Lucian Plapşa

* 1927

  • In what prisons have you been? First I was to Jilava. Then were Pitesti and Gherla. For a short period of time I was at Aiud, labour colony Peninsula and Midia Cape. How many years did you serve? Four years. I was sentences to three, but they kept us for one more year without specific condemnation. When we asked why they kept us there for a longer period than our sentence, the prosecutors responded that: “Is better for you to shut up, because you misled the investigation and the Securitate!”. And we continued by asking why they did not give us the complete sentence from the beginning. They responded that our behavior was watched, meaning reeducation, and then took the decision of setting us free or keeping us for a longer period. Probably from Turcanu I received a negative vote. I asked to see my file from the Securitate a few days ago and I saw they profiled me as legionary, although I wasn’t. I was only 13 years old when were the legionary movements. Did you have any political sympathies? Indeed for the National Peasant Party and for the good sides of the legionaries. Were you part of a legionary movement? No. I had a kind of sympathy for a part of their message, meaning the romanianism. Still, I stood faithful to the ideas of the National Peasant Party. I guess the Securitate needed a motive for my arrest and probably all members from my group were considered legionaries. Did you have any contact with legionaries in prison? Not much. I mean I wasn’t sure who was legionary or something else, for me all were students. Did you have any contacts with your family during detention? My grandfather came once to see me at Canal. He died in prison during collectivization. Have you ever been sick? I had an infection while I was at Canal, but my luck was that one from the colony had penicillin. Did he get a package? Yes, of three kilos. The family had the possibility to send you things like cigarettes and bacon. What were you working at Canal? I was working at the dike and barrow. There I obtained a clear occupation. I tried to learn as much as I could from a craft man. I stood in that place for a half of year then they moved us. I had already finished my sentence of three years and I was transferred to the Cape Midia. At Midia I was used for diggings and other works. It was a difficult work for us who were so young, but we tried to manage in those circumstances.

