Authors’ Biographies

This section of the blog contains the biographies of the following authors:
1. George Manu
2. Ion Gavrilă (Ogoranu)
3. Tudor Greceanu
4. Aurel State

5. Radu Mărculescu

George Manu – a biography that quotes the Introductory Study written by Silviu B. Moldovan

George (Gheorghe) Manu was born on February 13, 1903. Through his parents Ioan (Iancu) Manu and Elisabeta (Zeta Cantacuzino) he descended directly from Prince Şerban Cantacuzino and Prince Constantin Brâncovean. He was the grandson of General Gheorghe Manu, a hero of the Romanian War for Independence and founder of the Romanian artillery.

George Manu graduated from high school in 1921 (the last two grades in France). In 1925 he was awarded double major (both in Physical & Chemical Sciences and Mathematics) from the Department of Sciences – University of Bucharest. One year later he was awarded the Certificate of Higher Education in Physical Chemistry and Radioactivity from the Department of Sciences with the University of Paris.

During 1927 – 1933 he worked for the Curie Laboratory in Paris (The Radium Institute). He attended courses with the University of Paris, Sorbonne and with Collège de France. In 1933 he was awarded a doctoral degree (Summa cum Laudae) from the University of Paris with the doctoral thesis Research on the Alpha – Ray Absorption.

George Manu declined the offer to work for the Curie Laboratory in France and decided to return to Romania. In November 1935 he started to work as an Assistant Professor for the Faculty of Sciences in Bucharest. In 1940 he published two scientific works: Nuclear Physics as part of the Series of Scientific Monographs of the Romanian Academy and Isotopes, Nuclear Spins and Radioactivity.  In April 1945 he was awarded a tenure position in Radioactivity with the newly established Structure of Matter Department.

Based on his political option, George Manu was a legionary. He had joined the Legionary Movement in 1937, upon his return from Paris, after completion of his studies. Due to his political adherence he came under scrutiny by the commission in charge with “filtering out” legionaries. For lack of solid accusations against him, the University Chancellor applied a one-year suspension sanction. At this juncture Manu decided to give up his academic career and joined the newly created National Resistance Movement.

The most concrete and uncontestable result of Manu’s activity in the National Resistance Movement is the clandestine work Behind the Iron Curtain – Rumania under Russian occupation that he wrote under pseudonym (Testis Dacicus).

In 1946 the Military Supreme Court for Cassation and Justice heard the case of the “subversive organizations”. According to Decision no. 2 dated November 18, 1946, the Court sentenced 90 persons, including “Professor Manu Gheorghe” (according to the minutes) who was charged with conspiracy to destroy state unity, rebellion and armed insurrection. The Court unanimously decided to sentence him to life-long forced labour with mitigating circumstances for conspiracy, 10 years of rigorous imprisonment, 5 years deprivation of civil rights, 50,000 Lei in trial expenses for rebellion and acquittal of any penalty for the armed insurrection charge.

For another year and a half George Manu continued his clandestine activity with dwindling results. On March 21, 1948 he eventually got arrested upon his return to Bucharest after a failed attempt to cross the border.

One of the main “evidences” brought in support of the high treason charge was Behind the Iron Curtain – a work wrongly considered “intelligence report” that allegedly provided foreign powers with important state secrets. Contrary to these accusations, readers of the book will realize that George Manu presented unclassified information that contributed to a better understanding of Romania’s situation.

On January 17, 2000 the Supreme Court of Justice discharged George Manu of the previous accusations of conspiracy to destroy state unity and rebellion.

George Manu died on April 2, 1961 at the prison in Aiud, after having impeccably endured detention. The cause of his death is still a controversial issue – according to some reports he died because of untreated tuberculosis – the prison’s commander Gheorghe Crăciun had conditioned medical treatment upon Manu’s cooperation in the detainees’ reeducation. Manu had also rejected previous captatio benevolentiae of the authorities, attempts that included an offer to work in a nuclear research center in the Soviet Union. At the same time, Manu never missed an opportunity to ease the sufferings of other political detainees.

Ion Gavrilă Ogoranu

The following biography is exclusively based on Pine Trees Break, They Do Not Bend, the work that the author dedicated to the memory of those who fought and died in the armed anti-communist resistance in Făgăraş mountains, Romania.

Ion Gavrilă (Ogoranu[1]) was born on January 4, 1923 in Gura Văii, a village at the foot of Făgăraş Mountains.

At the age of 11 he enrolls in Radu Negru High-school in Făgăraş, a school rooted in the long tradition of Făgăraş Country. While in high-school he joins the “Cross Fraternity”[2].

