Our Borders: A Scrap of Evidence for the Genocide Story (1988)

When Radu Codrescu (name changed for privacy reasons), the protagonist of Our Borders, told me what he had seen at Orşova in 1982, he was a little concerned that people would not believe his story.

Michael Domnitei, who himself had done time for trying to flee Romania in the ‘80s, and who managed to cross the border in 1984, has kept all these years a newspaper clip that confirms that Radu’s account is part of a larger story of longstanding repression and murder. The clip is from The Oregonian, reprinting a story published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in 1988.

Michael Domnitei now lives in the United States.

[Updated on 11/12/2013 with the name and link to the newspaper. Thank you, Michael Domnitei.]

[Updated on 2/6/2014: changed the protagonist’s name.]

15 thoughts on “Our Borders: A Scrap of Evidence for the Genocide Story (1988)

  1. Hello from Bucharest! I see the you all write in English here, so I will do the same.
    I am a journalist interested in writing about this part of history unknown for many of Romanians.
    Can I have an e-mail address where to contact you, Mister Michael Domnitei?
    Thank you in advance,
    Marina Constantinoiu

    • I’m happy to put you in contact – I’ve just sent a separate email. I hope your collaboration will shed some light on that murky part of our recent history. Thank you so much for your work on this subject.

    • What I have wrote on this website is part of my experience and is not for sale. I have been advised by many Americans to write my whole experience in a book, but so far I didn’t have time to do it. I am not sure if for Romanians my experience has any value because I have noticed that from the beginning (meaning: after 1989), the government of the country has been in the hands of the old communists and things have changed for worst into an extremely corrupted country. If they would have elected Ion Ratiu as president and brought the king back in his country, then the situation would have been totally different in Romania. I think that there are plenty of people in Romania which know about the forced labor camps which existed during Ceausescu’s regime, or about the trade between Serbia government and Ceausescu in which Romanians which crossed the border in Yugoslavia were turned back in exchange of: salt, auto parts and cattle. Perhaps, little is known about the Romanians killed by the soldiers when they tried to cross the Danube river. But most people don’t believe in this reality and honestly, I don’t know how it would help anybody of any age. Perhaps, they should start teaching the history of the life in Romania during the communism and also about the fact that Stalin forced the king to move out of the country so they can install their puppets: the stupid communists in power of the country. Unfortunately, Putin is spending a lots of money these days in Romania through pro-Russia Romanians (I met one of these people on a train travel) and also using the digital media. I am surprised about Romanian media being so brain washed by publishing and promoting the extreme leftist (socialist) ideology from George Soros, Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman. Also, I read so many lies about USA in the Romania media which are exactly like during the Ceausescu anti American propaganda culture. So, I am very disappointed about Romanian government for being corrupt and not being held accountable on an individual basis. All I see is very long investigations with very little outcome. I was colleague with Traian Basescu for one year at the Marine Institute in Constanta (1972/1973) and tried to get in touch with him while he was president, but apparently my e-mail was not read by the right people although I had the correct address. I never understood the Romanian politics these days since there are so many parties and the electoral system so fraudulent. If Romania continues this way it will continue to dig its own hole and get buried in tones of debts.

  2. The Genocide is true and I have talked with an old lady back in 1984 at a brick factory in Negotin (southern Serbia). This lady was living in a village on the shore of Danube and when she heard that I crossed the river, she told me that the villagers collect everyday one or two dead bodies, some killed by bullets and some killed by the harpoon. Some of the dead had identification and some didn’t and they all got buried in their cemetery. If one wants to verify this, I would suggest to run a cemetery trip and visit all the villages on the Danube river and count all the “unknown” and the Romanian citizens buried on a foreign land.

    • I wonder if there are more online documents about those times out there. I can look for the names of those villages near Negotin and then search for them. See what comes up.
      I looked in The Oregonian online archives, but they didn’t save that FAZ wire. In any case, I hope this little piece of evidence about that horrendous past is now a little more accessible to the world.

      • The article I posted and still have it in my records collection is from “the Oregonian” and I know that the Multnomah Library in downtown Portland had a collection (real paper) of this local paper. However, since it was published in 1988, perhaps they may have photo copies.
        Negotin is like a capital of a province (big city) and I served my 20 days of prison there for crossing the Danube river. Remember that along the river is the territory which is recognized as the “Serbian Banat” since it used to be part of Romania and is populated by more than half a million of Romanians. Actually, there are Romanian villages even at the outskirts of Belgrade. As a refugee living in Belgrade for more than 8 months (including the 5 weeks in the refugee camp Padinska Skela), I used to take the city bus number 105 to go and work in the village of Ovca which was 100% Romanian where the main street is called “Mihai Eminescu” (the most famous Romanian poet). However, it was at Ovca when one villager told me that they just received some very nice Bulls in exchange for returning/selling a bunch Romanian escapees to Romanian government. Also, they told me that in other occasions they received tractor parts or salt. I knew only about the salt trade but not about the Bulls and auto parts. That villager didn’t realized how bad I felt when he told me the news about that trade, although I was under the UN refugee status and working one day per week as a translator for the UNHCR at the interviews for the refugee status.
        I hope that people which read this have this reality very clear:
        the Serbian government was trading Romanian refugees for: salt, bulls and tractor parts.

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