  • I together with the other pupils from my high school had participated in many occasions to anticommunist manifestations, being part of a group guided by Sebesan. We organized as an organized which had as principle to fight against the Russians together with the Americans. One of us established connections with the group from the mountains. But, immediately after this episode we were arrested. I guess that one of the members of our organizations had spoken and from individual to another, they found out who we were and arrested us. How was the time spent at Pitesti? When I was in the centre of the cell 4-hospital I saw a lot of individuals who were shaking when the interrogations were organized by Turcanu. I was investigated by one called Bogos. His father had been prefect of Suceava, so he was of good family. We had to endure hours and hours for they to beat us with the belt over our faces while they saying: “Tell us the true, you bandit!”. Coming back to your arrest. Were you in the same lot with Sebesan? No, I wasn’t. I was part of a smaller organization. Who was the leader from your trial? Were Popescu Gheorghe and Leonida Titus from Iasi- both of them became later torturers. Popescu was shut together with the other members from the lot of Jilava. He probably was the smartest from our class, but he had a unilateral education: study and only this. Thus, he was weak and wasn’t capable of resisting to the beatings. So, did he give up because of the torture? I am sure this was the reason. Leonida was a guy with a practical sense, but… I remember that an individual at some point told me that I should not condemn Titus. I got angry on him for saying that, but later I understood that Titus has been constantly beaten up by the securitate officers, until he gave up and affiliated to the group of Turcanu. How many people were in Turcanu’s group? Approximately 12 individuals. They were used in different cells. Is possible to have been more than this, but I saw 12. Did they act at Turcanu’s order or by their own initiative? They acted influenced by Turcanu. In addition, they were reeducated by Nicolschi’s way of thinking, who was inspired by Makarenko’s model. From pressure combined with violence, they gave up. In this environment you needed physical and mental resistance. For example, I used to contradict Turcanu all the time. Once he took me in the “bombardment room”, like we used to call it, where he was beating and investigated us. He used violence against me, but I didn’t want to confess. The other members from the organization supposedly declared that we have wanted to attack an airplane at Mosnita. But, this was impossible given the fact we had only three guns and we were just some adventurous kids. I was brave when he opened this discussion, but he applied the maximum of his violence by beating me until I fell and hit my had on a table. I continued telling him that I had nothing to do with the episode he was talking about and that I didn’t know anything about that. I guess you had to declare something during the investigations from Securitate. I remember something about Captain Adam from Securitate, who intervened for me not be beaten up. He told me what the accusations under which I was brought there were and asked me to confess that I have given a gun to the organization. I told him I did not give the gun to the organization, but I have given it to Murarescu for repairing it. Then, he brought Murarescu for confrontation. Once he entered the room, Murarescu declared I have given the gun to the organization. Due to his confession, the captain said he did not need my declaration anymore, considering that already there persons have declared the same thing. Thus, I got away due to Adam, because I probably would have recognized other things because of the torture. I declared what we have established before the beatings from room 4, but if some of us wouldn’t have resisted we declared the same thing from Securitate. To extent all of us managed to keep to this plan, I don’t know. Each of us resisted more or less in accordance with our physical and metal possibilities. How much time did you need to recover after an episode of torture? I managed to recover quickly, because in boxing only the first ten punches in head are meant to impress you. They put in the centre of the room 4, which had approximately 16 m2. From that point I was able to observe each individual’s behavior. The majority of them were not used with punches or physical pressure and they gave in. One of the prisoners had gone insane because of the beatings. I remember he was from Suceava as Turcanu, and he was telling him that the communists were using him and then they would have got rid of him. For this, Turcanu was using an extreme level of violence on him. He did not recognize anything and remained faithful to his own beliefs although this meant insanity. Was it possible for him to simulate insanity? No, he wasn’t faking; he was beaten too many times. Was it possible generally speaking to simulate for escaping the beatings? No, no. Turcanu was a good psychologist. He was smart enough to baffle our plans and he was instructed by Nicolshi and other superior officers. While I was sitting in the centre of the room I was thinking that I also had the possibility to do the same thing as Turcanu. But, I wasn’t like him. A few resisted the pressure. One of the prisoners was a karate fighter, which helped him. Turcanu was beating him constantly until he got tired given its resistance. How tall was Turcanu? He wasn’t that tall, but he was square shouldered and had food. Was he separately fed? Of course he was fed in a special regime. Did they come to help him? Yes, all the time he asked for them. The action was well organized. Do you know something about the first fight from Pitesti? Vaguely. The fight was provoked by the director of the prison, Dumitrescu. He provoked the prisoners to fight each other. The guardians also participated to the fights. There were guardians who used belts to beat us. Was it possible to resist the beatings from Pitesti? At Pitesti they put under test everyone’s limits, and each of us had his own limits. The only solution was for you to resist as much as you could. Yes. And mentally to recover after. Some of us did not have the possibility to recover. To what were you thinking for recovering mentally? I practiced autosuggestion by repeating “I am not scared”, and after repeating over and over you let yourself to believe that is certitude. This helped me plus the years of boxing. How old were you when these things happened? I was 20 years old. How much did you weight? I guess I had 46 or 47 kilos considering the alimentary regime.

  • Do you remember a special day while being arrested? Well, were so many…For example, after a period of time was brought in our group an artist from Bucharest…today is invited to all sorts of shows. The brigadier was also from Bucharest and tried to protect a little bit him. So he sent the artist to perforate the cliffs, which did not imply a great effort from his part. I felt it was my responsibility to yell at him for not helping the elderly who were put to endure difficult works. We, the young ones were exchanging places most of the times with the elderly for protecting them. I remember an old man who asked for my help in his knees. After helping him he tried to reward me by giving a part of his package, but I did not accept. It was a great satisfaction for me being capable of helping him. Bad memories are also many. Once the brigade did not finish its shift and were obligated to work for two shifts consecutively. The prisoners revolted against the situation until the guardians intervened with nightsticks and violently beat us. When we were receiving packages they had the custom to weight them for not being bigger than 3 kilos. I remember a sergeant who proposed me to speak with the commander Chirion for making me a foreman. He was trying to convince me by arguing that the students were fighting a lot and it was better for me to be protected. I categorically refused him. I met him once I got out from prison and he had become an informer for the Securitate. I wasn’t surprised, thinking that once a beat, forever a beast. Another bad memory is when we were sent naked at Neagra in November for two nights. Where was Neagra at Jilava? On the left once you enter the prison. At some point I felt the cold was killing me. There was a skinny guy whom we tried to save him from hypothermia by warming him with our bodies and by forcing him to do some exercise. We felt exhausted, but if we haven’t done it we would have got ill of pneumonia. At some point we started to scream until the commander came and released us from Neagra. I was sent also at Neagra from Pitesti, but it wasn’t that cold like Jilava. Do you remember a commander or guardian? There was Borcea awho was a beast. Once a newcomer was arriving at the prison he was transforming him from a good guy into a best. I remember a case when he managed to transform a quiet guy into a bully who was used for the beatings when the packages arrived. To become a militia you needed to be sadistic. And once Borcea had reeducated you would have become one. Also the guardians were used. Yes, they were used. I am not sadistic, but I felt satisfaction when I saw one of the guardians, also a bully, caught under a wagon. But, we were beaten extremely for that episode. They considered all of us guilty for his death. What was the most tasteful dish you eaten in the prison? The beans, which was served rarely. At Jilava was the worst food ever. One of the prisoners had manufactured a kind of balance for weighting the bred. Once the guardian saw the tool, asked him what he was planning to do with it. The prisoner responded that he would do justice. His answer infuriated the guardian who responded him: “Why did not you do justice in your bourgeoisie society? Here you plan to do justice?”. Then, he started to beat him.

