Published 19 Jun 2024

Remembrance Day at the Sighet Memorial

This year on 13th of June the Sighet Memorial celebrated once again Remembrance Day.

This year on 13th of June the Sighet Memorial celebrated once again Remembrance Day.

Every year since 2003, the Feast of the Ortodox Ascension is Remembrance Day and Open-doors Day at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Anticommunist Resistance, a day when former political prisoners, their families, and descendants make a pilgrimage to Sighet. It is a day of commemoration, in the course of which debates are held, new museum rooms or exhibitions are opened, and concerts are given. In the Paupers’ Cemetery, a service is held to commemorate the souls of those who died in the prisons, camps, and as deportees.

The day began with a poignant debate titled “The suffering is a heritage too,” featuring influential figures such as Ana Blandiana, Niculina Moica, and Cornelia Fiat, who discussed the enduring impact of communist repression. The debate was a centerpiece of the event, fostering reflection and dialogue among attendees.

New contributions to historical understanding were highlighted through several new publications launched by the Civic Academy Foundation:

  • “Christus Vincit!” sau despre puterea credinţei în închisorile comuniste edited by Virginia Ion, explores the power of faith in communist prisons.
  • “Rezistenţa prin rugăciune. Călugări şi preoţi romano-catolici în închisorile comuniste” edited by Andrea Dobeş, delves into the resistance of Catholic monks and priests through prayer.
  • “Zbucium. File dintr-o viaţă trăită” by Emil Boșca-Mălin, edited by Oana Boșca-Mălin, presents personal stories of struggle during communism.
  • “Calvarul unui om simplu în comunism” by Szilagy Arpad, chronicles the trials of an ordinary man during the communist regime.
  • “Importanţa trecutului. La aniversarea de 30 de ani a Memorialului Sighet” by Dennis Deletant, reflects on the importance of the past on the 30th anniversary of the Sighet Memorial.
  • “Wolton la Sighet” and “Courtois la Sighet” feature contributions from prominent scholars who visited Sighet.
  • “Anii ’50 – Câteva vieţi” edited by Georgeta Pop, provides insights into lives during the 1950s.
  • “Vintilă Horia. Între condamnare şi graţiere. Documente din arhiva CNSAS” by Ioana Diaconescu, showcases documents from the Securitate Archives.
  • “Iuliu Maniu în jurnalul lui Corneliu Coposu. O reinterpretare a istoriei” by Dan Pavel, offers a reinterpretation of history through the journal of Corneliu Coposu.
  • The event also featured the opening of three temporary exhibitions:
  • “The man with no memory” by Teodor Zaica and Mircea Hristescu, exploring themes of memory and identity.
  • “Jan Palach. The Living Torch – 1969” organized by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague, commemorating the legacy of Jan Palach.
  • “Women enemies of the people” curated by Virginia Ion, highlighting the stories of women who resisted communist oppression.

The day concluded with a solemn religious service at the Paupers’ Cemetery, followed by a festive lunch that fostered camaraderie among participants. This combination of intellectual discourse, artistic expression, and communal remembrance underscored the significance of the Sighet Memorial as a hub for historical education and civic engagement.

The event was organized by the Civic Academy Foundation in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, drawing around 200 participants from various backgrounds.

Sighet Memorial was awarded the European Heritage Label in 2017.