Mihail Decean Exhumation of martyr-heroes with an excavator

In the first years after the Second World War, following the establishment of the “people’s power” of the totalitarian Soviet-communist type in Romania and for its consolidation, as it is well known, the opponents of the new criminal political regime were hunted, shot and exposed to the public view along the roadsides. Notes delivering the fearful message “You got what you deserved” hung from their bodies. Some of them were arrested and tortured in the cellars of the Securitate or sent to prisons where they were killed or left to die of cold and hunger, then thrown into mass graves. It is hard to imagine how abjectly cowardly the representatives of the regime were, regardless of their victims' social status.

The trials in which certain opponents of the new regime were judged and convicted, many of them receiving death sentences, were murderous frame-ups which will forever remain in the dark annals of Romanian justice as a historical anomaly, so shameful that not even the centuries to come could ever erase it from the memory of our history.

Some of the opponents of the newly installed and leading regime were sentenced to death after brief show trials, but others – most of them – were shot without trial and thrown into hidden mass graves, in forests or other places hard or impossible to find, which shows the atrocious inhuman dimension of these crimes. These murders were nothing but a continuous genocide committed by the Soviet-communist Romanian authorities against their own people.

Among those who fought against Romanian communism with a weapon in the very first years after the establishment of the Soviet-style regime in Romania were the national heroes called partisans, who formed resistance groups. Starting with 1948, these groups retreated in the mountains, where part of them resisted until 1958.

In his book entitled Rezistența Armată Anticomunistă (Anti-communist Armed Resistance, Predania Publishing, Bucharest, 2013), the meritorious author Constantin Vasilescu includes his research based on the files of CNSAS (National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives). These files describe how the partisan groups were created and resisted. The book is, according to the author, a pilot project that will be developed further if the impact on the public opinion will convince us it is worth continuing it. (p. 4)

Constantin Vasilescu identifies six periods, places and anti-communist armed resistance groups named after their leaders:

The (Gheorghe) Arsenescu Group, active in Dragoslavele, Stoenești, Cetățeni (Argeș County), Leaota Mountains, May 1948–October 1949.

The Teodor Șușman Group, active in Răchițele (Cluj County), Apuseni Mountains, August 1948–February 1958.

The Leon Șușman Group, active in Poșaga, Unirea, Mirăslău (Alba County), Podeni and Beliș (Cluj County), Apuseni Mountains, May 1948–July 1957.

The Ion Gavrilă ("Ogoranu") Group (The Făgărășan Carpathian group), active in Cincu, Drăguș, Hârseni, Lisa, Mândra, Părău, Șercaia, Șinca, Sâmbăta de Sus, Șoarș, Ucea, Viștea, Voila, Recea (Brașov County), Cârța, Cârțișoara, Arpașu de Jos (Sibiu County), Făgăraş Mountains, the Northern slope, May 1950–August 1955.

The (Nicolae) Dabija Group, active in Bistra, Întregalde, Galda de Jos (Alba County), Apuseni Mountains, May 1948–March 1949.

The Toma Arnăuțoiu Group (The Outlaws of Muscel), led by Toma Arnăuțoiu together with Gheorghe Arsenescu, active in Nucșoara, Corbi, Brăduleț (Argeș County), Făgăraş Mountains, the Southern slope, March 1949–July 1958.

Constantin Vasilescu explains his neglect (temporary, of course) of other anti-communist armed resistance groups, such as those in Banat and Bucovina, at page 6 in his book: The six groups presented in the album were not chosen based on their importance, but on the documentary resources at hand. We hope that in time this project will develop into a picture history album which will include a larger number of armed resistance groups. The accomplishment of such a project will depend not only on the documentary resources that we will identify in the CNSAS archives, but also the inevitable unpredictability of the future.

This is what historian Liviu Pleşa says about the number of these groups: According to a report issued by Service “C” (of the Securitate – our note), in 1949, 200 resistance groups were discovered and 5,288 members and supporters were arrested from a total of 8,539 arrested in the whole country (Liviu Pleșa, Organizația de rezistență condusă de maiorul Nicolae Dabija - The Resistance Organization Led by Major Nicolae Dabija: 1948-1949, CNSAS, Bucharest, 2009, p. 36).

