My Family

I grew up in a family that cherished the memory of its ancestors. Some of them I only knew from portraits and stories. They left countless tales behind, about some impetuous love or about insane courage in inauspicious times, about the quiet times of a peaceful life or about the turmoil of the war. From them I kept words of wisdom which have remained in our family and strange events also, which still seizes to amaze us up to today. So, one of the two words about me must be about them.

My father, Mugurel-Gabriel Mihail (1939-1994), descended from a family in the former county of Vlașca.

Mugurel-Gabriel Mihail, February 22, 1944

My father with Radu, my grandfather

My father with Radu, my grandfather

Radu C. Mihail, July 1934

My grandfather, Colonel Radu C. Mihail (1904-1968), was an Officer in the Romanian Royal Army. He graduated from the Military Highschool in Craiova, and in 1927 he graduated from the Special Military School of Engineering and was part of the Mountain Huntsmen troops. He fought in the Second World War, on the Eastern Front. In July 1942, he was Commander of the Second Mountain Pioneer Battalion in the Crimean Peninsula. He received the Order Michael the Brave 3rd Class (1941), the Order of the Crown of Romania with the rank of Knight (1940) and the Medal for Crusade Against Bolshevism (1943). The Communists expelled him from the army in July 1946. Subsequently, he worked as an engineer. We were able to find his prosecution file at the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives (C.N.S.A.S). He was a member of Maniu’s National Peasant’s Party (or P.N.Ț.) and a courageous opponent of the communist regime. The Securitate men wrote there that my grandfather was a ‘notorious reactionary agitator’, with a ‘defiant temper’; ‘hostile to the current regime, a bitter propagandist siding with Anglo-Americans’, ‘an element who cannot accommodate with the new form of government of our State’. From the same prosecution file, we learned quite what he thought of the communist regime: ‘it cursed the Democratic Government, qualifying them as criminals against the nation because they brought famine and robbery in the country’.

Grandfather Radu

Grandfather Radu

Grandfather Radu

In 1936, Radu C. Mihail married my grandmother, Ana Vasilescu (1906-1998). The cradle of the family was at Fărcaşa and Borca, in Neamţ county, and the initial family name was Pașnicu. My grandmother Ana (Grandma Dada, as I used to call her) was a kindergarten teacher, tutoress and kindergarten mistress. It was funny to discover that, in 1930, in Sinaia, she was awarded the title Miss Ciuc by Realitatea ilustrată Magazine.

Ana and Radu, Miercurea-Ciuc, 1936

Grandmother Ana, grandfather Radu and my father

Grandmother Ana and grandfather Radu

My mother, Maria Mihail, born Ungureanu, is originally from Tulgheș (Harghita county), an old Romanian village at the border of Moldova and Transylvania. From the 18th century, it became part of the Habsburg Empire and, gradually, its ethnic composition became more and more varied, after the coming of the Hungarians and the Jews. All my direct maternal ancestors are Greek-Catholic Romanians.

The Transylvanians came in Tulgheș from Râpa de Mureș. My maternal grandfather, Ştefan Ungureanu (1912-1974), was a partisan during the Second World War, under Horthy’s occupation. He opposed the occupation. His father, my great grandfather, Dumitru Ungureanu, fought in the First World War, in the Austro-Hungarian Army and was taken prisoner by the Russians. He went through a lot until he returned to his village. He had to face the dangers of a Russian Empire tormented by the revolution and he recounted those back home that he saw Lenin in person while the latter was giving a speech.

Stefan Ungureanu, my grandfather

Florentina-Galina Olaru, my grandmother

My grandmother, Florentina-Galina Olaru (1924-2002), descended from the old families Olaru and Citirigă in Tulgheș. My grand-uncle, Petru Olaru, together with another two villagers, represented Tulgheș at the Great National Assembly in Alba Iulia, on the 1st of December 1918. The father of my grandmother, Gheorghe Olaru (1888-1964), my grand-grandfather, also fought in the First World War, in the Austro-Hungarian Army and he was a prisoner in Italy for four years. My great grandmother, Maria Citirigă (1890-1972) was a wealthy, sharp woman who owned a lot of land and people say she refused to join the cooperatives after the Communists came to power. This is the reason she was caricatured on the wallboard so that all the villagers would see her and the words “We want land” were drawn as if uttered by her. A brother of my grandmother, Gavril, died on the Eastern Front during the Second World War, together with five more members of the Olaru family.

*Texts translated into English by Manuela Ilioiu.