Becicherecu Mic
Becicherecu Mic 307040, Romania
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Deported at six years old

Dostupné v: English | Română

On the night of 17-18 June 1951, within a few hours, 44,000 people, (from new-born infants to elderly people of eighty-five), from within a twenty-five-kilometer radius of the border with Yugoslavia, were taken from their homes, put on trains and taken to Bărăgan, an arid steppe in south-eastern Romania. They were allowed to take only as many possessions as would fit in a handcart. Although it was situated out of the deportation area established by the authorities, over 760 people were deported from Becicherecu Mic that night. Among them there were the five members of the Cotorbai family: the youngest, Gheorghe, was only six years old. The Cotorbai family were allowed to take only a few possessions with them and like the other families they were loaded onto a cattle truck. “...it was in the summer of 1951, in June, around mid-June, one evening a soldier turned up at our gate with some other men with peaked caps, I don’t know who they were, officers or sub-officers, because I couldn’t tell at that age, and they were with two civilians, they made an inventory of everything in the house and gave instructions as to what we were each allowed to take. They told us to collect our things, to get ready, because the next day we were being moved. Obviously we didn’t know what was going on, my mother was very distressed, she was crying. We asked them why and they just said: ‘Orders!’ and that was that,” recalled Cotorbai.

Gheorghe Cotorbai

Gheorghe Cotorbai

Born on 29 April 1945, in Tudor Vladimirescu commune, Brăila county. His parents had fled from Bessarabia to Romania in 1940. Gheorghe Cotorbai’s family first settled in Brăila county and then moved to Becicherecu Mic, near Timișoara. On the night of 17-18 June 1951, within a few hours, 44,000 people, from new-born infants to elderly people of eighty-five, within a twenty-five-kilometer radius of the border with Yugoslavia were taken from their homes, allowed to take only as many possessions as would fit in a handcart. They were put on trains and taken to Bărăgan, an arid steppe in south-eastern Romania. They motive invoked by the authorities in Bucharest was the need to maintain security along the border with Yugoslavia, (given tense relations with Tito). Those deported that night included the members of Gheorghe Cotorbai’s family. He was six at the time. The Cotorbai family, (two parents and three children), were allowed to take only a few possessions with them and like the other families they were loaded onto a cattle truck. The journey to Bărăgan lasted a week, with the deportees suffering from a lack of drinking water and the fear that they were being taken to Siberia. At Fundata in Bărăgan, one of eighteen newly founded settlements for the deportees, they were allocated an empty plot of land on which lucerne had been grown. On the very first day they were forced to build themselves a shelter without tools or building materials. First of all they built a shack and then began to excavate a hut from the ground. It was not until the Autumn of 1951 that building materials arrived. However, priority was given to the construction of a school and town hall, and the deportees were able to build for themselves only in the free time remaining. Finding enough to eat was a daily challenge for the Bărăgan deportees, and even the children were forced to work. Gheorghe Cotorbai’s saddest memories of his time in Bărăgan are connected with the compulsory labor on the state farms. When they were not at school, children of all ages were forced to take part in planting, harvesting, and tending crops of tomatoes, chives, onions, cotton, and rice. The food they were given at work was scanty and inadequate, and their labor was remunerated only when they met the quota. After they had built themselves a house, his family remained in Bărăgan, as they had nowhere to go back to, all their goods having been confiscated. But Gheorghe Cotorbai went to Bucharest to continue his studies. However, his deportee file haunted him for many years, and he had difficulties entering lyceum and finding a job. He finally graduated from a lyceum specialising in radiators, and worked in the heating sector for many years. Gheorghe Cotorbai lives in Bucharest.

Becicherecu Mic

Dostupné v: English | Română

(German: Klein-Betschkerek or Kleinbetschkerek, Serbian: Mali Beckerek, Hungarian Kisbecskerek). It is situated in the western part of Romania, in Timiş County, at 17 km away from Timişoara and about 27 km away from the border to Serbia, and has 2,834 inhabitants. The village was mentioned in the papal tax records from 1332 under the name of Pecskereky, but the earliest record about Becicherecu Mic dates back to 1232, under the name of Terra Potkerequ (Pescăreţu). The first German-speaking settlers arrived in 1727; during that time, the village started to be known under the name of Becicherecu Mic. In June 1951, about 44,000 people were deported from the western part of Romania to the Bărăgan Plain, 760 people were from Becicherecu Mic. In 1956, after the student protests in Timişoara, which were directly linked to the Hungarian Revolution, over 2,000 students were transported to a special camp in Becicherecu Mic set up for them on the grounds of a military camp.

Becicherecu Mic

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Deported at six years old

Deported at six years old

Gheorghe Cotorbai
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