Temesvár (Timişoara) 1989

Today, I met a baldheaded man. He reminded me of the “Hungarians draped in mourning” from the Battle of Lechfeld1 (10 August 955). He attempted to escape from Romania twice. However, he was caught at the border on both occasions. He managed to get away with only a beating.

He considered our situation hopeless, but swore stubbornly that by the time his hair grew back, he would try it again. Until then, he would wait for his trial.

I told him that we evaluated the situation the same way. But our conclusions differed. I intended to escape, as well. But I desired a break-through – while remaining. I adhered to the viewpoint of the well-known Transylvanian writer, András Sütő: “I am staying, I cannot do otherwise.” Because there is no other path for me to follow, I told him that I must speak up against our miserable conditions. If I did not – the stones would cry out. These stones symbolize our destroyed cities and our national monuments that lie in ruins. They are: “The stones of indignation.”

He replied, with acknowledgement: “It is easy for you; you are brave.”

“I am not brave, but I conquered my fear. I am also waiting for my lawsuit, which has been brought against me by my Reformed Hungarian bishop in the Romanian court, in order to have me evicted from my Temesvár (Timişoara) manse.” With this, the bishop would accomplish not only my “expatriation” from the city, which is a “closed settlement” jurisdiction, but my exile from the clergy, as well.

“The siege of Temesvár (Timişoara)” – our present battle connects us to our past. It is no less desperate than our former battles. However, it is different in method, and it is bloodless. Furthermore, the siege has gained widespread national attention, accomplishing our objective. It is similar to a fortress falling: it pulls the whole region down with it.

Nowadays, universal interests – religious and national – clash at least symbolically with preponderance. Although the Temesvár (Timişoara) Reformed Congregation fights in self-defense, it represents the struggle of the entire Hungarian population of Transylvania, which is an “extraordinary” situation. “The story revolves around us:” we are Calvinists and Hungarians.

Like David, who fought Goliath, our Congregation attempts to respond to a gigantic challenge. Even if we cannot repeat the biblical heroism of the fortress-builders, and are tormented by an inglorious stand, the Congregation still gains a foothold. Our stand in Temesvár (Timişoara) claims a single plot of ground, for the entire Church and nation.

Standing in the spirit of the Word of God, we are called to “...fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14). Our Congregation in Temesvár (Timişoara) sings the hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, each Sunday morning, with total empathy. They live this on a daily basis.

“The siege of Temesvár (Timişoara)” is happening throughout our entire Church, cities, and villages. To the outside world, our state of emergency remains veiled by the careful maintenance of peace and harmony, legality, humanism, and equal rights. These are artificial illusions. The State intends to assault and conquer the rest of our fortresses with wicked tricks. Nonetheless, the increasing unrest of those who are fleeing or “freely” exiting our nation warns us: there is a battle for life and death at our outer most fortresses.

We remain and protect our positions. We would rather choose Captain Zrínyi’s breaking free than István Losonczi’s path to surrender.

Temesvár (Timişoara), 6 October 1989

On the Memorial Day honoring the 13 Martyrs of Arad

László Tőkés


The situation of the Hungarian minority in Romania as communists took over the power

“When the communists began their Romanian rule, the Hungarian community totaled 1.5 million people, becoming an instant national minority. Between the two world wars, the Hungarian ethnic minority preserved the majority of the prominent positions in the economic, cultural, and educational fields in Transylvania. In addition, they maintained a rich culture of religious, social, and regional politics. Subsequently, the community possessed all the important elements of a refined pluralistic society.

Ceauşescu implemented his official program of national communism by blatantly establishing a homogenous social policy throughout the nation, without mercy. On one hand, the State instituted forced assimilation domestically. On the other hand, the Romanian government silently agreed to facilitate the immigration of minority Hungarians, under the guise of ‘family reunion’ case demands, to Hungary.

The forced assimilation program possessed three major attributes. First, it intentionally advanced the decay and demise of the existing Hungarian educational facilities. Second, it removed and prohibited the Hungarian work force from specific positions and professions of power and prestige. Third, it artificially reconstituted the ethnic composition of Transylvania; former Hungarian majority cities became minority cities, while former Romanian minority cities became majority cities. The ‘systematization plan’ that destroyed rural villages and historic urban communities, was designed to relocate people into new high-rise cities, where they could be better controlled.”

A presidential commission, led by Vladimir Tismăneanu, investigated and reported on these activities. Based on their report, President Traian Băsescu condemned the Romanian communist regime, characterizing it as illegitimate and sinister. The commission’s 660-page report includes a history of the Hungarian minority (chapter 3).

“1989 was the year when the Incredible became tangible. It signaled the history gaining velocity hour to hour, independence, freedom, a respectful human existence and the promise and charm of the dignified nation. It was such a year that many generations desired and its first hand experience meant a special goodwill from fate. The chain of processes of 1989 ‘sold out at a cheap price’, or, in other words, simplified to events, happenings, situations, individuals served with a stupendous variety of characters and twists. It was such a year which could provide writers, film makers, artists with a gripping stock of material and experience sufficing one’s life’s work. Or it only could have provided? How come that since the very present moment not one single masterpiece was created in any genre, no play with only one act was written, no picture was taken which could have traveled around the world, or even one song that has been inspired by this year or would have given back its essence: the Fulfilled Historical Dream”.

(Géza Szőcs: 1989)