Baragan deportations
The Bărăgan deportations were a large-scale action of penal transportation
Penal transportation
Transportation or penal transportation is the deporting of convicted criminals to a penal colony. Examples include transportation by France to Devil's Island and by the UK to its colonies in the Americas, from the 1610s through the American Revolution in the 1770s, and then to Australia between...

, undertaken during the 1950s by the Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n Communist regime
Communist Romania
Communist Romania was the period in Romanian history when that country was a Soviet-aligned communist state in the Eastern Bloc, with the dominant role of Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its successive constitutions...

. Their aim was to forcibly relocate
Population transfer
Population transfer is the movement of a large group of people from one region to another by state policy or international authority, most frequently on the basis of ethnicity or religion...

 individuals who lived within approximately 25 km of the Yugoslav
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

 border (in present-day Timiş
Timis County
Timiș , , Banat Bulgarian: ) is a county of western Romania, in the historical region Banat, with the county seat at Timișoara. It is the largest county in Romania in terms of land area....

, Caraş-Severin
Caras-Severin County
Caraș-Severin is a county of Romania, in the historical region of Banat and few villages in Transylvania, with the county seat at Reșița.-Demographics:The county is part of the Danube-Kris-Mureș-Tisza euroregion....

, and Mehedinţi
Mehedinti County
Mehedinţi is a county of Romania. It is mostly located in the historical province of Oltenia, with one municipality and three communes located in the Banat...

 counties) to the Bărăgan Plain
Baragan Plain
The Bărăgan Plain is a steppe plain in south-eastern Romania. It makes up much of the eastern part of the Wallachian Plain. The region is known for its black soil and a rich humus, and is mostly a cereal-growing area....



After relations deteriorated between Romania and Yugoslavia, which was excluded from the Cominform
Founded in 1947, Cominform is the common name for what was officially referred to as the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers' Parties...

 in 1948, the border between the two states became a sensitive area for Bucharest (see Informbiro period). The ethnic minorities present there, especially in the Banat
The Banat is a geographical and historical region in Central Europe currently divided between three countries: the eastern part lies in western Romania , the western part in northeastern Serbia , and a small...

, were considered "elements with a heightened risk factor". Following the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 model of the Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

, on March 15, 1951 the Ministry of Interior
Ministry of Administration and Interior of Romania
The Ministry of Administration and Interior of Romania is one of the fifteen ministries of the Government of Romania.From 23 August 1944 to 18 March 1975 the minister held the title of Minister of Internal Affairs, between 2004 and 2007, held the title of Minister of Administration and Interior,...

 of the Romanian People's Republic issued the following decree:

The Ministry of Interior will be able, through a decision, to order the removal from population centres of any persons whose presence in those centres is unjustified, as well as the removal of those from any locality who, through their actions before the working people, endanger the construction of socialism
Marxian economics
Marxian economics refers to economic theories on the functioning of capitalism based on the works of Karl Marx. Adherents of Marxian economics, particularly in academia, distinguish it from Marxism as a political ideology and sociological theory, arguing that Marx's approach to understanding the...

 in the Romanian People's Republic. For those in question obligatory residences can be set up in any locality.

The decree created favourable conditions for the implementation of the previously-planned deportations. This was to be the second mass deportation following the overthrow of Ion Antonescu
Ion Antonescu
Ion Victor Antonescu was a Romanian soldier, authoritarian politician and convicted war criminal. The Prime Minister and Conducător during most of World War II, he presided over two successive wartime dictatorships...

, after the January 1945 deportation of over 70,000 individuals, especially ethnic Germans
Germans of Romania
The Germans of Romania or Rumäniendeutsche were 760,000 strong in 1930. They are not a single group; thus, to understand their language, culture, and history, one must view them as independent groups:...

, to the Soviet Union (during the closing stages of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

). In contrast to the first deportation, this time the destination was the Bărăgan Plain, an underdeveloped, sparsely populated area. In a sense, the operation also served as a means of colonizing the region.

The plans involved, as was later discovered in a document written in Timişoara
Timișoara is the capital city of Timiș County, in western Romania. One of the largest Romanian cities, with an estimated population of 311,586 inhabitants , and considered the informal capital city of the historical region of Banat, Timișoara is the main social, economic and cultural center in the...

 in 1956, the "purification of the Banat": the ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

 of Germans, Serbs and Aromanians
Aromanians are a Latin people native throughout the southern Balkans, especially in northern Greece, Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and as an emigrant community in Serbia and Romania . An older term is Macedo-Romanians...

