George Fonea – The Prisoners’ Poet

One of the most impressive figures evoked by Aurel State in his book is Captain George Fonea. They met on the Eastern Front, during WWII, and shared a strong friendship.

George Fonea was born on February 22, 1912 in a village (Gogoșu) in Dolj county (Oltenia region). His father had died in WWI, so George and his brother, Florin, were raised by their mother.

He graduated from military schools in Craiova and Sibiu and was assigned to Cernăuți. He wrote poetry for various literary journals and had a volume of poetry published in 1935. His translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poems was published in 1938.

Shortly before being taken prisoner by the Soviets on May 12, 1944, he declines Major Joachim Ziegler’s offer to save his life and leave the front on a German speedboat provided by the Führer Headquarters: “It is true that I have no power to save anyone, but what would these unfortunate soldiers think for the rest of their lives remembering that I had abandoned them in such a crucial moment?” Soon after this he loses his left eye, being hit by a shell splinter.

When, after 11 years spent in Soviet prisons, George Fonea returns home, his health is seriously deteriorated, and he dies on October 29, 1957. Everything he had secretly written would be captured by Securitate. Fragments of his poems would survive in the memory of his admirers.

His funeral would be used by Securitate as a pretext to arrest those who had attended, among them Aurel State and Florin Fonea, the poet’s brother (who would soon die in hospital, because of the ill treatment applied during investigation).

 

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