Late evening: “I know you, though we have never met”
I, too, several times rang President Iliescu and Defence Minister Stănculescu, who only kept promising help and mentioning the trip by the two vice-ministers as a solution. They said that as soon as they arrived in Târgu Mureş, the Vice-Ministers for Defence and the Interior would take the necessary steps. I do not know why, but the two gentlemen were visible in town only the next day (the 21st), but kept away from the events on the 20th.
Seeing that the clashes continued and nobody did anything to prevent the escalation of violence, I also rang Prime Minister Petre Roman and introduced myself to him. He said very curtly in Romanian: “I know you, though we have never met, nor even spoken to each other on the phone.” I immediately remembered the February threat by General Cojocaru (he then said that he would have me court-martialled and had already discussed it with the Prime Minister). I told Roman that the necessary and adequate military steps would be outlined to him by a reserve-major of the army. I then handed the phone to this reserve major, the Hungarian Géza Nagy, who sketched out what measures would put an end to the bloodshed, Petre Roman told Nagy to hand the receiver back to me and he told me that within an hour an infantry battalion would be in Târgu Mureş.
All this happened between 20:30 and 21:00, when we had as yet been informed of only two dead and 100 injured.
After 75 minutes I again rang Roman, who told me the infantry had not arrived because it could not get through the barricades set up in the Hungarian villages. Finally paratroopers arrived, and from Luna (a village between Luduş and Turda) an infantry formation. In this direction, by the way, there are no Hungarian concentrations on the road to Târgu Mureş. But what could a few peasants do against the army anyway?
Not that Hungarians outside the town weren’t active. On the road from Hodac, where there are indeed Hungarian settlements, local people fought valiantly for hours to try and block or delay the transit of the convoys of Romanian peasants into Târgu Mureş. While Hungarians inside Târgu Mureş fought back against the mob, scenes of equal heroism were taking place without our knowledge on the roads through the villages of Sângeorgiu de Mureş , Ernei, Gorneşti and Dumbrăvioara. Indeed, two of the Hungarian dead of that night fell on this road – crushed by Romanian trucks.
I must stress that without the help of these Hungarian villagers, the Hungarians inside the town would have lost far more blood than they did.
At around 23:00, Hungarian Szekler people from the Niraj valley arrived. And together with the Hungarians and the Gypsies of Târgu Mureş, they dispersed the Romanians who were still in the area behind the tanks, in the Square of the Martyrs, and drove them out of town.
The main body of the infantry arrived in the main square only at 5:00 the next morning. They threw a defensive cordon around the Hungarian demonstrators who had stayed all night in the square. They had covered the distance of 50 kilometres in eight hours. Why did it take so long? When the military arrived, only Hungarians were left in the square.
During the second main counter-attack which finally dispersed the Romanians from the town centre, the Hungarians also took prisoners, whom they questioned during the night. The prisoners confessed that they had come because they were paid money, or because their village mayor forced them to come. They even said that the bells had been sounded in the Orthodox churches. They were usually drunk. But it is still a fact that they behaved very strangely, and that I cannot explain their behaviour by the influence of drink alone. Some recordings were made of these interrogations, and there were also written confessions.
Given the emotionally-charged nature of the moment, these interrogations were chaotic, contradictory and often self-defeating. But I shall record here some essential details from the video-recordings made with the Romanian prisoners (all in Romanian):
1 st voice: Why have you come here? Look at me when I am talking to you. What is your name?
2nd voice: Ilie Petra.
1st voice: Where have you come from?
2nd voice: From Ibănesti.
1st voice: How did you travel here?
2nd voice: By bus.
1st voice: Who told you to come here? How did you know that you should come here?
2nd voice: I was on my way home from the factory...
1st voice: Where do you work?
2nd voice: In the Ierbus, in furniture plant No. 2.
1st voice: How old are you?
2nd voice: Twenty-three.
1st voice: Well, who told you to come here?
2nd voice: On my way home, I was stopped at the bridge and told to come here.
1st voice: How many came from Ibăneşti? In how many buses?
2nd voice: In three buses. About 400.
1st voice: And why did you come here? What was the reason? Were you only being told to come...? They must have had some reason... well, what? Did you want to have a look at the town?
2nd voice: No, but...
1st voice: Well then, did you want to defend Transylvania? Was that the reason? Was that what you were told?
2nd voice: Yes, but...
1st voice: Of course, tell us in stages what you were told, why you should have to come here. First, to defend Transylvania, and then? Well, you must have been told something in the village before you came here.
2nd voice: I was in the factory...
1st voice: Still, after you left the factory, you must have been told something. You were told where you had to go and why. Didn’t they tell you?
2nd voice: I won’t tell; if I tell, I will be killed.
1st voice: Tell us, we won’t harm you. Continue.
2nd voice: The chairman. He had the church bell sounded.
1st voice: And how much money did you get? And how many gifts did you get? And drink? You’re saying you know nobody who instigated this. What arms did you bring along?
2nd voice: None.
1st voice: So you came empty-handed. Then where did you get the clubs and the axes with which you fought? Aren’t you telling? Or by what car you came? Every registration plate has been noted down. So are you sure that we want to take Transylvania away?
