Category Archives: Ion Gavrilă (Ogoranu)

Did you fight for democracy?

This is our translation of a fragment of the third volume of Pine Trees Break, They Do Not Bend written by Ion Gavrilă.

After the establishment of the “Fighters in the Anticommunist Resistance” Foundation, several newspapers published editorials, one of them being written by Mircea Iorgulescu.

He repeated the insinuations advanced in previous articles and concluded rhetorically with a seemingly puzzling question: “Did the people in the Armed Anticommunist Resistance fight for democracy?”

I bitterly looked at this stupid question, and memories of those times came to my mind: Our country was under Soviet occupation and our army, under the command of generals such as Emil Bodnăraș and Walter Roman, marched singing in the streets: “Oh, Moscow, my country” and “Kremlin walls shining in the morning light”. SovRoms[1] dominated economy, culture and even the church hierarchy, cowardice and treason plagued more and more people. All the scoundrels, do-nothings, cowards and traitors rivaled each other in praising the communist regime and Generalissimo Stalin, and the textbooks (including the literature ones translated from Russian), Roller wrote the history of our country, Ana Pauker, Teoharie Georgescu, Vasile Luca led the country, Securitate, under the leadership of people similar to the abovementioned, killed people in the middle of the road, arrested and deported people at its will. We lived in fear of being arrested, either at work or at home, we feared betrayal by our own family and were not sure we had a country anymore.

How can this journalist imagine that under those circumstances we, who had given up everything, including our lives, would pause to think how Romania would look like when the communist regime would be over? How stupid can someone be to imagine that among our concerns were, at those times, privatization methods such as MEBO (Management and Employee Buyout) or selling factories for nothing to adventurers from all over the world or votes of no confidence in the parliament? Still, what this fake democrat, puppet journalist does not know is that we fought for democracy. All the armed or unarmed resistance groups were monarchists. And so were all the Romanians back then.

We had no hope that we would live to see the day of victory, but in no way we could have conceived that Romania, once liberated from the yoke of communism, would not resume the factual state of December 1947, when our constitution in force was the one dating back from 1923. And that constitution was more democratic than the surrogate that former communists and their offspring have hastily concocted for personal use.

[1] SovRom: Romanian-Soviet joint ventures established after WWII in Romania under Soviet occupation. Their role was to exploit Romanian resources to the benefit of the Soviet Union.

December 1989; Christmas Eve in Bucharest

An excerpt of the second volume of “Pine Trees Break, They Do Not Bend” written by Ion Gavrilă – homage to all those who, in December 1989, had the courage to fight for our freedom.

Meanwhile, shots were heard from all the blocks of flats around the Romanian television headquarters, but none of the people near me was hit and I did not understand what was happening.  Why were they shooting? Was it to maintain a tense atmosphere while they were waiting for reinforcements? It was the only logical explanation that I could think of.

But the young people around me were enthusiastic, and calm. To them, everything seemed to be in order. That was how they had imagined revolution. It’s Christmas Eve. Powdery snow falls from the murky sky, on a street corner some young people start singing a carol, and then others sing another one. Tomorrow is Christmas. I recall that precisely 100 years ago, on the evening of carols, an old teacher passed away while his students were carolling. His name was Ion Creangă[1]. His Moldavians were now carolling in Bucharest, heralding the dawn of a new world. The 40 years of atheist education, when writing or pronouncing Christmas name was banned, had failed to make them forget their soul. It’s evening now and I go down to the subway while these beautiful youth sing their carols. At the subway station young girls are urging people to go to the hospitals and donate blood. I was going back home and I felt happy that God had allowed me to live to see this day. I felt in peace and proud that the face of Romania, our motherland, had been washed clear of any trace of cowardice and despair by the blood of these youth. Those who have no God and no country can continue shooting at Bucharest North Railway Station, targeting the people who depart on Christmas Eve, they can bring hell, blow up the blood collection centre – thousands of people will be ready to replace the lost blood. Communism is doomed, victory is certain.

