Son of a peasant family from the county of Alba. Secondary school studies in Blaj and Orastie. He graduated from the Faculty of Psychology in Cluj, after which he pursued higher studies at the universities of Leipzig, Berlin, Hamburg, Paris and London. The recipient of a Rockefeller scholarship (1934-1936), he returned to Romanian, although he had been offered a place at an American university. In Cluj, he was a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters (1926-1947) and director of the Institute of Psychology.
Arrested in 1948, he was sentenced to twenty-five years hard labour for the “crime of machination against the social order”, after having refused the diplomatic posts offered by the communist regime.
After sixteen years in prison (he was released in 1964, given a pardon for the rest of the sentence), he resumed his research and writing on his own account, without being readmitted to Romanian education. Author of important memoirs. Invited to lecture at universities in Germany and the USA.
“In ’64, an enormous number came home after prison. If you went to the station, there would be people waiting. You could recognise them easily: they were pale, they had sanctity in their gaze, extraordinary emotion. They would be looking at the trees, at the greenery. And we were waiting and we did not know for sure if he was still alive. Then that miraculous day came when my mother telephoned and then I heard the voice of my father. Inside myself, I did not believe that father was coming. I hoped for this thing, but when I heard my father’s voice I was so stupefied that I had the feeling that it was a miracle. And then I ran home… He was optimistic but slightly afraid that he would be put under house arrest. He was extraordinarily tortured.
What father had to tell was very harrowing: when he came out, everybody realised, even on the train, where he was coming from – from Aiud. He did not believe that he would be taken back into social life and then he asked: “How much does a road sweeper earn?” They told him: “Three hundred lei”, or however much it was back then. “And can you afford to buy bread and a litre of milk with that money?” He had come with this weighing on him and preserved it for a long time.”
(director Nicolae Margineanu on his father, Professor Nicolae Margineanu, excerpt from an interview in the Archive of Oral History of the International Centre for Studies of Communism – Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance)
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