At Gherla, as at Pitesti, there were prisoners who watched for any opportunity, the

slightest relaxation of surveillance, to commit suicide. Others tried to tell the director of

the prison what was being done on the fourth floor, even though they could not really

expect anything in the way of corrective measures from those who had ordered the

whole experiment, or from those who conducted it and reaped the harvest from it. These

desperate endeavors bordered on insanity. But then, everything that happened at Gherla

was a sort of madness, a collective insanity seizing administrators and prisoners alike,

who competed to destroy everything that could be called human in a world where, long

ago, man had been reduced to a hated animal to be exterminated by hunger and terror.


The first prisoner who tried to approach the administration was a Macedonian worker

named E.O., from Banat, who had been condemned to ten years at hard labor. One day,

while full unmaskings were in progress, his cell was visited by an inspector from the

Ministry of the Interior, General Nicolschi himself, who was in charge of the General

Office of Investigations for the whole country. The routine followed during his visit was

like that at Pitesti: the prisoners stood at attention, having been warned by the

re-educators not to speak, but only listen to the General. Suddenly, when nobody

expected it, E.O. broke ranks and requested permission to speak. The inspector was so

surprised, he let him talk.


As rapidly as he could, for he knew the opportunity would not last long, he related to the

inspector all that he and his cellmates were suffering; asked that measures be taken to

stop the torturings and to punish those responsible for them. Director Gheorghiu, who

witnessed this scene, feigned so perfectly to be impressed and visibly surprised that the

victims themselves could have believed that he knew nothing about such things

happening. He told General Nicolschi that he knew nothing of torturings, that no one had

ever reported anything of the sort to him, that he would investigate personally to learn

how much of what E.O. said was true, and that he would take the necessary steps to

correct the situation, if it actually existed. The Inspector General was prompt to promise

that he would look into the matter himself, and that he would personally see to it that the

guilty parties were punished. Both Nicolschi and Gheorghiu ignored the obvious evidence

before their very eyes, the condition of the prisoners at that very moment their battered

faces and the black and blue contusions on their emaciated bodies, visible, of course, on

E.O. as he made his report.


Of course no investigation was ever made, nor any remedial steps taken. Instead,

Turcanu instituted reprisals, consisting this time of pulling off toenails with pliers,

necessarily supplied by the administration for that purpose. This happened in the tiny cell

in which E.O. was isolated after making his report. When I met him in 1954, he could eat

only bread and potatoes, for by the time he left that cell, his liver had been destroyed.


Despite later denials, the entire experiment was supervised and coordinated by the

Communist Ministry of the Interior by General Nicolschi or his superiors. Two students,

Popescu and Andreescu, who had undergone unmasking while at Pitesti, were

summoned to a supplementary inquisition in Bucharest. They spent several months there

in special cells the Ministry of the Interior maintained on Victoriei Street; then, perhaps

because of an oversight on the part of some officer in charge of transportation, they

were taken to Jilava, where they remained for some time and were thrown in with the

other prisoners. There the warm, friendly atmosphere among the prisoners and their trust

of one another helped allay the fear in their hearts. Eventually Popeseu and Andreescu

told some of them of earlier events at Pitesti, naturally without too much detail. Strangely

enough, however, the moment thev arrived at Gherla, the O.D.C.C. committee already

knew everything they had told the inmates at Jilava. Through its informers the prison

administration at Jilava had learned of it, transmitted the report to the Ministry, which in

turn warned Turcanu. The suspicion of their being “opportunists” a term used at Pitesti

for those who appeared to have been won over but remained “bandits” at heart was

sufficient grounds for their being forced to submit again to the entire gamut of torture, in

the company of others who were passing through unmasking for the first time.


Some prisoners tried to escape from the unmaskings by choosing the supreme solution,

suicide. The peasant P., from the Constanta region, who had been arrested and

condemned to 15 years imprisonment, was brought to Gherla in the summer of 1951,

and shortly thereafter taken to room 99. Because he offered resistance, he was isolated

in one of the smaller cells and subjected to an individual unmasking under constant

surveillance. But one day, left alone for a few minutes, he was able to get a piece of

glass from a window pane and awkwardly cut the veins of his neck. He was soon found

flat on the floor in a pool of blood; the re-educators in a panic sent to the administration

for help. Director Gheorghiu and the political ofricer came running, with the prison

physician in tow, who stopped the bleeding. When he could be questioned, P. told them

that he tried to commit suicide because he could no longer endure the tortures inflicted

on him by fellow prisoners for no reason. The director assured him that thenceforth

nothing would happen to him, and that those who tortured him would be severely

punished, but that he would havp, to promise never to attempt suicide again. P.

promised; the director left the cell. Then immediately entered Turcanu and others, who

never left him alone until he capitulated, completely cowed and broken.


Another peasant, this one from Moldavia’s Campu-Lung, sought to end his life differently.

For writing the declarations during his unmasking, he was given the usual soap tablet and

a needle. He broke the needle and swallowed the pieces, thinking to end his agonies; but

the needle must have lodged in some marginal tissue, as he suffered not a single ill

effect. When the written declaration was required of him, and of course the needle as

well, he had only the soap tablet to turn in! He said he had lost the needle. He was then

tortured and forced to search for it. In the end he had to confess that he had swallowed

it. Now, in addition to ordinary tortures, he was obliged to move his bowels into the

mess-pan for three or four days and check to see whether or not the pieces of the

needle had been eliminated. Of course he did not find them. The immediate

consequence of this was the destruction of his liver by severe beatings, necessitating in

time complicated surgery which left him, for the remainder of his life, able to eat only

toasted bread and baked potatoes. When I met him in 1953, still in the workshop, he was

distributing the bread out in the hall as part of his job; the administration, as a great favor,

granted him the privilege of baking for himself a handful of potato in the prison kitchen. It

would be a miracle if he is still alive.


* * * * *


At Gherla the technique of surprise by sudden betrayal was modified, doubtless in the

light of experience acquired at Pitesti. Here, for example, is a scene described by a

high-school student who was among the last to pass through room 99. He was one of a

group of youths arrested and sentenced just before the closing of the “Center for

Re-education at Pitesti,” and one of the few who, though serving time at Pitesti,

miraculously were not subjected to re-education there; as a matter of fact, that was the

reason why he was not shipped to the labor camp at the canal. I quote him:


“Having arrived at Gherla, we were quartered in a large cell on the fourth floor, where

there were several older students who circulated among us and soon succeeded in

gaining our confidence, even coming to know us intimately. Under the circumstances, we

felt we could ask their help on various personal problems which we could not solve by

ourselves. Thus each of us found himself a confidant, an advisor, a friend. None of us

noticed that their principal concern was focused on just two points: our anti-Communist

activity, and our attitude toward the prison administration, especially its political officers.


