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  • Beth Lantinga

He was Arrested

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

Fraught describes conditions in Romania in the years immediately following World War II. Tensions between social groups was exacerbated and exaggerated by communist authorities who had seized power from their alleged oppressors. Suspicious paranoia guided their response to anything they perceived as dissent. It resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of anyone suspected of opposing their regime. Everyone lived in fear. It was the situation in which Denes Fulop found himself.

Off to Gherla Prison

Gherla Prison

“I was attending a meeting when I was warned that officials were looking for me. That night I took a different way to my parents’ home. It was raining heavily by the time I arrived. I was so nervous that all night long I thought I was seeing people outside the window. In the morning I got on the first bus back to Marosvasarhely and met my sister who traveled with me to my apartment at the castle church.

Two officers were waiting for me and said that they represented the law. They wanted to talk with me in my home. I acted as if there was no problem and offered to let them enter ahead of me. They insisted on following me in, so I knew that my time had come. They searched my apartment and I was arrested.

The agents blindfolded me and shoved me into a car. I didn’t know what would happen. Would I would be killed? They drove me to the airport and forced me to lie face down in the grass at the edge of the airstrip. At last, one of the officers nudged me with his foot. The two-engine plane that would carry me to Kolosvar/Cluj Napoca had arrived. My hands were cuffed behind my back, and the soldiers helped me get up and into the plane. I felt greatly honored that they had sent a plane for me and wondered whether all I had done was really worthy of such treatment. I was afraid that they might push me out of the plane over a field somewhere. When we arrived at the airport, some officers were waiting for me and took me off in a black Volga. My hands were cuffed behind me just as on the plane. They delivered me to the Gherla Prison

At the prison, they immediately took were my shoelaces and glasses. Two guards then pushed me along a corridor that led to # 8, one of the underground cells. On the concrete floor was a lone bale of straw. Tired and hungry, I collapsed on the straw to rest. The guard checking through the small window in the door immediately ordered me to stand until he gave permission to sit or lie down. Each day I stood while they watched and listened through the small hole in the door. The guards all had felt on the soles of their boots so that they could creep silently down the halls and sneak up on the prisoners.

For seven days no one spoke to me, but on the eighth day, during the night, two guards came to my cell. They forced me to undress and stand there naked while they searched my clothing for dangerous, contraband items – like pins. At this time, they didn’t beat me or question me. They didn’t even speak to me but spoke as if I were a thing. It was terrifying.


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