The Sarmas Massacre
Trans ylvanian World Federation
TWF, Geneva, Switzerland
A refugee from Sarmas, Transylvania, residing now in Switzerland,
whose name cannot be made public for wellknown reasons,
testified in front of a Geneva judge concerning the "Sarmas
Massacre of October 1944. Here is part of his testimony:
"I was fourteen years of
age when my entire family was killed. We lived in a town named
Sarmas, in Transylvania, My father was a tinsmith. We were Hungarians.
Sarmas was a Hungarian town..."
"The Rumanians came back
on a Sunday. It was in midOctober. I don't know the date,
but it was Sunday. My mother wanted us to go to church, but father
said no, we better stay home. There may be some trouble, he said.
We heard shots from the direction of Bald. Many shots. We saw
some German trucks coming down the highway, rushing through the
town and disappearing Northbound. I remember my father saying
that the war was over..."
"Then we saw the Rumanian
soldiers coming at us from everywhere. Along the highway, across
the meadows, across the cornfields, and even from the hilltop
they came, across the pastures. They were firing shots everywhere.
I couldn't see any enemy in front of them, but they were still
"They chased the Hungarians
out of their houses, and herded them down toward the marketplace,
like sheep. We hid in the house, and locked the door, but they
broke it down. Mother begged them to leave us alone but they kicked
her in the belly. My father got mad and reached for the axe. One
of the soldiers shot him, and he fell. Then we were chased out
of the house, my mother, my grandmother and my five brothers and
sisters. My youngest sister was only three, and she was holding
onto mother's skirt, screaming. Mother was screaming too, and
"I fell into a ditch. The
ditch was full of weeds and nobody could see me. I was just lying
there in the weeds, I was trembling..."
"Then I heard the shots,
down at the marketplace. Many shots. Screams and more shots. And
then everything was quiet. I have never seen my family again.
The soldiers ordered the rest of the Hungarians to dig a hugh
hole in the Szasz cornfield and bury all the dead. There were
134 buried there, that day..."
DeathCamps in Rumania
Genocide and Ethnocide in Rumania
For the annihilation of the nationalities,
the Rumanian Socialist Republic set up eleven larger and several
smaller concentration camps in the marshes of the Danube delta.
Seventyeight percent of these prisoners were Hungarians,
who, in many cases, were interned together with their families
This fact shows by itself that
the Rumanian Socialist Republic or better: the Rumanian National
Socialist Republic put the camps in the service of the antiHungarian
In these death camps about forty
thousand Hungarian men, women and children perished. George Pataki,
member of the Rumanian Philatelic Club 'wrote in an article, published
April 9,1979 in the LINN'S STAMP NEWS,"... in 11 labor camps
about 100,000 men and women were digging on the arid soil of Dobruja
exposed to hardship, physical and mental tortures, diseases and
death... sent there for almost any kind of political offense.
Expressing discontent, telling a political joke or listening to
foreign broadcasts were sufficient causes to be sent to the canal
and become a twentieth century slave.
Many could not survive the hard
labor or the violence of sadistic guards and were buried under
six feet of heavy rocks..."
Eyewitness Report from Transylvania
The Transylvanian Quarterly
In August 1980 two American citizens
of Hungarian descent visited their birth places and relatives
in Transylvania, Their names can not be made public for the protection
of those relatives living under the Rumanian terrorregime.
However, in case of a serious investigation they will be willing
to step forward and be heard. Here are parts of their report:
"When we reached Kolozsvar,
today called ClujNapoca, we could not believe our eyes.
Entire sections of the city have disappeared since we were there
for the last time, seven years ago. The beautiful old Kolozsmonostor
no longer exists. It has been replaced by huge apartment houses.
We could not find one single Hungarian family in those new buildings,
only Rumanians who were brought there from old Rumania, across
the mountains. We were told that all the Hungarian families who
used to live in that section of the town, about six thousand people
(among them our friends whom we planned to visit) were evacuated
in May, and taken away. Nobody knows where. The Rumanian newcomers
were settled there to work in the new industrial plants. Not a
single Hungarian who lived there was given a job in these plants.
