[Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [Notes] [HMK Home] Witnesses to Cultural Genocide

By Zoltan Zsuffa

ZOLTAN ZSUFFA (born 1921) is a high school teacher from Kovaszna, a town in southeastern Transylvania inhabited predominantly by Hungarians. On July 31, 1977, he submitted this memorandum to the Party Secretary in the neighboring town of Sepsiszentgyorgy to complain about the series of detentions, beatings and degradations he had endured at the hands of Rumanian authorities during the spring and early summer months of 1977. The dry facts recited by the author are striking evidence of the methods used to intimidate minority intellectuals in Rumania. But the memorandum is also significant because Zoltan Zsuffa was not the only victim of the wave of terror which swept Transylvania on the eve of the two-day meeting (June 15-16) between Rumanian President Ceausescu and Hungarian Party Secretary Kadar. During April and May, scores of Hungarians - mostly teachers - were arrested, kept imprisoned for periods of up to four weeks and forced to sign confessions stating that they had been members of a Hungarian nationalistic conspiracy detrimental to the interests of the Rumanian state. According to Kunszabo and others, by "exposing" a reactionary and chauvinist plot, the Rumanian government hoped to compromise any effort by Kadar to speak up on behalf of Hungarian minority rights at the June talks. Whether or not this tactic succeeded, or was ever even attempted in the end, the toll in terms of human sufering Ivas devastating. At least one of the victims, Jeno Szikszay (also a high school teacher) is known to have committed suicide as a result of the physical and psychological torture he had undergone. (The Szikszay case is described in this book by Kunszabo and confirmed by Kiraly elsewhere in this book. The names of other individuals subjected to the imprisontnent and beatings are included in numerous verbal and written reports from Transylvania.) In light of these circumstances, the schoolteacher Zoltan Zsuffa possessed great courage and strength of spirit in setting the following words down on paper.

To: Comrade Ferdinand Nagy

First Secretary of the Rumanian

Communist Party in the County of

Sfintul Gheorghe.

I, the undersigned Zoltan Zsuffa, a teacher at the high school in Covasna, residing in the city of Covasna, born October 27, 1921 in the city of Brasov, submit the following


I received a written notice to report on April 29, 1977 at the State Internal Security office in Sfintul Gheorghe and present myself to the officer on Duty, Captain Pop. Accordingly, I reported at 9:30 AM and was taken into a room where I was kept until 9:00 PM at which time Captain Pop and another person, a civilian, took me to my home in Covasna and conducted a search of my apartment which lasted until 11:00 PM. The above statement is only a brief outline and I wish to add some details occurring in the meantime, which are especially important and which, in actuality, prompted me to turn to you with this memorandum. During my detention in Sfintul Gheorghe, I was ordered to prepare a written confession about my life, encompassing the period from 1940 to the present. At this point, Captain Pop warned me that a military court had been convened, that a special committee had arrived from Bucharest to investigate my case and that everything would depend on "how I write the confession". I was not alleged to be responsible for any specific act, nor did I stand accused of any misdeed. On the other hand, when I began writing the confession, Captain Pop stopped me and ordered me to write it "in the manner that he wishes it to be written". Despite my every protestation and denial, he said "the facts are as he states and there are documents to prove it". After I had already written three pages, a civilian entered, introduced himself as chief of the counterespionage service in Bucharest in the rank of colonel, and, without reading what I had written, ripped up the pages. He then fell upon me and beat me with his fists until he became too tired to continue, meanwhile insulting me with slanderous remarks going as far as to ridicule my (Hungarian) nationality origin. He then ordered Captain Pop to bring a rubber billy club with which he [the Colonel] thrashed me for a long time until he had drawn blood, with no justification whatsoever. After this he departed and left me to Captain Pop with whom we started in again on writing the confession, which now proceeded as straight dictation. Later the Colonel reappeared from time to time and interrogated me about certain individuals who presently occupy positions of confidence and who are important city or county authorities, but about whom he spoke as if they were my partners in crime or against whom nothing more was left to do but to bring formal charges. He also asked me whether I knew certain individuals living in other cities ranging from Satu Mare [in the northwestern tip of Transylvania] to Sfintul Gheorghe [in the southeastern part of Transylvania]. I did not know these people. This same Colonel in my presence ordered Captain Pop that from then on I should be summoned twice weekly and beaten in the presence of the Chief of Internal Security, and he threatened that "the hospitals and cemeteries will be filled with us". I later found out that such cases had in fact already taken place. Whenever the Colonel was not in the room, Captain Pop always held the rubber billy club in his hand and occasionally made suggestive moves toward me, even as he dictated that I was myself requesting that my apartment be searched. During the search of my apartment, 28 volumes were confiscated, most of the history books published in the last century.

As a consequence of the above, I admit to nothing contained in the confession forced upon me, because it was coerced from me through bloody beatings, leaving wounds which took three weeks to heal.

On May 3, 1977 I was again summoned to appear at the State Internal Security office in Sfintul Gheorghe where I was detained from 3:00 PM to 8:30 PM. On this occasion I was not mistreated and I was spoken to in a different tone. I later realized that this form of treatment is what is commonly called "pacification". In this case as well a confession was requested of me which I was again unable to write truthfully due to the painful memories which welled up inside me, and therefore deny the contents of that confession as well.

On July 27, 1977 I was again summoned to appear by Internal Security, this time in Covasna, where, in the company of Colonel Hanches, the County Inspector, I spoke with two colonels from Bucharest. They [the two colonels] said they had come from Bucharest to investigate my case. After I told them what had happened to me, they believed none of it and maintained the position that all that I had said seemed unbelievable, especially the part about the mistreatment I had suffered.

If the conclusions drawn from this latest inquest are based solely on the contents of my "confession", this would mean that the surrounding circumstances, and the coercion to which I was subjected while writing the declaration, are being completely ignored. In other words, I emphatically reiterate that my confession in no way reflects events which actually took place.

I submit the above for your judgment with the request that you instruct the appropriate organs so that a case such as this, having no basis in law or in fact, may not reoccur. I request that I be fully rehabilitated before the local and county authorities of Covasna so that I may continue to exercise my profession as a schoolteacher and in order to allow my family to regain the peace and quiet which has been completely upset by the repeated harassment to which I have been subjected.


Zoltan Zsuffa

Covasna, July 31, 1977

 [Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [Notes] [HMK Home] Witnesses to Cultural Genocide