On the morning of March 19 a two-member government commission arrived in Tirgu Mures - N.S. Dumitru, the former president of the National Salvation Front, and Attila Verestóy, who later became an RMDSZ senator and a secretary of the senate. They were mandated to discuss our town's problems with the Hungarian and Romanian students and teachers of the Medical and Pharmaceutical Institute. They came to my office and I told them that Attila Jakabffy, the Chairman of the Mures County Nationality Committee of the Temporary Council of National Unity, would accompany them. This he did until noon. They at once went to the Medical and Pharmaceutical Institute, where the Hungarian students suspended their sit-in strike, wishing to contribute in this way to bringing about a suitable atmosphere for negotiations. (I am not reporting here in any detail on the problems of the Medical and Pharmaceutical Institute, as it would be worthwhile to publish a longer work on that topic.)
At 8:00 the Mures county leadership of the Temporary Council of National Unity met and addressed the issue of the competency of First Vice-President General loan Scrieciu and the Vice-Presidents, engineer Valer Galea, Dr. Octavian Plesa, and myself,
The full session of the Council for National Unity was called for 9:00,
By nine we had finished our own discussions and set out for the full meeting at the Town Hall. I was then told that I should be careful because a "deputation" of Romanian demonstrators was already in the meeting hall, This "spontaneously constituted" deputation was immediately received by General Scrieciu.
The deputation, as well as the 3,000. Romanian demonstrators surrounding the building, demanded the resignation of county chairman Károly Király (National Vice - President of the Temporary Council for National Unity), Attila Jakabffy (Chairman of the Nationality Committee), teacher András Tõkés (the Deputy County School Inspector) and myself. Among the persons thus attacked, I alone was present in the building.
Characteristically, Ioan Judea also showed up in the meeting hall. Since he was not a member of the County Council, he being the president of the Temporary Council of National Unity of the town of Tirgu Mures, he had never before taken part in such a meeting.
I immediately gathered from his presence that this was an action organized by him on behalf of the Vatra Romaneasca (to remove Király and Kincses). I believe that the way Judea had put it to the Vatra leadership was that he would deal with the task of
removing Király and Kincses, but that it was not certain he would succeed in the case of Király because he was being protected by Bucharest. Unfortunately, Király had returned to Bucharest at 5:00 that morning, Attila Jakabffy was accompanying the visiting government education commission, and András Tõkés was not present either. So as I have said, I alone was left as the target within reach.
More and more Romanian demonstrators invaded the building. Nobody tried to prevent this, although First Vice-President General loan Scrieciu was present, as well as the military commander, - General Constantin Cojocaru, and the commander of the police, Colonel Gheorghe Gambrea.
An Hungarian member of the Council asked me whether Hungarian workers should not be called from the factories for my protection. Aware of the stand taken by the RMDSZ, and also on principle, I definitely opposed this, saying that this was exactly what the Vatra people were counting on. I felt that they would thereby be able to confirm their mendacious claim that the Hungarians were separatists and wanted to detach Transylvania. I declared that there should be no fight between Romanians and Hungarians in Tirgu Mures on my account.
From my office I kept calling Bucharest, but in vain, Király had not yet arrived. Seeing that the building had been surrounded. and more and more, people were arriving, I abandoned my office. The office was soon invaded by approximately 200 of the demonstrators who had entered the headquarters building. They found only my secretary, Judit Váradi (H), whom they hit twice in the back saying, "If Kincses is not here, you will do."
In the meantime General Scrieciu promoted himself to Mures County President of the Provisional Council of National Unity. (He had attempted this earlier, but then I had rung President Iliescu, who had said that Király was the President and Scrieciu the First Vice-President.) Scrieciu continued his coup by announcing that the leadership of the country that is, Bucharest had taken affirmative notice of the demands of the demonstrators, i.e. our resignation. From my hideout I began to negotiate with the demonstrators through the good offices of Zoltán Kömöczky (the husband of the victim of the pharmacy battle They promised that if I resigned they would not hurt me. After this I was led to the balcony, of the headquarters in order to speak to the crowd which was abusing me and fulminating against me. Before I could utter a word, I heard that many demanded that I should be thrown down among them. But it is a fact, which I have always stressed, that they did not go so far as to manhandle me.
I started by saying that m early January the demonstrators had received me in a completely different way. (Some shouted up that those were not Romanians.)