“Around the beginning of September, we were moved into room 99. Here we met other

students who received us with the same warmth as those in the first cell.


“Our days were organized according to a schedule which, within the limits of the prison’s

regulations, was rigorously respected. The day began with prayer said on our knees.

Then followed the National-Christian[1] education period, which lasted quite a while. The

afternoon was reserved for more informal occupations. There were several groups

studying different foreign languages, and you joined the one you wished; lectures were

given on various subjects by those who had studied them, to enlarge our general

knowledge. The evenings offered the most pleasant moments. Usually someone with

literary talent would give us a talk on the work of a Romanian or foreign writer. We would

all be seated around him and a warm family atmosphere made us forget the inferno that

surrounded us. Patriotic poetry was not neglected, nor even the songs, although the

prison rules strictly forbade singing, especially patriotic singing. The day ended with

prayer again said on our knees.


“Who could believe that those who led the prayers, appearing almost transfigured with

religious fervor, could be perjurers? Could it be that in those moments, taking advantage

of the opportunity, they too were truly praying? More than two weeks passed in this

manner. Such an atmosphere of perfect harmony prevailed that not a few times I felt a

satisfaction in having been arrested, for through my arrest I was privileged to know such

men and enjoy such moments! Friendships flowered like buds in the spring! No one

could ever suspect how near were the blizzards.


“The room chief was a student from Iasi, Alexandru Popa, not too bright compared with

some others, but very active. Turcanu too was in the room. But he was very reserved and

went around almost unnoticed. Now and then he, Popa and two or three others would go

into a corner and talk in subdued voices. Because they were all from Iasi, and friends

besides, no one suspected anything amiss in these private confabs.


“And then all of a sudden, the sky fell in. One evening, at the end of the work day and

after the latch was closed on the outside of the cell, we were getting ready for the usual

program when Turcanu gave the order that everyone except us (the late arrivals) should

form into two rows, leaving a narrow corridor between. Each one had in his hands either

a bludgeon, a broomstick, or a belt. Turning to us he ordered us to run the gauntlet

between the two rows. We thought this was a game intended to give us all a little fun. But

in a few seconds the room reverberated with our shrieks and with the oaths of those

beating us. I was by chance at the end of the line. I stopped bewildered, and forgetting

that I also must follow where my friends had passed, I got over to the end of one of the

beaters’ rows beside one of the older ones, and began a frightful yelling, not realizing

what I was doing, literally crazed by the spectacle unfolding before my very eyes. I was

gesticulating, hands up in the air, like an insane person caught in a crisis. The individual

standing by me suddenly recognized me as being one of those supposed to pass under

the bludgeons and, grabbing me by the neck, shoved me into the gauntlet. This is how I

entered the unmasking. How I came out of it, you had the opportunity of seeing for

yourself when you met me. Much time has passed since then and somehow I have

succeeded in seeing things more lucidly.”


I asked the boy, “How did the beaten group react as a whole, for they must have reacted



“I could not say that anybody tried to defend himself,” he replied, “for everything

happened so fast. Anyway, resistance was useless. If there was any spontaneous

reaction, it did not last long. It is true that several of those who were beating us ended up

with cracked skulls, but this was probably accidental in the confused melee; but perhaps

it happened intentionally, for among the wielders of weapons there may have been some

who struck a “colleague” to revenge some beating received during his own unmasking.

Anyhow, when it was all finished, there we were, the wheat with the tares, in a pile of

broken and bloody bodies, heaped on the floor. Among these was my body. My soul left

me that evening, and it has not yet returned into me entirely, not even now. As at Pitesti,

maybe even worse than there, the inner collapse preceded the physical one. For in

contrast to Pitesti, this time the students who had taught us and prayed with us took part

in the proceedings from the first session. Their presence among the beaters contributed,

I believe, to the paralyzing of any possible spirit of resistance.


“Following this, we passed into the usual phase of unmasking, which lasted more than a

month and was not much different from the procedure used at Pitesti. Then, there

followed a series of two more. I was an ‘in position’ witness to the first series because I

was still considered not fully re-educated. During the second series, some of my

colleagues were promoted to the ranks of the re-educated. By now I was witnessing

impassively their disintegration, trying only to see in them that which I could not see in

me how a soul is shredded.


“From time to time one of our group would disappear for several days. I had no idea

where he was taken. When he returned, he was completely broken. It was only later that

I found out that the ones so chosen were put into the small cells down the hall and were

there subjected to a continuous individual unmasking.”


The “witnessing-of-the-spectacle” was used as at Pitesti, except on a larger scale. The

slightest sign of doubt or of disobedience was immediately punished by bringing the

culprit into room 99 to watch an unmasking. The feelings experienced by such witnesses

were described to me vividly by one of the scores of students with whom I spoke:


“Watching others being tortured,” he said, “I had the impression that I had been bound

and placed on a powder keg, and that a madman constantly circled around the keg with

a lighted candle. I expected the flame to touch the powder at any moment, and that the

keg with me on it would be blown up. That could have happened at any time; in other

words, if a re-educator suddenly took the notion that I had been given too light a

punishment for my suspected guilt, he could have transferred me from ‘spectator’ to

‘sufferer’ on the spot the equivalent of setting off the powder with the candle flame.”


In just a few months, more than 200 prisoners passed through unmaskings at Gherla and

the Communists thus increased the ranks of their faithful by 200. This is why the

“progressive” education introduced by the Communists used the bludgeon instead of the

bullet; why the killing of prisoners was forbidden: They did not seek to destroy individual

men but the very human species itself, by inducing conditioned reflexes which turned

men into creatures as obedient as robots and as ferocious as wounded tigers rabid with

hatred of humanity. A dead tiger could not be used to destroy others.


More than 200 had passed through the unmaskings, and with the constant acceleration

of the increasing numbers, it could have been predicted that within six months every

inmate of the prison would have been thoroughly re-educated, if nothing untoward



But something did happen, unexpectedly.





       -I.e., the principles and doctrine of the Legion. (Tr.)







