In December, 1989, the Romanian communism disappeared as suddenly as it came to power. Free from fear and hunger, from dark and cold, most of Romanians wanted to forget this experience. They focused on living the present. The communist crimes and abuses stirred limited interest.
Despite the rather unimportant interest in communism, the repressive aspects of the regime started to be documented and displayed in the public space as early as 1990’s. Romanians found out that the political persecutions began in March 1945, intensified from 1948 to 1964, and ended in 1989.
Communist`s persecutions had known numerous and various forms. An important repressive aspect of the regime, which also embraced an ethnic component, was represented by deportation. Deportation affected more than 60 000 persons: Romanians, Bulgarians, Serbians, Germans, Jews, Bessarabians and Bukovinians, Macedo-Romanians, Megleno-Romanians, etc.
A repressive phenomenon, the deportation was anti-constitutional; both Communist Constitutions from 1948 and 1952 guaranteed the right to property and of free movement. In 1967, the deportation was recognized as having been “illegal” even by the communist authorities. Nevertheless, no person was rehabilitated before 1990 when a law finally recognized the affliction of people deported to the vast plain of Baragan.
On the night of 18th to 19th of June 1951, circa 44 000 persons from an area of 25 kilometres around the frontier with Yugoslavia, from the region of Banat and Oltenia, were deported to the south-east of Romania, on the actual territory of the counties of Braila, Calarasi, Galati and Ialomita. The deportees were allowed to take only belongings they can carry and a few animals. Their properties were bought by a state commission which gives them money without much value.
Deportees were put in special trains guarded by the Securitate and Militia officers. The long, feared and difficult journey ended after three days in the south-east of the country. People felt relieved when they realized they were still in Romania, Bessarabians feared a deportation to Siberia. Nevertheless, they were driven to another kind of Siberia, the Romanian one.
Upon arrival, the deportees were welcome by tracks which brought them to their new homes, most of the time, a wooden stick with their name put on it. Anguish, tears and panic characterized their first days of Baragan. Only human solidarity among deportees brought some consolation!
In the beginning, most of the deportees lucked drinking water, shelters and food. As they were forbidden to go anywhere away from their assigned area, they have to cope with thirst and hungry. Guarded day and night by milicemen, only small children could succeed to evade and go buying food from neighbouring villages.
After days in waiting, the authorities presented them the plans of their houses. They had to build them by themselves. Everyone had to take part to the construction process, including children, old and sick persons. Most of the people succeeded to build theirs houses before the winter came. Some of them paid a deadly tribute to the building process.
During the five years of deportation, more than 1500 people died in the Baragan plain. 175 were children less than one year old. The oldest person who died in the lagers was a man deported when he was 95 years old. He lived for more five years despite the difficult life imposed by communists.
The deportees succeeded in a short period of time to build theirs houses, but also schools, police headquarters, stores, etc. 18 new villages were settled by the deportees in the area of today counties of Calarasi, Ialomita and Braila: Viişoara, Răchitoasa, Olaru, Salcâmi, Dâlga, Movila Gâldăului, Valeea Viilor, Fundata, Dropia, Pelican, Ezeru, Lăteşti, Măzăreni, Zagna, Bumbăcari, Schei, Frumuşiţa, Valea Călmăţuiului.
In 1955, the communist authorities changed their politics. The mandatory places to live were dismantled. Most of the deportees were free to go back to their homes. If the Romanians, the Serbs or the Germans could go back, the Bessarabians, the Bukovinians and Aromanians had no place to return to. They were settled in Banat in 1941 and 1944 by the Romanian authorities. Therefore, they decided to stay in their deportation region. Some of them remained in theirs new villages; others went to towns.
Soon after the 1955 decision to set them free, the authorities decided to eradicate the deportees’ villages. Everything was demolished: houses, schools, cemeteries. Village after village was transformed in a fertile land for agriculture. The communists wanted to erase any trace of the deportation. Ant they were successful to some point. The material traces disappeared. Nevertheless, the memories of the phenomenon remained. Both former deportees and the inhabitants of the region remembered what the communist regime did to innocent people.
During communism, the former deportees do not dare to speak about their experience. It was a stigma that could have brought more persecutions! So, they lived their trauma silently. As memory can not be erased, painful memories burdened the feelings and the life of former deportees. They have never been domesticated. They hunted their sleep, but most of the time their insomniac moments.
Memories and Documents:
Andreca, Dumitru, Dezrădăcinaţii. Mărturii ale deportaţilor mehedinţeni în Bărăgan (The Wipes Out. Memories of the Mehedinti deportees in Baragan) ,Turnu Severin, Prier, 2000.