I continued that I had not wanted then to be elected vice-president (I was hooted
down in response), and that I did not want to remain a vice-president. If the
competent organ, the Temporary Council of National Unity, removed me, I would accept it. I added that democracy meant that the laws were observed, and consequently the Provisional Council of National Unity had to call on me to resign.
The crowd, angry about what I said, was calmed down by First Vice-President (or self-appointed President?) General loan Scrieciu. He announced that he would immediately call together the bureau of the Council for Unity, and my resignation would be solved within 20 minutes. At the meeting of the bureau only Körmöczky and I were present out of the Hungarian members.
I asked to speak and said that I truely did not insist on the title of vice-president, but I refused to resign because I had not committed any political mistake that would warrant it. My resignation would mean the acknowledgement of a non-existing mistake, and therefore I asked that it should be on their initiative that I was removed.
Noon: my transgressions
Among the Romanian bureau members present, Dumitru Pop, the Vatra representative (who went on to lead the Vatra parliamentary faction) alone attacked me. He ran through the already well-known mendacious accusations. He claimed that I had organilsed the "separatist" manifestations of the students of the Bolyai Lyceum and the Medical and Pharmaceutical Institute (i.e. demanding education in the mother tongue), I immnediately declared that all this was a patent lie. I said it was precisely me who had openly opposed the radical Hungarian demands and through the January 19 resolution of the Mures County Council of the National Salvation Front, had urged that the separation of the schools only be carried out at the beginning of the new academic year, on September 15.
He asked why I had claimed in the Hungarian broadcast of Bucharest Television that Romanians had painted the slogan over the statue of Avrarn Iancu in Tirgu Mures. I said that I had never asserted that the perpetrator was a Romanian, but only that whoever wrote the slogan did not know Hungarian gramar. I declared that I was a lawyer and did not, on principle, make any statement about the identity or nationality of an unknown perpetrator, contrary to irresponsible journalists.
Pop said that I had made very annoying appearances on Bucharest Television. He mentioned the interview of March 16, claiming that in that interview we did not condemn the map showing pre-World War I Hungarian borders, and that this meant we were revisionists. I said that my interview had contained something entirely different, and made the true text known.
I added that events such as the ones of today do not strengthen democracy, but that we Hungarians do not want to answer by similar demonstrations. To which Pop said: So I am making a threat! Exactly the opposite, I replied,
Nistor Man, the representative of the National Peasant Party, accused me of unspecified "transgressions". The other Romanian speakers, the actor Vlad Radescu, the historian Mihai Grozavu (National Liberal Party), and engineer Valer Galea (National Salvation Front) declared that I had done nothing for which they should remove me. They asked me not to put them in the unpleasant situation where they would have to vote against me and against their convictions, and while under the influence of mass terror. They asked me rather to resign.
I accepted their arguments and agreed on the condition that the organisers of this demonstration of March 19 would also be told to resign. All this was solemnly agreed. (I knew that if the occasion came, I would be able to prove the role of Judea and his accomplices in organising the demonstration.)
During the meeting the door of the hall was opened from time to time, and we were told that I should hurry up with my resignation because the crowd was impatient and would take revenge for the delay. (The discussion took approximately 80 instead of 20 minutes). After the meeting of the bureau, I asked Dr. Sabin Rusu, the Romanian representative of the Union of Former Political Prisoners, whether future political prisoners would be eligible to become members of his Organisation, but he obviously did not know what the right answer should be.
At approximately 12.3O I again stood before the crowd. I spoke but little. I first said that the demonstrators did not know my true activities, because they had been misinformed. I added it was clear that here, in Tirgu Mures, we had to live in unity,
"Seeing that such demonstrations did not contribute to stability in the town... (loud hooting, shouting that I was a chauvinists and traitor); and when I was able to continue, "....Since my person is so contested by you, for the sake of unity, I tender my resignation." (Applause)
After me, Major Vasile Tira told the demonstrators simply; "We are the masters in our own country" and again assured the crowd that the army was with them.
After my resignation I reported to President Ion Iliescu on the government telephone line about,what had happened. He expressed his regret (vai ce rau imi pare ca ati fost demis" [how much I regret that you have been removed]). I answered that I did not care, because I would not have been able anyway to carry out the useful activities which I would have wished. Hearing the regrets of President Iliescu, it would have been nice to know upon what, two hours earlier, General Scrieciu had based his announcement to the mob that the leadership of the country had already endorsed the demand that I quit.
