This chart epitomises the typical and efficient method which the Romanian secret police, the Securitate, used against those who attempted to establish networks of dissent in Romania. It seems to have been drafted for the Securitate officers who prepared the operative decision-making process regarding an emerging human rights movement in Romania, inspired by Charter 77. The driving force behind this movement was the writer Paul Goma, who initiated the movement in February 1977 by drafting a collective letter of protest against the violation of human rights in Romanian, which he and more than 200 other individuals eventually endorsed and addressed to the CSCE (Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Follow-Up Meeting in Belgrade. It was the first time that the Romanian secret police, the Securitate, had faced such an enormous challenge, and thus it had to react quickly in order to curtail the spread of the movement. In order to counteract this movement, the secret police had to collect in two months complex information about all those involved.
This chart and its annexes epitomise the collection of these complex data in the short time span between 9 February, when the collective letter was first broadcast by Radio Free Europe, and 1 April 1977, the day when the secret police arrested Paul Goma. The first thing one notices about this chart is its resemblance to the drawings made by high school teachers to facilitate a better understanding of a topic. The chart actually highlights Goma’s connections with the internal and external supporters of this movement which at that time constituted a collective action of unprecedented magnitude in communist Romania and implicitly a novel challenge for the Securitate. The chart only contains a schematic representation of Paul Goma’s relations with other persons (schema legăturilor lui Paul Goma). The central field, which features Paul Goma, is connected left and right with two columns of differently coloured fields. The left-hand column seems to represent a typology of individuals whom Goma had contacted in order to send documents relating to the activity of the emerging movement across the border to a Western country. They are divided into four categories: diplomats, foreign journalists, “reactionary elements from the emigration” and “autochthonous elements.” The right-hand column seems to categorise all those who had contacted Goma with the purpose of endorsing the movement. At the time when this chart was drawn, the Securitate had been able to scrutinise only 288 persons out of 430; the number of those identified to date is added in pencil. About these persons, there are three types of information offered: the actions taken (against them), their method of contacting Goma, and their political background (antecedente politice). The complex data collected about all these, which is included in annexes to this chart, included age, ethnicity, profession, education, place of residence and political background, meaning information about previous anti-regime activities.
The chart is an unusual type of document in the archives of the Securitate. Its unique character is directly related to the novelty of the challenge which the Securitate had to confront with Paul Goma’s attempt to establish a Romanian Charter 77. The novelty was twofold: it consisted both in the network established and the ideas expressed by this movement. Such a rapid solidarisation of individuals around a common purpose did not occur in communist Romania either before or after the Goma movement. At the same time, the defence of human rights was a totally alien idea and ideal in the political traditions of Eastern Europe in general, and of Romania in particular, even considering the period before the communist takeover. Thus, this emerging movement which implied the defence of a political idea (and not a material benefit) must have been really puzzling for the Securitate officers, who did their best to grasp the situation and understand the “real” motivations of the individuals protesting for the observance of such an “abstract” issue as human rights. This coloured chart and its annexes testify to the methods used by the Securitate in order to disaggregate a collective action for a common interest, the observance of human rights, into a multitude of individual actions, driven by personal interests and thus easier to break apart. In Goma’s words, “this is the use of statistics in the house of terror” (Goma 2005, 412).
A valuable part of the Doina Cornea private collection is made up of photographs. Some of these photographs (more than a dozen), which were taken by the Securitate in the late 1980s, ended up in Cornea’s possession in a strange way that illustrates the contradictions of the turbulent Romanian exit from Ceaușescu’s dictatorship. In the late 1980s, the Securitate put Doina Cornea under strict surveillance and she became the target of harsh repressive measures on the part of the state authorities due to her oppositional activity. These photographs were taken by the Securitate during the complex operation of keeping Cornea under surveillance and were aimed at analysing her daily activity and social network. Later, the photographs were archived by the secret police in their “informative surveillance file” (dosar de urmărire informativă) on her and were usually attached to an “informative” report drafted by Securitate employees for the higher echelons of the secret police. The items remained in the possession of the secret police until December 1989. During the Romanian Revolution of 1989, Doina Cornea became a leader of the population of Cluj in revolt and acted as their unofficial representative. The Romanian army changed sides on 22 December 1989 and joined the population in revolt. In this turbulent period, the Ministry of National Defence became the institution with custody of the Securitate archives.
According to her son, Leontin Horațiu Iuhas, after 22 December 1989, Doina Cornea, as a representative of the local population, had several meetings with the leadership of the Romanian Fourth Army, which had its headquarters in Cluj. During one of these meetings, in order to show their support for the population in revolt and as a gesture of benevolence, the leadership of the Romanian Fourth Army gave Cornea several photographs from her Securitate files (Interview with Leontin Horațiu Iuhas). This gesture could be understood as an attempt of the leadership of the local military to gain the sympathy of the dissident after they had been involved in the repression of the local uprising of 21 December 1989 (Adevărul 2009).
One of these photographs shows Doina Cornea, her son Leontin Horațiu Iuhas, and two members of the French Embassy staff in Bucharest, talking in front of her home in Cluj. The Securitate was monitoring all her social contacts and tried its best to stop all contacts that were important for her oppositional activity, such as those with Western journalists and diplomats. However, after she was released from arrest in December 1987 due to international pressure, the secret police was put in the situation of having to tolerate her contacts with the staff of Western embassies in Bucharest in order to avoid international scandals. This photograph reflects the paradoxical situation of Doina Cornea, who was practically forced into house arrest, but was able to meet the diplomatic staff of Western embassies due to her international reputation.