Without previous warning, on the evening of November 14, 1951, more than two years

after the Pitesti experiment was begun, orders came to stop all unmaskings; not suddenly

and abruptly but gradually, as a new phase was to be introduced. In other words, the

phase of “violence” (i.e., beatings) was to be superseded by a new phase modeled to

some extent on the method used at the canal, but with better surveillance. The

unmaskings did not, as a matter of fact, end until February or March of the next year,

when Colonel Zeller of the Securitate appeared. He came on an official mission, that of

increasing production in the prison workshops, which meant sending as many prisoners

as possible into them. To this end, most of the re-educators as well as the re-educated

ended up having to go to work, and the whole prison population was shifted around. The

reassignments to shop or group produced an entirely new mixing of students with other

prisoners. This changed the atmosphere everywhere; it became indescribably poisoned.


The students were no longer in positions of command, yet their whole re-formed

character was conditioned to control others through unmaskings. So, since the

O.D.C.C.’s right to beat prisoners had been revoked, they took it upon themselves to

inaugurate their own form of discipline at Gherla and, for the next two years they

maintained, with the help of a naturally cruel administration, a state of terror unique in the

annals of prison history.


Whether in workshop or cell, at the workbench or in the queue waiting for soup, in the

lavatory or the shower, at any time, the re-educator would listen, all ears, to hear “what

was being discussed,” and would inform the administration promptly and pointedly so as

to keep the reprisals as close to the spirit of unmaskings as possible.


Punishment for imaginary crimes was multiplied mercilessly. Incarceration, severe

beatings, solitary confinement with minimal clothing, halving of food rations at the end of

twelve hours of slave labor, the more severe regimen of being fed only once every three

days these constantly supplied a special section with more and more tuberculosis cases,

and the cemetery with hundreds of bodies.


After the right of the re-educated to torment was revoked, the torturing was by

Communists directly, and they used their best qualified individuals to do it, namely the

prison’s political officers and especially their chief, Lieutenant Avadanei.


As was normal Communist procedure, Director Gheorghiu was transferred to some other

place and in his stead was brought in a new director, Captain Petre Goiciu. Formerly a

tinsmith with the Romanian Railways in Galati, he was a Bulgarian notorious for his

ferocity, which exceeded that of Maromet, the director of Jilava prison. As his assistant,

and chief of production, Lieutenant Mihalcea, another degenerate maniac, was



This trio, Avadanei, Goiciu and Mihalcea ruled the prison for years, zealously executing

orders and competing with one another for the highest marks in sadism, until they were

rewarded with promotion in the Party hierarchy.


Around Christmas of 1951, Turcanu and ten of his collaborators were called to the

prison’s main office, where they were put in chains and sent away by van, no one could

imagine why. Everybody soon learned about their departure and thought the unmaskings

at Gherla had either come to an end or reached their final stage so that Turcanu was no

longer needed, and had perhaps been transferred to take up his long-awaited and much

anticipated activities at Aiud. Turcanu had often bragged, “Soon I shall leave for Aiud, to

accomplish the unmaskings of the leaders there.”


He and his collaborators believed that they were being taken to Aiud, the next step up for

them, as just reward for all their hard work. A man who traveled with them in the same

prison van later related, “During the entire trip, all the way to Jilava, they all sang, and

enjoyed themselves as if they were going home. When we drove by Aiud, and did not

stop, they thought they were being taken to the Ministry of the Interior to be freed,

remembering the promise by the Communists to reward them in consideration of their

merits. Even at Jilava, during our first days there, Turcanu talked about novels and

cowboy movies, and was relaxed, even radiant, and satisfied.”


But one day, an officer from the Ministry came into the cell occupied by Turcanu and



“Why were you brought here, bandit?”


This was the first time since the beginning of unmaskings that Turcanu had been asked

that insulting question.


“I was brought here to be freed,” he answered, somewhat disgruntled.


“You bandit,” growled the officer, “you were brought here to account for the crimes you

committed in prison.” And he left, slamming the door as he went.


The smug smile on Turcanu’s face abruptly changed into an impotent grimace, and that

was the last seen of him by any survivors. From that moment on, for more than three

years, as long as the investigation lasted in the Ministry on Victoriei Street, none but his

inquisitors and their families saw his face.


Following his departure from Gherla, group after group of inmates, both tortured and the

torturers, were taken to the Ministry of the Interior. As the re-educated continued to leave

on these trips, the Gherla prisoners were sure that Turcanu must be engaged in the

unmaskings at Aiud and was getting more collaborators from Gherla to step up the work.

But after a while, some of those who had left began to return, and the strict orders by the

Ministry not to utter a single word about the reason for their trip to Bucharest, was not

respected by all of them. Little by little, almost everybody except those who fanatically

believed in the practice of re-education by violence began to realize that an investigation

was going on. But no one really believed that punishment of Turcanu was conceivable;

they did not understand Marxist dialectics, and so reasoned on the basis of their poor

“reactionary” logic. So almost everyone remained sceptical, believing this was only a

new trap. Besides, no sensational purging had taken place in the higher echelons of the

Party, and nothing had changed at Gherla either, where terror still ruled and everything

was proceeding according to the most perfect Communist pattern. Furthermore, as time

went by, the terror intensified, punishments becoming more severe for infractions that no

inmate had ever heard of. Lieutenant Avadanei was more and more brutal and the spirit

of O.D.C.C. continued to dominate undiminished over the entire body of prisoners.


But on the dark depths of terror at Gherla, like a glimmering light, a reaction was








The reaction began with prisoners who escaped unmasking because the process had

been abandoned. Some, who had been fortunate enough to escape that hell, knew

nothing of the unmasking technique and could not understand what really had happened.

They knew nothing of the terrifying moulding of a “new man” or of the depth of the

inflicted wounds, which many of us believed could never heal. Others, who had come into

direct contact with students and personally experienced the nature of the monsterman

that had been created over a period of five years, nevertheless asked themselves in

astonishment when given time to think, “Can these things really be true?”


What constitutes a still greater paradox, however, is that a large number of victims, even

among the students, could not see that they had been used as guinea pigs in an

experiment. They regarded what had happened as nothing more than a passionate

unleashing of the hate normally generated by the Party’s ideology, or as a sort of

drunkenness that broke the dams of reason when the Romanian Communists found

themselves the beneficiaries of an undreamed-of victory.


The body of prisoners who had not been re-educated fell into several classes according

to the way in which they viewed and judged the phenomenon.


