The Genocide of the Souls — The Pitesti Phenomenon (1949-1951)
“However, what has not yet become universal knowledge is the fact that in the Romanian Gulag Archipelago there was an island of absolute horror, such as existed nowhere else in the entire geography of the communist penitentiary system: Pitesti Prison.” – Virgil Ierunca, Pitesti Phenomenon.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the 1970 Nobel Prize laureate for literature, refers to the Pitesti experiment as the “most terrible act of barbarism in the contemporary world”.
Historian François Furet, member of the French Academy, regards the Pitesti phenomenon as “one of the most terrible experiments in dehumanisation that our epoch has known”.
Between 1949 and 1951, the destruction of society”s elite was almost complete: intellectuals, diplomats, priests, officers, magistrates, policemen, and politicians of the “bourgeois-landowner regime” were in prison; the most industrious peasants had been deported to forced labour camps. Collectively and individually, they were all labelled “enemies of the people”. It now remained to annihilate the unpredictable social force of youth. For the latter, the Pitesti experiment was invented (termed “re-education” by the Securitate). The most barbarous methods of psychological torture were applied to “recalcitrant” young prisoners, with the object of making them reciprocally humiliate each other, physically abuse each other and mentally torture each other. Victims were transformed into executioners; prisoners were tortured by their own friends, by their fellows in suffering. The purpose: “re-education” through physical and psychical destruction, the transformation of young people into atheists, into informers on their friends.
For more information, watch an excellent documentary: BEYOND TORTURE — The gulag of Pitesti ROMANIA at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QGUTBXgz3g
“When you said, ‘I still believe in God,’ in five minutes you were full of blood”. – Roman Braga
“Many of us died, many of us became mad, but in some of us the good triumphed”. – George Calciu
These chilling words from two survivors of a brainwashing prison in Pitesti, Romania are sad reminders of the legacy of Stalinist communism. Beyond Torture: The Gulag of Pitesti, Romania documents the persecution of Romanians under the communist regime. Electrical shock, hallucinogenic drugs, near starvation and fatal beatings were daily rituals in the prison of Pitesti, Romania. But this sadistic story goes beyond torture: this was an attempt to totally destroy a people’s culture and faith.
In 1949, Stalinist Soviets began a systematic sweep of Romanian college campuses. Their purpose was to imprison and transform young Romanians into a communistic way of thinking. One prisoner describes this re-education as the most vile tortures imaginable. Orthodox priest Father George Calcui says, “They tried to destroy our souls.” But he and others survived this gulag, lived to tell their stories and even forgave their captors.
In this documentary, you’ll meet three survivors from the prison of Pitesti and see shocking paintings that capture the essence of the extreme torture. This documentary also includes an in-depth one-hour interview with Father Roman Braga: prison survivor and spiritual leader. Don’t expect a typical tale of woe. What comes through from the priests being interviewed — most especially Fr. Roman Braga, now in America — is a surprising theme: forgiveness…and even joy.
Outside of Romania, this DVD is the first major historical documentation of the Pitesti experience.