I remembered that a few days before, Mr. Iliescu had taken exception to the claim by some leaders of the RMDSZ that the entire Vatra was a Fascist-chauvinist organisation. The head of statecorrected them, saying that no such summary judgement
should be passed based on the unfortunate declarations of some Vatra leaders. At the time, I mentioned to President Illescu that Romanian Television and most of the press had played a nefarious role in bringing about the critical situation in our town. He answered that television and the press were against the Front, and were under the influence of the National Peasant Party.
The visiting government commission was also immediately informed of what had happened, and its two members - Dumitru and Verestóy - disliked what they heard. They promised to report everything exactly to the Bucharest leadership. The government deputation stayed in the town until 23:00, but did not intervene that evening to try to defend the RMDSZ headquarters or András Sütö.
When my working hours were over - at 15:00 - I left the building of the Council for Unity by taxi. I left Attila Jakabffy in my office, asking him to stay next to the government telephone line until the evening because the atmosphere seemed to be explosive. Attila, who had gotten away without a resignation of his own in the morning, risked his safety by remaining at the headquarters. He maintained constant telephone contact with the leaders of the county and of the country - and of course with me too.
Late afternoon: invasion
The Romanian demonstrators did not disperse, although it seemed that they had achieved their goal: I had resigned. Their staying together was no accident, for armed and drunk peasants from the Reghin district soon arrived. The crowd received them with the slogan "Hodac e cu noi" [the village of Hodac is with us]. The photograph has been seen around the world in which a noncommissioned police officer enthusiastically greets the driver of a bus transporting the terrorists.
These peasants armed with "traditional working tools" (quoting later Vatra claims) originally wanted to beat the striking Hungarian students of the Medical and Pharmaceutical Institute. But since the students had suspended their strike that morning, they found nothing to do in the building of the university.
First of all therefore, they arranged "house cleaning" in the main square and central streets of the town, knocking down all street signs with Hungarian names, tearing down all Hungarian inscriptions and posters. Even Tolstoy Street fell victim to their anger (written in the Romanian way, Tolstoy ends with an "i " and they therefore thought that he was Hungarian too). At the National Theatre, a Romanian actor tried to stop the destruction of Hungarian posters, but he was beaten up.
It was after all this that this sorry company was led to the headquarters of the RMDSZ; until then they had not known where it was. In a characteristic way, they had shouted that Siito, Kincses, Király and Bolyai should be hanged. (The RMDSZ headquarters is in Bolyai street.)
What I am writing from now on is based on what the. writer, András Sütö, told me.
A few minutes before the arrival of the Romanian demonstrators, Sütö also went to the headquarters of the RMDSZ. He urged the dispersal of the group of 150-200 Hungarians who had spontaneously gathered there to press for my restoration to office and to protest in general against the depredations conunitted by Vatra that day. Over a loudspeaker, Sütö declared that we did not recognise the forced resignation of Elõd Kincses, and that we shall demand his restoration to office. But he said this question must not be discussed now in the street. He said we would advise Hungarians on the morning of the 20th how the county branch of the RMDSZ intended to fight for the correction of the injustice which had been committed that day. Mi
Part of the crowd wanted an immediate answer and gave vent to their dissatisfaction. Finally however it was possible to persuade most of the people to disperse. A group of 50-60 may have been left in front of the headquarters when the armed group of several hundred Romanians arrived. These later grew to approximately 1,500 through the planned transportation of demonstrators to the scene.
The Hungarians fled into the building and barred the entrance. The breaking down of the strong door of the main entrance required approximately one hour, but finally it yielded to their axes. This time was used by the 77 Hungarians on the first floor of the building (including Sütö, the engineer István Káli Király, County Vice-Chairman of the RMDSZ, and the economist László Borbély, County Secretary of the RMDSZ) to alert the County Council for National Unity, the police headquarters and the military command.
They asked for assistance, but entirely in vain. They talked to the colonels Garmbrea and Judea, who promised help. but did nothing.
In the crowd surrounding the RMDSZ headquarters there was a good number of uniformed military officers, enlisted soldiers, and policemen. The true status of some of the civilians there has not been clarified by detectives they never tried to find out
During the time of the flight into the building and the breaking down of the main door, András Sütö, Sándor Zolcsák, chairman of the Tirgu Mures branch of the RMDSZ, and a few older people, including two women, ventured into the back yard and up to the perimeter fence. A policeman standing there encouraged them to climb over the fence and escape. The two women and the older man would not have been able to climb the fence, Sütö who would have been able to do so - therefore did not leave either. He said later: "How would it have looked if I had run away and left the other Hungarians to their fate." He paid with the sight of his left eye for this act of solidarity.