The ancient Calvary church is also taken over by Rumanians. Behind
the church, the old cemetery has disappeared. Even the old marble
monuments which were built into the outside walls of the church
back in the seventeenth century were torn off..."
"From the famous old Hostat
there is only a short street left with eight houses. Seven years
ago, at our last visit, there were still hundreds of Hungarian
families living there, descendants of the ancient hajdus who were
settled there in the fifteenth century to raise food for the fort.
They were famous gardeners, who supplied the city of Kolozsvar
with vegetables for centuries, even up to our days. Now they are
gone. We were told that many of them committed suicide when they
"All the other sections of
this beautiful old Hungarian city face the same future. It is
only a question of time and Kolozsvar will not exist. It will
be completely replaced by a new city with new settlers in it.
Many of the Hungarians we visited there seven years ago took their
own lives, due to desperation. They were thrown out of their homes
without compensation, without jobs, without pensions, without
a place to go...
"Seven years ago Kolozsvar
was still the largest Hungarian city in Transylvania. Today there
are only a few thousand Hungarians left. In May of this year alone
thirty thousand Rumanians were brought into the city."
"As we traveled across Transylvania
there was not a single place where we could use the Hungarian
language without being exposed to rude scolding and cursing. Schoolchildren
if caught speaking Hungarian among themselves on the playground
receive twenty lashes from the teachers. Those standing in line
for potatoes, bread or anything else, if heard by the food distributors
whispering among themselves in Hungarian are chased away without
a bite of food. The discrimination against Hungarians reached
such proportions that Hitler's Germany was nothing compared to
"Even the cemeteries are
changed. When we tried to take flowers to a grave of someone beloved,
we could not find the gravestones. All the old Hungarian gravestones
were taken out. The graves of our mother and father, and those
of our grandparents have disappeared completely.
NOT EVEN THE DEAD SEEM TO HAVE
THE RIGHT TODAY IN TRANSYLVANIA TO REST IN A GRAVE WITH A HUNGARIAN
NAME ON THE GRAVESTONE."
"We understand now Ceausescu"s
threat that in ten years there will be no Hungarian problem in
Transylvania. In our modern world, when 500 trucks can appear
unexpectedly one morning on a city street and load up one thousand
families within one hour, not ten but five years will suffice
to erase the entire thousandyearold Hungarian culture
from the face of the beautiful land, together with three million
human beings, and nobody will even ask what happened to them..!"
"WE ARE LIVING INDEED IN
A TERRIBLE WORLD AND A TERRIBLE AGE, IN WHICH THERE ARE PLENTY
OF INSTITUTIONS TO CARE FOR "ENDANGERED SPECIES" IF
THESE SPECIES ARE BIRDS OR ANIMALS, BUT FOR ENDANGERED HUMANS
NOBODY SEEMS TO CARE..."
Confiscation of Church Archives
Neue Zuricher Zeitung
The Swiss daily, Neue Zuricher
Zeitung, reported this outrage under the title:
"BUREAUCRATIC CHICANERY AGAINST
THE CHURCHES IN RUMANIA" (Feb. 1 and Feb. 2, 1975):
"The intent behind the nationalization
of the ecclesiastical archives is to sever the religious communities
from their historic roots. A church without a past and without
tradition has no future, especially one which represents a religious
and national minority. The first victim of these warlike designs
against the religious and cultural minorities by the Rumanian
regime was the Hungarian Reformed (Presbyterian) Church in the
northern districts of Oradea, Satumare, BaiaMare and Zalau. Here,
in the mother country of the Reformation in Transylvania, government
agents seized the archives of more than two hundred church communities,
loaded them onto trucks without receipt and carted them away.
