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).
We are starting today a series of posts dedicated to Aurel (Aurelian) State, author of Drumul Crucii (The Road of the Cross) – Memoirs from the Eastern Front and from Gulags.
As usual, the first post gives the author’s biographical data – in fact, our translation of the chronological data included in the book entitled Drumul Crucii (The Road of the Cross) published by Editura Rost & Fundația Sfinții Închisorilor in 2013.
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 Hunters) – 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).