Mihai Timaru [EN]


Army lieutenant sentenced in 1950 to 15 years of hard labor for the „crime of conspiracy against the social order”.

Mihai Timaru

I fought until the 23rd of August. I fought on the eastern front, and I destroyed the ghost-train of Ilyshevka kolkhoz, on the Odessa line; on the 16th of October, Odessa fell; on the 18th of October came Marshal Antonescu to give thanks; I was among those decorated, because I had participated myself in the destruction of that ghost-train. The Military Virtue, first class, was hung to my chest; Marshal Antonescu congratulated me; I don’t know what made him ask me, „Where are you from, brave man?” „I am a son of surrendered Transylvania. My parents were left prey to the abuses of Horthy’s soldiers, and I have come as a volunteer to fight for the cities of our Stephen the Great.” I was convinced that I would fight not only for those cities, but also to liberate my native village. He took a visiting card from his coat and extended it to me. He said, „You may need it.” The king… I was very touched, and tears ran down on my cheeks. King Michael was shaking hands with us, and he stopped and wiped my face, the tears on my cheeks. And the Marshal said, „Rest assured that you will fight to liberate your native village too.”

/…/

After Germany capitulated, all the countries that had been occupied by the Russians were surrendered to them by the naïve British and Americans, and they began to build up their power. They formed a division from the prisoners taken in the East, a division named Tudor Vladimirescu, with help from communists, to whom country and God didn’t mean a thing, communists who had fled there – Ana Pauker, Valter Roman, Bodnaras, etc. They made officers from the lower ranks, without the necessary instruction they were supposed to get, then scattered them around. The headquarters of the 3rd Auto Training and Repairs Battalion, where I belonged, was in the town of Roman when the democratization of the army began.

/…/

At one meeting, which took place in Roman, one of those political activists from the Tudor Vladimirescu Division offended all the senior officers there, and General… I forget his name, an important man, a great Romanian officer, who was commander of the 21st Division in Brasov. They gathered us there by force to explain us that Bessarabians had never wished to be reunited with Romania, because they were feeling fine with the Russians, and they wanted to be with them. I stood up and asked him a few questions to which he had to answer… Anyway, I’m not going to cite the whole discussion. I told him he had also fought on the front, and asked him, „What was your grade, and what unit did you command?” „I commanded a battalion.” I said, „Then why didn’t you come before your unit when the Marshal ordered the army to cross the Prut river and tell him: ‘Over my dead body, for I refuse to fight against my beliefs’? I think you were born a communist,” and I added, „We got rid of an invader only to face another.” This is how we signed our own sentence there, in Roman, at that meeting at the officers’ club. I was a very respected man in my unit, and they asked me to retract all my allegations, but I refused. They made me a lot of promises, they said I had a „healthy” origin, I was coming from a needy family, and so on, and that my place was with them. All the favors I refused… And my ordeal began.

/…/

I had to stay at command, without permission to leave the garrison. Then I was put in reserve and I left Roman. I went to Panciu. The picturesque scenery and the spirit of my brother attracted me, and I settled down there. A former officer, I traded my sword for the vineyard tools. Together with General Vartic, Colonel Raianu, Major Facaoaru, who had been my teacher in officer school, who… In „47, when the King was deposed, most of us, officers, were arrested; he was the chief of Panciu police – Securitate had not been created yet – and he helped me out. That is, he arrested me, but after 48 hours he released me. And he advised me to leave the town for a while, until things cleared up.

/…/

That being the situation, I heard that resistance groups were formed right after 23 August in Prahova Valley: The Black Coats, made up of former officers and non-commissioned officers alone, that is, from all categories, both superior officers and lower ranks, and so on. Many such groups came into being. I could not, I simply couldn’t help answering the roll when it happened in Vrancea region. A group was formed. A few students from Panciu and Crucea de Sus respectively, where the group leader, Ion Paragina, was born, Captain Voinea Octavian, teachers, Zdru Aristide, a teacher from Slavici High School in Panciu: these formed a resistance group.

