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LAST UPDATED
29/12/2013



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Prison of the Ministers (Memorial Sighet)
Memorial of the Victims of Communism & Anticommunist Resistance
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In the former "Prison of the Ministers" in Sigheu Marmatiei, the MEMORIAL of the Victims of Communism and anticommunist Resistance ("Memorial Sighet") comprises a Museum and an International Study Centre.



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The Memorial Sighet was opened in 1997 in the former "Prison of the Ministers" (Inchisoarea Ministiriilor) in the town of Sighetu Marmatiei ("Sighet") located in the far north west, in the beautiful Maramures region.

The prison, which was active from 1897 until 1977, takes its name from the period during the 1950s when it held many political prisoners (former government ministers, generals, academicians, and religious leaders - the cultural and political elite of Romania) in terrible conditions - brought here because it was thought to be particularly secure since the town was just 2km from the Soviet frontier. 180 prisoners were held in terrible conditions in 72 cells. Many were elderly but this didn't save them from beatings and punishment so it is no surprise that many died. These included one of the most respected prewar politicians, Iuliu Maniu who orchestrated the 1944 coup, Dinu Bratianu - leader of the National Liberal Party and Ion Mihalache - founder of the Peasants Party.

Memorial Sighet


THE LEGACY


TIMISOARA
Birthplace of the Revolution
- Piata Victoriei
- Reformed Church
- Stay in Ceausescu's Villa
- 1989 Memorial Museum
- Monuments of the Martyrs

BUCHAREST
- Palace of Parliament
- Piata Revolutiei
- National Library
- former Central Committee building
- Ghencea Cemetery

DANUBE-BLACK SEA CANAL

SIGHETU MARMATIEI
Memorial Sighet
(former Prison of the Ministers)

Doftana Prison near Ploiesti
Petrosani, Pitesti


LITERATURE


Red Horizons (Ion Pacepa)
The Lost Footsteps (Silviu Craciunas)
Looking for George
Land of Green Plums (Herta Muller)
The Passport (Herta Muller)
Kiss the Hand you cannot Bite
(John Sweeney)
The Life & Evil Times of
Nicolae Ceausescu (Edward Behr)
Stealing from a Depp Place (Brian Hall)
Once upon Another Time
(Jessica Douglas-Home)
In Another Europe (Georgina Harding)
The Long Shadows (Alan Brownjohn)
Theft of a Nation (Tom Gallagher)

Several titles are also available in
the Romanian Language


ROMANIA LIBERA
- FREE ROMANIA

22 December 1989

Sculpture group "Parade of the Sacrificied" by Aurel Vlad, in the yard of the Memorial, with the former watchtower.

[ Memorial Sighet ]
The Memorial Sighet was established as a reminder of the atrocities committed by the communist regime - for years the populace had been brain-washed to create the so-called "New Man" through the rewriting of history and poisoning the memories of generations. Moral and civic values could only be recovered if the collective consciousness is duly recuperated. Sighet prison was chosen because it was the first of many political prisons set up in Stalinist times and because it was where the country's political, spiritual and cultural elite of the pre-war democracy was exterminated. An International Study Centre was established here because out of all of the former communist countries, Romania's experience had been the longest and most painful - from the long years of suppressed resistance to Ceausescu's obscene "Golden Epoch"


The Civic Academy Foundation took over the derelict prison in 1993 and began its reconstruction into a museum. Work included major renovation and the building of a Hall of Remembrance and Prayer. The cells have not been restructured - each floor still comprises 10 isolation cells and 4 shared cells, in addition to the "Black Cell". The Memorial was opened in June 1997 by the Foundation's president, the acclaimed writer Ana Blandiana - known for standing up to the Ceausescu regime
(
Full text of Ana Blandiana's poem Totul = 'Everything') .

The Centre plays a very important role in creating archives of the period including testimonies of surviving prisoners and tocontinue to promote justice.


[ Memorial Sighet ]

>Memorial Sighet

>A brief guide to the Museum

1. GROUND FLOOR
Map Room: an introduction to the Romanian "Gulag" - a giant map pinpoints the location of the main detention centres, psychiatric asylums, labour camps and common graves. Photos and further maps present further detail.
Sighet Prison: the second room presents an introduction to the prison with plans and a layout of the museum.
Collectivisation Room: Written and recorded documentation, pictures of collectivisation and peasant revolts, and repression of the peasantry provide a clear image of the Romanian countryside before and after collectivisation
Hard Labour Room: this room introduces the labour camps - in particular the construction of the Danube-Black Sea Canal -"Death Canal", but also the fate of the Romanian Saxons deported to the Soviet Union or Baragan Plain.
Penitentiary Regime: the old kitchen has been converted into a room illustrating the prison regime.
Maniu's Cell: the cell where Iuliu Maniu died is one of the cells retained in original condition; there is also a separate permanent exhibition to the life of Iuliu Maniu in the museum.

2. FIRST FLOOR
The Black Cell: this was a punishment cell - detainees placed in this cold, damp and dark cell would be stripped naked and bare-footed. They received only half their daily food allowance and were often chained so that they could not sit down. This cell is also preserved in original condition
Everyday Life in Prison / The Prison - Inside and Outside: two rooms illustrating the hard penitentiary regime. On display are items made by prisoners including small wooden crosses, communication tools and a clothchess set .
The tragedy of the Church and the clerics, repression of intellectuals and the physical suffering by torture are also depicted in the rooms on this floor.
Deportation to Baragan: an exhibition of documents, pictures and daily objects brought back from the villages of the Baragan plain.
Women in Prison: this room presents two imprisoned women who were separated from their children - one of the most moving items is a bar of soap from the husband back at home bearing the carved words "I love you".



3. SECOND FLOOR
Visovan Room: representing the conditions in which the first group of students and young peasants were imprisoned
Gheorghe Bratianu's Cell: the cell in which Gheorghe Bratianu, professor and politician, died; Exhibition of the Cult of Ceausescu

4. HALL OF REMEMBRANCE AND PRAYER
Many survivors of the prisons said that it was only their faith that kept them alive - here it is possible to light a candle and pay your respect to their memory.

5. THE PARADE OF THE SACRIFICED
This group of bronze statues in the prison courtyard represents the pain and despair of the prisoners.

6. THE CEMETERY WITHOUT CROSSES
The Paupers Cemetery (Cearda Cemetery )in Sighet is where the dead bodies from the prison were buried without a cross.

7. THE INTERNATIONAL STUDY CENTRE OF COMMUNISM
The centre enables a flow of information from all over the former communist world; the archive and library were started in 1993 and now include thousands of recordings, documents, diaries, written testimonies of life in the gulag, and even letters from t Color he prison.
The Prison of the Ministers is perhaps one of the most interesting museums in Romania and should be included in any itinerary which incorporates the Maramures region. We usually incorporate a visit to the museum as part of our tailor-made tours based in Botiza.

Open: Daily 10:00 - 18:00
Strada Corneliu Coposu, Sighetu Marmatiei; Tel. 0262 - 315 516
(located in the centre of the town)

For further details please refer to the museum's excellent website (Romanian/ English/ Deutsch):
www.memorialsighet.ro/en/default.asp


Fundatia Academia Civica
Piata Amzei Nr.13, Etaj.II,
RO-22216 Bucharest 1
Tel. +40 (0) 21 312 9852











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