Commemoration of the dead by a family in Bessarabia



Commemoration of the dead by a family in Bessarabia
Paștele Blajinilor în Basarabia
Радуница в Бессарабии


The photograph shows a family from Bessarabia in a cemetery of Chilia Nouă celebrating Paștele Blajinilor (in Romanian) or Radonitsa (in Russian), the day when the Orthodox Christian families commemorate their deceased relatives. Almsgiving has a central place in the commemoration of the dead in Orthodox Christian tradition. It is believed that by offering to each other bread, cookies, fruits, tableware items and drinks, the believers redeem the sins of their deceased relatives, and satiate the dead’s thirst and hunger. This is why the grave in the image is covered with various items that were due to be offered as gifts. Celebrated one week after the Orthodox Easter, Paștele Blajinilor or Radonitsa is a day when the entire family are gathered in the cemetery. This family used this occasion to take a picture, a copy of which was later sent to a relative who could not attend the commemoration and who was arrested by the Soviet secret police in 1940. The photograph was confiscated from a woman arrested when trying to flee from USSR to Bessarabia (at that time part of Romania). The photograph was important for the secret police investigation because it depicted cross-border family networks.
The photograph have been attached to the investigation file 595 that is preserved in the archival found R-3401, inventory 1, at the National Archive of the Republic of Moldova. The file contains another 21 family photographs, a birth certificate and a visa issued in 1937 by the Romanian Royal Diplomatic Legacy in Odessa.

For related entries see:


Soviet Union
Evidence, criminal
Secret police (secret service)
Evidence photographs
Communism--Soviet Union--History--Sources
Identification photographs
Material culture--Religious aspects
Photograph albums
Border transgression
Human smuggling


Dumitru Lisnic


Arhiva Națională a Republicii Moldova, Fond R-3401, Inventar 1, Dosar 595


Hidden Galleries ERC project (no.677355)




Copyright for these images belongs to Arhiva Națională a Republicii Moldova






20th Century, USSR

Bibliographic Citation

Dumitru Lisnic, ”Commemoration of the dead by a family in Bessarabia”

Date Created