The majority did not comprehend at all what it was all about; they perceived only the

physical aspects, the beatings or overt wrongs done directly to them, and they judged the

whole phenomenon in those terms, which after all were of only secondary importance.

Most of these prisoners came from uncultivated backgrounds and were by nature

disposed to interpret everything only through what they could see with their own eyes.

Their reasoning was quite simple: “Yes, I know they suffered; I myself was tortured

during my investigation, and perhaps I wronged others. But why did the students not stop

their nefarious activity immediately, when they were dispersed to workshops or work

colonies? Why did they continue to serve the administration and harm other prisoners?

Was it just to feather their own nests?” Discussion with these persons was quite difficult.

Their attitude was a simple one, without subterfuge and not openly hostile. To the query,

“What did you do to help the students come back to normal?” they would answer, “They

were better educated than we and therefore better able to understand what was

happening to them. How could I risk my skin when I knew that if I got close to one of

them in good faith, he would immediately denounce me as an enemy of the

administration, and then where would I be? I’d have to suffer the consequences!” And

they would cite the example of workers who initially wanted to help but were betrayed.


A second class, small in number, was made up of those who, prior to their arrest, had

generously collaborated with the Communists, hoping thus to be forgiven their

membership in various political parties. In any discussion, these men deliberately

created confusion between their own voluntary acts of collaboration and acts resulting

from conditioned reflexes. Their reasoning was even more elementary than that of the

simpler folk. “Man’s soul is weak,” they explained, “and subjected to fear and pressure, to

hunger and the uncertainty of the morrow; it gives in; it cannot stand fast in a position of

resistance when faced with and pressed by the forces in power.”


There was yet a third class composed of individuals who all their lives had done nothing

but seek positions of vantage. They posed as victims, with a thinly disguised intent of

making themselves heroes of resistance, then, equipped with a record of imprisonment,

they intended to make political hay out of it, in some cases, as agents provocateurs. This

class avoided contact of any kind whatsoever with the world of the re-educated.


But a few of those incarcerated at Gherla their numbers increased as time passed tried

to understand the phenomenon and the real motives for the experiment. They understood

what you could call counter-re-education, adopting an attitude of uncompromising

hostility toward everything that smacked in the least of the spirit of re-education. This

brought them into conflict, not with the administration, as would normally have been the

case, but with the re-educated students so strongly affected by the experiment that they

seemed to have identified themselves with it. Any questioning of the new truths they

professed with such fanaticism constituted a new torture almost unendurable perhaps as

painful morally as their unmaskings.


Endeavoring to clear a path toward re-establishment of contact with all the re-educated

who had been consumed in the inferno at Gherla was a work that often was punished by

incarceration which, in a Romanian prison, meant confinement in a cubicle whose

dimensions are such that the prisoner is forced to remain in a slightly stooped, standing

position; he can neither sit nor lie down nor stretch up.


Thus much time had to pass before the atmosphere changed sufficiently to make living

together in cells bearable, and reciprocal mistrust was dispelled. And in the meantime,

the suffering caused by the re-educated was great.







The scene takes place in the Gherla prison yard, several months before Turcanu and his

collaborators were transported to the Ministry of the Interior.


An inmate walks in an inner courtyard surrounded by the four walls of the buildings, an

area of several hundred square yards. His hands clasped behind his back, his head

bowed, he was deep in his own thoughts when some noise made him lift his head and

look up. That instant, Martinus appeared in front of him.


“Bandit,” said Martinus, “you look skyward, believing that the Americans will come from



The inmate lowered his head without a word.


“Bandit, why do you lower your head? You look at the ground because you despise me,

is that it?” A prison guard who stood nearby watched and smiled.


The inmate was ready to answer, since he did not know this fellow Martinus, did not know

at the time what was going on on the fourth floor, and besides he did not like being

addressed in this manner. But one of his cellmates who did know was able to restrain him

with a look. In a cautious whisper he said, “Don’t answer. This is the most powerful man

here, below the director. He can do anvthing to you.”


The inmate stared after the departing Martinus, who did not wait for an answer but wrote

down the victims name to be scheduled for unmaskings. He had guessed by the inmate’s

silence and look that he was another “enemy of the working class”!


In the same courtyard, at the hour when the night-shift goes to work, two pallid-faced

inmates were talking. A student slowly edges closer to eavesdrop on the pair. There is

some racket in the yard, due to the unrest of several hundred prisoners who have been

waiting for more than an hour for the roll call before going into the workshop. The two

continued their conversation, unaware of the eavesdropper. The next day one of the two

was ordered to report to the political officer. When he arrived, he was given a round of

slaps in the face. Surprised, he asked why.


“Bandit,” he was told, “you dare ask why! Do you not want to come to your senses?

What were you discussing about Hitler last night as you stood in line waiting to go to



After more slaps and kicks, more yelling and swearing, the desperate inmate frantically

tried to recall everything they had talked about, and finally remembered that his friend

had asked him why he looked so ill. He had answered that he had an “icter recidivist,”

which is Romanian for “return of an attack of jaundice.” The eavesdropper heard instead

Hitler redivivus (Latin for “Hitler revived”) and had reported to the political officer that the

two had been discussing politics, which was forbidden, and hoping for the return of



Any information reported by the re-educated was accepted as absolutely the truth and

the denounced inmate had not the slightest possibility of defending himself successfully.

It is not that the political directorate of the prison believed that the re-educated ones

never lied, but whether their reports were true or not, they provided an excuse for

punishment, which is all the officers were after anyway. They considered each inmate a

personal enemy who deserved nothing but extermination, by any convenient means, but

preferably through routine procedures.


So long as the entire shop and technical office leadership was entrusted to the students,

the oppression by the administration was not exercised directly, but through student

intermediaries. They were the ones directly responsible for whatever went on in the

workshops, the quality and quantity of products, for discipline and for output. Whoever

did not show enough zeal was considered an opportunist, indifferent to being a leader,

and consequently sent “to work down below,” which is the Communist term for being

downgraded from a function, but here really meant to be sent down to work under

infernal conditions.


Large numbers of the re-educated could not be employed as administrators because,

contrary to the prevailing bureaucratic practice, the positions were few. Those students

who did not excel in re-education practices were sent to work side by side with the rest

of the prisoners. And in order to get promoted to a desk job, which some of their

colleagues held, they almost killed themselves working, exceeding the norms by truly

phenomenal percentages. Other workers began to exceed their quotas, not so much to

get into the good graces of the political officer as to be left in peace by the re-educated.


