Interlude: the army that never was

I joined the Hungarian crowd in front of the town hall at 16:00. There were then about 15-16,000, including many women and children, unarmed. There would  have been many more Hungarians there to defend each other, except for the following reason:

The day before, at 19:00, 1 had gone to the nearby predominantly Hungarian town of Odorheiul Secuiesc for a court hearing. I felt happy at the time to be able to spend the night in peace. But in the morning, after 7:00, two local workers visited me in my room and told me that horrible things had happened in Târgu Mureş the night before. They said that in protest, the Hungarian workers of the town had gone on strike and wanted to go to Târgu Mureş to defend the Hungarians there.

I at once rang Attila Jakabffy, who gave me a detailed account of the injuries suffered by András Sütő and about the whole vandalistic action. I thought through the situation, and it continued to be my feeling that violent clashes had to be avoided. I talked to indignant crowds in two factories and in the main square of Odorheiul Secuiesc.

In my opinion, I was able to convince up to 12,000 people in this one town not to travel to Târgu Mureş and not to fall victim to provocation. (And now I know that I was probably wrong.)

But my argument at that time was that this is what the forces of regression were waiting for. I said I believed a scenario existed which depended on Hungarians going into the streets in response to a series of humiliations and acts of aggression. Clashes would occur. These clashes would then be used by the Vatra and the political forces behind the Vatra to confirm the acusation of Hungarian separatism.

The political maturity of the Odorheiul Secuiesc people was (given my analysis then) one of the great experiences of my life. Usually, crowds do not listen to reason.

I was called home to Târgu Mureş with the message that, at the request of the Hungarian demonstrators, President Iliescu and Károly Király would also be travelling to Târgu Mureş and that they would want to talk to me.

(Today, I think that travelling to Târgu Mureş would have been risky for Iliescu and Király. For if the President could not have calmed down and sent home the enraged crowd, he would have nullified himself as a politician. The task of the interim President would have been to order Defence Minister Victor Stănculescu and Interior Minister Mihai Chiţac to stop the organised transport of people from the Gurghiu Valley and from Turda to Târgu Mureş. But the two generals had a vital interest in making a bloody conflict happen, because, together with Chief of Staff Ştefan Guşă, they were the ones who gave the order for the Timişoara massacre. It took another ten years before they were held responsible for this in a criminal court.)

If I had not been called back to Târgu Mureş at this moment, I would have gone on to Bucharest to attend a hearing of the Supreme Court set for March 21.

I arrived home at 16:00 only to learn the terrible news: Iliescu is not here, Király is not here. And besides our own demonstrators, 3-4,000 very aggressive Vatra people had appeared.