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Image description

It’s a frontal view of the building. It is marked by a texture made up of parallel horizontal lines. It has 3 floors (ground level and 2 floors) – in the image we can also see the oblique lines used to depict the windows. In the middle there is a light well which goes through all the embossed floors. On the top of the building we can see an attic with a gable rooftop which has a round embossed window.

Historical information

The Sighet Penitentiary was built around 1896-1897 by the Austro-Hungarian authorities and, until 1944, it was used to hold common law prisoners with sentences ranging from six months to two years [Bibliography 1].

The building has 3 floors, comprised of the ground level and two additional floors. While in operation, it had 108 holding cells. However, only 36 were made to keep a single person, the rest could house up to 6 [Bibliography 2]. For the punishment of the violent inmates the penitentiary had two solitary cells known under the name of “neagra” (The Black One). They could be found on the first floor (Cell 39) and the second floor (cell 69) [Bibliography 3].

For the administrative services (kitchen, infirmary, and the facility for the inmates’ belongings) the prison also had three large rooms [Bibliography 4].

After 1944, the penitentiary was slowly converted into a place for those who opposed the communist regime. From 1950, starting with the arrest of the former economic, political and military elite from Interwar Romania, the prison is renamed as “the special Danube colony” (according to communist documents at the time) [Bibliography 5].

From that point onward, the prison became a place for those with “hard sentences” and for those who committed “crimes against the security of the State” [Bibliography 6].   From that point of, detention will be established with “special orders from MAI (Ministry of Internal Affairs)” [Bibliography 7]. One of the main characteristics of the prison was its conspiring nature.  Others were the famine described by the survivors of the Sighet Prison as “the biggest torture of that dungeon” [Bibliography 8], the absence of medical care [Bibliography 9] and the total solitary confinement of those held there [Bibliography 10].

The only ones who knew the identities of those imprisoned in Sighet between 1950 and 1955 were Vasile Cioplan, the penitentiary’s commanding officer and The General Direction of Penitentiaries [Bibliography 11].

Because of the inhumane and harsh conditions in the Sighet Penitentiary from Sighetu Marmatiei, 53 inmates died, which meant a quarter of the total of those imprisoned there between 1950 and 1955 [Bibliography 12]. “The dead” were interred in common graves in Sighet’s cemeteries. Among those who died in Sighet there were former interwar prime-ministers (Iuliu Maniu, Constantin Argetoianu), ministers (Sever Bocu, Sebastian Bornemisa, Constantin C.I. Bratianu, Virgil Potarca), historians, intellectuals and members of the Romanian Academy (Gheorghe Bratianu, Alexandru Lepadatu), Greco-catholic bishops (Tit Liviu Chinezu, Anton Durcovici, Valeriu Traian Frentiu), ministers and various people involved in the Great Union of 1918 (Aurel Vlad, Daniel Ciugureanu, Ioan Pelivan) [Bibliography 13].

Today, the prison which served as the place of extermination for the interwar elite is the site of the Sighet Memorial Musem, part of the Memorial of the Victims of Communism [Bibliography 14].

 

Bibliografie

  1. Dumitru Lăcătușu, Istoricul penitenciarului Sighet în Andrei Muraru (coord.), Dicționarul penitenciarelor în România comunistă (1945-1967), București, Editura, Polirom, 2008, pp. 457-458.
  2. Valeriu Achim (ed.), Închisoarea din Sighet acuză, Baia Mare, Editura Gutinul, 1991, pp. 16, 22.
  3. Constantin C. Giurescu, Cinci ani și două luni în penitenciarul Sighet, București, Editura Fundației Culturale Române, 1994, p. 10.
  4. Dumitru Lăcătușu, Istoricul penitenciarului Sighet în Andrei Muraru (coord.), Dicționarul penitenciarelor în România comunistă (1945-1967), București, Editura, Polirom, 2008, pp. 458.
  5. Claudius Secașiu, Contribuții privind distrugerea elitei politice românești, available at http://www.memorialsighet.ro/memoria-inchisorii-sighet-claudiu-secasiu-contributii-privind-distrugerea-elitei-politice-romanesti-4/[august 2018].

6-7. Dumitru Lăcătușu, Istoricul penitenciarului Sighet în Andrei Muraru (coord.), Dicționarul penitenciarelor în România comunistă (1945-1967), București, Editura, Polirom, 2008, pp. 461

  1. Iuliu Hossu, Credința noastră este viața noastră. Memoriile cardinalului dr. Iuliu Hossu, Cluj-Napoca, Editura Viața Creștină, 2003, p. 243.
  2. Dumitru Lăcătușu, Istoricul penitenciarului Sighet în Andrei Muraru (coord.), Dicționarul penitenciarelor în România comunistă (1945-1967), București, Editura, Polirom, 2008, pp. 464

10-12. Dumitru Lăcătușu, Istoricul penitenciarului Sighet în Andrei Muraru (coord.), Dicționarul penitenciarelor în România comunistă (1945-1967), București, Editura, Polirom, 2008, pp. 465

  1. Dumitru Lăcătușu, Istoricul penitenciarului Sighet în Andrei Muraru (coord.), Dicționarul penitenciarelor în România comunistă (1945-1967), București, Editura, Polirom, 2008, pp. 465-467
  2. For more information on the Memorial, see http://www.memorialsighet.ro/memorialul/[august 2018].

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