"The multinational region
of Transylvania has a long heritage of religious freedom. It was
here that freedom of religion was written into the law for the
first time in history in 1568. It is indeed a shame that 400 years
later the very country and the very nation which achieved the
first victory over medieval bigotry is being thrown back into
the dark ages by the despotic Balkan mentality of a recently created
The Byzantine Catholic Church in Rumania
The Transylvanian Quarterly
(Under the above title an outstanding
article appeared in the UNIREA, publication of the Association
of Rumanian Catholics in America as well as in the Byzantine Catholic
World, in September 1979. The article was written by ION RATIU,
Due to lack of space we are unable to print the entire article,
nevertheless we are trying to convey the message concerning
the plight of our Rumanian compatriots in Ceausescuridden
The Communist regime in Rumania,
tolerating the Orthodox Church, has relentlessly persecuted and
discriminated against the Eastern Rite Catholic Church for the
last thirty years.
To recall the facts briefly, on
June 6, 1948, at his enthronement, the new, Communistchosen
Patriarch of the Rumanian Orthodox Church, the late Justinian
Marina, made a bitter attack against the Pope and invited the
"Uniates" to return to orthodoxy. Soon after on July
17, the Concordat was denounced,and a ruthless, brutal campaign
followed. By the end of October 1948 the Uniates had "asked
to be received into the welcoming arms of the Mother Church."
All six Uniate bishops and some 600 priests were under arrest.
The Rumanian Communist government formally recognized the return
of the Uniates to orthodoxy and confiscated all their property:
churches, schools, hospitals, and so on. The Uniate Church of
almost two million people had ceased to exist.
But not quite. To be sure, it
has been a long time dying, for there is ample, incontrovertible
evidence that the Uniate Church is still alive and real in the
hearts of men in Rumania today. As the martyred Bishop loan Suciu,
the apostolic administrator of the Church, prophesied in 1948
before he was tortured to death in prison:
"If they take our churches,
for a time we shall make every one of us a church
in our own house and wait with confident hope for the delivery,
which will come" (October 5, 1948, in his last pastoral letter).
The Uniates, scattered around
the globe, have Vasile Cristea, Titular Bishop of Lebedo, residing
at the Vatican. He takes care of the Rumanian Catholic missions
in Paris, Munich, Madrid and a number of other places. The 17
Uniate parishes in North America, however, belong administratively
to eight different diocese. It was the 1978 convention of these
Rumanian Catholics of America that gave us the opportunity to
pray for our church and to protest against its continued suppression.
The convention sent telegrams to Pope Paul "humbly imploring
him to continue his efforts for the restoration of the rights
of our Church," to the Bucharest government "to abrogate
the illegal measures by which it has kept the Rumanianrite
Catholic Church supressed," and to the U.S. government urging
them "to acquaint themselves more thoroughly with the actual
situation in Rumania."
What is the situation in Rumania
today? "The problem does not exist," Florea, an exUniate
member of President Ceausescu"s retinue, declared recently
in answer to a specific question put to him in private, at the
formal dinner party given by Ceausescu in New York in April last
year. And he continued: "Apart from a few priests nobody
wants the Uniate Church revived." Yet, Orthodox sources,
including the late Patriarch Justinian himself, indicate that
compared with the 1,771 Uniate priests in 1948, some 700 function
today. (The number has decreased considerably in the past year.
Ed.) There are no Uniate churches today. Yet, some 20 churches
have always been considered Uniate by the parishioners throughout
this period despite their being handed over to the Orthodox. The
priest simply retained their confidence after his "conversion"
and no one can tell what happened in the confessional. Stranger
still these churches continue to be considered Uniate even after
the death, or replacement of the original priest. Only very recently
perhaps during the last two years. or so an intensified
campaign has been started for the removal of the Uniate image
from all churches. The old icons, portraits of original founders
and benefactors, the praporii (religious banners), and so forth,
are being replaced by new, standardized ones in the interest of
embellishment and modernization!
All six Uniate bishops in 1948
have since died in prison. But Archbishop Gerald P. O'Hara, the
papal nuncio, before leaving Rumania consecrated five other bishops
and they in turn continued the tradition as when it was necessary.