These were my thoughts back then. I was carried by the same enthusiasm that had engulfed the whole country. Such wonders could have been accomplished by that youthful momentum! And what followed? Cursed be those who, in order to achieve their base ends, have destroyed that wave of enthusiasm, brotherhood and trust in a different future for the Romanian people! Cursed be those who have destroyed the hope of a nation!

[1] Ion Creangă (1837 – 1889) was a Romanian writer, story teller and school teacher. He is best known for his volume Childhood Memories, a collection of autobiographical short stories written with great sense of humour, in the savoury Romanian language spoken in his time in Moldavia province.

Excerpt 6 (Pine Trees Break, They Do Not Bend, Volume III, pages: 339 – 341)

1947 – a year of preparation for the Anti-Communist Armed Resistance

Address intended for an event at the Sighet Memorial, in June 1997

The brutality of the communist government that took power after the stolen elections in 1946 had shattered the last hope in a normal development of democracy in Romania.

For those who had knowledge of Lenin’s tactics it became clear that a socialist revolution was under way and all the obstacles (former comrades included) had to be removed to secure rapid advancement.

The most important objectives were the destruction of anti-communist parties and the abolishment of monarchy. Romania fell prey to the occupying forces and their local flunkeys. As Western countries failed to react, the hope grew dimmer.

The divide in the Romanian society deepened as the dark events unfolded.

Bums of all social and professional backgrounds joined the predators pack and imitated their behavior, being capable of all baseness.

Demoralized, the majority of Romanians bowed their heads in front of fate, in the same fatalist stance they had adopted so many times throughout history, trying to find comfort in the more and more illusory coming of Americans, putting up with the regime and trying each to fend for oneself.

The strong characters, those who valued their country’s future more than their own lives, those whose Christian and national education did not allow compromises and resignation, chose a different path: resistance and fight. They could not abdicate a duty of honour. Opposing communism required a force that could protect the nation against the peril.

Pockets of resistance were established in all the sectors of the Romanian society. Their ultimate objective was the armed fight against the communist domination. Active and released officers in the military centres gathered in groups like the one led by General Carlaont in Craiova.

The same thing happened in the anti-communist parties: the national-peasants, liberals and legionaries. The situation had become critical for all local organizations, especially for those in the mountain regions. Suggestive examples are the liberal actions in Muscel coordinated by Colonel Arsenescu, the national peasants led by Ilie Lazăr and the organizations known as Spic and T.

The Legionary Movement acted on three levels:

1. County organizations (e.g. the one in Dobrogea, led by brothers Fudulea, Gogu Puiu and Ciolacu);

2. Student organizations (Cluj Centre gathered approximately 500 students under the leadership of Ion Bohotici, from Maramureş);

3. Cross Fraternities led by Constantin Oprişan. These were places where high school students were offered a Christian and national education that prepared them to take charge of the fight in the future. Such fraternities operated in all the high schools in the country (e.g. the one in the high school in Sighet, led by Professor Aurel Vişovan). There were also fraternities in workers’ environments (Braşov, Bucureşti, Ploieşti, Arad).

Hundreds of anti-communist organizations were set in villages; these were initiated and led by the intellectuals of the villages: teachers, priests and prominent peasants (e.g. teachers Pridon and Olimpiu Borzea in Făgăraş Country).

The various local organizations were in permanent contact (for example, Captain Capota in Cluj, the legionary Student Centre and Captain Sabin Mare in Făgăraş with the local organizations of the political parties).

In 1947, an agreement was reached between the historical parties, the Resistance within the Army and the Legionary Movement and a unique Command Centre was created. The Romanian National Council in France was notified and this, in its turn, informed the Western governments.

The plan was disclosed by the Soviet agents active in the British and American intelligence services and it consequently offered the communist regime an opportunity to arrest people on target, on time.