Having graduated high-school, he attends the Faculty of Agronomy in Cluj and becomes a member of the “Petru Maior[3] student society. At the end of 1945, the University of Cluj returns home from exile – after the Vienna Diktat in 1940 the university had temporarily functioned in Sibiu and Timişoara. The atmosphere on the streets of Cluj is full of enthusiasm and hope.[4]

After the general elections in 1946, when for the first time a communist government is legitimized by means of intimidation and fraud, Ion Gavrilă Ogoranu realizes that the Romanian youth had to organize and to fight communism with the same weapons  the communists were using. Therefore, he joins the youth organization in Făgăraş county, led by one of his former classmates in high-school, Gheorghe Toader, a Chemist Engineer. The organization gathered, besides legionaries, who constituted the majority, members of the Peasants’ Party and people having no political affiliation.

Upon his return to Cluj, he finds there an organization already established at the Faculty of Agronomy, formed mainly by “cross brothers”. This was a political organization that could be transformed into a military one during armed conflicts with the communist regime.

In March 1947, the leader of the Student Centre in Cluj proposes him to work in the regional Cross Fraternity covering Ardeal, as a replacement for those who were under police surveillance. He accepts it but shortly afterwards he is forced to interrupt this activity as he is also followed by police. He will return to the student organization, but will remain in isolation for a while.

In May 1948,  numerous students and professors are arrested.  Guided by civilians, military troops raid the University and arrest those they have on lists.[5] On the Christmas Eve of 1948 Ion Gavrilă manages to avoid being arrested.

On New Year’s Eve, 1949, he returns to Jibert, spends here 10 days and then heads home, to Gura village. At the end of February 1949, he arrives in Gura and hides at his uncle’s house. At about the same time, the village council displays a sentence on his name: he was sentenced to 19 years of prison.

Upon his arrival in the village he gets in contact with other fugitives: Laurean Haşiu (a colleague from the Faculty of Agronomy), Haşiu Andrei (he took refuge from Arad, where he worked in the wagons factory and came back home), Mihai Maga – medical student, Ion Chiujdea – student in natural sciences, Gilu Radeş – student in engineering with Politehnica University of Timişoara and Gheorghe Şovăială – worker in Braşov.

The young men usually gathered in the night to discuss the news they heard on the radio and to make future plans. At dawn they spread.

“What were our thoughts? What were our hopes for the future? Those days the war in Korea had begun. We were not at all happy about it. We did not understand why a former Japanese colony was deemed more important by the West than Eastern Europe. At that time we had the impression that Western countries were very weak. The communist parties in these countries won significant results in the elections and a communist regime was likely to be established anytime in a western country. ”[6]

On the night of April 23, 1949 (Saint George) they decide to go into the mountains starting with May 1, 1949. The group is exclusively formed of those who had nothing to lose, as they were already followed and sentenced in absentia.

An effervescent period, that Ion Gavrilă Ogoranu describes as an “Era of Romanticism” follows: manifestos printed abroad are spread in Făgăraş region. Some of these are signed by the Romanian Council in France while others bear the royal emblem.

As Securitate (political police) intensifies its searches, the group is prepared to fight. Their weapons come from various sources. During the war, most of the Romanian soldiers on leave left their guns and ammunition at home. Back in 1918 their parents had done the same. Many of the soldiers of the German Army in Prahova have passed through the villages in Făgăraş on their way to the regions inhabited by Transylvanian Saxons. They left their guns to “our people”.

They even had weapons from the Russian soldiers who tried to rob the villages and got caught and disarmed by Romanian peasants during the autumn of 1944.

From the very beginning the group led by Ogoranu opted for a defensive strategy. They were to use their guns only to protect themselves.

The mission we had assumed was to live in the mountains, to force them (Securitate) into a continuous search that would drive them out of their minds, until maybe a divine miracle would make a true liberation fight possible. We meant our resistance to be a little light giving hope and confidence to all those who knew of our existence.” [7]

Over a period of approximately 8 years the group tries to resist in the mountains. Many of them are shot by Securitate.

An important part of the group is arrested and shot in 1957.

After approximately 8 years of group resistance, Ogoranu prepares for solitary resistance. Other 21 years would pass till Securitate will finally arrest him.

At first he takes refuge to Galtiu, at Ana Săbăduş, widow of doctor Petru Săbăduş, who had been arrested by the communist regime and who died in prison. After five years of providing Ion Gavrilă Ogoranu with a place to hide and supporting him, Ana will marry him and will stand by him until death will separate them.