After having broken down the main door, the enraged and drunken mob ran to the first floor. But they were unable to break through the entrance door to the RMDSZ office
which was blocked with wardrobes. They therefore broke into the office of the National Liberal Party which is on the same floor. Passing through, they ravaged those premises, and pushed into the meeting room used both by the RMDSZ and the National Liberal Party. From this direction, they invaded the offices of the RMDSZ.
The Hungarians fled to the attic. To their luck, they found a big cast iron tub, with which they blocked the way behind them. Only enough room was left beside the tub for one person to squeeze through at a time, and of course that single person was easy to drive back.
Below. the mob completely destroyed the installations, furniture, typewriters, xerox machines, and documents in the RMDSZ offices. Seeing that they could not get to the attic, they set fire to the wooden stairs leading up there and tried to smoke out the Hungarians in that way. Twice, it was possible to put out the fire with sand poured from above.
The people driven to the attic tried to keep the arsonists away by throwing broken tiles. This fact was later distorted by parts of the Romanian press, which claimed that during the disturbances Hungarians had bombarded Romanians with roof tiles while they peacefully walked in the streets.
The trapped Hungarians only threw tiles at those invaders on the first floor of the building. They didn't take the roof apart to throw tiles into the street, Obviously, no one inside wanted to further enrage the armed mob outside. Seeing the grave danger to their lives, the Hungarians also drew up a list of the names of the company present so that it would be possible subsequently to ascertain swiftly who had been killed. .
When the mob failed to set fire to the attic, it thought of using the power cables of the building to introduce electric current into the iron tub, to shock the Hungarians crowded behind it and finish them off that way!
In the meantime the Hungarian programme on Tirgu Mures Radio broadcast repeated appeals (in Romanian) to the police and army that they intervene to save Sütö and the others.
Attila Jakabffy, who had stayed at the telephone in the County National Unity Council headquarters, constantly called the Romanian leadership at the national and county level. He called Iliescu, Interior Minister Chitac, county police conunander Gambrea, and county military commander Cojocaru, pleading that they take steps to save the people trapped in the RMDSZ headquarters. He stressed each time that the prisoners included the Herder Literature Prize laureate author, András Sütö.
These people did nothing to save the 77 souls in the attic.
The Hungarians of Tirgu Mures, trusting that the lawful authorities would intervene, and heeding the earlier call of the RMDSZ not to assemble, did not go out onto the streets.
The siege began at 16:00. New transports of armed Romanians continued to arrive and by the end there were perhaps 1,500-1,600 of them. After dark, at around 20:00, a civilian with the appearance and accent of an intellectual, though claiming to be from the rural Hodac community, came to the fore and called on Sütö in person to leave the attic. He promised him immunity. But this man was told that - if he were so able - he should send a message to Colonel Judea and General Scrieciu, asking them to come to the building. Soon after, Judea arrived, Judea also called on Sütö to leave his attic refuge. Sütö said he still also wanted Scrieciu (the County First-Vice President of the Provisional Council of National Unity) to come to the scene. Scrieciu soon arrived, Sütö asked both men for a military truck - and one with a hard roof, not a tarpaulin-covered vehicle. In the time before the arrival of the truck, Judea popped up in several places, calling on the Hungarians to leave (!), warning that the mob was becoming more and more angry, and saying that he would not take responsibility for the life of those trapped in the attic.
General Scrieciu returned and told Sütö (the spokesman of the trapped Hungarians) that the requested truck had arrived and that a cordon of his men would ensure that everyone could leave the building safely.
Despite these assurances of a Romanian General, some of those trapped in the attic opted to stay, saying they did not trust Scrieciu (or Judea). In order that these doubters could be persuaded to leave the attic, Sütö told Scrieciu that the mob was obviously capable of mass murder and that it should first be dispersed by the police and the military. (The mob was shouting: "Bring them out that we may hang them.") Sütö also asked for a fire-engine to be brought because of the mob's attempts at arson.
News had by then reached the attic that the would-be arsonists had procured petrol from the drivers who had brought the armed peasants to the scene. Scrieciu did not reject these new requests, but didn't give a definite promise either. Then the Hodac person of the intellectual bent, mentioned above, reappeared and again appealed to Sütö to leave, stressing that he had only good intentions. These efforts at persuasion were continued by Judea, who stressed that if the Hungarians did not quit the building, there was no guarantee the mob could be stopped from setting it on fire.
