Gheorghe Ion Munteanu

* 1920  

  • So in 4 years from Craiova you then... so from Craiova you went to Gherla. Yes. You did not stay long in Gherla, right? Yes. And then Stoeneşti, Salcia. Were you in Măcin as well? Yes, in Măcin. And how was it there, in Măcin? Pretty much like the others, there wasn’t that much of a difference among them. If you were honest they couldn’t find fault with you. They gave us even some books to read there, and stuff. What kind of books? Only books of... political books, that sort of thing. And there was the chess game they gave to us as well... to pass the time... I did play some chess. Where were you staying in prison... in...? In huts. In huts. What did they look like? They were wooden huts. So there was no fire.... there were many of us in there, truth to tell. How many? 600 in a hut. 600 you say. 600 in a hut. There was one who was... I think he was having fun with doing this to us so... that morning we even gave him a name… I don’t know what his real name was, we didn’t care about it, had no reason to care. But he was forcing us to go out through that door real quick. And did he beat you? With... or... Well, he had... the name we called him came from this... he had this cudgel, about 50, 60 cm long... but he did not hit us, he was just spinning it round his head. Where was this? In Brăila. In Brăila. There were many of us there and we couldn’t just go out the door like that, easily. So we were cramming together, what else to do. We tried to guard ourselves, but he did not hit us. You were released in... one moment, you were released on the 12th of April 1964. When, how did it all go? Well... umm... How did it all happen, that day? Of the release? Yes – how did it all happen? Well, we were notified... in the morning at breakfast, that we were not to go out to work that day and that we should come to the office. There they gave us these... they gave us a barber, all kinds... they gave us the clothing, it was ironed and all, gave us everything... and told us we were to be set free, and that we shouldn’t go talking about what happened to us.

  • Can you still recall how you got arrested? How did it all go? How did they arrest you? Well, they put me in a car in the station, took me from the station master’s office, as the station master remained in my place, because I was on duty, and they put me in the small car, took me home, searched my house. At home... they found this ID card... from the war. And because of this I was sentenced again... So you were in the war? Yes, I was, on the front. Which front? The... the Eastern one. In the East then... Since when, which year? Since 1941, then on June 11th 1942 I got wounded and was declared disabled and they sent me home, and then I didn’t go again, didn’t... ??? What was I doing there, he asked, and I said it wasn’t my choice. Either I went, I could get shot, but if I did not go... if I didn’t go... I’d still have been shot, so then I went, and I was lucky to escape with my life, what do I know, and all these... I was in the 41st brigade. I did it voluntarily in ’58, I was there two years before. So... Yes, at 20, I was 20 years old. So you were in war... and the reason why you got arrested was because you fought on the Eastern front? No, he asked me about that as well when he interrogated me. „Swear it. Have you been on the front?” „I have”, I say. „But they had it noted down that I took prisoners, what happened to me, he was a sergeant. After you were arrested, where did they take you? To Craiova. He had found my military card here. So he cooked up all sorts of reasons, that the king, and Antonescu, and all that... but they were the leadership at the time. I was just an ordinary man who had to carry out my duties. So they took you to Craiova and placed you in arrest? Yes. In Craiova. And for how long have they kept you there? How long were you kept there before the trial? From January they kept me, till... uh... april, or so. So from January 1959 to April. Yes. Yes? In interrogations. In interrogations? Yes. Up to the trial. Yes How did the interrogations go? Interrogations... The cross-questioning, how did it all go? They was asking me questions... but only during the night... So you were only questioned during the night? Yes, the questioning. It was never done during the day. Who was questioning you? Do you remember? Yes, I do... Do you still recall what the interrogator looked like? He was a senior lieutenant. And what sorts of questions did they...? I was... Were you beaten? Did they beat you during the questioning? Yes, I see... right, right. So, they took you in a room in Craiova. What sort of room was it, what did the prison cell where you were questioned look like? Yes, it was in the basement... In the basement. Yes, down there... I was alone. Alone in your cell? ...for a couple of months, then they brought in somebody else. Who was it? Do you recall? No, I don’t, I can’t remember...