/…/

I contacted the Paragina group. In the beginning, I didn’t take to the woods, but I had a very important mission: I had to contact everyone, as I had been an officer, to contact all the former officers and the intellectuals in the Panciu region, and train them for resistance combat. Collectivization had begun and everything, there was much discontent among the peasants, among the inhabitants of the region. Of course, the circle was closing in, and I was forced to join the resistance group in the woods, which operated near Mosinoaiele cloister; that is where I had to operate too. Naturally, as a former officer, I came with my armament. I had an assault rifle I had used on the battlefront; I had managed to keep it and procure more weapons. My task as an officer was to train both the young ones – for there were youngsters who had not been in military service yet – and the elderly, who had forgotten; we were preparing for defense; we didn’t plan to attack any objectives, because it would have been fatal to us; it was for our own self-defense, for our security that we needed certain weapons… Ion Paragina asked me to be his aide.

/…/

Before being arrested, two Securitate men were infiltrated in our midst through captain Anghel, Nicolae Anghel from Clipicesti, an ex-active officer of the Romanian army; they had managed to win him over to their side and, through him, introduce in our midst two ex-Securitate men, Usurelu and Vrabie. On 18 October „49, they managed to arrest us. On the night between the 17th and the 18th, I came down from the mountains, from Tiharaia forest, to see my newborn son; he was 40 days old and I had never seen him, so I came to see him in secret. And Ion told me, „My dear, let’s meet at Apostoleanu’s mill, and from there proceed to Clipicesti, to Anghel. He is going to give us some weapons I want you to see.”

/…/

I had a dark foreboding; something was going to happen to us. We arrived at Clipicesti. Vrabie came along with Ion to meet me at Apostoleanu’s mill, and Usurelu stayed back in the woods with the others. We left. Vrabie says to Ion, „Ion, give me your pistol, I’ll carry it for you, you’ve carried it long enough.” We were about to climb up a hill, more like a hillock, and Ion gave his gun to him. Then he tells me, „Give me your pistol too.” I reply, „Vrabie, a sheep that does not wear its wool will have it eaten by the wolves.” He swallowed the pill. We arrived at Anghel’s wine cellar. Nobody was waiting for us. There was a faint light flickering inside the wine cellar. Vrabie opened the porch door – there was a living room at the front, then a vestibule, and the wine cellar at the back. Ion entered the vestibule first, and after he entered, Vrabie kicked me in the back, pushing me in, then closed the door. We were awaited by a few horseback Securitate men, who jumped on us. I saw a light in front of me, there was an icon of the Holy Virgin with Jesus in her arms in the corner, and the Securitate man with his rifle, ready to shoot at me. I kept my pocket pistol ready to fire, as always; I pulled the trigger, but instead of hitting the Securitate man who was about to kill me, the bullet hit the icon and knocked it down. In the meantime, our heads were being pounded; Ion was already knocked to the ground, and I heard a shot; I was shot in the foot. They went on pounding at us, then I heard a voice saying, „Enough, we want them alive in Galati!”

/…/

I was bleeding from head to toes; I saw they had broken Ion’s skull, and I was shot in the foot; they tied us – „Tie them up!” They tied me and Ion with barbed wire, they tied our hands and feet, and dragged and threw us into the van, which took us to Focsani. In Focsani they took us out, bandaged us a little, then, still in ties, we went on to Galati – to the penitentiary, not to Securitate headquarters.

/…/

A month elapsed and they didn’t take us to any interrogation. On the night they took us there, I mean it was almost at dawn, the colonel said… It was no other than Mauriciu Stiul, Moritz Strul; he was the commander of Targu Mures Securitate. At Targu Murs, he had slain the Rastolnita resistance men, and now he had come to liquidate the resistance of Vrancea region. He asked, „Which one of you is Timaru?” „I am,” I replied. „You bandit! Look here, I’m the one who put your brother behind bars! And your friend, Grigorescu, too. You could have shared his fate. I’ll tell you what happened to Grigorescu!” Naturally, I was going to find out: he was caught, shot dead and thrown on the outskirts of the village of Rastolnita.

/…/

After we were told all that, we were taken to our cells; one month passed without anybody disturbing us. Meanwhile, the wounds were not cured yet, but our overall state of health had improved. One month later, we heard that new arrests had been made, they had caught… Our group was divided in two – the old ones and the young ones. It was a safety measure. From the young group, Cristea Paragina and Gheorghita Balan succeeded… Winter was coming, and we had had to move to the heart of the Vrancea mountains, near the Bridge Waterfall. They were not captured, and neither was Father Filimon Tudosie, the superior of Brazilor monastery near Panciu. The rest had been captured, among which some students who had been in contact… from all the high schools in the area, from Panciu, Focsani and Tecuci.