The fact that the so called Great Treason trial in 1948 cited Eng. Pop, Bujor, Nicolae Petraşcu, Nistor Chioreanu, Professor George Manu, Professor Mărgineanu, Admiral Horia Măcelaru, together with hundreds of other fighters (the author of these lines, included) indicates the existence of a unique Command Centre of the anti-communist resistance.

The unexpected disclosure and – by then – the unknown informers of the communist regime had a major impact on the Romanian armed resistance. We had no idea that we were fighting against occult forces that had tentacles in the western world – that is, the very countries we were expecting to help us.

Left without a unique command centre, devoid of tactics and unitary strategy, reduced to probably less than 10% of its initial numbers, the Romanian armed resistance in Romanian mountains lost some of its efficiency. However, this did not prevent its fighters from writing in their own blood a glorious page in the Romanian History.

Excerpt 5 (Pine Trees Break, They Do Not Bend, Volume II, page 279)

1989. A spectre is haunting Europe

“A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism.” – this is what Karl Marx wrote at the beginning of The Communist Manifesto, in 1848, on the eve of the revolution.

As a matter of fact, in 1848 there was no spectre other than the one haunting the heads of several grave diggers of humanity and perhaps the dark taverns where the lumpenproletariat[1] of the great capitalist cities gathered.

The peoples of Europe had other dreams and other hopes, all three Romanian provinces longed and fought for freedom, for the union of all brothers, nationality and justice. The peasants fought for land and dignity, for a patch of land that would belong exclusively to them and to their families. They had enough of working for centuries on the joint estates of the landowner, grof[2], tenant or Greek monk.

If there were no spectres back in 1848, then in 1989 a spectre was most certainly haunting the states of the communist camp: it was the spectre of the death of communism, wandering with a scythe on his shoulder, appearing here and there and spreading horror among all those who had believed that communism would last forever and who now felt the earth moving under their feet.

Communism died a natural death, by old age. Its birth in hidden cellars was assisted by criminal minds, occult forces breastfed it and nothing hindered its growth. Its programme was conceived and implemented, it governed and commanded without restrictions, imposed its own laws, displaced peoples, destroyed nationalities, destinies, cultures and lives, filled half of the planet with camps, prisons, crimes and mass graves, blood and tears.

It suffered no annoyance during its life. On the contrary, it was offered help on its birth and during its growth so that it could threaten those who were waiting for their turn to be destroyed.  Lenin spoke the truth when he said “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them”. Communism had the most numerous armies and watchdogs in the world. Nevertheless, it is dead.

Something beyond our earthly powers is herding it to the pit of history. In vain were its crimes, its reforms with more or less a human face, the siege states, perestroika and the agricultural revolutions.

[1] Especially in Marxist theory, the lowest level of the proletariat comprising unskilled workers, vagrants, and criminals and characterized by a lack of class consciousness. (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 2001)

[2] Count in Hungarian

Excerpt 4 (Pine Trees Break, They Do Not Bend, Volume II, page 195)


Banat Roads

Since the very start, whenever I traveled by night I used to have a rod with me – I carried it as if it were a gun, and it made me feel safe and daring, just as I felt when I was in the mountains. And I also felt as if I were not alone. I had the impression that someone was accompanying me, and that someone was Fileru. I would sometimes stop, as if I were waiting for him. At times I would find myself talking and asking for advice, as if he could have helped me decide which way to take when at crossroads.

