“That cross gave me the possibility of resistance without the alteration of my soul”

Mr. Stănică, please start by describing the prison in Pitești. What did it look like?

In terms of the internal structure, it was a prison based on pillars and concrete tracks. The rest, in terms of construction geometry, was a T, with the cell at the bottom of the T, ground floor, and the upper part of the T were administrative and hospital activities, including room 4 – hospital, which was a room about 12 metres long and about 5 metres wide. The rest of the prison had a wire fence between the ground floor and the upper floor for possible suicide attempts, which had to be ruled out, and which occurred because of the harsh penance endured, which emphatically proved that this modern prison could be given to the youth who needed to be put on a better path. The building itself was very poor from an acoustic point of view. It was easy to hear what was going on between the cells, on the mobile phone, because these transmissions were made in Morse code between the prisoners. That’s what Pitești was like.

Can you now give a definition of what the Pitești phenomenon meant?

Pitești was a sad event in the life of the nation, because the main conceptual idea for which it was conceived, to form a prison of high hardness, was about the destruction of youth. Everything that belonged to the past had to be destroyed, and the past, for the future, referred to the youth, to the Romanian students, who had to pass through Pitesti, especially after the re-education system had been set up, with all possible care and detail, starting in Suceava with Bogdanovici and Țurcanu, and then reaching certain high levels of repression in Pitești, which no civilisation can be proud of.

Can you tell us how the fighting started in the room you were in?

When we arrived in Pitești, on a winter’s day in the rain, we were first imprisoned in the basement, in a room that was also equipped with a tower, a Turkish cupboard. The room had two rooms: one, a living room at the entrance, which was larger, and the second, which also had a cupboard, which formed this means by which we knew from the beginning everything that everyone was thinking, because we told each other stories. Apart from the newcomers, there were also the old ones, who had been re-educated and who had the task of recording the events in each other’s lives so that they could later make up subjects for discussion, these debunkings. We were taken to this room sometime on 10 February 1950. In these rooms, called solitary confinement, where we stayed for about a month, various circles, various students, met and told each other of their exploits.

Well, at one point a militiaman came and invited some of us, by name and number, to go to another part of the prison. He wanted to take us to Hospital room 4. Room 4 Hospital was a settlement, a room, as I told you, on the first floor. When you entered it, there were beds on the right and left, and on the bottom line of the beds. The so-called leaders of the re-education sat on the right. The first one was Țurcanu Eugen. On the left, by the window, there was the cross of a church, which was my salvation. This cross gave me the possibility to resist without altering my soul, after about 45-50 days of torture. They were methodically attacked and beaten. This was the room 4 hospital, the main torture chamber in Pitești.

How did the beatings begin?

After we entered the room, we found ourselves on the right side of the room with some students, some boys who had books. I thought it was something extraordinary, I’d never seen anything like it. And they had these books on communist propaganda, one of the most expensive of which I remember was the book by Anton Semyonovich Makarenko – ‘Flags on Towers’. I thought that repressive thinking had improved and that they would give us the opportunity to read. Where the hell did it come from, because the next day, at a sign made by Țurcanu, those we found in room 4 of the hospital lined up and made a corridor full of sticks, clubs and broomsticks and started beating the others. At first there was some ambush, in the sense of a reaction, but then all the others were taken out and beaten, along with yours truly, until we stopped resisting and began to carry out the orders given to us, which were a whole series of excruciating tortures.

How long did the beatings last?

For the batch that went in, it lasted about a month, after which they would assign you to different cells and call you from time to time: “Have you thought about it, bandit? And if, in the meantime, they found out that another citizen from another batch had made a statement: “You don’t want to say it, you were evading?” or “Did you say it with a lying thought? Then you’d get into a new ambush, a new fight. Very different and very nasty, draconic, apocalyptic aspects, because you couldn’t resist, you couldn’t get out of this mess. Some people even went so far as to commit suicide by throwing themselves through the stairwell, which is why they had to put up wire mesh around the stairwell and the floors.

Can you go through the beatings you personally experienced and tell us if they left any physical marks?

Sir, these beatings were coupled with a series of beatings and afterwards where you would sit on the edge of the prici, not allowed to lie down or sit with both arms outstretched – if you let them, they would start beating you again…. There are things one can’t say. Not that they’re embarrassing, not that they’re humiliating, but you’re destroying yourself as a mind, as a human being. It was apocalyptic, you had the impression it was the end of life, of the earth. The beating on the soles of your feet was not easy to bear: they held you down and beat you with clubs on the soles of your feet. And Țurcanu had these blows when he knocked you down, when he jumped on you with his feet; he hit you in the liver… they were terrible blows. You couldn’t feel the force of them because you’d pass out from the pain, you’d go numb from fainting, you couldn’t feel anything.


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