Teodor Stanca

* 1933  

  • The first reaction to the events, particularly the massive arrests on the evening of Tuesday, 30 October, was a spontaneous attempt on the part of students to enter the Mechanics and other faculties to gain information. Other students, arriving for lectures, were surprised to find that their faculties had been closed and that they were not allowed to enter the buildings, which were surrounded by troops. Likewise, they were surprised to find that military units and even tanks and armoured cars were patrolling the streets of Timișoara. In response to these measures and the events of the previous day, a large group of students gathered at the former Agronomy Faculty, which was located by the Maria Bridge on the Tudor Vladimirescu Embankment, opposite the Romanian Railways Hospital (now part of the Medical Institute). Agronomy students as well as other students in search of information, gathered there in order find out about the situation and as the archives say, as we have discovered from the archives, the watchword of students in the town was “eleven o’ clock, Agronomy Faculty”. Indeed, at the Agronomy Faculty around 800 to 1,000 students gathered, who then formed a column and marched towards the city centre, the end point being the student hall of resident above the current or former Polytechnic Club, next to the Express Buffet, therefore opposite the Cathedral. They’d found out that the female students were sequestered in the hall of residence, they weren’t allowed to go outside, and there were bunches of them at the windows, talking to the soldiers, quite a large number of whom were surrounding the hall of residence. So, the large column of students arrived intending to break through the military cordon, to release the female students, to form a protest group and to demand the release of the students arrested the evening before.

  • …in the first place the trial was a closed trial, which the family of those arrested attended only if they found out. I don’t know whether they were informed officially or by other channels. And there were also representatives appointed by the Securitate, from among the students and from the workers or, who knows, other representatives of public opinion. They were brought into the dock one by one. In other words, so they wouldn’t find out what had been said before them. So, the charges were read, as is usual in a trial like that. The prosecutor decided to make an example of them, treating the movement as anti-communist and anti-Romanian. The defence was just a matter of form and lawyers were assigned to us. Even if they tried to deflect our guilt, based on attenuating circumstances due to our age, they generally used the same language as the indictment against us, arguing that we had had an inappropriate education at school and university, that the teachers had not paid attention to instilling young people with communist morals, and the precepts on which they had based education since the reforms. So, on the part of the defence there wasn’t any visible effort to defend the case, to achieve a result in our favour. Because they accepted everything, almost everything that the Securitate had put in the files. Of course, plenty of witnesses were called, especially from among the students who had taken part at the meeting and some of whom had been forced or specially coached as to what to declare, how to condemn us. They included Party Secretaries, secretaries from the Union of Working-class Youth, as well as a few teachers.

  • …on Christmas Eve they put together a train, with a few of these wagons, which were special prison-van wagons, for Gherla. I can’t remember exactly how long the journey took, I think it was a day, or at least a day and a night we were in that wagon. Us, the ones with the longest sentences, Muțiu, Baghiu and myself, they put inside a storeroom in the wagon, like an isolation cell, very small and narrow, so that we could barely breathe or move our legs. When we reached Gherla our legs had swollen up from not being able to move. Out of our group we were probably seen as the most dangerous and they paid us special attention. I know that we talked about that on the date of our departure. From the Penitentiary here they loaded us into vans used for transporting prisoners and we were taken to the Northern Station, to a siding there, where they were waiting for the wagons that were to transport us to be repaired. At one point, a manoeuvre was made, there was confusion, and contact was lost between the column of prisoners and the guards, and later we reproached ourselves for not having taken the opportunity to escape. In time, however, after a few years in prison, we realised it would have been a mistake, because in that period it was almost impossible to hide or to find an opportunity to escape, you had to brave the frontier or swim across the Danube or who knows what other means… R: And you would have run the risk of a harsher sentence! I: I would have risked a much longer sentence and obviously the punishments that applied to other attempted escapes. But we talked about that moment a lot, especially Muțiu, who was quite… at that age, because we were quite young, rather adventurous, dynamic. He said: “Lord, how stupid we were for not taking that chance.” But let us leave that aside. So, on Christmas Eve, we arrived at Gherla.

  • …if they caught you with a piece of soap or a bit of wood on which you had scraped words… in a language… in a foreign language, to memorise them and then re-use the material, if they discovered you with something like that, something completely innocent, banal in a way, but which they treated as disobedience, as breaking the rules, they put you in isolation, usually for a week. What did isolation mean? Even if it was in winter, they threw you in an unheated cell, the bed didn’t have a mattress, just that iron mesh (that was in our period, because before that there were no beds, just bare wooden bunks). And they fed you every third day, and on the other days they just gave you a lukewarm mug of salty water. And they kept you there for days, for weeks, because it seemed to them you had disobeyed the prison rules.

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    Timişoara, 01.01.1997

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Not the success of an action counts, but the action itself

Teodor Stanca
Teodor Stanca
zdroj: Arhiva foto a Memorialului Victimelor Comunismului şi al Rezistenţei

Born on 26 March 1933 in Coroi commune, Arad county, a student at the Polytechnic in Timișoara, one of the leaders of the student movements of October 1956 For the communist bloc, the year 1956 meant the Hungarian Revolution, liquidated by the brutal intervention of Soviet troops. Echoes of this anti-communist movement were felt throughout Eastern Europe. In Romania there was an immediate reaction on the part of students. In October and November 1956 there were protest movements in a number of university centres, the most organised student movement being in Timișoara. Between 23 and 26 October 1956, students from Timișoara were up to date with what was happening in the neighbouring country and with the involvement of their counterparts in the movement via foreign radio stations, including Hungarian and Yugoslav stations. On 28-29 October, the students of the Mechanics Faculty set up an initiative group to organise and co-ordinate protest actions. The organisers included Aurel Baghiu, Caius Muţiu, Teodor Stanca, Frederich Bart, Ladislau Nagy, Valentin Rusu, and Heinrich Drobny. At two p.m. on 30 October they called a large meeting of students from the whole of Timișoara. The rector of the Polytechnic Institute, the deans of the faculties and the deputy minister of education, in Timișoara at the time, were invited to the meeting on 30 October, attended by around two thousand students. During the meeting the students voiced their dissatisfaction with the situation in Romania and shouted anti-Soviet slogans. Likewise, they presented a set of demands, containing twelve points. Despite the fact that the Party representatives promised that they would bring the students’ demands to the attention of the leadership and that nobody would suffer reprisals for the meeting, shortly thereafter the arrests began. Among those arrested was Teodor Stanca. He was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for “public agitation”. After seven years in various prisons (Timișoara, Gherla and the penal colonies of Salcia, Giurgeni and Periprava), he was released on 3 February 1963, following an amnesty decree. After 1989 he became a member of Romania’s parliament, representing the National Christian Democrat Peasants’ Party (1996-2000) and has been a leading member of the Romanian Association of Former Political Prisoners. He lives in Timişoara.