. Additionally, the plans involved the expulsion of members of several social categories considered dangerous by the Romanian Communist Party
Romanian Communist Party
The Romanian Communist Party was a communist political party in Romania. Successor to the Bolshevik wing of the Socialist Party of Romania, it gave ideological endorsement to communist revolution and the disestablishment of Greater Romania. The PCR was a minor and illegal grouping for much of the...

. Among the targets were farmers with large holdings (known as chiaburi, and roughly equivalent to the Soviet kulaks), wealthy landowners, industrialists, innkeepers and restaurant owners, Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

n and Macedonian
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

 refugees, former members of the Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

, foreign citizens, relatives of the refugees, Titoist
Titoism is a variant of Marxism–Leninism named after Josip Broz Tito, leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, primarily used to describe the specific socialist system built in Yugoslavia after its refusal of the 1948 Resolution of the Cominform, when the Communist Party of...

 sympathizers, wartime collaborators of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 (see Romania during World War II
Romania during World War II
Following the outbreak of World War II on 1 September 1939, the Kingdom of Romania officially adopted a position of neutrality. However, the rapidly changing situation in Europe during 1940, as well as domestic political upheaval, undermined this stance. Fascist political forces such as the Iron...

), Romanian Army employees, fired civil servants, relatives of counter-revolutionaries and all who had supported them, political and civic rights activists, former businessmen with Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 ties, and leaders of the ethnic German community.


During the night of June 18, 1951, the third-largest mass deportation in modern Romanian history took place, surpassed only by the World War II deportation of Jews
History of the Jews in Romania
The history of Jews in Romania concerns the Jews of Romania and of Romanian origins, from their first mention on what is nowadays Romanian territory....

 to Transnistria
Transnistria (World War II)
Transnistria Governorate was a Romanian administered territory, conquered by the Axis Powers from the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa, and occupied from 19 August 1941 to 29 January 1944...

 (considered collectively, and ended with massive extermination), and the January 1945 deportation of ethnic Germans from Romania. Some 45,000 people were taken from their homes and deported to the Bărăgan. These included Romanians, Germans (mostly Banat Swabians
Banat Swabians
The Banat Swabians are an ethnic German population in Southeast Europe, part of the Danube Swabians. They emigrated in the 18th century to what was then the Austrian Banat province, which had been left sparsely populated by the wars with Turkey. This once strong and important ethnic Banat Swabian...

), Serbs
Serbs in Romania
The Romanian Serbs are an ethnic minority in Romania. According to the 2002 census, there were 22,518 Serbs in Romania or 0.1% of the population...

, Bulgarians
Banat Bulgarians
The Banat Bulgarians are a distinct Bulgarian minority group which settled in the 18th century in the region of the Banat, which was then ruled by the Habsburgs and after World War I was divided between Romania, Serbia, and Hungary...

, Romanian and some Ukrainian refugees from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, and Aromanians.

The deportees were taken under military guard and left to build houses of mud or adobe
Adobe is a natural building material made from sand, clay, water, and some kind of fibrous or organic material , which the builders shape into bricks using frames and dry in the sun. Adobe buildings are similar to cob and mudbrick buildings. Adobe structures are extremely durable, and account for...

 on their own in eighteen localities. In 1956, a change in government policy meant that the majority of deportees returned home, but some stayed permanently in the Bărăgan.

External links

Association of Former Bărăgan Deportees - Timişoara Deportations to Bărăgan, Sighet Memorial of the Victims of Communism Archive - Bărăgan Deportees, Ziua
Ziua was a major Romanian daily newspaper published in Bucharest. It was published in Romanian with a fairly sizeable and often informative English section. Ziua was founded in 1994 by Sorin Roşca Stănescu, eventually becoming foreign-owned...

22, Smaranda Vultur - From the History of a Memory, Bărăgan 1951-1956 Agenda - Timişoara, nr. 26/25, June 2005 The "Purification" of the Banat, Evenimentul Zilei
Evenimentul Zilei
Evenimentul Zilei is one of the leading newspapers in Romania. Based in Bucharest, the Romanian-language daily has a paid daily circulation of 110,000...

Map of the Romanian Gulag (pdf) Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hands - Deportation to the Baragan, Walther Konschitzky, Peter-Dietmar Leber and Walter Wolf, Deported to the Bărăgan 1951–1956, Haus des Deutschen Ostens, Munchen, 2001
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