Thus began a hellish competition. The “norm-setters” had a very special mission: to

observe the quota production as closely as possible and report within twenty-four hours

any increase. Next day, the increased production became the norm, and the cycle

began anew. It was not too long before the initial quota was exceeded by 250%, which

then became the new minimum quota! To show you how difficult work became under

these conditions, I shall give one example out of thousands that occurred in Gherla



In the winter of 1952, an order of tubs for washing clothes was received from the military.

The riveting of the sheet metal lining the tub on the inside was initially timed at 92

minutes. A prisoner was expected to put out eight units in his twelve hours of work. Three

months later the re-educated reduced the time to 30 minutes, a speed-up of 300%.

When I was put on shop work, my quota was 28 tubs in 12 hours. During the summer of

1953, this was increased to 38 in 12 hours. A worker who riveted 10 tubs in one shift

during the winter was considered as exceeding the quota; by summer, if he did 35, he

was punished for not meeting his quota, and put on half-food rations.


* * * * *


The student informers and the sadistic administrators cooperated efficiently in keeping

always full the incarceration cells, the black room, and the isolation holes the three

ordinary means of punishment. I shall describe them for you.


Incarceration cells. These were tall, narrow, box-like structures about 6 feet high and 16

inches square. A prisoner was forced to stand in one for from eight to fifteen days,

except when he was taken out for work each day. If, as frequently happened, the

numbers of prisoners exceeded the number of box-stalls available, two prisoners at a

time were squeezed into each vertical coffin and locked in. To force their bodies in, the

guard had to use his fists, kicks, and much swearing before getting the door finally

pushed tight enough against their bodies to be locked.


By the end of the first two days, the prisoners’ legs turned into stumps, with no feeling in

them, and the body, due to lack of mobility, restricted circulation, and the kidneys’

inability to function normally, took on a queer shape. But this form of punishment ran its

normal course, as I have said, in from eight to fifteen days, with prisoners extracted for

the 12-hour work period each day. In graver cases, however, the director decided the

victim should spend all his time, day and night, in the box except for two trips to the



The worst feature, perhaps, was that these boxes were set directly on concrete flooring

so that in sub-zero weather the wretches locked within were turned into frozen mummies.


Hardly any one was able to pass twelve hours at a stretch in one of these boxes without

passing out. This was caused partly by a lack of air. The only source of air provided was

a small opening of a few square inches in one side, but if there were two men in the box,

the back of one covered up the hole, making breathing more and more difficult.

Fortunately, as more boxes were built by the prisoners themselves, the boards were

loosely fitted with a space of one to three millimeters left between them through

negligence, or through ... foresight, allowing a little air to reach the victims.


When all boxes were full to capacity (and never in the three years of the O.D.C.C. terror

were they unoccupied, not even for a few hours), the prisoners were crammed into a

black room.


The Black Room. Every prison in Romania had one or more. The rooms were called

“black” because they had no windows, air or light, with only one door into the corridor of

the prison. About nine feet square, they were designed to hold two prisoners, but director

Goiciu would put as many as thirty or even more unfortunates into this small space.

Prisoners were stripped to underwear and if necessary crushed one over the other in

this permanently vitiated atmosphere, with but a single uncovered bucket, no bed, no

blanket, no water, nothing to lie on but the cement floor or the bodies of those no longer

capable of standing up. Nobody could sleep. If in winter this crowding was somehow

bearable because the bodies warmed each other, in the summer it became an

indescribable inferno.


No water was allowed in this black room, on orders of the director, and the stench in the

place became unbearable. In order to get to the bucket an almost impossible effort was

necessary and consequently many renounced it. And terrible scenes took place in this

writhing mass of suffering men. In order not to urinate on the floor, out of a sense of

decency, the prisoners actually fought to get places near the bucket, even though there

the stench was unbearable. Summers brought on an endemic attack of boils, winters

caused pneumonia that became galloping tuberculosis. The spirit of irony among the

prisoners was yet alive however. They christened the two places of torture “mon caprice”

(the incarceration box) and “mon jardin” (the black room).


Isolation. A third form of punishment, more grim and more dangerous than the others,

was the regimen of isolation. An entire floor of the old prison was reserved for those

whose guilt was considered too great for a sentence of only ten days in an incarceration

box, or three weeks in the black room. Isolation carried a sentence of three months or

longer, and though the prisoners were apparently separated from the floor reserved for

those dying of tuberculosis, the brooms for housekeeping, the barrels of water, and the

clothing to be laundered, were all thrown together so that germs could be spread freely

over both floors. The isolation prisoners were permitted a walk of 15 minutes every day;

the rest of the time the yard was used for the sick “who had more need of fresh air.” This

deliberate mixing of the sick and the healthy was nothing other than premeditated

homicide. But who could make even a gesture of protest?


Nevertheless, knowing the great risk to their health, the prisoners committed premeditated

acts of gross disobedience in order to be sent to isolation; at least they could sleep or lie

down all day there. But things changed. A re-educated inmate was responsible for

ending this prisoners’ paradise. While in isolation, he reported to the director that

prisoners coming there did so on their own initiative, in order to get out of working in the

shop. Immediately, food rations were cut in half, and to the most recalcitrant, cut to one

quarter; beatings for no reason were initiated, on invented charges; and because the

political officers were accountable to nobody there, they turned the torturing of prisoners

into a daily ritual of entertainment.


The contribution of the re-educated was to supply a constant stream of occupants for the

incarceration box, the black room and the isolation floor. Of their victims so punished,

more than 75% contracted tuberculosis, and ended in the cemetery. The director

permitted the prison doctor to transfer a prisoner to the T.B. section only after blood

appeared in his sputum. But by then his fate was sealed.


I shall give you one example.


A youth of about twenty years named Onac, a peasant from the Bihor region, had been

condemned because he “wanted to overthrow the regime,” but, having the strength and

the pride, it seemed, of the very mountains where he was reared, all the harassment of

the administration, all the provocations of the re-educated could not budge him. His

determined posture made him hated by the stoolpigeons and he told them off at every

opportunity; while they in turn kept their eyes on him, looking for the first opportunity to

denounce him to the director.


One day, as they walked toward the shop, this opportunity came. Onac, to again show

his contempt for one of the informants near him, turned to one of his friends saying, as

he pointed up to the corridor bell, “This bandit ought to be hanged by the bell’s tongue,

for he is one of the worst.” Since Onac was imitating the manner and language of the

re-educated, the informant could see that they were talking about him and reported

Onac’s remark in this twisted fashion:


“The director is going to be hanged on the bell’s tongue when the Americans arrive!!”


