Mihail Decean Exhumation of martyr-heroes with an excavator
I could not help myself

I could not help but do something to find the remains of my cousin the partisan and also to free my family’s memory from the burden of doubt and the despair for not having given Petru a Christian burial. His sister, Mărioara, with whom I have often talked about this, persuaded me that she could never pass away peacefully unless her brother was exhumed and re-buried according to the Christian tradition. Moreover, she made me understand and believe that if I did not help her, no one else would.

I instantly accepted to do my best to fulfill her desire, which had become my desire as well. Maybe Mărioara exaggerated a little when she wrote in her book (p. 94) that without my help she could not have done it to the end. At the time her book was published, by „doing it to the end” she meant our travel to the mountains, to the supposed place of the mass grave into which her brother and his four comrades had been thrown after being killed.

However, I can believe that, after all that happened, even if the IICCMRE specialists had found the mass grave without my help, its contents would have been destroyed anyway. They had been working with heavy equipment, an excavator with a bulldozer, for several hours, since morning until around one o’clock on August 31 2015, uselessly excavating and leveling a lot of ground. I was able to stop the works that were destroying everything in their way when by happy chance I identified the exact location of the mass grave with the skeletons of the five partisans. It was 10 yards laterally from the place where they were excavating. With the same machines and in the same rhythm, they would undoubtedly have reached the mass grave themselves in two hours. Archaeologist Gheorghe Petrov, the initiator and coordinator of the excavations, initially said that what I had taken out from the grave with my spade were animal bones, not human remains, although nobody could have taken a superior human jaw, dislocated from the skull with the spade, for an animal one. This aroused my suspicion that the authorities did not want us to discover the mass grave or, in case we did it, the remains were to be destroyed, so that the partisans and their number should not be identified. If that was true, it was not the decision of the archaeologist, who was just an executor. I will try to explain, as clearly as possible, how I managed to discover the mass grave. For the amateur archaeologist that I became for a day, it was an amazing and extremely emotional performance.