The third volume of Herta Müller’s informative surveillance file (dosar de urmărire informativă) contains reports on and transcriptions of the conversations that she had with various persons inside her house. On 25 July 1986, Müller welcomed a German citizen called “Marișca.” The discussion started with the host showing her guest several reviews of her book and other publications by other German writers living in Romania. Herta Müller spoke about the success of her Niederungen (Nadirs) in West Germany and used this episode to describe the persecutions she was subjected to by the Securitate. Müller remembered that as she had turned down the offer to became its informer, the Securitate started to harass her and she lost her job as a translator at an engineering factory in Timișoara. Moreover, she was periodically summoned to the secret police and accused of “social parasitism” and unapproved contacts with foreign citizens. Following a visit to the local Party secretary, Müller received a new job but due to her conflicts with the director of the school, who objected to her wearing trousers during classes, she was removed from her teaching position. Müller also recounted her experience of social and professional marginalisation as she got fired from other jobs because of the intervention of the Securitate, which subjected her to constant physical and psychological abuse.
Even Paul Goma has characterised this document as a tragi-comical one. The note contains a list of the Militia officers who were involved in his case, whom the Securitate officers asked their superiors to reward for helping in this mission. The rewards were: 3 metres of cloth and a leather folder for the commander, watches, leather briefcases, leather wallets and radios for the others. Usually, the Securitate rewarded its informers with small amounts of money and some cheap products. They rather preferred to facilitate various services. This note is unusual because this is about rewarding some Militia officers. Besides the amusing aspect regarding the modest level of this reward, the document is relevant for the relation between the secret police, the Securitate, and the Militia, because the money for procuring these items originated from the Securitate’s financial funds. The document qualifies as a masterpiece of the collection especially because of its uniqueness, which can be explained only by considering how unusual was the emergence of the Goma Movement for the Romanian secret police. The Securitate officers faced for the first time the taking shape of a large coherent movement, so they used all possible methods in order to curtail its development. This small document is a rare piece of evidence regarding the subordination of the Militia to the Securitate, which otherwise it is not obvious from the documents in the CNSAS Archives (ACNSAS, Informative Fonds, File I 2217/10, f. 113-114).
The Goma Movement Ad-hoc Collection includes numerous plans of action against the individuals involved in supporting the open letter of protest against the violation of human rights in Romania which was to be addressed to the CSCE Follow-Up Conference in Belgrade. Each Securitate informative surveillance file contains periodically updated plans of action, but these usually required only the approval of the high-ranking Securitate officer in charge of the case of the person in question. What is remarkable about this plan of action, which is part of Goma’s personal file, is its endorsement by the highest possible office holders in the Ministry of the Interior, to which the Direction of State Security was directly subordinated in 1977: the plan was countersigned by Nicolae Pleșiță, first deputy minister, and finally approved by Teodor Coman, the minister of the interior himself. Obviously, the hierarchical level of those who endorsed this plan indicates the great importance attached to this case. It is worth noting that the “successful” handling of the Goma Movement, in which Pleșiță involved himself and acted as Goma’s head interrogator, led to his promotion to the rank of lieutenant general in 1977. The same year, he coordinated the repressive measures taken by the regime in the aftermath of the Jiu Valley miners’ strike of August. Pleșiță remains notorious, however, for his actions while head of the Centre for Foreign Intelligence between 1980 and 1984, in particular for the 1982 failed attempt at suppressing Goma while in exile in Paris, and for the 1981 bomb attack on the RFE headquarters in Munich, for which the Securitate seems to have hired the infamous terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal. After 1989, Pleșiță showed no remorse for his misdeeds, and all attempts to hold him legally responsible for these wrongdoings eventually failed.To return to this particular Securitate plan, its content and date of issuance illustrate that it was just an intermediate stage in the devising of actions meant to disintegrate the emerging movement. Chronologically, the date of issuance, 17 March 1977, is over a month after the open letter of protest against the violation of human rights was made public by Radio Free Europe, and thus it is entitled “plan of action for continuing the actions for annihilating and neutralising the hostile activities which Paul Goma initiated, being instigated and supported by Radio Free Europe and other reactionary centres in the West.” At the same time, it is a plan one step short of Goma’s arrest, which occurred two weeks later, on 1 April 1977. The document includes four separate types of action. The first type consists of the so-called “actions of discouragement, disorientation and intimidation,” which were directed mainly against Goma, but the necessity of tackling his supports separately is also mentioned. This type of action consists mostly of various forms of harassment up to the level of deporting him outside Bucharest in order to seclude him from his channels of communication across the border. These actions of rather soft repression were to be accompanied by attempts bring this problematic episode for the Securitate to a faster and neater end by convincing Goma to either give up or emigrate. The second category of actions included the use of the foreign press and publications in the attempt to compromise Goma and implicitly the movement for human rights initiated by him among the Romanian emigration and the Western audience. The third category referred to actions of counterbalancing the denigrating messages broadcast by Radio Free Europe, which was the radio agency that helped Goma the most. Finally, the fourth category consisted of actions to compromise Goma among the personnel of Western embassies in Bucharest, with the aim of depriving him of his channels of communication with RFE or other members of the exile community (ACNSAS, Informative Fonds, File I 2217/6, f. 109-112). All these measures failed, and thus Goma was eventually arrested and brutally interrogated, including by First Deputy Minister Pleșită himself, but liberated approximately a month later, on 6 May 1977, due to the massive protests of the Romanian emigration in Paris, which managed to convince many outstanding personalities to sign a petition for his release. This plan of action testifies to the Securitate practice of spreading calumnious rumours about all those who spoke against the regime in order to defame and isolate them. As Goma himself observes, “a document of great importance for me. (…) I knew that (…) the [calumnious] rumours and gossip (…) were inspired by the Securitate. Now I have the proof that the Securitate was not only inspiring, but also authoring them” (Goma 2005, 397).