Without any further investigation, Onac was given 15 days in the box. It was winter.

Dressed only in shirt and underpants, he was there only a few days before contracting

pulmonary congestion and the doctor, also a prisoner, prescribed the available drugs

and wanted him sent to the infirmary. But instead, the director threw him into the black

room, where his congestion turned into pneumonia, then into galloping tuberculosis. In

less than two months after his incarceration, mountain-strong Onac met his death. When

it was known he would die, he was moved into a cell serving as a morgue in the yard of

the tubercular prisoners. Here he was visited by the student who caused his plight. The

remorseful student, face to face with the dying man, and kneeling, tears in his eyes,

asked for forgiveness. But the dying young giant now wasted, only stared at him, without

a word.


He died the next morning, a sad and foggy morning, the kind of which there are many in

prisons. His corpse was left on the cement floor of the morgue where he died, for two

more days. In the evening then, after prisoners were locked in their cells, amidst a heavy

silence in the courtyard, a guard and two common law prisoners carried him to his grave

not in the nearby cemetery, but on the bank of the River Somes, in a spot where only

prisoners were thrown. He was denied a Christian burial. The hole had been dug that

morning but by evening was full of water because the river level had risen, soaking the

banks up to the grass roots. When they threw him in, the water splashed out on the

bearers like a last protest against injustice by what was left of this gallant boy.


Onac’s case was not unusual or remarkable. Every prisoner who survives will have an

Onac of his own to tell about. More than one perhaps thousands; the differences are only

of nuance. The cause of their deaths, however, will be always the same: they were the

victims of other victims.


* * * * *


It was summer of 1953. Together with us in a cell at Gherla was, among other prisoners,

a student from the Polytechnic Institute. The noon meal was just served, with everybody

holding his mess-pan (there were no tables in the prison), when another student, who

was the last to come in, said jokingly, “With the last transport yesterday, Turcanu was

brought back.” His words fell into the silence like a bombshell; the three students who

shared this cell lowered their mess-pans, seized by panic, the one from Polytechnic

being so frightened he dropped his to the floor and just stood there bewildered. His face

became all of a sudden waxlike and he was incapable of uttering a single word; it seemed

his entire being was seized with a weakness that paralyzed even his thought. All three

boys looked at each other, waiting it seemed for something to happen to show them it

wasn’t true. Actually, it was not true at all, and the jokester said so. But this did not help

matters much. For three days and more, in spite of the endemic hunger they suffered as

prisoners, the three students could eat nothing. At every slightest slamming of a door

they shuddered and looked up in terror, expecting Turcanu to enter and resume the



Later on, one of them told me that they were so terrified because they were just

beginning to emerge from the madness of Pitesti and realized that the O.D.C.C. would

never forgive an abandonment of the “principle of re-education.” Several months after

this occurrence, one of the students with whom I had discussed problems in general as

well as what had happened to them, warned me that if unmaskings were resumed we had

better hide nothing we told each other; that as far as he was concerned, he would do just

that. “For you,” he said, “as a matter of fact, it will of course be much easier, because

you know nothing of the reality of the experiment proper, while I will be considered a








The prisoners at Gherla who wanted to understand the psychological phenomenon

represented by the re-educated, and to help the victims, if possible, had to proceed

warily. They had to circumvent the opposition of their fellows, some of whom, fearful of

risks that might involve them, tried to prevent any effort or contact, while others, who had

experienced nothing like unmaskings, thought the re-educated must be all irredeemably

evil by nature or else mere weaklings. One had also to avoid attracting the notice of the

administration, particularly the political officers who kept a very close eye on the

students’ activities, and finally, the re-educated in themselves represented an awesome

danger. Extreme caution was called for; in fact, each man worked on his own so that, if

he were denounced, others would not be exposed and the true extent of the action would

not be suspected.


One of the greatest difficulties was finding re-educated individuals who would not

immediately report any remark to the political officers.


The element on which the Communists normally relied in dealing with political prisoners

was a breaking down of the prisoners’ faith, loyalty and trust in their country. For this

reason, they kept the political prisoners generally isolated from news of events within as

well as outside Romania, because any favorable news, especially of events outside the

Iron Curtain, had a remarkable effect in keeping hope alive in a large proportion of the

prisoners. The institution of unmaskings, however, stopped all leakage of information

from outside, and the political officers saw to it that all news, filtered through their stooges

to the prisoners, was always favorable to the socialist front. Such fabricated news,

designed to poison the minds of those hearing nothing else, was repeated insistently

month after month, until its details became axiomatic. All were convinced that Soviet

Russia was preparing for the great world revolution that would soon conclusively establish

Communist rule over the entire globe. If there was any doubt of this, the officers used as

their best argument a recounting of events which purported to be proof of the defeatist

policy of the West.[1]


As to the situation within Romania, the students knew that collectivisation was already

accomplished and generally accepted by the populace, either through fear, opportunism

or belief that it was an improvement. The general feeling was that at least a part of the

“injustices of the past” were being alleviated by the Communists, and that in any case

everything was tending toward stabilization of a new order too powerful to be resisted.


The prisoners, furthermore, could not learn the true state of affairs in other prisons, and

they mostly assumed that unmaskings went on in all as they did at Gherla, and perhaps

even outside the prisons too. When unmaskings were discontinued, they thought this was

only a temporary measure and the practice would be resumed later on, so that

everybody would have to undergo the experiment and have his character so modified as

to be unrecognizable. This conviction was so deeply rooted in their minds that much

later, when almost no one lived any longer under the imperium of conditioned reflexes, a

group that was being transported back from some lead mines to Gherla and saw the

window shutters of the prison closed, immediately concluded that unmaskings had

naturally been resumed and they were to be punished for some “betrayal.” The

somewhat tragicomic part of it was that those who were most frightened were not the

students, but the ones who had earlier accused the re-educated students of cowardice.

The students themselves expressed no fear, only a mute resignation, and acceptance of

implacable fatality, should the unmaskings be resumed which they were not, as it turned



Of all Romanian prisons, the most difficult situation from some points of view was at

Gherla. The prison at Aiud did not have enough re-educated students from the canal to

control the entire prison population, and at the canal there was a sizeable group who had

a chance to revert toward their normal state because they had come in contact with a

group of former army officers, mainly Legionaries, who had been sent direct to the canal

from prisoncamps in Russia, and had thus escaped unmaskings themselves. Also, the

situation there had been definitely stabilized following the changes brought about after

the death of Doctor Simionescu. Only about ten students still maintained the position of

the re-educated, but were kept completely isolated from the other prisoners and could

thus do no harm.