One of my former university colleagues once asked me how I succeeded to live alone all those years without going crazy. I did not give him a straight answer, as he would not have understood. I have never been alone. We who lived in the mountains have our souls entangled in such a way that no separation is possible between me and them, between those alive and those who are dead. One by one or all at once I can sense Baciu’s irrepressible impetus, the child-like, crystal clear laughter of his brother, Ghiţă, Leu’s silent perseverance and his concern for everybody’s satisfaction, Gheorghe Şovăială’s gift for making fun of misfortune and story telling, the Professor’s wise, grandfatherly affection, Brâncoveanu’s maiden shyness, the self-ironic smile of Gilu Radeş, the thirst for perfection and poetry of Porâmbu, Gelu’s wise and thoughtful words followed by deep silence, Ilioi’s contradictory arguments, Fileru’s reasoning ripe with achievable paradoxes, the seriousness and meticulous concern of Nelu Novac for work well done and beauty at the same time, Victor Metea’s steady faith in our fight and the unforgettable faces of so many people who got involved in our battle of life and death against communism. I live in a world of shadows as if it were real, more real than the present, tangible world that unfolds in front of me, or can this also be some form of madness?….

Excerpt 3 (Pine Trees Break, They Do Not Bend, Volume I, pages: 109, 111 and 113)

Life at camp

(Page 109)

When I look back, I realize that none of us – the fifteen people of our group, plus those who joined in later – none of us was attracted to an adventurous life. We took it as a painful but necessary duty. None of us was the kind who would rush in where angels fear to tread. If our world were a true world and our country a true country, we would have lived peaceful lives, not even one of us would have wanted to be any different from the rest of our community.

Student Ion Chiujdea wanted to become a teacher, to help other people’s children grow into “men”.  Ghiță Haşiu wanted to be what he already was: a ploughman and a roofmaster, like his father.  When we stopped in the woods, he would talk about each of the fir trees on our path, explaining how it could be used, and when he saw dead fir trees, he literally felt pain at the thought that they would decay and waste away. His brother, Baciu got enthusiastic about bee keeping and then started to graft wild fruit trees while we were hiding in the forests at the foot of the mountains. High school students had their mathematics textbooks in their knapsacks and some of them got killed while they were still carrying them. Among them, Gelu Novac was the only one who had a clearer idea of his future. He wanted to be an aircraft building specialist and a priest of the Romanian Church United with Rome. Gheorghe Şovăială was planning to design a fresh water submarine, similar to a torpedo. If I were to name what best described that period of our lives, I would say that it was the bond of affection that united us. We knew each other since childhood, our qualities and defects were no longer a secret. And we were also united by our faith in God. Climbing the mountains had brought us even nearer to Him. We had a deeper understanding of these lines from the Hunters’ March:

God is nearer,

As we tread, we feel His presence

In the soft murmur of waters,

In the forest’s sacred sounds.

The circumstances had shed a different light on the Bible quotation: “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”


(Page 111)

We were Greek Catholics and Orthodox Christians in our group. When we went down to the valley, we would all see the same priest. We preferred the fugitive priests: Moldovan from Recea, Motoc from Săsciori, David from Gura – Văii and Stanislas from Lisa. Their own suffering in the name of Christ opened them to understanding our sufferings. I recall a confession to Father Moldovan – we were at the village edge and the field was scanned by the searchlights of Securitate cars. We could feel the priest’s shiver, but he did not leave until he gave us absolution and the Eucharist. When Father Arsenie Boca was at Brâncoveanu Monastery, we would have wanted to go and see him, but he was under strict surveillance and we didn’t want to harm the monastery, if our visit was discovered. This is the reason why, during those eight years we never went to that holy place. On some Sundays and feasts when we were wandering nearby, we would get close, in the forests. The divine service was held outside and fragments of church songs reached our ears. Father Serafim was our last contact person during those years. I remember one Easter when we were in the forests on the summit east of the monastery and we pledged that, should any of us survive, he would gather the others’ corpses and bury them in the monastery cemetery. Who would have guessed that this would be such a difficult task when Romania would be free again? As I write, none of the dead has a grave and our efforts to erect a memorial cross shall continue to face difficulties. We did not go to Father Arsenie, but our families and all the oppressed in Olt Country ran to him, seeking words of comfort or encouragement.

