This long essay in the BBC Magazine really scared me: How the secret police tracked my childhood by Carmen Bugan. Bugan relates how her father was a dissident and suffered greatly for it, as did her family.
Soon after my brother’s birth in February 1983 my father, Ion Bugan, was faced with the biggest decision he ever had to make.
Should he and my mother continue secretly typing anti-communist manifestos on an illegally-owned typewriter and distributing them around Romania? Or should he go to Bucharest to take on Ceausescu all by himself, without telling anyone a word about it?
Thirty years on we still live with the legacy of my father’s choice. And with the discovery of an intimate, horrifying story of our lives written by the secret police, the Securitate.
This was a Romania of food shortages, frequent power cuts, and ferocious reprisals for any form of dissent. The sounds of forbidden US radio stations – Voice of America and Radio Free Europe – woke us up and put us to bed every day, sending shivers up our spines as they merged with the noise from the kitchen. They gave my father hope that life could be better if only people stood up for themselves.
The whole essay is so chilling. I’m happy her family got out of Romania—but I cannot imagine going through what they did. Arrests, torture, imprisonment, intimidation from the Securitate, it goes on and on. Go read the whole thing; it’s a fascinating piece!