The cultural anti-Communist opposition in Bessarabia

the cultural anti-communist opposition in bessarabia In Bessarabia, the historical region that was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1944, the opposition to the Soviet regime had its own national traits

In Bessarabia, the historical region that was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1944, the opposition to the Soviet regime had its own national traits. Oppressed, both ideologically and nationally, the Romanians living in Bessarabia developed their own forms of culture, aimed at resisting ideologization and denationalization through cultural opposition. Though apparently abiding by the official rules, people of culture developed their own subversive means of escaping the political and ideological canons. The cultural opposition in the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was dominated by writers. They were those who set the tone for the rebellion against the regime's cultural confinement. And the venue for expressing cultural divergences was the institutionalized framework of the Writers' Union, starting mid 1950s, after Stalin's death. 


Andrei Cusco is a professor with the History Faculty of the Moldova State University in Chisinau. He told us that the period after Stalin's death fostered lots of tensions among the writers in Bessarabia:

"It's about the period right after the Khrushchev Thaw. Starting with this period, we can talk about some relative autonomy, both at institutional and personal level, granted to some representatives of the intellectual circles in the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. They appeared along with a change in the regime's dynamics, as the open and rather tough forms of repression that used to characterize the Stalinist period turned into less defined such forms. We are talking about a continuum of pressure and collaboration, or, better said, about resistance and opposition."


The Writers' Union had been reformed after 1945, replacing everything that Romanian culture used to stand for. The friction following Stalin's death concentrated around two poles of power, as Andrei Cusco told us:

"In the second half of the 1940s, the power relations within the Writers' Union had a strong political connotation, based primarily on geography. Therefore, we are talking about the opposition between the so called Trans-Dniester faction, of the writers from the former autonomous Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic on the left bank of the River Dniester, and the so-called Bessarabians. This geographic opposition was doubled by a political one, which opposed the communist, party-member writers to those with no affiliation to the Communist Party."


The clashing groups of writers had clearly different formative traditions and equally clear political options. According to Andrei Cusco, the alliance between two generations of pro-Romania writers led to the formation of cultural opposition:

"The Writers' Union in the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was dominated by two generations who were fighting for dominance and preeminence, and that went on also throughout the 1970s. There is a very interesting inter-generational dynamics here. It's the generation of the 1960s, made up of a group of younger, rising artists, born in the late 1920s and early 1930s, formed in the Soviet institutions. They were, apparently, the people of the regime. That's a difference that would count. Although both groups would frequently fight over literary styles or how to define socialist realism, they allied against the group of Trans-Dniester writers who initially had a dominant position within the Union, as they were close to the political and party power. In a way, this second generation of the 1960s was somehow trained by the previous generation, of the Thaw, who benefited from the symbolic capital associated with Romanian culture. Those writers of the 1960s assimilated the Soviet slogans in a superficial manner, but at the same time managed to develop a sort of critical thinking."


The cultural opposition in Bessarabia was formed in mid 1960s following a decisive moment. Here is Andrei Cusco once more:

"The turning point was the 3rd Congress of the Moldovan Writers, which was held in 1965. It marked a clear development and a shift in the power dynamics within the Writers' Union. That congress, which occurred in the early times of Brezhnev's rule, is usually seen as a climax of the anti-regime opposition, staged by the local intellectuals. It somehow marked an establishment of the 1960s generation. Those people were the first to write their works in the standard Romanian language. As of 1957, the so-called Moldovan language became standard Romanian, but written in the Cyrillic alphabet, and that was the last linguistic reform in the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. The literary quality of those works was clearly higher than that of most of their predecessors' and they were in line with the liberal tendencies that had become visible all across the Soviet Union. I would mention here some of the representatives of this generation: Grigore Vieru, Ion Druta, Aureliu Busuioc and Pavel Botu. The 3rd Congress of the Writers' Union was the first clear manifestation of a nationally-aware agenda and the first such event to be held in the Romanian language after WWII in Bessarabia."


The cultural opposition in Bessarabia was a silent, though tenacious battle to defend the national spirit. It eventually won, but its legacy still needs time to be properly integrated.



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Publicat: 2019-08-19 11:30:00
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