Sighet Prison

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The Sighet prison, located in the city of Sighetu Marmației, Maramureș County, Romania, was used by Romania to hold criminals, prisoners of war, and political prisoners. It is now the site of the Sighet Memorial Museum, part of the Memorial of the Victims of Communism.[1]

The Sighet Memorial Museum.
Sighet Memorial Museum, interior with cell doors.

HistoryEdit

The prison in Sighetu Marmației (often referred to just as "Sighet") was built in 1897, when the area was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as a prison for criminal offenders. Between 1897 and 1945 here was a wonderful garden.

After 1945, at the end of World War II, the repatriation of Romanians who had been prisoners of war and deportees in the Soviet Union was done through Sighet.

Starting in August 1948, Sighet Prison was set aside for political opponents of the government. At first, it held students, pupils, and peasants from the Maramureș region. The first batch of such detainees consisted of 18 students from Dragoș Vodă High School [ro], accused of demonstrating against the communist regime; they were brought in on 29 August, and were released in May 1949.[2]

On the night of 5 May 1950, over one hundred former dignitaries from the whole country were brought to the Sighet penitentiary (former ministers and other politicians, as well as academics, economists, military officers, historians, and journalists), some of them sentenced to heavy punishments, and others held without any form of trial. The majority were over 60 years old. Many important figures of inter-war Romania died in custody, including the leader of the National Peasants' Party and former Prime Minister of Romania, Iuliu Maniu.[2]

In the fall of 1950, about 45 Greek Catholic bishops and priests were brought in. Among those who died at Sighet were bishops Ioan Suciu, Tit Liviu Chinezu, Valeriu Traian Frențiu, and Anton Durcovici.[2] Between 1950 and 1955, no death certificates were issued and the families of the deceased were not notified.[3]

After Romania joined the United Nations in December 1955, the prison reverted to being a detention center for usual convicts, though some political prisoners were still held there until the 1964 general amnesty. In 1977 the prison closed; the building was turned into a depot, run by the town hall, and slowly fell into disrepair.[2]

In the aftermath of the Romanian Revolution of 1989, that saw the dismantlement of the communist regime, poet Ana Blandiana presented in January 1993 to the Council of Europe a project to transform the former prison into a museum, called the "Memorial to the Victims of Communism and Resistance." On June 20, 1997, the first halls were opened and a prayer and silence space was inaugurated in the small prison courtyard, meant as a tribute to all political prisoners who died in detention in Communist Romania. The larger courtyard features the statuary group called "Sacrifice Parade," made by the sculptor Aurel Vlad [ro].[2]

Notable inmatesEdit

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Sighet Memorial to the Victims of Communism".
  2. ^ a b c d e "Scurt istoric al Închisorii de la Sighet". bbc.co.uk (in Romanian). BBC Romanian. 18 April 2007. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  3. ^ Inchisoarea ministrilor Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, Jurnalul.ro, published August 21, 2006; retrieved August 3, 2015.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Sighet Prison at Wikimedia Commons