Infamy Revisited: My Secret Police File

 Graduate seminar today on human rights, truth commissions, and memory. I shared with my students my secret police file which I received from the National Council for the Administration of the Securitate Archives in the summer of 2006. Hundreds of pages with often distorted information about my pre-1981 Romanian life, reports from infomers in the US about my whereabouts, including a lecture I gave at the Wilson Center, with Ken Jowitt as discussant, in October 1989. The agents and their handlers were quite nervous, it was in full East European upheaval. They had given me the code name “Cain,” Radio Free Europe was “Cobra.” Many “strictly secret” notes were signed by general Aristotel Stamatoiu, the chief of Romania’s Foreign Inrelligence Directorate.

Lots of anti-Semitic innuendo in those scurrilous notes. Code name for Jews: “tunareni.” A former Bucharest colleague’s report of his phone conversations with me during his 2006 Fulbright fellowship in New York: mission accomplished, he managed to reach me!

I was deeply moved re-reading a copy of my mother’s letter to me from 1984. It conveyed her sense of fear, for me, for my sisters. Writing that letter must have been imposed on her by the Securitate officers. The way the letter starts, with an unfamiliar way of her addressing me, was a signal that it was not her desire to write it. Altogether, a disturbingly revealing experience. But an instructive one for those who want to grasp the ramifications of evil under totalitarianism.

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