During the 1951-1956 period, thousands of people living near the border between Romania and Yugoslavia (Serbia) were deported to a barren area for security reasons. This is a translation of the introduction to a book about this situation.
Banater in Südostrumänien
Sterbefälle im Baragan
by Uwe Detemple
Uwe Detemple has compiled a listing of the German people who died in the Baragan Steppe during their forced migration during the 1951-1956 period. After World War II the Romanian government considered the German population unreliable and forcibly removed them from a twenty mile wide strip along the border with Yugoslavia. They were relocated to a barren, previously unsettled area in eastern Romania. There they suffered through the same hardships as their ancestors had in the Banat two hundred years earlier. They were forced to eke out an existence from scratch with virtually no assistance. Many died from disease and the harshness of their existence. Uwe’s book lists the names of those who died alphabetically by their original village along with personal data. There is also a short list of births. This is a translation of the introduction.
Residents of the Banat in South Eastern Romania
Causes of Death in the Baragan
The Deportation to the Baragan
The campaign against the large landowning families was a necessary stage and step in the establishment of the new economy carried out by the newly installed People’s Democracy of Romania in 1945. The deepening of class warfare between the poor farmers and the large landowning farmers, the so-called “chiaburi” was one of the major priorities of the new regime. The Soviet advisers stationed in the nation for that purpose launched an economic equalization model with the aim of the liquidation of all capitalistic elements in the field of agriculture. In March 1949 the Romanian Workers Party called for collectivization which was met with widespread opposition. The rich farmers were blamed for organizing protests and carrying out acts of sabotage. In this period of unrest another more important conflict escalated to prominence for the Party: the dispute between Stalin and Tito. Romania placed itself squarely and unreservedly on Moscow’s site in the conflict in “the battle against Tito-ism.” The focal point, in terms of both conflicts, was the Banat. The explosive combination of the presence of the largest concentration of large landowning families in the country in the Banat and the large local Serbian minority were both seen as security risks because of the close proximity of the Yugoslavian border. These factors were used as an instrument for a successful propaganda campaign. In November 1950, the Security Ministry eventually put in place a plan for the removal and deportation of all “dangerous elements” from the border areas.
In 1951 the Romanian Ministry of the Interior decreed the “resettlement” of certain categories from among the population living in the 25 kilometre broad swath all along the Yugoslavian border. In June 1951, there were 12,791 families numbering 40,320 persons from 203 communities that were deported from the present day districts of Temesch (Timis), Karasch-Severin (Caras-Severin) and Mehedinti and resettled in the Baragan Steppe in south eastern Romania. Among them were the “chiaburi” (47%) and followers of Tito (3%) and all of the refugees from Bessarabia, the northern Bukovina and south Dobrudscha (30%). Each family was assigned 2,500 metres of land. They established 18 new villages; five in the District of Braila, seven in Calarasi, one in Galatz (Galati) and five in Ialomita.
First provisional Eventual Final District
Borcea Noua Bratesu (Frumosita) Glalatz
Tataru Nou Bumbacari (Dudesti) Braila
Dalga Noua Dalga Calarasi
Dragalina Noua Dropia Calarasi
Cacomeanca Noua Ezeru Calarasi
Perietii Noi Fundata Ialomita
Bordusanii Noi Latesti Ialomita
Urleasca Noua Mazareni Braila
Petroiu Nou Movila Galdaului Calarasi
Rosetii Noi Olaru Calarasi
Borcea Noua Pelican Calarsi
Giurgenii Rachitoasa Ialomita
Isurateii Noi Rubla (Valea Calmatuiului) Braila
Jegalia Noua Salcami Calarasi
Stancuta Schei Braila
Fetestii Valea Viilor Ialomita
Marculestii Noi Viisoara Ialomita
Vadenii Noi Zagna Braila
Following the gradual revocation of the forced confinement of those involved in the deportation to the Baragan from July to December in 1955, from the beginning of February 1956 many of the families returned to their former villages in the border regions and their civil rights were restored to them. The 12,000 refugees from Bessarabia, the northern Bukovina and the southern Dobrudscha were for the most part forbidden to return to the Banat. In the meanwhile the land holdings of the returning families had been absorbed and were part of the local collective farm. But not only had their houses and lands been left behind in the Baragan but also their dead.
Some time later, students who participated in the student uprisings of 1956 were quartered in the abandoned houses and served sentences there from one to five years of exile in the Baragan primarily in Latesti.
In the passage of time many of the houses crumbled into dust and the cemeteries were overrun by weeds or ploughs ran through them as they became cultivated fields. Today only the village of Dalga (923 inhabitants) and Fundata still exist. In June 2001 a memorial was erected in Fundata in memory of the deportation and its victims.
Researchers at the Romanian International Centre for Studies on Communism have worked with the Registry Offices of the Districts of Calarasi, Ialotima, Braila and Galatz and have identified the names and dates of death of the deportees in the various communities in the Baragan and have officially published them. Their findings were published in The Dead Without Graves in Baragan (1951-1956) which provides valuable research information which is of keen interest to family researchers and also provides supplementary information and some necessary corrections to some genealogical information found in village Homeland (Heimatbücher) books and publications.
At issue is the task still to be undertaken with regard to the manifold corrections and missing dates of the deaths of the Banat deportees in the Baragan. Also under current investigation are some other pieces of evidence that are not substantiated in the Registry Offices and Homeland books. The final verdict on many of these issues must be left to the future as the author takes the corrections and new evidence into account.
The causes of death of 1,000 Banat deportees from 121 communities has now been fully documented. The Banat community that is identified at the time of death is the birth place of the individual and not his last place of residence prior to deportation. If the individual can be identified in a Family Book the accompanying code reference will be added. That will also be the case of the Homeland books or other village periodicals. The short forms that are used are consistent with the sources and literary documents.