Crossing the Danube, a way to freedom
For Ingrid Popa’s family the instauration of the communism in Romania meant the beginning of a harsh persecution with many of her close relatives kept under surveillance, interrogated, and imprisoned by the regime. As a result, after her father’s arrest and imprisonment in 1947, the parents decided to clandestinely cross the border from Romania into Yugoslavia. They made a perilous crossing of the Danube in the spectacular area knew as Cazanele Dunării in a group consisting of twelve persons: besides the Popa family, there was another family of two parents and three sons, and three men who helped with the launch and also who took advantage of the opportunity to flee the country. “Then they planned to flee. Where? Because Romania was surrounded by countries dominated by Soviet troops, the only possibility was Yugoslavia. And then they decided to flee on the Danube. They paid somebody to help us cross the Danube. This was in August 1948. (…) The arrangement was to go to Băile Herculane because in those times you didn’t had permission to freely circulate in the country. My mother obtained from the doctor a certificate that she had arthritis and needs to go to Băile Herculane. So we all went to Băile Herculane with a family, Bezi, husband and wife. There, we met another family with three boys. It was an extraordinary amusement for us children because we were going on a trip with a boat to Cazane. And I remember that we were waiting the boat on the Danube bank eating fish. And the adults… the mothers were laughing, joking, but my father and Mr. Bezi were livid… looked like some ghosts. (…) The boat came, we got in it fast, and we looked at the water. Afterwards we found out from our parents that the man that should have taken us to Yugoslavia didn’t come. Somebody else showed up, one of his relatives, tall, bearded, fearsome. My parents told me that they gave them beer and wine. My mother had sleeping pills, and she gave them to him with the hope they would do something. But he was holding up, and there were three young men that were helping him manage the boat who realized that we wanted to flee and decided on the spot that they also did. Thus, they fought with the boat’s captain, but couldn’t defeat him. Then they cut the connection between wheel and helm and pushed us to the Yugoslavian shore across the streams of the Danube in Yugoslavia. So we arrived in Yugoslavia,” she recalled.