First, Sütö descended followed by eight or ten others including the woman, Ilona Juhász. She was also to be assaulted.
Judea waited at the foot of the attic stairs. He then set out at the front of this column, followed by Sütö and then the other Hungarians. In this way, the column crossed the wrecked offices on the first floor. A line of soldiers formed a narrow protected path. Behind the soldiers was the part of the mob that had invaded the building. In the gaps between the soldiers, the mob kicked and struck out at the Hungarians. Seeing this, Judea called out several times: "Well, well, my sons, what are you doing..?"
At the ground floor entrance, Sütö and his party had to wait for approximately 30 minutes in the company of Scrieciu, Judea and police chief Gambrea. The Hungarians were told that, allegedly, the path to the truck could not be cleared of demonstrators and they could not therefore proceed.
It was a distance of four to five metres. Seeing how few soldiers and police were concentrated there, Sütö asked Scrieciu to call at least a further 100 soldiers. This he said he could not do. Scrieciu recommended to Sütö that he should agree that the mob be told that the Hungarians were under police arrest and were being taken away as arrested persons. Sütö rejected this as a humiliation.
Finally, Judea said that they could proceed. The party set out from the building. Judea walked beside Sütö. But after a few steps, Judea disappeared. Major Vasile Tira was heard to call out: "Start the treatment."
One man standing at the side of the entrance struck Sütö on the ear - probably with a metal object. Sütö was floored with such violence that he slid approximately one to two metres along the ground.
The crowd shouted: "The old man has come out", indicating that Sütö had been awaited according to a plan. At this spectacle, the majority of the Hungarians behind Sütö took fright and ran back into the building. Only two or three Hungarians got up into the back of the truck. They carried Sütö with them. There was one soldier posted in the back of the truck.
Sütö had of course requested a hard-skinned truck. The Romanians tore down the tarpaulin of this soft-skinned truck, jumped up onto it, and tried to hit and kick Sütö and his two or three companions from every side.
The solitary soldier in the back of the truck tried to protect Sütö and the others, but due to the blows he too received, he fell down between Sütö and Mrs. Juhász.
A group of seven or eight other soldiers - perhaps inspired to save their cornrade -jumped onto the back of the truck and began to push away the mob while shouting at the driver to get going,
After its settling of accounts with Sütö outside the Hungarian party headquarters building, the armed mob left. And so the 60 or more Hungarians remaining inside were able to leave in safety.
The truck set out for the hospital emergency department. But the doctors there were afraid that the mob from the Hungarian party headquarters would follow Sütö and descend on them too. They therefore asked that the injured man be transferred to the vicinity of the army barracks. The officer in charge there refused this, saying that he could take no responsibility for Sütö's life.
In the early hours of the next morning., Sütö was flown to Bucharest. In the military hospital there, he was visited by President Ion Iliescu. Iliescu expressed his regrets to Sütö's wife, Éva. He said that they should be reassured, the perpetrators of
this attack would receive exemplary punishment. With the assistance of available films, an investigation would be carried out and the culprits identified. Apart from his other injuries, Sütö was left permanently blinded in one eye. When Sütö returned to Tirgu Mures after futile visits to clinics in several world capitals, he was told that following the attack upon him in the back of the truck a certain individual had gone up to Colonel Judea and reported that they had finished off Sütö, that they had beaten him to death. Judea put his hand over the man's mouth and told him to shut up.
Most of the Romanian media reported the events of the night of March 19 in a couple of sentences. After the full-blown pogrom of the following night, they acted as though nothing had ever happened on the night of the 19th.
The Cuvintul Liber of Tirgu Mures - mouthpiece of the Vatra - was the exception. An article in this newspaper said that the Romanian peasants who had been transported to town from the countryside around Reghin had had nothing to do with the attack on Sütö and the others. They had dispersed a long time before certain "un-known persons" had manhandled other "unknown persons" outside the Hungarian headquarters building. This whitewash put even Colonel Judea in an unpleasant situation. For if the perpetrators of the violence were not "from Hodac" (Hodac is one village in the Reghin region and is used as a generic term by Romanians and Hungarians alike. The mob was transported from about ten villages.) then somebody else must have been criminally responsible. Perhaps it was Colonel Judea or General Scrieciu!
In these circumstances Judea was forced to try to defend himself and his own role that night. An article by Judea was published in the Hungarian Népujság, a newspaper of Tirgu Mures. Judea was trying to counter published versions of the events of that night that had white-washed the "Hodac peasants", but not him. Despite the conventions on the media right-of-reply, even this article by Colonel Judea had been rejected by the Romanian-language press!