Another respectable author, Marius Oprea, who is also a professional historian and head of the Special Investigations Bureau of the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile(IICCMRE), an institution that has been directly subordinated to the Prime Minister since its foundation (2005), shows that the Dabija Group was the most important group of anti-communist armed resistance in Romania, organized in the Apuseni Mountains by a former royal army major, Nicolae Dabija (Morții din magazia istoriei – The Dead  in the History Warehouse, in Observator Cultural no. 532, 17-23 September 2015, page 14). IICCMRE agrees with Marius Oprea. Although this group was very short-lived, what probably makes it so important is the large number of the Securitate agents who surrounded it in great haste and dissolved it by armed force on March 4, 1949, when the group was still being organized. The Securitate wanted to stop Major Dabija from uniting all resistance groups in the Apuseni Mountains under his leadership. (Liviu Pleşa noted this particular intention of Major Dabija, op cit., p. 31-32.)

One of the members of Nicolae Dabija’s resistance group was my cousin Petru Decean.

It is almost impossible to contradict the Romanian historian Marius Oprea, recognized for his books on our recent history, due to which he has also become known (or he may have nicknamed himself) as "The Securitate-Agent Hunter”. I have no intention to disagree with him. I would need very strong arguments and solid evidence for that. Not only do I lack the evidence, but also my age and health do not allow me to undertake such a difficult endeavor.

As I am convinced that the attempt to exceed one’s limits in a field one hardly masters would be at least ridiculous, I will confine myself to telling the truth about my personal experiences, in all honesty, with no hate or bias, hoping that I will be able to detach myself from human subjectivism as much as possible.

I have two solid reasons to tell everything I know. Firstly, people need to learn the truth about certain circumstances like those I will describe. Secondly, I am doing it in memory of Florian Decean and his family from Mihalţ (Alba County), my father’s elder brother (Mihăilă Decean) and the family of their elder sister, Virginia Ordean, born Decean. Like too many other Romanian families, they suffered terribly under communism – a ferocious totalitarian regime that has ravaged so many countries and peoples.

These people, whom I know so well since they are my relatives, endured great suffering because of the savage and murderous repression of uncle Florian, his son Petru Decean, and aunt Virginia’s son Simion Ordean.

Petru Decean, aged 22, and four of his comrades – Ioan Cigmăian, Ida Elena Maier, Iosif Maier and Lucian Mitrofan – were shot dead. A pile was made of their bodies and thrown into a mass grave. Numerous Securitate agents (about 80, according to the false data of the Securitate found in CNSAS files, in reality certainly many more), zealous and armed like for war, surrounded the place they had searched and found with the help of traitors, then besieged the 25 partisans who were in the camp at that time. The clash between the Securitate agents and the partisans lasted “an hour and a half”, as it is falsely recorded in the same files written and used during the trials under the surveillance of the Securitate. The attackers used a true arsenal of infantry weapons.  It happened, as I said, on March 4, 1949, early in the morning, when the bullets killed the five partisans of the Dabija Group, on Muntele Mare (The Big Mountain), at the place named Groşi, in the Apuseni Mountains, Bistra Village, Alba County.

After the murder of his son Petru, Florian Decean was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison for conspiracy against the social order, in reality only for having been Petru’s father. Simion Ordean, Petru’s maternal cousin (and my cousin as well) was also sentenced to five years of hard labor for the same crime of conspiracy against the social order that was being installed and consolidated on the land soaked with the blood of the martyrs of the Romanian nation.

Maria Decean, Petru Decean’s mother, was kept in custody by the Securitate in Alba-Iulia for a month, without a warrant. There she was insulted and tortured, but for fear she might die, the agents abandoned her on a street in Alba-Iulia, on a cold night.

Maria Decean, Petru Decean’s younger sister, today 86 years old, back then a 17-year old high-school student of rare beauty, was insulted, tortured and raped by the Securitate agents until she fainted in the cellars of the Securitate. Later, they released her, but followed her throughout her life. The brutal torture, rape and mockery have forever altered her mental health, all this for the “guilt” of being the sister of a partisan (a “bandit”, in the language of the Securitate).

As I have already said, it is not my intention to analyze a historical phenomenon (it is beyond my competence) that is not only controversial, must also necessary be revealed in all its creepy ugliness, in a synthetic work of recent history, so that these horrors may never be repeated in the history of this country. It is a difficult task to provide scientific proof of the existence of a real anti-communist resistance under various forms in Romania during the communist totalitarianism years. This task rests with historians who are in no hurry to complete it, not even a quarter of a century after the fall of communism. As for me, I am only trying, with my modest “tools”, to describe the circumstances, shortcomings and oddities of the exhumation of several partisans-martyr heroes of the Romanian nation at the end of August and beginning of September Anno Domini 2015.