Confiscated group photograph of Inochentists Romania

Item

Title

Confiscated group photograph of Inochentists Romania

Description

This confiscated photograph was included in a personal file of an Inochentist leader alongside several others collated by the Romanian Securitate. The image shows the male leader flanked by two women from the community. Such group and community photographs feature heavily amongst the corpus of confiscated images in the secret police archives in Romania as for the secret police they were a convenient means of tracing networks and personal relationships of the religious underground.
The case file does not state when the images were confiscated but from an Informer Report that appears elsewhere in the personal file we learn that in February 1965 the members of a “sisterhood” of Inochentist women were being investigated by the Securitate because of their links to the leader in the photograph, a “Saint” referred to by his flock as the prophet “Elisha” with the initials C.A. The informer, “Dan Gheorghe” (not his real name), who had either infiltrated the group or been recruited from within it, after a conversation with the “sisters” reported the following:
“She [one of the leaders of the group] told me that the militia man [who lived next door to her] got hold of a photograph of her with C. A. and M. and that if she is asked by the militia if she knows C. A., that she won’t say no because the militia have the photograph, but if she is asked about other “brothers” in the group she will say nothing even if they cut her into pieces. I asked her how the photograph reached the militia and she told me that she was photographed together with those I mentioned above, then she sent the photograph to C. A. through the post and in this way the militia had made a copy of the photograph” (CNSAS I 237454, vol. 3, 57.).
This short extract from the Informers Report tells us a lot about the biography of this particular photograph revealing how the image was produced by members of the community, how it was shared, how it was intercepted by the secret police and finally how it was transformed into incriminating evidence that could be used to identify members of the underground community. This example serves to illustrate the text/image relationship as the Informers Report engages the photograph as evidence of the meeting with C.A. The image, however, is in stark contrast to the text that describes it; the text incriminates and implicates the image in a conspiratorial narrative, whereas the intention of the producers of the image was to commemorate a significant act of devotion to the group’s spiritual leader, which they preserved despite the risk that the photograph posed to the community.
Three copies of a photograph, together with a number of others, appear compiled on a single page of the secret police file and are described as “photographs of the elements [meaning the individuals under surveillance] from the operation of group no. 70.”

For related entries see:

Subject

Communism and Religion
Material culture--Religious Aspects
Religious groups
Communism--Romania
Evidence photographs
Confiscations
Communism and Christianity
Communism--History--20th century
Secret police (secret service)
Surveillance
Totalitarianism

Creator

James A. Kapaló

Source

Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității (CNSAS)

Publisher

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme No . 677355

Date

1965

Rights

Copyright for these images belongs to Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității - CNSAS

Format

image/tif

Language

RO

Type

image

Identifier

CNSAS I237454 vol.1

Coverage

Romania 20th century

Bibliographic Citation

James A. Kapaló, "Confiscated group photograph of Inochentists Romania"

Date Created

2018