The presence of women in history has long been neglected, but their importance has not been inferior to that of men
The presence of women in history has long been neglected, but their importance has not been inferior to that of men. Women have gone through the most powerful experiences in history, just like men, and in the communist prisons they suffered as much and endured with the same courage. One of the most impressive stories is that of the teacher Iuliana Preduț from the family of Toma Arnăuțoiu, leader of the anti-communist partisans in the Făgăraș Mountains. In 1958, while she was at school, she was arrested and imprisoned along with her entire family on charges of supporting the resistance movement. At the time of her arrest, she was 6 months pregnant and the birth of her daughter in the Văcărești facility was part of her prison experience.
Shortly after her arrest, Iuliana Preduț was transferred from the prison in Pitesti to Văcărești, in Bucharest, where she gave birth to the little girl Libertatea Justina. In 2001, the Oral History Center of the Romanian Broadcasting Corporation had the opportunity to interview the heroine.
Here is how she recalled that terrible experience:
"They put me in cell 116 in the evening, and in order for my life to be a real ordeal, they left me alone in a Turkish toilet with 6 holes that could hardly be seen because they were full of faeces. The heavy smell there, the torturous road from the Securitate office in Pitesti to the dreaded prison in Văcăreşti had obviously accentuated my terrible pain mixed with a hunger hard to imagine. I was gradually losing all my strength. Eventually, I sat down in the urine floating on the cement floor of the toilet. "
Iuliana Preduț had to fight everything there, her fears, her fate, the infernal Communist torture machinery. She was all by herself in an awful cell, waiting to give birth. Iuliana Preduț:
"I tried to gather my strength and sit on a bed. I felt like I was being watched. After a while I looked around me and horror just stabbed my soul. The beds stacked against the ceiling were in astonishing disarray, as if after a thorough search. There were fresh traces of blood, dirty cotton wool, and faeces on the cold, muddy cement. I felt as in the horror scenes imagined only in novels, the presence of evil spirits approaching me. The fear was so great, especially that I was hearing strange sounds in the corridor. It sounded like a mixture of human moaning and the moaning of sheep, the howl of a wild beast pouring hard into the cell in which I had been locked up. I got suddenly terrified. The child was struggling so hard and hitting my belly as if she wanted to escape from the hell I had just entered. I burst into tears and I couldn't stop for a long time."
However, hope finally emerged from that pit of despair, as Iuliana Preduț recalls:
"Fear had become so excruciating that I started to pray to God to take me out of this land of suffering and darkness, even though I knew I was sinning because I had another life in me for which I had a duty to hope. Suddenly, from a corner of the cell, the holy figure of a grieving Mother appeared in a ray of blinding light and said to me: "Why are you afraid? Can't you see I'm with you? "Then she disappeared on the same bright ray, leaving in my soul so much peace. The child calmed down, the tears miraculously stopped, and the cell suddenly looked different, just an ordinary prison cell in which hope had to overcome suffering. Overcoming my deplorable condition, I gathered the blankets full of blood and pus, I took the faecal remains in my hands and took them to a corner of the cell, thus making a little room for me. "
Iulianei Preduț's mystical enthusiasm would materialize into a human being. A person who'd managed to maintain his humanity in that inferno:
"I wished I could wash my hands, but there was no water. I didn't dare knock on the door because I knew the rules of detention, and especially because I knew they'd say no. But then a miracle happened. The tray slot opened, and a guard pushed a mug of water through it and then closed it. I washed my hands and I sat on the bed. Then a voice called me through the tray slot. He asked me to give him the mug and he poured a bit of milk in it. I hadn't seen milk since they arrested me. He asked me in a very low voice what I had seen that calmed me like that. I think he was looking through the slot and saw me. I told him who it was: the Mother of Mercy. His eyes were full of compassion, at least that's what I could see through that slot. I asked him, because I realized he was different from the other guards, where those terrible noises were coming from. He told me that all the cells in that wing were full of dying people."
Iuliana Preduț lived. And she lived to also tell the story of awful times that would go down in the big encyclopaedia of barbaric practices in the 20th century. (MI)