/…/

We were usually taken to the showers on Saturday on Sunday. A barber, a common-law convict, would come and shave us, and so on; in midweek, on Wednesday, they came and took us to the showers, shaved us, and everything. We used to believe in these things, it was customary to make the toilet of those who were going to be shot, executed. Naturally, the rumor spread around the cells like wildfire – they had come and taken away Ion Paragina and Mihai Timaru, to bathe and shave them. At lunch, I heard Tiharaia, no, Ursoiu, ask, „What happened to you?” „We don’t know.” We had expected them to take us and set us up, take us to a reconstruction, claim we tried to escape from the escort, and shoot us. Our heads were filled with such thoughts and impressions. During those conversations, I remember the voice of my father-in-law, who had also been arrested: „Ursoiu, this is Deochetu.” Deochetu was the name of his vineyard. „How are you doing?” „I don’t know, Deochetu. Take care of Lucica and Toader for me. Take care of them, for I’m going the way of all flesh.”

/…/

After that, they took us out of the cell and to Securitate. It took some time, but I don’t know how long exactly: I had lost the sense of time; in the end we arrived at Securitate. I was in cell 1, Ion was in cell 20; all in all there were twenty cells. On the first day, nothing happened – we stayed each in his cell. In front of cell 1, where I was incarcerated, was a hallway; across the hallway was the toilet and the door through which prisoners were brought in, and next to my cell was the investigation room; their office was in the investigation room. The next day, after the meal was served, the guard came and opened the cell door, and said, „Stand up, on your feet!” And I saw colonel Mauriciu Strul, the Securitate commander, come in with a lot of attendants. He says, „There is Timaru, the bandit, and the others!” We were anxious. He says, „You, what did you have in mind, to topple this government? I pity you! You’ll see what’s in store for you!” So each of them passed by and spat me. Then they went to Ion, to the last cell, on the hallway to the bathroom and toilet, and did the same to him. Soon after, the arrests began. Between the door and the jamb there was a tiny gap. There were two superimposed iron beds in the cell; you were not allowed to stay in bed except when you went to sleep at night, so I had to stand by the lower bed all day long. And I could see, in the dim light – it was dark in the cell, but brighter outside, and I could watch through the gap… I was lucky to see, through that gap, all those who had been arrested, when they were brought in. They held us at Securitate for one year.

/…/

We are now at the trial; each of us is being identified. Then the charges brought against us – planning to topple the government and so on. Of course, I cannot… But I was quite fortunate, as the death penalty was not in force then. It was introduced later. And, surprise! Who was our judge? The head of the panel of judges – former political prisoners were judged by military courts. The head of the panel was captain, former captain Galesanu, whom I had rescued from the hands of the Russians, during a bayonet charge. I was an advanced scout, and I saved him from the Russians’ hands. Then the poor guy fell prisoner, and he returned to the country with the Horia, Closca and Crisan Division, not the T. Vladimirescu Division. Those from the two divisions, T. Vladimirescu and Horia, Closca and Crisan, were appointed heads of military courts. So, this man, who had been promoted colonel, was now in charge of Galati military court. He was our judge, in the trial of the Paragina lot. I had the privilege… He recognized me there. Of course he couldn’t… Well, he did his best to repay me for having saved his life. He reduced my sentence; the longest sentence was hard labor for life; Ion got 25 years, I got 20, then it was reduced to 15… My father-in-law was also condemned. The charges against him were: „Costica Bandrabur provided for the wife and child of the bandit Timaru.” But the wife and child of Timaru the bandit were Costica Bandrabur’s daughter and grandson respectively. Sure, he had put us in touch with… But neither I, nor Ion Paragina said a word, and the others didn’t know about his ties with the resistance group.

/…/

As my fate would have it, instead of being disembarked at Aiud with the whole group, some of those who had been brought from Galati were left at Aiud, and others were sent to Gherla. At Gherla, during the incarceration formalities, they asked me, „What was your occupation?” „I was in the army, an army officer.” They said, „And after you were discharged?” „I took up viticulture.” So they wrote in: viticulturist. That was it. They held me at Gherla.

/…/

I too was in the death room, room 99, that’s what it was called, the death room. Together with Popescu Traian, who is still alive, with Radu Ciuceanu, Caradia, Mindru, Zotul Vasile; a few of us are still alive, although we were the subjects of the last experiment, in which the utmost cruelty and barbarity of Nicolski’s butchers, embodied in Turcanu, was concentrated.