We had spent several months in the mountains and Securitate had not yet discovered where we were hiding. They were in no hurry to bring larger forces. They had searched twice, but in other places. On the other hand, they kept the villages under surveillance, probably to prevent people from supplying us. On several occasions we met small Securitate groups, but some minor show of force like the loading of our guns was enough to scare them away. We had to open fire twice. First, at the edge of Lisa village they warned us and afterwards fired, but when we fired back they didn’t dare to continue shooting.  The second time, on an ugly rainy day, we were at the gate of the cemetery in Gura Văii when we ran into a group of Securitate agents. Baciu shouted at them, fired once over their heads and they ran away.


(Page 113)

In 1949 and 1950 Securitate used against us mounted patrols of six persons. These patrols were active both day and night. This kind of pursuit was most convenient for us. A mounted patrol is noticeable from far away, especially because the horses neigh, so we could see, hear and know where they were passing by, as they were forced to follow the roads and the boundary trails. When we sensed their presence we simply had to stand still and wait till they left. There were numerous occasions to kill them, had we wanted to.  One of them was an acquaintance of ours, the former chief of Gendarmerie, whom we thought trustworthy, Mureşan, a “gentle cat” that eventually, according to the proverb, scratched badly indeed. He sent to prison many people who trusted his honey-coated words. That’s what happened, for example, to my co-villager, Ion Trâmbițaş, an invalid man with only one arm who never returned from prison. I subsequently found out that Mureşan was a sacristan at some church in Făgăraş. Who knows, he was either repenting for his acts or willing to mislead God Himself. As I already said, we did not shoot at them because we knew their thoughts and because they had zero achievements. In fact, we had made some decisions from the very start and we strictly respected them till the very end; I mean, till our very end: we never opened fire from our own initiative.

We said to ourselves that the soldiers had no guilt, they were forced to pursue us. They were young just like us, and they were fulfilling their military obligations. Guilt laid on those who led us into killing each other on the mountain paths, but we had no opportunity to aim our guns at them. The tactic we used was the following: we were never to accept an open fight, we fired back in short rounds and afterwards disappeared without trace, only to reappear who knows where, at our convenience. 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.

In 1976, while I was under arrest at Securitate headquarters on Calea Rahovei, a prosecutor (probably of the Republic) expressed bewilderment that during our activity we had never destroyed one single economic or social objective.  We had not taken advantage of having on our side officers who were guarding the explosives plant in Făgăraş. We had never produced any material destruction because we were deeply convinced that the goods belonged to the Romanian people. We thought that in the future, when we shall get rid of communists, all goods shall be needed. We did not blow up the factory and did not destroy mountain chalets, not even those that Securitate had used to hit us. We never set fire to forests. For years we made at least two fires each day, but it never happened to set a forest on fire. We chose our places carefully and we only left after making sure that the embers were fully extinguished. On the other hand, we had put off fires in their beginning stage, carelessly kindled by Securitate agents in places where they had stopped.

Our actions had moral grounds: we were soldiers of Christ and soldiers of our country. As a matter of fact, we signed: “Armata Naţională Română” (Romanian National Army). Our deeds had to be in full accord with the military code of honor and with Christian morality.

Books full of lies were written and films were produced by those who accused us of all sorts of wicked acts. For over 40 years they smeared our fight and, as a result, young people have unfortunately come to think of us as inveterate criminals, unscrupulous or ruthless robbers who were ready to sell themselves to foreigners for money or rapists who attacked young girls, women and brides.

During the years of our resistance we had contacts with thousands of people: mountain shepherds, people from villages, tourists, girls, married women, Romanian nationals, foreigners, people whom we met either purposely or by chance, friends or foes, but no one can reproach us that we failed even once to behave as Romanian fighters and Christians.

