafter they ostentatiously conducted Roman daily to the infirmary,
where Dr. Barbosu gave him hypodermic injections that were falsely described as
After this incident, the surveillance over the fourth floor was intensified. The door of
Room 99 was never under any circumstances left unlocked; no one being subjected to
unmaskings was left unguarded for even a moment; and supplemental beatings were
administered for even the slightest gesture that could be interpreted as an attempt “to
sabotage the unmaskings.”
The director of Gherla prison at this time was a Securitate captain named Gheorghiu,
whose unique characteristic was cynicism. And he had a temper that would flare up, for
instance, if a newly arrived prisoner admitted he was condemned for only five or ten
years; but he was very happy when a prisoner admitted a 25-year sentence! “This,” he
used to say, “is Gherla University. When you graduate (but I do not believe you ever will)
you will be true men. Until then, I am your master.”
The political officer was Lieutenant Avadanei, a Moldavian from the Botosani region, and,
some say, a former elementary school teacher. Extremely evil, he felt some kind of
fiendish satisfaction in trampling upon the bodies of prisoners until they fainted. At
Gherla there was plenty of proof that bestiality, when unleashed, and nurtured by fear,
becomes a sort of necessity, an insatiable appetite that can never be satisfied, and
grows in direct proportion to its exercise.
At Gherla, one beat another only for the pleasure of it, no longer to destroy a belief or
supplant it with another, or extort secrets, or disfigure the soul. One beat senselessly.
Workers and students, young and old, educated and the illiterate, were all tortured the
same, even when they had nothing more to say, could not confess any more than they
already had, could not be any further degraded.
During the war, Captain Magirescu was sent to the Russian front whence he returned
without one of his legs. Arrested and condemned in 1948 at Iasi for anti-Communist
activity, he was sent to Gherla, where he worked in the workshop. Then he was put in
room 99 for unmasking. In the end, they beat him over the scar of his half-leg with
broomsticks until his mouth opened as did his wound.
Others at Gherla in room 99 while undergoing unmasking were forced to move their
bowels into the mess-pans in which they normally received their soup. They were then
forced, during continued beating, to eat their own feces from the dish.
The peasant Ball from the Hunedoara region was kept for several nights hanging by his
armpits, having a stone-loaded knapsack on his back, his feet hanging two inches above
the floor so he could not rest his weight. And because it seemed to his tormentors that
his burden was too light, they also would climb on his back. And his was not the only
Prisoners were forced to “polish” the “samot” (a kind of rubbery material covering the
floors) even though this was an impossibility; they scrubbed at this ridiculous task hours
on end with a dry cloth, while at the same time carrying piggyback two, three or more
committee members. When exhausted, their throats choked with the dry dust, they
collapsed, they were not allowed to lie there and rest, but were given more beatings.
Another interesting custom was that of requiring inmates to crawl under a wooden bed
from one end to the other, using only their elbows to propel them through, the body held
perfectly straight, without any help from the knees. As they came to each end they were
met by committee members with clubs to indicate when to turn around. For hours,
morning or afternoon, this sport was enjoyed by the re-educators whenever they felt the
urge. Only prisoners lucky enough to faint in the process were left in peace.
At other times, they were ordered to crawl part way under the bed, then suddenly stand
up straight through the bed-boards, throwing everything into disarray, messing up the
handful of clothing remaining to them after years of detention, and then ordered by the
use of clubs, to remake the beds in half a minute with the headrest just as high as before.
It was at Gherla also that prisoners were forced to “run the gauntlet” between two rows of
re-educators armed with broomsticks not just once, but back and forth again and again,
slowly. At this prison the use of lavatories was at times absolutely forbidden, with
consequences that can be imagined.
But sadistic torture was not the only kind indulged in at Gherla: there was also humorous
torture, accompanied by jokes! One victim, considered the greater bandit, was obliged to
stand on the shoulders of a lesser bandit, and from there launch himself into the air,
simulating an airplane at landing. This was repeated until he landed perfectly flat, or
broke his ribs.
-The reader must remember the peculiar situation in Romania where university
students, being a select and intellectually superior group with a reputation for integrity,
patriotism and love of God, were highly respected. See pages xxiv ff. above. (Tr.)