Amnesty International postcards sent to imprisoned Greek Catholic bishop in Romania



Amnesty International postcards sent to imprisoned Greek Catholic bishop in Romania


The four images show Amnesty International postcards sent to Dej prison to the Greek Catholic Bishop Ioan Dragomir in 1964. They are selected from a total of 15 winter holiday postcards sent from various places in United Kingdom and Australia to Dej prison. Most of them have standardized typed messages on the Amnesty International cards.
The first picture shows the inside of a card and back of an envelope. The card is a standard pre-written Amnesty International card to which the sender added: “I hope you will soon be free. God be with you.” The sender was the secretary of the University College in Cardiff. Most of the cards come with only the pre-written standardized messages and are signed and addressed. This is among the few that include some lines from the sender.
The second and third images show the front of two cards.
The forth image shows the inside of a card that sparked the special interest of the secret police. The senders’ message reads: “Dear bishop Dragomir, greetings. May the future bring greater light, Yours Faithfully Fred Dykstiva”. However, it was not the hand-written message the Securitate officers were concerned about but the pre-written Amnesty International message at the bottom of the card. “This card is being sent to men and women in various countries held in prison for their beliefs, to show that those who are free to speak and worship as they wish remember those who are not.”
The 15 cards arrived at Dej prison in November 1964 several months after Bishop Ioan Dragomir had been released from prison after an amnesty decree that released most of the political prisoners of the regime. However, what triggered the Securitate involvement was the fact that Bishop Dragomir had never been a prisoner of the Dej prison (this was a prison that catered for prisoners arrested and charged for spying for a Western country). Bishop Dragomir was supposed to have been sent to Dej prison since his imprisonment had originally been on charges of espionage for Vatican. However, his past as a member of the Peasant Party ensured instead that he was sent to Galați prison and later to Brăila where he spent the last days of his imprisonment until July 1964. While most of the political prisoners in Dej prison received Amnesty International postcards it was the Ioan Dragomir batch that raised the suspicions of the secret police. The officers raised questions about how the senders had found out that this was the correct address for political prisoners. This mistake in address seemed to indicate that international institutions were privy to the thinking behind the types of prisoners being sent to the various prisons. Moreover, the officers were interested in whether the correspondence between the bishop and these senders continued after his release from prison. Unlike his correspondence after his release that was copied and read by the secret police, these postcards never reached bishop Dragomir.
Bishop Dragomir was one of the clandestine Greek Catholic hierarchy that was created by Nuncio Patrick O’Hara following the imprisonment of the bishops of the Greek Catholic Church in 1948 for refusing to sign and acknowledge the forced unification with the Orthodox Church. He was imprisoned for 20 years in 1952 for activities against the social order. He was released in 1964 and returned to his home where he spiritually administered the clandestine communities of Greek Catholics as their bishop.

The four images are part of the informative file on Ioan Dragomir CNSAS I3560 volume 2. The informative file has 10 volumes and includes several other evidence photographs, notes from informants, intercepted correspondence, secret police reports on the everyday activity of Ioan Dragomir and the Greek Catholic underground community.

For related entries see:


Communism--Romania--History--20th century
Communism--Europe, Eastern--History--20th century
Secret police (secret service)
Amnesty International
Catholic Church--Byzantine rite, Greek
Romania. Securitatea


Anca Sincan


Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității (CNSAS) I3560, vol 2


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




Anca Sincan


Copyright for the document image belongs to CNSAS
Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității










20th century, Romania

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Anca Sincan, "Amnesty International postcards sent to imprisoned Greek Catholic bishop in Romania"

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