So, since at Aiud prison there were not enough of the re-educated to be in control, and

the transferred prisoners did not find Turcanu there after all, or even a program of

unmaskings, some students began to experience a moral recovery. This was partly made

possible by the presence at Aiud of political prisoners who had been prominent

personalities and influential members of their respective parties, and who did not fear the

consequences of exercising a strong moral influence over the incoming students. They

assumed that this would be taken for granted inside prison walls as it had been outside,

and they were right. The staunchest elements of the Legionary Movement and of the

National Peasant Party were represented at Aiud.


The situation, however, at the three lead mines, Baia Sprie, Cavnic, and Valea Nistrului,

was somewhat different. The pressure exercised by the re-educators was not great, for

no administrator ever went down into the mines; it was not safe. And an “accident” could

happen anytime, and who would know in the depths of the mines how a huge boulder

happened to fall on a stool pigeon? There were no safety devices or precautions in the

mines and accidents could and did happen very easily and frequently. So affairs down

there were left largely up to the prisoners in those extermination pits. The re-educated

thus presented no problem to the miners.


But, as I have said, at Gherla it was different. Here, the political directorate took the

legacy of re-education seriously, partly because the technical office, composed of

engineering students, contained several re-educated members of notorious reputation.

Octavian Tomuta, a senior at the Polytechnical School at Bucharest, as devoted to the

administration as he was capable, was head of the planning office and responsible for

the overall production, a sort of technical director. Every section was headed by a chief

who had been re-educated, though officially these posts were entrusted to some

non-commissioned officers of the militia. Eugen Munteanu was in charge of “labor and

wages,” which gave him the opportunity to penalize in his own way: withholding from the

“bandit” prisoners the pittance to which they were entitled for a month’s labor. Duta,

Bucoveanu, Costachescu, Danila, were eight more ears for the administration. To this

group could be added former Communists now condemned because, during Antonescu’s

administration, they chose the role of informers, sending their comrades to prison or

concentration camps. All these groups learned that there were some among the

prisoners who were trying to help re-educated students recover their former selves, and

they sought by all means to hinder this activity by sending those so engaged (when

discovered through informers) into isolation.


In the spring of 1953 a small number of re-educated students began to break away from

the herd, seeking to regain their equilibrium; but some of them turned informer again and

as a result additional prisoners ended up in isolation. The effort would have resulted in

complete failure, or at least any success would have come much later, had not an

extraordinary event taken place in the spring of the same year, namely, the death of

Stalin, and with it the modification of Russian policy toward the occupied countries, at

least on the economic level.


Through the dissolution of various Sovroms (Soviet-Romanian exploitation companies in

which Romanians put up the capital and raw materials, and Russians took half the

profits), the Danube-Black Sea canal plans were disrupted. It had already been rumored

that the budget allocated for the entire job had been used up when only a fourth of the

work was finished, and that the various geological surveys had been done so

superficially and unreliably that many repeat probings, and other unforeseen obstacles

resulted in greatly increased costs. But the lack of finances was not the only reason the

canal was given up. The Russian technicians were withdrawn when Sovroms were

dissolved, and there were no Romanian engineers to take their places. Almost all of them

had either been condemned to prison or murdered. And so, work at the canal was

virtually paralyzed.


It also happened just at this time that the World Festival of so-called “Democratic Youth”

was opened and the canal compounds of forced labor stretching along the

Bucharest-Constanta Railway[2] constituted a thorny problem for the regime. To disclose

this expanse of wretched camps and dying slaves to foreign visitors traveling to the

seashore by train would reveal the true nature of Communist “democracy,” and give the

lie to Soviet propaganda.


The “Ministry of the Canal” was therefore obliged to effect a hasty evacuation of all

prisoners from the area and into the northern part of the country, where they would be

hidden from the eyes of the curious. (Three years later, a migration in the opposite

direction was to take place during the Hungarian uprisings[3] when political prisoners

were evacuated by night into the interior, remote from the Hungarian frontier.)


After going over the files hastily, the administration sent, in a matter of a few days, almost

2000 prisoners to Aiud and Gherla, in sealed cattle cars. Those considered most

dangerous to the regime were initially slated for Aiud and included some National

Peasant Party members and particularly Legionary Youth members; but they ended up,

along with the 800 already scheduled to go there, in Gherla prison. Among the 800 were

150 students who had undergone unmasking at Pitesti but who, while at the canal, had

experienced recovery. Thus the ranks of those who were trying to snatch the

re-educated from the clutches of the administration swelled all of a sudden, and efforts

with re-educated students became open and aggressive.


The administration reacted accordingly. Incarceration boxes and the isolation section of

the prison were filled to overflowing. Director Goiciu and Sebesteny, the new political

officer, imposed penalties on prisoners so fast that facilities to take care of them were

quite inadequate. Complicating the problem was that, as a result of a new directive from

the Ministry of the Interior, all prisoners who had come from the canal were taken to work

in the shop. Controlling them became impossible. Informers for the administration were

openly threatened by youths from the canal, and even by their former colleagues in

unmasking, and they began to get scared. A wave of disobedience that would have been

inconceivable a month earlier led to failure in fulfilling work quotas. To the newcomers,

Gherla’s working conditions seemed infernal by comparison with those at the canal, even

though they knew several thousand of their fellow prisoners had died exhausted there.


The severe measures taken and the penalties imposed by the administration subdued

somewhat the enthusiasm of the newcomers, but the inevitable occurred. The wall of

treachery with which the re-educated had surrounded themselves was shaken to its

foundations. From now on, students engaged one another in open discussions, often

argumentative, and little by little the ranks of those awakening to a new life swelled.

Apathy and stubborn resistance changed gradually to a warm receptivity. The soul’s

depth, long hidden and inaccessible, now began to awaken and break the chains of



And, at this strangely opportune moment, towards the end of August 1953, over 200

Legionary “campers” were brought from the Ocnele-Mari prison and added their

contribution to the struggle for the students’ recovery. The “campers” were prisoners who

had been arrested but not tried and sentenced, and prisoners whose terms had expired

years before, many of them having been thrown into prison during Antonescu’s

administration. They were shifted out of Ocnele-Mari at this time because that prison was

now to be used for officers of the Ministry of the Interior being arrested and sentenced

following various purges of the ranks of the Communist Party. Many of these “campers”

helped in rehabilitation with enthusiasm as they found many old friends among the

students at Gherla.