/…/

After a few months, I could not take it anymore. No-one could, believe me, not there. How can one dare say „I am one of those who didn’t go through the death room or hospital room 4, but if I had, I would have done so-and-so…”? Not a chance to hold out, once in there. There were two choices: either die, or give up. God alone could save you, only God… But after the tortures you were put to in the death room, you would lose your faith and everything. At some point, I could no longer resist, and I said I was ready to unmask myself too. They took me out of there and into another room. They usually brought cement-bag paper and a pencil, and you had to write down your own exposure, on that paper. Inform about all those you hadn’t mentioned during the interrogation. Abjure your faith in God, tell how you’d seen your father sleep with your sister, or your brothers sleeping with your mother, and so on. You had to avow all those monstrosities. We were eating like pigs, from tin kettles; food and hot hominy was poured in the kettles.

/…/

When I got there, I thought, „How could I possibly inform on all those who hosted me?” When I came down from the mountain, I used to be sheltered in their homes to meet my wife for 24 hours. This, that, my brothers-in-law. My brother-in-law Naica – how could I expose those people who had helped us and so on? In the end, I wrote down the names of party members and secretaries, claiming they had helped us, given us ammunition and so on. And all these papers were sent to the respective county or locality for verification and, finally, arrests. When the paper I had signed was verified, and they saw all the party secretaries, union leaders and so forth mentioned there, they sent it back. Then I was taken to a special room – they took me from room 99, to a special torture chamber, with cement floor. They trounced me. They sent the prisoners enclosed there to another place. Paul Caravia was there, and Florin, old Ilade’s son, too. They said, „This bandit is making fun of us and the working class. Instead of turning in the gangsters he claims to have quit, he listed all the well-meaning people and party members. He said they helped him, and so on.” And they thrashed me – Puscasu, Livinski, Popa Tanu, all of them. They stuck my head into a bucket full of feces. Up till then, we had been eating our own feces whenever we shat in our pants; they made us lick the feces on your pants, actually your drawers, it was only in your drawers. So they stuck my head in it. I had a moment of lucidity, when he said, „Eat this!” I said, „I ate mine, but I won’t eat somebody else’s.” Those were the last words I remember. Later I found myself in the madmen’s room, until I recovered, and from the madmen’s room they took me to room 98, next to death room 99; a Chinese cell was set up. They locked me in. There was a bunk inside, a wood bunk made of two planks. Behind it was the cell; it was a small cell, and there was an iron hook in the wall; they improvised… They tied me, with my legs spread out, tied me, here and here, to that wooden bunk; it was a piece of board about 30-40 centimeters wide. They tied my hands behind my back. They also put around my chest another contraption fitted with a metal ring, and pinned me to that iron hook in the cell wall; above me was a 40 liter, no, 15-20 liter container filled with water, with a hole in it. And Turcanu and his gang said, „Now, bandit, let’s see how long you can hold on!” So they kept me there, with the water dripping on me. Not long… Less time passed till it was over than since I began telling you… I felt something like an electric current going through my body, and I don’t know how long I stayed in there, how long they held me; I remember waking up in an annex cell, with Dr. Petrica Marinescu, may he rest in peace, holding my hand like this… Because of those… I contracted a kind of epilepsy… I cried all the time, and said, „Lucica, Toader, Lucica, Toader, don’t leave me! Lucica, Toader, don’t leave me!” I was screaming all the time. Then suddenly I woke up and saw my hands in Dr. Petrica Marinescu’s hands. He was sitting on the edge of the bed. In the infirmary, an annex of the infirmary. And I heard… Ever since they had put me in the Chinese cell and stuck my head into that, I hadn’t heard a single word; these were the first words I heard, on that occasion: „Mihai, calm down, reeducation is done with, and so is Turcanu and his butchers. We were transferred… Calm down!”

