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> 5. Tears on the Dniester
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Posted: December 18, 2003 08:06 pm
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by Leonida Loghin

The begining of 1940 summer painfully coincided with the annexation of territories from the Romanian ancestors' land. Romania was stolen Bessarabia and Northern Bukovine. Those dramatic days, I lived with my parents - both school masters - in our native village of Varnita, on the Dniester bank, about 3 km north of Tighina. The village was full of soldiers working at the fortifications. By July 26th, the border guards picketleader, a young handsome second lieutenant who told my father that Bessarabia was to be ceded to the Russians after a day or two, that the teachers, the priests and the clerks could take refuge west of the Prut river within five days and they would be granted their jobs. The news spread quickly throughout the Romanian village, the fear of a new Slavian invasion was justified. Those who had taken refuge from across the Dniester, mainly at winter, over the frozen river, had told us what was happening there. As a matter of the fact, I had seen myself in 1937/38 how the church in Parcani village, across the Dniester, in the neighbourhood of the town of Tiraspol, had been pulled down. My parents, although we had a cosy house in the village, had been living in the school building, as my father was the headmaster.

In the morning of June 27th, what had been a rumour became a cruel, dreadful fact. My parents decided on taking refuge, there was no other choice, leaving behind the house in Varnita and another one, a villa-like house in Tighina on 2nd, King Mihai I Street, 3 hectares of vineyards, 5 hectares of land, an orchard on the Dniester bank, their native places on the Dniester-Gura Bacului and Marcautii Orheiului, about 10 brothers and sisters who, as peasants, had to remain there. We took whatever stuff we could perck into a wagon. My mother was sobbing while she wrapped and piled the thingsclothes, food, things of importance. I helped father dig a hole behind the stables and we put there the tricoloured flag of our school, wrapped in a mat. Then, we left, mother's eyes were red with crying, we were all looking bak to the Dniester. My poor parents, they were leaving behind the work of a lifetime, their brothers and sisters, their ancient native lands. And they were heading... where for?

The Russians violated the 5-day deadline established for the people to take refuge. By June 30th they were already on the Prut. From that moment, no person born in Bessarabia was allowed to cross the river unless he/she had a special approval of a Romanian-Soviet commission hosted in Kishinev (Chisinau). We were in the town, in the house of some relatives of ours. The unbelievable nightmare of expectation followed, with its threats of all sorts and with moral tortures. Even today I cannot explain myself how the intelligentsia could resist this ordeal. In early September, we eventually reached Campulung Muscel. A heavy quietness seized us, heavy but full of expectations, especially when Ion Antonescu took the power in his hands.

It would be pathological for a person to wish the war. But, at that moment, we longed for it. We wanted to go back again to the Dniester. That is why, we received the General's words: "Soldiers, cross the Prut!" with exhultant cheers. When Bessarabia was liberated, all refugees were compelled to return to their jobs. We arrived home early September 1941 after, in late July, the Dniester had been overpassed. What we found there was shuddering. The centre of Tighina town had been burned. The remains of a mark - "Queen Mary Street" showed where the main street had been. The church of Varnita had been destroyed. The school and many houses were burned down. We dag out the flag and hoisted it on the blackened frontispice of the school, which was burnt, without its ceiling, windows and doors. It was shaking gently in the wind. Almost half of our village people could not answer "I'm here". They had been deported or pushed ahead by the front. We moved into our house in Tighina. Everything was destroyed. So, my parents started a new life, energetically and full of hopes. How shortlived was this happiness! And how I miss the Dniester! It seems to weep bitter tears, as I do!
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