In the spring of 1976 Ion Gavrilă Ogoranu is arrested by Securitate for 6 months and thoroughly questioned by numerous high ranking officers.  During his time in prison he writes his autobiography.

Upon his release, the authorities have fabricated for him a new identity: Ion Pop.

It is the beginning of a period when he tries to live a life as normal as possible, but he is under permanent surveillance. He has enormous difficulties in finding work and is only hired temporarily, as unskilled worker on various state owned farms.

On the Christmas Eve 1989, when the Romanian revolution starts, he travels to Bucharest and tries to get to the Romanian Television and tell his story. Despite his attempts at explaining who he is and why he is there, he is not permitted to enter the building.  A news presenter asks him: “Did you fight against communists or against legionaries?”

After 1989 he strives to bring to light the facts about the Romanian anti-communist resistance and has a major contribution to the set-up of “Pentru Patrie” party. He manages to rise in Sâmbăta de Sus a monument that honours the memory of the fighters in his group (Carpatin Făgărăşan). His memoirs are published under the title “Pine Trees Break, They Do Not Bend”.

He died on May 1, 2006 and was buried in the cemetery of Galtiu village, in Alba county.


[1] Members of his family were dubbed “Ogoranu” according to the documentary “The Memorial of Suffering” produced by Lucia Hossu Longin

[2] “The Cross Fraternity was created in 1924 by the leaders of the student movement in 1922. It was established as a youth organization dedicated to educating Romanian pupils in the Christian and nationalist spirit.” Ion Gavrilă Ogoranu, Pine Trees Break, They Do Not Bend, Vol. I (Baia Mare, România: Editura Marist, ed. 2, 2009), 29

[3] Established in 1881 in Budapest,  this is the oldest association of Romanian students

[4] “In the afternoons the streets surrounding the University were packed with young people. Long corridors opened from time to time through the crowd and along them came all smiling reputed names of Romanian science and culture: Emil Racoviță, Iuliu Hațegan, Lucian Blaga, Alexandru Borza, Ioan Lupaş, Nicolae Mărgineanu and others.” Ion Gavrilă Ogoranu,, 26

[5] The “Popular Power” had to chase out of the academia all the professors who were deemed to be reactionary, fascists, obscurants, enemies of the people, agents of imperialism who were against people’s happiness and democracy. Little did it matter that among these professors were Blaga, Hațeganu or Lupaş. Their reputation was, in fact, one more reason to get them out of the universities as soon as possible. Their students had the same fate.” Ion Gavrilă Ogoranu, 63

[6] Ion Gavrilă Ogoranu, 99

[7] Ion Gavrilă Ogoranu, 114

 

Tudor Greceanu

The following biography of Tudor Greceanu is based on his book published in 2000 under the title: “Drumul celor puţini. Amintirile unui aviator” (The Road of the Few. Memoirs of a Fighter Pilot).  The edition published by Eminescu Publishing House was coordinated by the author’s sister, Martha Greceanu. 

Tudor Greceanu was born in Bucharest, on 13 May 1917; his father, Scarlat, was a railroad engineer and his mother, Alexandrina, a homemaker. Tudor Greceanu was a descendant, through his father, of an old aristocratic family in Moldova. In maternal line he was the great-grandson of Ion Ghica – one of the leaders of the Revolution of 1848 and also a writer, economist, politician and elite diplomat.
In 1919 the family moves to Topliceni, a village in Râmnicu Sărat county, where Tudor attends primary school; starting with 1928 he is enrolled in the Boarding School in Iași.

Fighter pilot training

Between 1937 and 1939 he attends the aviation school; he graduates as Second Lieutenant and on his demand is assigned to the army garrison in Iași. Encouraged by his first flight instructor, Captain Marin Ghica, himself a fighter pilot, he insists on being transferred to the Pilot Training School in Buzău where he would be trained as a fighter pilot. At first, his training squadron uses PZL 11B and 11F.

On November 1, 1940 he is assigned to the 52 Fighter Squadron (Group 5), where he flies the fighter aircraft Heinkel 112.

On March 1, 1941 he is transferred to the newly established 56 Fighter Squadron (Group 7). On March 6, 1941 he flies a Messerschmidt 109 F for the first time, an event that he describes as “a first contact with a good friend that would be with me in good times and bad times throughout the war”[1].

The War

Starting on June 22, 1941, Romania is in war with the USSR.