  • Did you have any problems with employment after detention given your status of political prisoner? Yes, I was fired three times. Also, I was expelled from the Chemistry Faculty. Once I finished my sentence I forwarded “n” requests of being reintegrated within the faculty. No matter where I was going, they told me “Come again, we don’t have jobs now”. I have tried in many occasions to find something, but it demonstrated to be impossible. Then I went to the Central Committee to ask why they forbidden me a job. And a lady responded me “You tried “killing” Dej and now you ask for favors?”. I told her it wasn’t a favor, but a right every person had. I wasn’t a murderer like she was suggesting. I was sentenced for “subversive actions against the social order”, but I did nothing against Dej’s person. When she saw I was confident she gave an advice: “You should not go on this line, because the Securitate is watching you all the time”. After six years of trying I was reintegrated at the Faculty. For how long did you stay at Faculty? Five years. The first three years were on pure chemistry – analysis and research. Then I specialized in industrial chemistry. I got a job at the factory “Azur”. After several years there they made me head of department. After this moment, I started to clearly be watched by the Securitate, because of my refusal of joining the trade union. I told them I hadn’t any obligation to do that. I was obligated to transfer to “Electrobanat”.

  • Did you feel the presence of the Securitate after release? Of course I did. I had under my surveillance 135 workers. They were investigating me all the time about the people who were in the factory and about personal details. Once I wasn’t head of department, I wasn’t investigated so often by the Securitate. I was main engineer actually not head of department, because of my status of former political prisoner. Once they interrogated me at the Securitate until 2 o’clock in the night. They wanted to scare me by putting the projectors to my face. The officers were investigating our situation after detention. They were asking if I had met with other members from the organization. I told them I did not, but they continued interrogating and watching me. How did the Securitate officers treat you? Did all of then beat you or were there exceptions? I guess surveillance is a job too. I realized that you needed tactics and courage to do those things. Some of them were acting like psychologists, but most of them were beasts, meaning they knew only violence, not making analysis. I felt how they were watching me all the time Do you feel anger towards those who tortured you so many years? I feel disesteem. I do not consider them humans, rather trashes. Every society has its trashes, besides values. So, in these circumstances, the weaknesses of a society come to light. I do not accuse anyone, because I am not sure about what my behavior would have been in their circumstance. Of course I am not referring to the case of the criminals like Turcanu. You cannot condemn then collectively, considering they were not all alike and guilty for the same crimes. To understand the situation from prison and Canal you should transpose in someone’s place. Thus, you cannot accuse a person of its acts if you cannot understand the motives for which he took those decisions.

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    Bucharest, 06.04.2007

    duration: 03:03:11
    media recorded in project Prison Experiences in Communist Romania
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Every society has its trashes, besides values. So, in these circumstances, the weaknesses of a society come to light. I do not accuse anyone, because I am not sure about what my behavior would have been in their place. One cannot condemn collectively.

Lucian Plapşa
Lucian Plapşa
photo: the witness

He was born on 7th of November 1927 at Bucovat, Timis County. He studied at Chemistry Faculty, having a degree as engineer. He was arrested in April 1949 and  was sentenced to three years of prison, but he served 4 years at Timisoare, Vacaresti, Jilava, Pitesti, Gherla and Canal.