In Romania the architects of re-education aimed to eliminate religion, particularly the majority Christian faith, and traditional Romanian culture, especially amongst the younger generation. National consciousness was to be subordinated to communist ideology. The psychological engineering was intended to change human nature by obliterating what Christianity, along with Judaism and Islam, designates as God's image within the human person and by replacing this image with the Marxist-Leninist ideal of an atomised, isolated individual, who energetically subscribes to the totalitarian 'party'.
How was this to be done? The Soviet educationalist Anton Makarenko in his Pedagogical Poem, The Road to Life, finished in 1935, designed a method of re-education through violence and intimidation for homeless children and juvenile offenders. His goal was to impose a new personality based on the values of dialectical materialism, which regarded material existence as the determinant ofhuman consciousness. Aphrase usedby prisoners of conscience to describe this ideal of a communist individual was homo sovieticus; by which they understood a stultified, spiritually dead humanity, in which personality had been destroyed in favour of collective identity.
Makarenko's method was also used in Soviet labour camps on prisoners of war, who later formed the vanguard of the Red Army as it invaded eastern Europe from 1944. Among these were Romanians, who were repatriated at the end of the war and were then used within the Romanian prison system to inflict sustained physical and psychological torture on their fellow prisoners. Torture and terror were used to 'unmask' the person and reveal 'the beast within' -the person's alleged real identity - leading eventually to enforced rejection of God and country, denunciation of family and friends, and confession of crimes that had never been committed. This process of extorting false confessions was later extended, when re-educated victims were used as ideological contaminants within society. People had also to accept the assertion of Soviet 'superiority' over western capitalism, and the idea that every member of the Soviet working class could and should become a model of Soviet humanity and culture.
This Soviet-inspired programme of 're-education and unmasking' was undertaken between 1949 and 1952 (beginning at Suceava, then in prisons at Pitesti, Ocnele Mari, Targ^or, Gherla and Targu Ocna), and between 1960 and 1964 (at Aiud, Gherla and Botosani). The experiment was carried out also on the canal built by political prisoners, linking the Danube with the Black Sea, and in the sanatorium of Targu Ocna where gravely ill prisoners were held. Almost entirely ignored by the western media, this programme was supervised from Moscow by Beria and Stalin himself.
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