Here is how Tudor Greceanu concisely describes this period:

“Despite intensive preparations, the Romanian army was, numerically and in terms of technical equipment, at a much lower level than its Eastern neighbour. We had 2000 planes, and this number included medical and passenger aircraft. Nevertheless, we fought with and inflicted heavy losses upon the world’s largest air forces at that time: Russian, American, German and British air forces. Few of our pilots were professionally trained to fly. Most of them were civilians who had acquired flight practice as a sport. These pilots fought at Odessa, broke out of the encirclement in Stalingrad and at Don River bend and were awarded the Iron Cross.”

After August 23, 1944, Tudor Greceanu takes part in the fights on the Western Front. On October 1, 1944, he was promoted to the rank of captain. At the beginning of 1945, together with the Fighter Group 9, led by Constantin (Bâzu) Cantacuzino, he fights in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

After the War

For his conduct during war, Greceanu receives a “reward”, as he bitterly calls it. On April 1949 he is arrested for having allegedly participated in a “subversive” organization led by Ion Vulcănescu (Romanian mathematician, teaching assistant with Politehnica University in Bucharest). He is first sentenced to 10 years in prison, and after the appeal the sentence is reduced to 8 years in several communist prisons (Aiud, Canal, Cavnic mines).

On December 20, 1952, together with two other political prisoners (Valeriu Șirianu and Gheorghe Spulbatu), Tudor Greceanu attempts to escape from Aiud prison, in order to join the anticommunist armed resistance groups that were active in the mountains. The attempt fails and all three are caught. His two comrades are shot and he is sentenced to death.  The sentence will be after a while commuted to forced labour for life.

After the amnesty for political prisoners in 1964, Tudor Greceanu earned his living doing various jobs in documentation institutes and factories. He retired from the School of Architecture, where he had a research and teaching position with the Materials Resistance Chair.

He is the author of several inventions that were patented (time measuring device, radio emitter, fluid dynamics device for propulsion, hydraulic clamping plate for lathe, cutting and piercing machines).

As a result of relentless demands addressed to Romanian officials, he succeeded to have his legal rights as a war veteran and former political prisoner recognized.

He died in December 1994, after a long suffering.

 


[1] Tudor Greceanu: The Road of the Few; Memoirs of a Fighter Pilot

Aurel State

Aurel (Aurelian) State was born on April 29, 1921, in Godeni – Argeș, in a farmer’s family.
After graduating secondary school, he enrolled for one year (1940 – 1941) at the Military School for Reserve Officers in Ploiești.
Starting with 1942 and until 1944 he takes part in combats on the Eastern front, together with Battalion 1 Vânători de munte (Mountain Hinters) – elite forces of the Romanian Army. He is wounded on 4 occasions and is awarded Virtutea Militară (Military Virtue Medal), the Iron Cross and the Order Mihai Viteazul.
Between 1944 and 1955 (when he returns to Romania) he is a prisoner of war in various Soviet camps.
In 1957 he comes top of the list after the exams for enrolment with the Department for German Language and Literature at the University of Bucharest.
In February 1958 he gets arrested for “plotting against the social regime”. To avoid being forced to testify under torture against other innocent people, he tries to commit suicide by jumping from the roof of Uranus prison.
In August 1959 he is sentenced to 18 years of forced labour and 7 years of civil degradation.
In August 1964 he is freed from Aiud prison, as part of the last group to be released: political prisoners who had rejected re-education.
Between 1964 and 1983 he completes his university studies, works as German teacher, translates literature into Romanian and writes his memoirs. Despite being permanently supervised by Securitate (Romanian political police), he manages to send (by intermediaries) the manuscript of his memoirs to Germany.
On November 19, 1983 he dies in hospital in unelucidated circumstances. At the end of 1983 a publisher in Freiburg (Editura Coresi) publishes the first volume of his memoirs under the title Drumul Crucii (The Road of the Cross).

 

Radu Mărculescu

Radu Mărculescu was born in 1915 in Bucharest. He graduated in 1938 with a diploma in Letters and Philosophy. Between 1939 and 1942 he taught Romanian language at two secondary schools in Bucharest. As an officer of the Romanian Royal Army he fought in the Don River battle and was taken prisoner in 1942. He was freed from the Soviet camps in 1951. Between 1959 and 1964 he was once again imprisoned, this time by the Romanian communist regime.

Pătimiri şi iluminări din captivitatea sovietică  (Suffering and Enlightenment from Soviet Captivity) is a book of memoirs covering the period that he spent in Soviet camps. The book had three editions (2000, 2007 and 2010) and was also translated into German (Leid und Offenbarung in der sowjetischenGefangenschaft, C&N Verlag, Berlin, 2008).


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