Born 13 May 1931, in Lapusul Românesc
Forester Nicolae Pop from Lapusul Romanesc led the resistance group in the Tibles Mountains. Fleeing to the mountains in 1949, Nicolae Pop took his son Achim and daughter Aristina with him. On 1 March 1953, he was paralysed and left, at his own request, by the side of the road near the village of Poiana Botizii. He was taken by a local to the militia station, and then surrendered to the Securitate. Seriously ill, he died a short time afterwards.
Achim Pop (born 14 March 1927, in Lapusul Romanesc) was arrested in 1953 and sentenced to twenty-two years hard labour.
Aristina Pop was arrested in 1953 and sentenced to twenty years hard labour. The motive: she was a member of a counter-revolutionary organisation.
She was declared “righteous among peoples”, together with her parents, because, in 1944, they hid Jewish children from persecution and deportation. Aristina Pop, married name Saileanu, now lives in Bucharest and has been recorded by our foundation’s department of oral history.
“I was born in Lapusul Romanesc, Somes county, on 13 May 1931, into a family of peasants, my father was a peasant and my mother likewise. There were nine children, of whom four are dead, and five still living. We lived fourteen kilometres outside the village. There, we had a wooden house with two rooms, a summer kitchen, also with two rooms … a shed, stables, pig sties, hen coops, it was a beautiful homestead. My parents were very hard working. My father also worked in forestry, he was a forester.
(…) What happened was that, at a given moment, I looked down below, and I saw, at around midday, that the fields were full of army men. When I saw that I grew frightened, I left my aunt with my brother, who was two, I went to the water mill, which was in the forest, and I said: ‘Father, what shall I do, there are dozens of Securitate men coming, they are… the fields are full of them.’ My father said: ‘Come with me. Come with me.’ I climbed up through the woods. I went with him. I went with father. The army came, they devastated everything, they beat my aunt, the little boy of two, my little brother, was crying, everyone they met… there were a lot of people at our house, they used to come to work, they took them all, they beat them. (…) My brother was at the sheepfold, and when the army reached the sheepfold, they asked where Pop’s boy was. And the shepherds told him: ‘Look out, Achim, the Securitate have been asking for you.’ The sheepfold was in the forest; and then he fled (…) And my brother found us, and we remained with father.
You can imagine what was in my mother’s soul, her husband and two children in the mountains, and the army was looking for us, you cannot imagine what was in my mother’s soul. And the army was always after us in the mountains. That’s how we lived, for four years….”
Aristina Pop on her father, Nicolae Pop: “The Securitate came, they refused to believe that he was ill and couldn’t talk, they said that he didn’t want to talk. One of them hit him in the face with the butt of his gun and the blood poured from his mouth and his nose, you can imagine. I think that was what killed him. After that, I don’t know anything else; they took him to the Securitate, he must have died, I don’t know where he is buried, but I must say that he was an extraordinary man, who sacrificed himself and his entire family in order to do good to his fellow man. He was not a selfish man, a man who was only for himself, he was a model.”
(excerpts from an interview in the Archive of Oral History at the International Centre for Studies of Communism within the framework of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance)
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