In the Name of Truth
... Our wonderful heroes, who sacrificed their lives on December 21-22, 1989, for genuine freedom, democracy and fraternity, would protest violently and condemn those barbaric and destabilising deeds, the hateful things that happened in the hallowed place where they fell...
...I regret that the headline on the article published in the March 27, 1990, issue of the daily Cuventul Liber ("Understanding, tolerance and mutual respect have found an abode in the soul of the Hodac people") is entirely contrary to the shameful deeds committed on the night of March 19 and to which I was an eyewitness. Immediately after the ravaging of the headquarters of the RMDSZ I was present also when the last
hostages were removed from the building after scenes of dramatic tension and horror that had lasted more than six hours.
Have the gentlemen forgotten the incidents they caused, that they set fire to the building and threatened death to those who had taken refuge in the attic?
Have the gentlemen forgotten the request of mine and of Lieutenant-Colonel Moldovan, who was at the scene with approximately 20-25 policemen? Do they no longer remember that they twice broke through the protective cordon and refused our call to quit the building and desist from besieging. it?
Have they forgotten that their own followers, full of hatred, no longer obeyed their own calls either...?
..As far as I am personally concerned, I have talked to no-one. No person in an official or private capacity has called me from Hodac so that I could describe the facts. I consider that the circumstances in which my name has been mentioned in the press in connection with violent, barbaric, destabilising actions - things to which I always have been and always will be opposed is a grave attack - against all the members of the Provisional Council of National Unity of our municipality. In the course of my actions, I have never taken recourse to nationalistic discrimination, and will never do so. I have dealt with equal respect with Hungarians, Gypsies and Romanians, and I can say with a clear conscience that among those whom I have served faithfully, no-one has reason to plan my death through hanging. These unbridled ideas were born in the brains of ill- intentioned and vengeful people, against whom we have to form a common front and prove again that the Transylvanians are good, honest and clean gentlemen. And further, that as long as Transylvania exists., Romanians, Hungarians, Gypsies, Germans and people of other nationalities will live in this part of the country in peace and fraternity. I am convinced that by joining forces and by honest work - such as the Transylvanians are accustomed to - we shall rebuild within a short time all that has been ruined, both in the material and spiritual sense.
On March 20 of this year, I accompanied Mr. András Sütö to the Military liospital of Bucharest on a special plane of the Romanian army. Both of us expressed our regrets about what had happened on March 19, 1990, neither of us suspecting at the time what a catastrophic influence the next day (of sad memory) was waiting to exert on Romanian-Hungarian brotherhood.
The same day, I was received by Mr Ion Iliescu, the President of the Provisional Executive Committee of National Unity, to whom.1 explained that I was deeply troubled and dissatisfied with what had happened in Tirgu Mures between March 15 and 19,
Paying no attention at all to this evidence coming even from their own side, the "official" Romanian media, the propaganda machinery, tried to chalk up the events of
March to the account of the Hungarian neighbour. They pumped out well-worn accounts of Hungarian "interventions" .
The role of alleged Hungarian "tourists" - a story which has been repeated non-stop in the extremist Romanian press since the events of these days. - was already refuted on March 16 in an Hungarian-language broadcast of Tirgu Mures Radio, The refutation came from the police chief of Satu Mare County, Colonel Gavril Irsic. The April 11 issue of Romániai Magyar Szó published the entire interview with the colonel, from which I quote one question and answer:
Reporter. "Colonel, another question. Have you got any information that large groups of tourists arrived from Hungary and provoked scandalous scenes in the centre of Satu Mare, including the unfurling of banners, the laying of wreaths, and other manifestations testifying against, or hostile to, the Romanian people?"
Colonel Gavril Irsic: "No, I have none."
As far as the alleged presence of Hungarian "tourists" is concerned, the only truth behind the assertion is that Transylvanian Hungarians who had previously emigrated to escape ethnic and economic oppression used the Hungarian national holiday of March 15 and the following long weekend to visit relations in the old home. These people returned to Hungary on Sunday 18 March, Monday being a normal working day. The killings occurred on Tuesday, 20 March.
To this day, the frank words of Colonels Judea and Irsic have not been generally disseminated in the Romanian media. But after this necessary clarification, let us describe what happened the next day, how the tragedy of Tirgu Mures occurred (with-out, of course, the participation of any Hungarian "tourists").