Excerpt 2 (Pine Trees Break, They Do Not Bend; Volume I, page 103)

Up, in the mountains

Full of optimism, all three of us returned at the foot of Făgăraş Mountains. Meanwhile, several things had happened. Mihai Moga, the medical student, was caught due to some absurd circumstances that left him unable to either defend himself or to flee. But the charges against him were not serious, so he was sentenced to prison and was freed after several years, when he would be of great help to us.

On the other hand, a new fugitive had joined us: Ghiță Haşiu, Andrei Haşiu’s brother, from Pojorta.  The insiders will know them as Ghiță and Baciu, respectively. One day, while Ghiță was away from home, Securitate agents came by car and searched his house.  It is difficult to understand why they headed straight to the summer kitchen, where Ghiță had a hiding place and a gun that he had saved for us. The agents were laughing when they left,  Ghiță found out what happened and did not return home.

We had a meeting on Saint George’s night, when we decided we should all withdraw in the mountains. The place called “La Mesteceni”,  above Gura Văii village, shall be our meeting place for the night of May 1, 1949. The group could have been larger – at one sign, hundreds of people would have left everything and would have joined us. But how would that have helped? With or against our will, we needed to take action immediately, on life and death. Therefore we decided that all those who were hiding and those who were free to move should remain in the villages where they were until we would need them.  As for us, we had nothing to lose, we were already chased and had been sentenced in our absence.

First, we looked for an adequate place to camp. We found a plateau, located at the confluence of two rivulets, on a mountain foot, as we call it. The place was protected by a young pine forest and could be very well defended even if we were attacked from all sides.  Pojorta Valley was far away, so we could not hear the water roar and a wide prospect opened to the surrounding mountains. After a day’s work, four tents were set up and trembling in the wind. They surrounded a square covered by moss. We used stone slabs as table and chairs. We would call this arrangement the “Table of Silence”[1]. We were on duty day and night at two of the camp’s corners. A cast iron pot was swinging on a pot hook above the stone hearth. The fire arms were placed in gun racks outside, at the tents’ door. As for the clothing, each of us had brought all types of clothes and footwear, for cold and warm weather, raincoats and blankets. We did not bring any pillows – we used instead sacks filled with dried leaves and moss. We had brought all our luggage in two rounds. The possibility to move it with only one transport, if necessary, was therefore out of question, and we were not yet aware of all the useless staff we had. As a result of our clashes with Securitate we had to abandon the surplus of equipment or to leave it in the caves under bears’ guard. In the end, we kept this practical uniform: a pair of light mountaineering boots that did not slip and left no traces; we also wore: a thick shirt, a grey thick cloth jacket that the rain could not penetrate and dried easily, with few pockets, having a small collar or none at all, without lining, so that it didn’t absorb humidity and it didn’t get hooked by the tree branches; we wore wedge trousers from the same thick cloth that made them comfortable to wear and tear resistant. The  trousers fit for summer time were made from a fabric that we once called devil’s skin: a very dense and tough fabric that was thought to last forever. Over the boots we wore leather leggings to protect our legs from bumps, water, snakes and cold. We also wore long underwear. In our knapsacks we had one bodywear change and possibly a sweater. But the most important piece of clothing was the sheepskin coat, crafted from lamb skins with autumn wool, tanned without salt, so that it didn’t absorb water. This coat was large enough to fully cover one’s body and long enough to cover one’s knees. We covered our heads with Russian sheep fur flap hats, with soft skin that spared us the sensation we were caring wood boards on top of our heads. We used a Romanian military knapsack, with leather straps attached at corners. This knapsack was waterproof, so we could carry water with it, if needed, and it also helped when we crossed rivers. A tent sheet large enough to cover us completely protected us from rain and snow. Our knapsack had to be filled with all these objects, plus: an Aluminum food kettle, possibly some food, some tools (needles, thread, awl, nails for our boots and all sorts of strings). Then we also had a sheath knife and we carried in our pockets matches or flint and steel, tinder and grass to light the fire, all these carefully wrapped to avoid humidity. A bar of unscented soap was a must, to avoid dogs chasing us.

