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The Sarmas Massacre

Trans ylvanian World Federation
Geneva, Switzerland

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 firing..."
"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 everybody else..."
"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

April 1979
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 and children.
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 racial war.
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

October 1980
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 were evacuated."
"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 it..."
"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.
"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..!"

Confiscation of Church Archives

February, 1975
Neue Zuricher Zeitung

The Swiss daily, Neue Zuricher Zeitung, reported this outrage under the title:
"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 Rumania."

The Byzantine Catholic Church in Rumania

October, 1979
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 Transylvania.

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."
Urtiate Survival

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, since 1953.

In Pectore

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 receive.
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

January, 1980
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 page document


July, 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.


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 out that:
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 clergy whatsoever.
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 falsified.
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 472, 1971.)
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 CULTURAL GENOCIDE.
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.

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