Photographs of confiscated religious materials smuggled into Romania



Photographs of confiscated religious materials smuggled into Romania
Fotografii reprezentând materialul religios strecurat în România și confiscat la graniță


These photos were taken in 1985 and show the search by Customs Officers of a car belonging to three tourists who were trying to cross the border into Romania. This was a normal procedure and any attempt to smuggle religious materials into the country was considered dangerous and an attack against the regime.
The first image depicts the three tourists together with all the religious material that they were presumably hiding in their car. Among the books we can see a few Bibles, brochures, calendars, some cassettes and songbooks. These materials were confiscated along with the list of names of the people that they were supposed to be delivered to. The second image shows the officers as they were uncovering the religious materials that were hidden in the car. These type of images are recurrent in evidence files and they are used to prove the guilt of the persons trying to smuggle religious or other forbidden materials in the country.
Similar to the second image, the third and the forth photos depict the officers pulling religious books out from their hiding places. The photos were taken at the precise moment (or were staged to appear as such) in an attempt to emphasize the dramatic character of the situation and to further incriminate the smugglers. The books were hidden in various hard-to-reach places inside the car such as the engine area, as can be seen in the forth image.
According to the report present in the file, the three people tried to enter Romania in September 1985 but there is no mentions of where they came from. However, based on the registration plate of their car, as depicted in some of the photos, it is safe to assume that they were West German tourists from Karlsruhe, presumably Christians belonging to a protestant or Evangelical church, that were trying to smuggle religious materials inside the country. The tourists were fined and denied access to the country.

The photos can be found in the file CNSAS, D 00003, vol. 1. Apart from these four photos, there are seven other photos referring to this particular case, 18 photos concerning two similar cases, as well as other police reports and instructive materials for the officers on how to act in these type of situations.

For related entries see:


Religion and State--Europe
Religion -- History -- 20th century
Religion and Politics-- Europe
Secret police (secret service)
Romania. Securitatea
Communism and Christianity--Europe, Eastern
Communism and religion
Communism--Europe, Eastern--History--20th century
Material culture--Religious aspects
Religious groups
Evidence photographs
Underground literature


Iuliana Cindrea


Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității
CNSAS, D 00003, vol. 1.


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




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


Image/ jpg






CNSAS, D 00003, vol. 1.


20th Century, Romania

Bibliographic Citation

Iuliana Cindrea, "Photographs of confiscated religious materials smuggled into Romania"

Date Created