Toward the end of 1953, the question of re-education was discussed freely in the cells,

not only between nonre-educated and re-educated, but among the prisoners in general,

with a view to clarifying the phenomenon per se and establishing a general position with

respect to it.


The reaction of the administration, very vigorous at first, slowly became weaker; it could

no longer stem the current of opposition, and the intrigues and uncertainties that followed

the liquidation of the first group of the Communist Central Committee made the

administrators worried and anxious for their own future. The hesitations of 1953 and even

more those of 1954 were fatal. The experiment began to die. Penalties were imposed

more often than not as a kind of reflex action from hate and futility rather than in any

hope of regaining control, of maintaining the impossible. And in losing their source of

information through defection of their informers, the administration lost control over the

soul and the thought of the prisoners.


It is true that they tried harsher and harsher penalties for the students, but the results

were just opposite to what they expected. The re-educated accepted their punishments

as a sort of necessity for the re-establishment of a disrupted equilibrium, and also a kind

of penance. The severe regimen and reappearance of chains in the special cells,

became thus a certain stimulant, a verification of budding life just beginning. Communist

oppression and brutality was again triggering a natural reaction.





       -It must be remembered that Bacu wrote in 1957, when there were still some careful

observers who believed that there was a “free world” whose governments really tried to

“contain Communism” or, at least, wished to see the spread of the inhuman tyranny

inhibited. (Tr.)



       -I.e., that portion between Cerna-Voda on the east bank of the Danube, and

Constanta. (Tr.)



       -See Ch. XXX.







Though many friendships had been formed among anti-Communist fighters in local

organizations or in political groups, many were broken in the course of this tragedy

especially those formed between students and non-students. In contrast with normal

times, when every political party was organized into groups along social or professional

lines, the “illegal” anti-Communist groups drew from all classes. Social differences were

submerged in the common fight for liberty. That is why a kind of amalgam resulted, in

which all individual differences were melted away, leaving the only thing that mattered:

the love of country and freedom. But through the forced submission of students and

workers to the unmasking experiment, this bond was broken; so that now, when

circumstances again made it possible for men to meet again, a way had to be found for

re-establishing communication between them, even within the same cell.


Relaxed tensions following abandonment of the policy of re-education naturally did not

bring the students back to participation in normal prison life. They were a species apart,

and conscious of the profound differences that separated them from their fellow inmates.

Thus there could be no contact between former friends, no approach of one to the other,

no means of communication. The terrible mutation of re-education separated them as

effectively as an impenetrable wall.


Breaching the wall could be attempted only by those who had been able to maintain their

souls intact and had, furthermore, a compassion which they wished to share with those

so desperately in need of it.


In order to make an initial approach even possible, one had to study and understand

thoroughly the psychopathic phenomenon as a whole, and then try to make some

aperture through which to reach the consciousness of the submerged personality without

deepening his alienation. That was extremely difficult, and one had to proceed with great

caution. I shall outline the way several close friends and I tried to do this.


At first, when the atmosphere was heavy with suspicion, we would approach the

re-educated persons working with us and pretend to agree with them, just to get a

conversation started. When the climate seemed ameliorated, we tried to re-establish their

self-confidence, but make no reference whatever to unmaskings, not even through a

remote hint. Gradually, slowly, the concepts and values that had been destroyed by the

re-educators were revived by a kind of inverse process as individuals were shown an

affectionate sympathy and understanding of their suffering, and were convinced of our

desire to do the right thing. Many times such conversations had to be continued for a

long time before we could ascertain just what guilt was searing the soul of an individual,

but as soon as we were convinced that our interlocutor was prepared to bear it, we

initiated a discussion which included him as a guilty party. We then could proceed to

probe the true problem, that of determining who was really responsible, personally

responsible, not only for the crimes committed but for the initiation of the fearsome

experiment in the first place.


The majority of the students had had a faith so strong that it survived deep within them in

spite of every attempt to destroy it, and when circumstances made it possible, it

re-appeared as if from hibernation and proved to be the determining factor in recovery.

We are concerned here only with students who were victims before becoming torturers

or simple informers for the political officers. The other persons, who were sent into the

prisons as tools of the Ministry of the Interior or the Communist Party itself, or who

became willing stooges of the regime, must be left to the justice that inflexibly punishes



The resurrection of the values which had been superseded by re-education was not in

itself too difficult a task, as frequently a simple stimulation sufficed to impel the person

back to his former equilibrium. But one real obstacle, very hard to surmount, was the

haunting fear, locked into every fiber of the unmasked victim, that any day the

re-education terror might be resumed. Life inside the prison did nothing to dispel that

fear. To be convincing, an argument that the terror was ended had to be based on

evidence from the outside, even from the course of political events outside the country.


To encourage a feeling that events might be changing things for us in prison, we used all

kinds of information gleaned from newly-arrived prisoners, or through the good will of

prison guards innocent of “class-struggle” theories. Under the circumstances, prisoners

put their own interpretation on the various bits of information and fitted them to their own

wishful thinking. Whether their interpretations did or did not correspond to reality did not

worry us in the least. The essential thing was that they allayed the fears not only of the

re-educated, but also our own, for we could never really dismiss from our own minds the

possibility of an instauration of the Pitesti experiment, having observed the oscillation in

prison of the various forms of terror from maximum to minimum and back, with no

apparent relationship to political events in the country. So we cannot be blamed for

thinking anything was possible.


In addition to alleviating that fear of the re-educated, we had somehow to destroy also

their conviction that Communist Russia was invincible Russia where, as indeed in any

country under Communist domination, one has no means of ascertaining what facts, if

any, lie behind official claims and declarations. But the re-educated had lost all power of

discernment. Their only truth was that which was decreed by the Communist Party’s

official paper, and the students had no other source by which to judge it. So, attempts to

refute with reasoning and argument the lies that had paralyzed their ability to think were

worse than useless. (This can also be seen in the Western world, where various

co-existentialists, or “useful idiots,” are products of the same intoxication.) We found that

a well-placed joke or witticism accomplished more good than an hour of argument.


A soul that has been submerged for years has more need for a warm word, we found,

than for logical explanation; like a plant kept in the dark, it needs the sun more than