  • So this is what you did after... so you were in Stoenesti, Salcia, at Măcin Yes, that’s right. In Tulcea county. Yes. And in Periprava as well. Yes. And, uh, how long did you spend... So you were arrested in January ’59 and released in ’64. Yes, I was. 11th of April 1964. Yes, April ’64. What did they give you to eat in prison? What sort of food? In Craiova? In Craiova they’d give us... like, military rations, something like that. So worse food than the soldiers would get. How’s that? Worse food? Well, now food... it was of course the worst, but there was no bread... only about 100 grams (3.5 oz), that was all. 100g of bread per day in 24 hours. Well, what to say... the tea, the food... I survived. Thank God I was healthy and even now I’m healthy, for I didn’t indulge. And, uh, how whas the food in Stoeneşti or in Salcia? At work there it was a bit better than in... in the questionings. So you did labour in the camps? In the labour camps in the Denube Delta, that’s where you worked? Yes, I worked there, yes. What sort of work did you do there? I was building this dam, and I was carrying material by wheelbarrow up to 150 meters, on a plank, and the dam was 30m wide at the bottom and 15 at the top. Anything else... so this was at... where was this? Where did you do this work? Umm... in Balta, in Brăila. So in Brăila. Yes, there. And when I was sent to Tulcea there was this committee that came and... they chose among us who should go to the reed plots. What was the labour like on the reed plots? Just like... equally bad as in... What were you doing? in prison I mean, but it was... What were you doing on the reed plots? Where were these plots? Well I was there first for... umm, the work in the fields and they then chose us who... I was with the intellectuals, they didn’t put me with the workers, they was saying we’d fill their heads with stuff, or something like that. So they gave me to a... sent me to a farm there which was raising horses. And I was there all winter, there was also priest Vlădoianu there. Have you met anyone else... anyone special... in the 4 years of detention or... excuse me, the 5 years? I met Fulga, the general, or whatever he was, I met him at labour there in Brăila and from here from Târgu Jiu there was also my cousin, Munteanu Şerban, a priest. And there was another one, Roşca, also a priest, and that’s who they put me with, as I was, sort of... Manualy skilled? They put me in charge of a group, 10 people. For giving account, and keeping order among those intellectuals. And I also met other priests from Transylvania, catholic priests, others. They kind of picked up the priests, like that. I was honest there, had no quarrels with anyone. What we was ordered, that’s what we did. I kept the records of the guards’s rotation, and for the hard labour... when they was asking for men for work for the military, to peel potatoes. I mean I was keeping things in some kind of an order, among us there. And with the measurements, I was doing those, and the commander oversaw all that. I made do with... my hands.

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    Gorj county, Romania, 22.02.2007

    duration: 41:22
    media recorded in project Prison Experiences in Communist Romania
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“Well, now food... it was of course the worst, but there was no bread... only about 100 grams (3.5 oz), that was all. 100g of bread per day in 24 hours. Well, what to say... the tea, the food... I survived. Thank God I was healthy and even now I’m healthy, for I didn’t indulge.”

Gheorghe Ion Munteanu
Gheorghe Ion Munteanu
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

Ion Gheorghe Munteanu, labourer, born 1 January 1920, in the village of Bărbătești, county Gorj. Currently living in Târgu Jiu. On January the 6th 1959 he was placed under arrest by the Secret Police (Securitate). He was interrogated at the secret police headquarters in Craiova, and badly beaten by senior lieutenant Cioflan Ion. He was tried by the Military Court in Craiova and sentenced to 15 years hard labour, 7 years loss of civic rights and 70 lei legal charges (see criminal sentence no 174/10959). He was released on April 13th 1964, as a result of Decree 411/1964. He was imprisoned in the following detention places: Craiova, Gherla, Stoienești, Salcia, Măcin, Tulcea și Periprava. His wife and 3 children had a lot to suffer as a result of his detention.