/…/

But my reeducation was not over. For me, it would start again. What was their purpose? Massive uprisings broke out in Vrancea; in the 50’s the whole region of Vrancea rebelled, and other revolts, three of them, followed. People on the Siret riverbank also rebelled, and others too. It was Cristea Paragina and Gheorghita Balan who continued the fight. Cristea Paragina fell in action. He died there. Gheorghita Balan was captured, sentenced to death and executed at Jilava. As for us, Paragina and I, they planned to set up a new trial, and frame us as the moral authors of everything that had happened in Vrancea from the beginning till „55-56, when they finally put down the Vrancea uprisings, one after another. But God helped me and I could not… I was taken before a… An officer came from the Ministry of the Interior, and the two political officers, Avadanii and Ciumasu, from Gherla. I went to the death room. My left foot was still broken, one of my ribs too, you can still see they were broken; and my bottom was not healed yet, my wounds were festering. And that man, Alupoaiei, if you heard about him, the poor man would come and wipe that with cloths dipped in urine, to soothe my pains.

/…/

They took me to that office. There was a desk, about the same size as this, with a chair in front of it, in the middle, for me to sit. The two political officers sat before me, and between them a uniformed officer, I don’t remember his grade, and how many stars he had. He says, „I called you here-„… There was a pile of declarations written on cement-bag paper on their desk. You know as much as I do what was written in them, because I couldn’t remember when I had given or written them. He says, „-To validate all of them.” Hearing this, I stood up. The clog I was wearing… My foot was wrapped in a cloth dipped in urine, to cure it… I took off the clog and threw it away, so they could see my foot wrapped in rags; I stood up, pulled down my pants and turned about… And pulled down my drawers, to show them… They say, „What are you doing, you bandit?” I say, „I want to show you under what conditions I wrote those statements, if it was me indeed.” „What conditions?” He looked at the two officers, as if asking if he had been brought there to be humiliated. To see that bandit showing his butt. His face turned red, he had gone mad, so red… He looked at the two, and they called the guard at once – „Take him to his cell at once!”

/…/

Three days later, I was taken again to the same cell… to the same office where this scene had taken place. The guard says, „Take a seat on that chair.” I sat there about ten minutes. After ten minutes, Avadanii and Ciumasu came in. They pounced on me, and began to pummel me until I was filled with blood; at the end, they dragged me out of the office like a loaded bag – down the stairs, and into a hall.

/…/

Liberation day came, on 29th to 30th. They gathered us all in a cell. It was interesting. Everybody was there, Ion Paragina, I mean those from Vrancea, the Voinea brothers, Octavian and Jean, the lawyer, and others. Of course, when, coming out of our cells, we set foot on the sidewalk in front of the jail, we could hardly believe we were free.

/…/

We walked away. I went to my brother; he gave me clothes, and I went to see my wife. She lived in Panciu, at one of my brothers-in-law. There was a short distance from the station to the center of the town. I had a brother who lived in that town too; he gave me everything I needed, some money too – he knew that my wife had been quite hard up. I found someone with a cart at the station, and asked, „Will you take me too?” „Where?” „I’m going to the center, to the Harabors,” I said. „Why, of course, I know them, I’m from Stranar too.” He took me, and we arrived. It was Sunday. The entrance gate, I mean the entrance to the courtyard, from the kitchen, was an open window. Across the kitchen was a small room, where my wife and child lived. At the front lived my sister-in-law with her daughters. There was another woman there too; the rumors had spread that political prisoners had been released, and so on. And that woman, who had never seen me before, only my picture, said, „Look, Lucica, Mihai is back!” When I heard that, I jumped the two steps to the hall, it was a long hall, and a door opened there, and my wife came out in front of me, and we both collapsed. My sister-in-law was cooking in the next room, there, in the back – the oven was at the end of the hall; and one of her daughters, Lucicuta, who had taken my wife’s name, said, „Mom, mom, look, uncle Mihai is here! Look!” Everybody was put on the alert. I had no idea about those kids, they were not born – only my son was born – when I was arrested, he was 40 days old. And my son came out too. I hugged him and my wife, he jumped and crossed himself. He cried, „Oh, God, oh, God, at last I have someone I may call father!” I and God alone know how much I suffered, what I went through; but God helped me survive to this day and bear witness; this is my testamentary obligation to those who perished. It’s my duty. And if anyone can point to me for having harmed him, let it be so. If I were to choose my way once again, I would follow the same path.

This article is a courtesy of Stefan Constantinescu, source: Archive of Pain (click on link to redirect)

2 răspunsuri la Mihai Timaru [EN]

  1. Mihai Timaru [EN] | Despre demnitate I was suggested this website by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my trouble. You are incredible! Thanks! your article about Mihai Timaru [EN] | Despre demnitateBest Regards Agata

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