Narrating violence. Torturers’ testimonies at the beginning of the communist regime in Romania
by Dumitru Lăcătușu
On 4th of September 2015, Dumitru Lăcătușu presented the communication „Narrating violence. Torturers’ testimonies at the beginning of the communist regime in Romania” at the international conference “Reflections on Revenge Conference”, organized by University of Leicester.
At the beginning of the communist regime in Romania, extrajudicial executions were quite common in some regions of the country, especially in those renowned for their intense anticommunist resistance or for their opposition to the communist policies, such as the communist transformation of the agriculture. The victims of these repressive practices were common law inmates and thieves, the anti-communist fighters captured during 1949 and individual cases. These individual cases meant in fact acts of vengeance by some communist leaders while the victims were former commanders-in-chief of the penitentiaries where they have been kept during the interwar period.
The perpetrators were Securitate officers with a military experience. They were former soldiers in the World War II or even fighters in the Spanish Civil War, where these kinds of practices where quite common. These war experiences accustomed them to performing acts of torture or even killing the enemies of the state, while helping them feel no remorse when committing the crimes.
In some cases, the number of the killings in such a short period worried the Headquarters of Securitate in Bucharest, who sent an investigator on the ground to analyze the real causes of these crimes since every victim was justified in the official reports as “killed in combat”. Based on the testimonies of the perpetrators during the investigation, this paper aims to analyze the context in which it was possible to commit the crimes, the narrative of political violence in the eyes of the perpetrators, as well as justifications and excuses offered by them. I will argue in my paper that the context of uprising against the collectivization process and the total war against the peasantry by the Securitate’s forces, paved the way to these killings.