The Râmnicu Sărat Summer University is the first summer school in Romania to be fully dedicated to the study of the Communist repression and incarceration system. The summer school set out to analyze the memory and the remembrance of the 1944 – 1989 period, from a historical, biographical and comparative perspective. The target group for the project were students with ages between 19 and 27 years old, graduate and undergraduate, with an educational background in history, philosophy, political science, sociology, journalism, law and humanities, from universities in Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
The participants were invited to reflect on different ideological, social and political aspects of Communism. Because the effects of the communist period are still felt today on a large scale in Romanian society, a better understanding of the recent past is necessary in accepting and dealing with present realities. Contact with the past was made, on one hand, through visiting the former penitentiary at Râmnicu Sărat and having direct access to one of the physical places where the communist regime implemented its reeducation program of physical and mental torture, and on the other hand, through the guest speakers: Dr. Andrei Muraru, executive president, IICCMER, Dr. Alexandru Muraru, director, Institute for National Heritage, Ms. Ilinca Iordache, program coordonator, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Dr. Adrian Cioroianu, dean, Faculty of History Bucharest, Mr. Octav Bjoza, president of the Association of Former Political Prisoners Romania, Dr. Florentina Udrea, expert, Institute for National Heritage, Dr. Emil Lupu, director, Institute for National Heritage, Mr. Dan Matei, director, Institute for National Heritage, Mr. Liviu Tofan, director of the Romanian Institute for Recent History, Mr. Dinu Zamfirescu, president of the IICCMER Scientific Council, Mr. Christian Mititelu, former director of the BBC Romanian Section, Dr. Virgil-Leon Ţîrău, vicepresident of the CNSAS Collegium, Ms. Irina Hasnaş – Hubbard, artist and museum curator, Dr. des. Christian Domnitz, BStU expert, Germany, Ms. Irina Margareta Nistor, film critic and radio and TV producer, Dr. Michael Shafir, the Faculty of European Studies, Babeş-Bolyai University, Mr. Vasile Ernu, writer and Mr. Vintilă Mihăilescu, anthropologist.
The themes discussed were as varied as the speakers themselves, covering a large area of debate, from technical issues and methods of conserving the former communist penitentiaries for future generations, to subjects with a wider audience, such as daily life under the communist regime. The lectures emphasized the notion of “memory” and the difficulty the Romanian society has in accepting it, in claiming it and in making a step forward in learning the lessons of history.