Private view of the photography exhibition ‘Toma Arnautoiu and the anti-communist armed resistance in Romania’ | 06 July 2010| 7.00 pm - 9.00 pm at The Ratiu Foundation / Romanian Cultural Centre, Manchester Square, 18 Fitzhardinge Street, London W1H 6EQ
Entry is free but booking is essential at email@example.com
Hosted by Dr Mike Phillips OBE, British novelist, historian and curator.
Followed by Q&A session with Ioana Voicu-Arnautoiu, Christian Mititelu, and Mike Phillips.
This is the story of Toma Arnautoiu from the village of Nucsoara on the southern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains. He led the most enduring anti-communist partisan group in Romania, starting with 1949, when twelve men and four women from Nucsoara took to the mountains. They followed discharged lieutenant Toma Arnautoiu and his brother Petre, resisting for nine years by changing hiding places and requisitioning food from shepherds, foresters or even chalets, always leaving a receipt for what was taken. On several occasions, the group clashed with the troops chasing them or with Securitate agents posing as mountaineers. Of the initial 16, one surrendered, a few were caught, and a couple were killed. Relatives and villagers suspected of helping them were brutally questioned, detained and handed heavy sentences. In May 1958 Toma’s group was finally betrayed by a former sympathiser. They were detained and interrogated for one year. A court martial sentenced the Arnautoiu brothers to be shot alongside 14 villagers who had helped them in various ways. The parents of the Arnautoiu brothers and Maria Plop, one of the women who joined the group and had a child with Toma, were handed heavy sentences and died in prison. Their sister and others who had helped them were imprisoned until 1964, when almost all political detainees in Romania were released. The talk will be accompanied by the screening of a short introductory film by Monica Tanase and an exhibition of photographs from the Securitate archives about Toma Arnautoiu and his resistance group. With this event, we will be presenting the book
‘50 Years since the Trial and Execution of the Members of the Anti-Communist Partisan Group led by Toma Arnautoiu’
Edited by Ioana Voicu-Arnautoiu and Ioan Craciun (English version by Christian Mititelu), Ars Docendi Publishing House-University of Bucharest, 2010. ISBN 978-973-558-479-5. The book will be for sale on the evening at the special price of £5.00. Ioana Voicu-Arnautoiu is currently the head of the Chamber Music department at the Bucharest Conservatoire. At the age of four she was adopted from an orphanage. After the fall of communism, aged 34, she set off to discover her roots, her search taking her to former staff of the orphanage who recalled a malnourished child, with no papers nor medical history being brought in by the police. Ioana discovered she had been born in a mountain hide-out in the Carpathian Mountains where she had spent the first two years of her life, and that she was the daughter of anti-communist partisans, that her father had been executed and her mother had died in prison. She then began a methodical search through the archives: first at the Ministry of Justice, later at the authority holding the Securitate files (CNSAS), meeting some of the survivors, and going to court to have her father’s paternity officially recognized. Her father, incredibly, had in fact been Toma Arnautoiu. She published in a comprehensive volume the main documents concerning the interrogation records and trial of the Nucsoara partisans led by her father and selected from the archives the photographs in the accompanying exhibition.
Photography Exhibition: Toma Arnautoiu and the anti-communist armed resistance in Romania
6 July to 6 August 2010, at The Ratiu Foundation / Romanian Cultural Centre. Free admission. Opening times: Mon - Fri 12.00 - 18.00 (booking essential, by phone or e-mail). The public will have the chance to see for the first time in Britain images and documents coming straight from the archives of the feared Securitate, the Romanian secret police, about the anti-communist resistance group led by Toma Arnautoiu. After the fall of the communist regime in December 1989, these archives have been kept shut away for a long time, with limited access, until the establishment in 1999 of a special commission to oversee them. Armed resistance to communism in Romania is little known, even in Romania, and this exhibition gives the lie to the propaganda myth that communism was embraced with joy by all in Eastern Europe.
Organised by The Ratiu Foundation / Romanian Cultural Centre in London. Culture Power is a programme initiated by the Ratiu Foundation, consisting of a number of presentations and constructive dialogue with an invited audience. With the support of ProFusion International Creative Consultancy. Photo: Displaying the body of the fighter who did not surrender. Courtesy of Ioana Voicu-Arnautoiu.