Deported at six years old
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.