Three objects were for us as valuable as gold, given the life we lived: the Russian flap hat, the German knapsack and the Romanian sheepskin coat.  The Romanian hat doesn’t cover one’s ears, gets stuck in the tree branches and is difficult to find in the dark, so one has to keep a hand on it all the time, to pull it on the head.  A Russian hat has flaps that can be tied at the chin, so the wind doesn’t blow it off the head and one can cross thick woods without fear of losing it – it falls only if the head falls. Irrespective of their form, Romanian traditional shoulder bags are not comfortable to carry, get stuck in the branches, their weight pulls on one side and they keep the hands busy. The German knapsack is best fitted for carrying heavy weight. It fits the back closely, it doesn’t swing, it leaves one’s hands free, doesn’t hinder when going through thick woods or steep places. When seated, it served as the back of a chair one could lean against and it could also be used as a pillow during sleep. And as I said, the knapsack that Romanian military used before 1944 is the most adequate. The Romanian sheepskin coat is the most necessary piece of garment. Once inside it, with the knees covered and the hat on, one could sleep in the snow. It doesn’t retain water, it dries easily and it keeps warm even when wet. As a drawback, it takes a lot of space due to its high volume but this disadvantage can be eliminated if the skin is well-tanned. When we were tired we would stop and, if wet, we would change our socks and body wear with the dry ones in the knapsack. We would then take on top of them the wet ones, so that they could dry and put the boots next to the head or, if it was freezing, close to the chest, to keep them from freezing – which would have rendered them useless. We would then put our feet in the knapsack. If it was raining, we would cover the sheepskin coat with the tent sheet and support them with the firearm: butt fixed between our knees, the gun leaned against our chest and we could fall asleep under the sheepskin coat.  When we were awake, our body wear was dry so we took off one layer and put them in the knapsack, we put on our boots, packed the sheepskin coat in the knapsack, folded the tent sheet – we were ready to go in a few minutes. When we were not in a hurry, we would first cover the earth with dry leaves or simply stir those which were already there, or some broken branches to prevent the sheepskin coat from coming into direct contact with the wet earth and with the water that was running underneath. It took us some time to learn all these things and we learned the hard way. At the beginning we had Russian padded jackets that once wet would take an eternity to dry, and when torn or holed, the branches would take out all the wadding.

As for the food, we learned a lot, too. At first we had taken with us all sorts of food from the villages: bread, bacon, pasta, rice. Gelu Novac had even brought a cookbook with diet ratio calculations and the respective calories amount. But we were not in the position to follow scientific rules. First of all, even free people had difficulties to find all those food products.  In time, we got to a standard food: mămăligă[2] and cheese. It was easier to get the cornmeal: our supplies came from the shepherds or the peasants. Cornmeal is quite resistant to mould and, even when moulded, it can be used if left for some time in the sun or if carried on top of the knapsack, in open air. The shepherds would provide us with cheese. At the time when we were in Făgăraş Mountains, the only type of cheese one could find was brânza de burduf[3] that had many calories in a small volume. We also needed salt and an aluminum pot that we carried on top of our knapsack and it didn’t make any noise when it bumped into the tree branches.  We would always take care to mask its metallic shine with soot.

The serious problems were somewhere in the future. For the time being, we were happy to be alive, healthy, optimistic and together. Later on, we would call these times the “Era of Romanticism”. Meanwhile, we continued to take contact with anticommunist forces from places we had never before visited.

[1] The Table of Silence is one of the three pieces of the ensemble that the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi dedicated to the memory of the Romanian heroes of the First World War. The ensemble composed of the Table of Silence, the Gate of the Kiss and the Column of the Infinite can be admired in Tg. Jiu, Romania.

[2] Traditional dish prepared by boiling cornmeal with water and salt.

[3] Strong, salty sheep cheese that is kept in a sheep’s stomach or in a tube of pine bark.