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

A New Archaelogical Campaign in Search for the Graves of the Political Prisoners Dead at Periprava Labor Camp, Tulcea County

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Investigaţii Periprava

During July 17-27, 2017, the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) organizes the fourth investigation campaign in Periprava, C.A. Rosetti commune, Tulcea County. The operation aims to search for and recover the remains of the political prisoners dead at the former labour colony functioning near the village.

In 2013, 2015 and 2016, IICCMER organized and undertook three archaeological investigations campaigns within the current cemetery from Periprava. It was on this spot where, during 1959 and 1964, a large number of deceased political prisoners from the labour camp were buried. The respective area was established through the information provided by the elders of the village, as well as several former employees of the camp. There are currently no visible signs indicating the existence of the graves.

At the beginning of the ‘50s, Periprava functioned as a section of the Chilia Formation, consequently turning into an independent prison unit on July 1, 1957 (Formation 0830). The official purpose of the colony was to build a 16.5 km long dam between Periprava and Sfiştofca in order to protect the fields about to be cleared of cane from the floods and use them as agricultural surfaces. Another objective was to heighten the road from Periprava along several kilometers. Thus, starting with 1959, thousands of political prisoners were brought to the colony until 1964 when the collective amnesties took place. The undeclared but implied purpose of the transfers was to brutally exploit their work and subject them to an extermination regime. The unfavorable conditions led to the death of 124 prisoners, mainly political, but also common law prisoners.

There are several persons responsible for what happened at Periprava colony, from commanders, departments’ managers, medical and administrative personnel to simple guards. The heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the state and party leaders of the time are also to blame, as the applied measures were taken at the top of the hierarchy.

In the previous archaeological campaigns 20 graves were discovered and analyzed. All the remains were recovered and transported to the Tulcea Institute of Legal Medicine and later transferred for specialized analysis to the National Institute of Legal Medicine in Bucharest, where tests are being carried out in order to establish the DNA of the deceased.

The information obtained after the medical-legal examination will form a national data base which will gradually comprise all the information of this kind from the victims discovered on national territory and having an uncertain and not otherwise identifiable identity.

During the archaeological investigation campaign this year the diggings in the local cemetery will be continued, in the area where the political prisoners were presumably buried, through the opening of new archaeological sections for the discovery and analysis of other graves.

Research will be undertaken by a group of archaeologists and historians from IICCMER and the partner museums (The National Museum of Transylvanian History in Cluj-Napoca, the Union Museum in Alba Iulia and the Aiud Museum of History and Natural Sciences and the History Museum in Turda).

The investigations will be carried out in the presence of the Bucharest Military Prosecutor’s Office which was previously notified by IICCMER and already opened a criminal file in 2015. Research will also be assisted by specialists from the Tulcea County Police Inspectorate and from the Tulcea County Service of Legal Medicine. The operation is undertaken in collaboration with the Association of the Former Political Prisoners in Romania and the Romanian Television and is supported by the Tulcea Prefecture, The Danube Delta Biosphere Reservation and the C.A. Rosetti City Hall.

For further information, please call 0721400396 or 0744516108 (archaeologist Gheorghe Petrov, IICCMER expert and coordinator of the archaeological research).