- Beth Lantinga
“The main accusation against me was that I was part of the student meeting held on the afternoon of October 23, 1956. This is the story of student associations. There was an official communist youth association, but the party also wanted to reach other young people, especially those in college student associations. When it appeared that these associations were purely cultural organizations, there wasn’t a problem, but when the aims had some political content and conflicted with the party’s goals, there were problems.
At that time there were two universities in Kolozsvar/Cluj, and a joint student organization was planning a conference in Bucharest. I represented the seminary at this planning meeting. I didn’t talk because I thought that others could speak better than me. I was just a seminary student, so I didn’t want to be too deeply involved in this thing. Yet it turned out three years later that my presence at this planning meeting would be the main accusation against me.
Leaders of the communist youth party in Kolozsvar led this student meeting with such a spirit of openness that problems of the association were openly discussed. Unfortunately, our meeting coincided with the outbreak of the revolution in Hungary, and the authorities assumed that there was a connection. So, the student leaders in Romania were arrested, and these two were sentenced to six years in prison.
Geza Paskandi, a well-known Transylvanian poet and writer was not only accused of participating in this student meeting, but also of being a founder of the student association. When I was arrested in 1959, I was accused of attending his trial three years earlier. When the secret police searched my house, they found the notes I had made at the Paskandi trial. So, this was part of the evidence found when the secret police searched my house.
Altogether there were eight allegations against me. I learned of them when I recently received my files from Bucharest. Another was that on March 15, 1957 I conducted the short worship where I preached the sermon and prayed for Hungarian counter-revolutionaries who were now prisoners and on that very day were being transported to Russia through the Kolozsvar railway station. So, my sin was that I prayed publicly for these guilty prisoners. I was even accused of plotting to free then. I responded that in as much as I knew myself, I would never have prayed such a thing publicly, and I could not confess to this.
During the interrogations, officials targeted two of my seminary professors, Andras Nagy, professor of Hebrew, and Pal Gereb, professor of dogmatics. The activities of these two old professors was offensive to them, and they cited the Bible study hours held at the home of Andras Nagy. According to the accusation, I had been present at these Bible studies where we had discussed the counter revolution in Hungary and plotted to liberate those who had been arrested.
When I heard this accusation, of course I had been present, just as my classmates who had been arrested earlier than me and were somewhere in this prison world. But I even relaxed a bit knowing that this discussion had never occurred.”