2nd voice: No.
1st voice: Then why did you come? We have never asked for this. We have as many rights as you do. We are here too, and we want to stay here. Who said that we want to take Transylvania away? What shall we take it away with? With our hands? You well know that we do not want Transylvania, and you nevertheless turned against us. Why? Tell us, why?
3rd voice: Answer. I have a son who is as old as you are.
1st voice: Would you have the courage to tell in front of others too?
2nd voice: We were told that the Hungarians broke the shop windows and destroyed the shops.
1st voice: Listen, you came here in order to beat up the Hungarians, isn’t it true? Who then broke up everything here? Didn’t you break the doors and windows of our headquarters? Confess that you came to beat Hungarians.
You were here yesterday, too, weren’t you? Who brought you here yesterday?
2nd voice: The mayor of Hodac.
1st voice: Are you certain that it was him? What is his name?
2nd voice: Ioan Brînzaru. He was there, and he got hold of the bus.
4th voice: What did you come for? I still don’t understand.
1st voice: You came to beat up the Hungarians, didn’t you? Look and see how Transylvania looks in your eyes. How beautiful it looks. On account of you idiots. Can you see what it looks like? Don’t you have a single Hungarian friend? Well, close your eyes and don’t look either right or left, be ashamed. Do you know how many injured there are, that there is no room for them in the hospitals? More than 100. Quite a few from Hodac, too. Can you see how beautiful Transylvania is now, this place you want to defend against us? You who beat up our people. We do not need Transylvania, we need friendship, do you understand? You don’t need Transylvania either, you who also know how it was on December 22, when we together proclaimed brotherhood. We wanted brotherhood, do you understand? This is what you want to destroy now. Have we taken anything away from you? Do you know what we are asking for? Our rights provided for in the constitution. Why does a Hungarian school disturb you?
4th voice (a Romanian interrogator!): So you have many Hungarian friends, have you not? Or haven’t you any? All right, boy, I’m glad you are from lbăneşti. You see, I’m from Suceava County, from Rădăuţi. See, I’m not from here, I’ve only been living here for seven years. I have only one question: Why did you come here to stir up trouble. Why? What for?
2nd voice: I haven’t done anything; I’ve only just got here.
4th voice: You’ve just got here? But why have you come here?
2nd voice: I heard the Hungarians had plundered and smashed up the shops.
4th voice: Have you heard what happened here yesterday when you came in? Have you heard what your friends and brothers did? Have you heard about the butchery they arranged yesterday? They attacked innocent, unarmed people with sticks and axes. Have you heard about last night?
2nd voice: I’ve heard about it.
4th voice: You’ve heard about it. So then why did you nevertheless come here today? What were you looking for? Did you again want to eradicate this nationality? Can’t you feel that we have become ridiculous in front of the world?
1st voice: Is this how you would treat the Hungarians? You didn’t bandage anybody there, you didn’t look after them. What would have happened if I had got into your hands like this?
4th voice: They would have killed you.
1st voice: Tell me frankly what would you have done if a man with a broken skull had fallen in front of your feet?
2nd voice: I say that I wouldn’t have killed him.
1st voice: No. Would you have left him there?
4th voice: Listen, a cross-examination. If you people at Hodac had asked for some rights, and if Hungarians had gone to your village and hit you over the head, how would you have liked that? What would you have said then? See, this is the only question I have, you know. Because you never think. You are excited and then you let go. Have you ever imagined in your life that a Hungarian should have gone to Hodac to take your rights away?
2nd voice: No.
4th voice: Have you seen in the press, have you heard over the radio a single Hungarian asking for Transylvania?
2nd voice: No. Not us.
4th voice: Then what do you want? When the entire world knows that they only ask for their own rights, that they should be treated like human beings. How shall we treat them? As some kind of slaves, as dogs? This is how far we Romanians have got. This is too much. Rather think of it that on the [December] 21st and the 22nd when the bullets were flying, you were not here. Did you have to come now? I am only asking you this, because in December you were then resting at home...
1st voice: What did you get this money for?
2nd voice: I had a fine from the council, and they told me, if we don’t come, then...
1st voice: What would they do then?
2nd voice: Put me in jail.
1st voice: Put you in jail? And how much did they give?
2nd voice: As much as the fine was. Three thousand Lei. That much.
1st voice: Who told you this?
2nd voice: The mayor.
1st voice: What is his name?
2nd voice: Milu Borzean.
1st voice: Where did you come from?
2nd voice: From Ulişiu.
I also know about a witness (unfortunately his words were not recorded) who said that they had been called to Târgu Mureş because the Hungarians there were murdering Romanian children.
And further, the fact that the attacks against the Hungarian population of Târgu Mureş had been planned was also let out by Mihai Cofariu, an Ibăneşti man transported to the town. In an interview on an Hungarian-language broadcast of Romanian Television, he said that at the previous Sunday service it had been announced that when church bells were sounded people should go to Târgu Mureş to make order, to teach a lesson to the Hungarians.
Nothing need be added to this!