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The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile

IICCMER starts a new archaeological investigation in search for the political prisoners dead at Târgu Ocna penitentiary

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The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER), in partnership with the National History Museum of Transylvania from Cluj-Napoca (MNIT), organizes, starting with July 15th, 2013, a new campaign of archaeological investigations in Târgu Ocna, Bacău County. The operation aims to search, identify and exhume the remains of the former political prisoners, who died in the Hospital-Penitentiary from Târgu Ocna.

According to existing sources, a number of 54 people sentenced for political crimes died in the Hospital-Penitentiary from Târgu Ocna during 1950-1954 alone. However, until 1964 the number of political prisoners who died here was much higher.

After their death, the bodies were buried without a coffin, in graves without a cross.  There is no plan or evidence regarding the field placing of these burials. It is only known that the graves were dug in the cemetery, in an area that was not then occupied by older graves. Between 1977 and 1997, when the building of the penitentiary hosted a hospital for the mentally ill, the patients who died here were also buried in this cemetery. Thus, the cemetery field is currently entirely occupied by graves. In many cases, the diggings necessary for recent graves have partially or entirely affected the graves of the former political prisoners who were buried in this place. The space which was left free only consists of a small field surface. Given this state of facts, an archaeological intervention can only be operated now, as it is limited to a small surface within the cemetery which is not yet occupied by graves. The archaeological intervention in Târgu Ocna is authorised by the Ministry of Culture and is taking place with the approval of the Archiepiscopate of Roman and Bacău.

Following field investigations taking place two years ago, the burial place of the former political prisoners dead at Târgu Ocna was identified close to the penitentiary, in the cemetery near the orthodox church in Poieni parish. The first archaeological intervention in this space took place in September 2011.

IICCMER emphasizes the fact that the operation in Târgu Ocna also has a remembrance dimension, as it aims to honor the memory of those who were eliminated for their democratic convictions in the communist prison system.

„As we have demonstrated in the past year, we are actively continuing the program of archaeological investigations for the identification of the places around former penitentiaries where political prisoners died. Following Aiud, the operation in Târgu Ocna represents a very important step as this prison stood out for a special regime.  Through this action, we hope to be able to pin point this space filled with memory more precisely on the map of repression, with all the material evidence which will come as a result.” said Andrei Muraru, Executive President of IICCMER.

The archaeological research will be undergone by a specialized team, coordinated by Gheorghe Petrov, expert archaeologist with IICCMER and the National History Museum of Transylvania from Cluj-Napoca, together with archaeologists Paul Scrobotă and Horaţiu Groza. They will be joined by historian Marius Oprea, Director of the Special Investigations Department with IICCMER. For further information, please address the scientific responsible of the site (tel. 0721400396).

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About IICCMER
The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) is a governmental body which studies, documents and supports public awareness of the history of communism in Romania, through research, education, publishing and museum projects. IICCMER analyzes the nature, purpose and effects of totalitarianism in Romania during 1945-1989, but also the memory of the Romanian exile.

The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) coordinates several unique project in recent history, such as archaeological campaigns for discovering the remains of the victims executed without trial by the Securitate, Ramnicu Sarat Memorial Museum – a former prison for political prisoners, the International Summer University on the study of Romanian communism, the first textbook on the history of Romanian communism, photo collections – the largest free online database with photos from communism, the MA program in the study Romanian communism, the Romanian exile archives, media projects of documentary films etc.

In time, IICCMER became a prestigious research center in Europe, through which Romania explores and acknowledges the communist past, clarifies its role in the twentieth-century European history and promotes democratic values within the modern society.