Deported at six month old
Ileana Mateescu was only six months old when, during the night of 17-18 June 1951, she was deported together with her entire family and other people from Gârdoaia village, located near the Romanian-Yugoslavian border, to the Bărăgan steppe, where the deportees were left in the middle of the open field. The news of the deportation arrived on a holiday, presenting such a hard-hitting shock that in the first moments that followed the people didn’t know how to react. "So, it was a Monday, after Whitsunday. In Mehedinți, on Whitsunday, there are lots of villages where they have a nedeie, (summer fair), or I don’t know what they call it in other parts and for that reason, as it was a high holiday, almost all the villagers had noticed that trucks of soldiers kept passing. (…) They realized that something was happening, but they couldn’t understand what was going on. That Monday my parents arranged for twenty men from our village to do the second hoeing of the maize in our field. And mother woke up at four in the morning, so that she could make plenty of food. And just as she was cooking she thought to hear noises in the yard and so she decided to look. When she opened the door to go outside somebody pushed her back. That somebody had a gun, and it was with the gun that he pushed her with and proceeded to enter the house. (…) And when that soldier – I couldn’t say whether he was an officer or a private – asked where the head of the family was, mama took him to the room where daddy was sleeping, they roused him in quite a rough way and demanded that he sign a piece of paper, but they didn’t explain to him what it was about. They just said that he had to pack his bags in a few hours, to gather together the things he thought were essential, but not more than he would be able to carry on his own means of transport…” Mateescu recalled.