There are four bishops in Transylvania today the fifth having
died in mid1978 and a vicar general for the old kingdom.
They are wellknown to the Communist authorities since they
have repeatedly presented memoranda to the government and, since
1965, to Nicolae Ceausescu personally. I have held in my own hands
an exquisitely produced volume, in the manner of a medieval book
minus the illuminations. It contains a collection of all the memoranda
presented by Bishop Alexandru Todea, mostly to the Head of State,
As I indicated, the Orthodox authorities
estimate that some 700 Uniate priests functioned in 1978. These
are know as in pectore priests. This terminology has gained currency
since the Pope disclosed on Bishop Iuliu Hossu's death that he
had been a cardinal in pectore for many years past. They minister
to the needs of the faithful in the privacy of their homes, each
priest having a number of families he visits regularly. Important
ceremonies, such as christenings, marriages and burials, are often
performed twice over: by the Orthodox and by the Uniate priest
with the collusion of the former. In fact, there is great admiration
for the Uniate Church among the lower echelons of the Orthodox
church and for the Uniate priests in particular who can be anything
from university lectures, doctors, accountants, and so on, to
simple unskilled workers, pensioners or "outofwork"
individuals who live wellnigh exclusively on the gifts they
The vast majority of the in pectore
priests function in town. Their numbers increase to keep in step
with the massive exodus from the villages brought about by the
forced industrialization of the last 20 years. In the villages
the death of the old Uniate priest usually spelled the death of
the Uniate consciousness. But there are notable exceptions. Thus,
the Church priests and faithful live like the original
Christians. They want a restitutio in integrum; they want the
Church recognized by the State even if none of the confiscated
propet ty is restored to them. If their right to worship openly
is recognized, they will gladly start from scratch. And, they
point out that Article 37 of the 1948 Law on Cults automatically
allows a church, or a place of worship, to change denomination
should more than half of the parishioners so wish.
So the Uniate faithful in Rumania
demand, more and more insistently, that the Church in exile should
intensify the fight for recognition: to broadcast the facts far
and wide and to appeal to the conscience of the civilized world.
As they point out, no group of people are more persecuted and
discriminated against in Rumania than the Uniate Church.
Amnesty International Reports from Paris, France
Amnesty International Paris, France
In spite of the internationally
ratified minority rights the Rumanian government still practices
extensive cultural, political and economical discrimination against
the Hungarian minority in Transylvania and Moldavia. Those who
dare to protest against these blatant discriminations are imprisoned
or locked up into institutions for the insane where they are being
used for experimental purposes in the field of new drugs. In the
still existing forced labor camps along the swamps of the Danube
Delta still thousands of political prisoners are languishing under
the most inhumane conditions. The treatment of the political
prisoners is beyond description. Sadistic tortures and beatings
are every day occurrences and those accused of "crimes against
the state" are denied any kind of legal counsel or defense.
The long list of known victims
of Rumanian terror include names of highly esteemed educators,
writers and other personalities like Bela Demeter, Zoltan Zsuffa,
Janos Torok, Bela Niszlay, Janos Szabo, Tivadar Busa, Lajos Kuthy,
Jeno Szirmay, Jeno Szikszai, Karoly Kiraly, Ilona Luka and many
others reports Amnesty International.
The "crime" of Ilona
Luka for example consisted of protesting against the Russian occupation
of Hungary in 1956. After years of torture she was placed permanently
into the notorious Institution for the Insane located in Raduceni.
The Amnesty International remarks
that some years later Mr. Ceausescu also protested against the
Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia, and was not imprisoned
for his deed. It is clear therefore, that the case of Ilona Luka
was an extremely blatant form of discrimination.
Excerpts from the 197
RUMANIA'S VIOLATIONS OF THE HELSINKI FINAL ACT PROVISIONS,
SUBMITTED BY THE TRANSYLVANIAN WORLD FEDERATION TO THE EUROPEAN
CONFERENCE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN BERLIN, 1980.