Brusalinschi, Dumitru, Deportaţi în Bărăgan (Deported in Baragan), Călăraşi, 2001.
Cernicova-Dinca,Tatiana Maria, Anno Domini 1951 (Bărăgan. Copilărie exilată) (A.D. 1951, Bargan. Exiled childhood),Timişoara, Editura Mirton, 2003.
Circiov, Rafael, Lagărul deportării (Deportation lager), Timişoara, Editura Mirton.
Konschitzky, Walther, Leber Peter-Dietmar, Walter Wolf, Deportiert in den Baragan 1951-1956. Banater Schwaben gedenken der Verschleppung vor fünfzig Jahren, Haus des Deutchen Ostens, Munchen, 2001.
Marineasa, Viorel, Daniel Vighi, Valentin Saminta, Deportarea în Bărăgan. Destine, documente, reportaje (Deportation to Baragan. Destinies, documents, documentaries ), Timişoara, Editura Mirton, 1996.
Marineasa, Viorel, Vighi, Daniel, Rusalii ’51. Fragmente din deportarea în Bărăgan, (Black Whitsuntide. Fragments from Baragan deportation), Timişoara, Editura Marineasa, 1994.
Mirciov, Rafael, Lagărul deportării pentru familiile de bulgari din Banat, (The Deportation lagar for the Bulgarian families from Banat), Editura Mirton, Timişoara, 1998.
Sarafolean, Silviu (coord.), Deportaţii în Bărăgan 1951-1956 (Deportees in Baragan 1951-1956), Editura Mirton, Timişoara, 2001.
Spijavca, Elena, Munci și zile în Bărăgan, (Works and days in Baragan), Bucuresti, Editura Fundația Academică Civică, 2004.
Ştevin Silvestru, Desculţ prin propriul destin, (Bare foot through his own destiny) Mirton, Timişoara, 2004, ed. 2.
Totok Wiliam, Aprecieri neretuşate (Unchanged comments), Editura Univ. Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Iaşi, 1995.
Vultur, Smaranda, Istorie traită-istorie povestită: deportarea în Bărăgan: 1951-1956 (Lived history, told history: deportation to Baragan 1951-1956), Amarcord, Timişoara, 1997.
Comisia prezidenţială pentru analiza dictaturii comuniste din România, Raport final (Presidential commission for analysis of communist dictatorship in Romania. Final report), 2006, p. 290-307.
Deletant, Denis, Teroarea comunistă în România. Gheorghiu-Dej şi statul poliţienesc, 1948-1965 (Communist terror in Romania. Gheorghe-Gheorghiu- Dej and the police state, 1948-1965), Iaşi, Polirom, 2001.
Deletant Denis, Romania under communist rule, Bucharest, Civic Academy Foundation, 1998.
Milin, Miodrag, Sârbii din România în Golgota Bărăganului (Serbs of Romania in Baragan Golgota), Uniunea Sârbilor din România, Timişoara, 2003.
Milin, Miodrag, Liubomir Stepanov, Golgota Bărăganului pentru sârbii din România 1951-1956 (Baragan Golgota for the Serbs of Romania 1951-1956), Timişoara, 1996.
Romulus Rusan (coord.), Morţi fără morminte în Bărăgan (1951-1956) (Dead without tombs in Baragan), Fundaţia Academia Civică, 2011.
Romanian encyclopedia on-line
Vultur, Smaranda, „Le présent du passé. Histoire vécue, histoire racontée: les déportés de 1951 (Roumanie)”, Cahiers de littérature orale, no. 42, 1997, p. 19-39.
Documentary Films and Playwrights:
Memorialul Durerii (Memorial of Pain), TVR, director and producer Lucia Hossu Longin. Two episodes dedicated to the deportation in Baragan and not only (1991-2006).
Epifania de la Rubla (Epiphany of Rubla), director Jon Gostin, TVR. A documentary film about the deportation in Braila county (2000)
A Nightmare Travel, director Florin Besoiu. A documentary film about the deportation of Germans from Banat.
Destiny of Germans, by Günter Czernetzky, Black Whitsuntide. Baragan deportation by Tiberiu Stoichici, Adrian Dragusin. Documentaries movies presented to an international symposium “Deportations. The treatment applied to Germans and other minorities in communist Romania”, Bucharest, 2002.
Fericita intristare a lui Andras Visky (The Joyful Sadness of Andras Visky), directed by Jon Gostin. The documentary received the 2011 award of The Romanian Filmmakers Association in the TV film category.
Julieta, a playwright about the Deportation in Baragan written by Visky Andras, staged at Cluj Napoca National Theatre.