Tag Archives: Soviet Commissar

A Tragic Event: August 23, 1944

This is our translation of a fragment of Radu Mărculescu’s book, Suffering and Enlightenment in Soviet Captivity, entitled A Tragic Event: August 23, 1944.

Meanwhile, history followed its course. Purposefully displayed at the club entrance, the military map showing the evolution of combat in Europe indicated a lava-like flow of Soviet units towards our lands, marked by arrows and red flags that looked like knife thrusts into our country’s territory.

Further to the West, other arrows and flags told the story of the Allied Forces landing in Normandy. It was the beginning of the end. Under the pressure of a new balance of powers, the events that had long been under gestation were forced to prematurely come off. This is how the “Act of August 23” was born. The news stroke us like thunder, during the evening roll-call, at the bright and peaceful dusk of the day. Codler[1] took a cruel joy in bringing the news to us himself, after the roll-call. He read His Majesty’s Proclamation[2], which announced that Romania had ceased to fight alongside Hitler and had turned against Nazi Germany, in order to liberate Northern Transylvania. At the end of his euphoric speech, Codler briefly commented on the event in triumphalist words, which triggered the applause from the minority who had betted on the Soviet card. They were relieved to know that they had avoided the legal accountability for their acts. (As for the moral accountability, this remains to be seen on the Final Judgment Day.) As soon as we were dismissed, we gathered in small groups. We were all sad and worried. Some of us started to cry. I instinctively embraced Father Beschia, and we cried on each other’s shoulders, as if a loved one were dead. The kind, humble and holy Father Beschia was my confessor. May God rest his soul in peace! Wiping his eyes, he asked me in a faint voice: “Professor, what is going to happen to our country? What will happen when those hordes will invade it?” Years later, after repatriation, I found out that back home the event had been celebrated with outbursts of joy, even by good Romanians. They had even opened bottles of champagne. Poor souls! As champagne foam rapidly disappears, their euphoria was meant to evaporate too, upon their first contact with the new “allies”. As for us, the prisoners of war living in the depths of hell and being burnt in “Satan’s boiling pot”, we had direct experience of the whole range of persuasion methods employed by this cunning and cruel conqueror, as we had been offered the sinister privilege of witnessing the whole process that led either to the destruction or to the satanization of its victims. We were therefore best placed to envisage the future of our country. This capitulation was a huge catastrophe for our history, and there was nothing left to do but to weep. And we all wept.


[1] Codler was, according to Radu Mărculescu, the Commissar of the POW camp. “He had been born in Romania, but had fled to Russia when the war broke out” – page 99 of the original.

[2] On August 23, 1944, King Michael I of Romania took part in the coup against the State and Army Leader Ion Antonescu.