The Transylvanian Quarterly
Realizing that the General Assembly
of the United Nations in its Resolution 217 C III has declared
itself not to be indifferent to the fate of minorities,
Regarding Art. 27 of the International
Covenant of Civil and Political Rights which provides for the
protection of certain characteristics of persons belonging to
ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities,
Welcoming Art. 1 of the International
Human Rights Convenants recognizing the rights of all peoples
to selfdetermination and its application to all peoples
under foreign occupation and domination,
Regarding regional instruments
on Human Rights, in particular Art. 14 of the European Convention
on Human Rights which guarantee for everyone belonging to a national
minority the enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms
recognized in these instruments.
WE REQUEST THAT THE SIGNATORY
STATES OF THE HELSINKI ACCORDS INDIVIDUALLY OR JOINTLY TAKE THE
1. Insist that Rumania respect
the human and national rights of the Bulgarian, German, Gypsy,
Hungarian and Jewish minorities in the spirit of the Helsinki
Act and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the
General Assembly of the United Nations.
2. Urge that in the interest of
the European security and world peace Rumania and Hungary be called
upon to settle immediately the territorial and national differences
existing between the two countries since the perpetuation of the
present tension might lead to catastrophic consequences.
To justify the above, we point
A. Rumania utilized economical
and political terror methods to compel the Rumanian Jewry to immigrate,
stripping them of their property.
B. The German minority was herded
into concentration camps, and through economical and political
terror forced to leave their native country.
C.1.) The Chango Hungarians of
Moldavia who made up 42% of the population before World War II,
are reduced to 250,000 with no Hungarian schools and no Hungarian
C.2.) The Transylvanian Hungarians
who are unquestionably part of the Hungarian national majority
within the Carpathian Basin, and whose number in spite of the
Rumanian falsifications and oppression is around three million,
representing thereby 20% of all Hungarians living on the face
of this earth are day by day systematically stripped of
their basic human and national rights by the Rumanian government.
Hungarians are being dispersed
in different parts of Old Rumania.
The history of 'Transylvania is
Rumanians are being settled in
Transylvania in order to hange the ratio.
Contacts between Hungarians
in Transylvania and their relatives in Hungary are made difficult
and in many cases impossible by administrative methods. Hungarian
schools are being closed down one after the other, and leaders
of the Hungarian communities are annihilated by terror.
In 1948 the United Nations
Ad Hoc Committee on Genocide accepted the following definition
ne of the many ways by which the crime of CULTURAL GENOCIDE may
be committed: "...systematic destruction of historical
or religious monuments or their diversion to alien uses, destruction
or dispersion of documents and objects of historical, artistic
or religious value, and of objects used in religious worship."
(U.N. Doc. E/447.)
With the beginning of 1974 the
Rumanian government nationalized all documents, official and
private correspondence, memoirs, manuscripts, maps, films, slides,
photos, sound recordings, diaries, manifestos, posters, sketches,
drawings, engravings, imprints, seals and "other similar
materials" over 30 years old, taking them from the possession
of religious and cultural institutions or private citizens. (Act.
No. 63 of Nov. 2. 1974 and Decree/Law 207, 1974, amending Decree/Law
The archives of the Transylvanian
Museum Association, with documents of great historic value dating
back into the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, were confiscated,
piled up out of doors in rain and snow, and used by construction
workers instead of firewood during the winter.
According to reports emanating
out of Rumania, for the past two and a half decades the native
Hungarian population of Transylvania, about threemillion
strong, has been the object of a carefully planned, systematic
and aggressive campaign of forceful assimilation, amounting to
This cultural genocide, together
with the forced relocation, forced Rumanization, and the total
discrimination to which the Hungarians are being subjected today
by the Government of the Socialist Republic of Rumania, needs
very special attention. FOR IT IS THE MORAL OBLIGATION OF ALL
CIVILIZED SOCIETIES ON EARTH TO CURE THE ILLS CAUSED BY HATRED,
IGNORANCE OR CHAUVINISTIC BIGOTRY, AND TO ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY
HUMAN SUFFERINGS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.