Lena Constante (1909-2005) was a Romanian graphic artist, a left-wing intellectual and a free spirit. She was married to Harry Brauner (1908-1988), a brilliant ethno-musicologist, surrealist painter Victor Brauner’s brother, and no less of a free spirit. They were both close friends with the Marxist intellectual and Communist luminary Lucretiu Patrascanu and his wife, Elena (Hertha). This was their misfortune: they were arrested, tortured, and sentenced to lo…ng jail terms in the Patrascanu trial, the last Stalinist frame-up in Eastern Europe (April 1954, Albania was the exception). All the defendants pleaded guilty, minus Patrascanu. who spat upon the false witnesses.
One year after Stalin’s death, his Romanian protege, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, feared that the former minister of justice could represent an alternative to his autocratic power. All the Politburo members approved the death sentence. In April 1968, theree years after Dej’s demise, Lucretiu Patrascanu and the alleged members of a the fictitous conspiracy were rehabilitated. In his case, posthumously…
Lena’s memoir titled “The Silent Escape” came out in French in the early 1990s, then in Romanian from Humanitas and in English, from the University of California Press with a preface by UCLA professsor Gail Kligman. In my essay broadcast today by Radio Free Europe I explore Lena Constante’s life and fate…
“Bunăstarea umanității nu mă interesează decât din clipa in care incetează de a mai fi criminală și devine morală” (The well-being of mankind concerns me only from the moment when it ceases to be criminal and is becoming moral)–Panait Istrati (1929) One of the first to expose the God that failed, Istrati was close friends with Victor Serge and Boris Souvarine. He wrote the foreword to George Orwell’s first book translated into French.
Born: August 10, 1884, Braila, Romania
Died: April 18, 1935, Bucharest, Romania
In warm memory of my aunt, my mother’s sister, Cristina Luca-Boico, neé Bianca Marcusohn (born in Botoșani, Romania, August 8, 1916 – died in Paris, France, April 16, 2002). For her heroic deeds in the French resistance, as chief of the FTP-MOI ( Francs-tireurs et partisans – main-d’œuvre immigrée) intelligence unit, she was granted the Médaille de la Résistance.
Clive James is right: “…there really can be such a creature as an incorruptible human being, and it quite often takes a woman to be one.” (“Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts,” New York, Norton, 2007, p. 365)
2014, TF1 series “Résistance,” Cannes festival award-winner Cristina Flutur plays Cristina Luca, Bianca’s nom de guerre…
At Hannah Arendt’s funeral, December 8, 1975, her close friend for decades, philosopher Hans Jonas, spoke about the immense biographical significance of her coming to the US. True, her politicization had started in Parisian exile, but ti was here, in the US, that she developed her vision on what “beginning anew” means: “Still, what would have become of that, had she not come to these shores–who knows? It was the experience of the Republic here which d…ecisively shaped her political thinking, tempered as it was in the fires of European tyranny and catastrophe, and forever supported in her grounding in classical thought. America taught her a way beyond the hardened alternatives of left and right from which she had escaped; and the idea of the Republic, as the realistic chance for freedom, remained dear to her even in its darkening days.” (Quoted by Richard H. King, “Arendt and America,” University of Chicago Press, 2015)
Motto: “Eu cred că orice exilat trebuie să se identifice cu Elie Wiesel.”–Ioan Petru Culianu
A stiut ce inseamna agonia, durerea, jalea. Si-a pierdut familia in Holocaust. A supravietuit pentru a depune marturie. A stiut ca garantiile civilizatiei moderne sunt mereu amenintate de barbarie. A inteles ca barbaria poate lua chipul progresului tehnologic. Nu a nutrit iluzii despre niciuna dintre intruchiparile totalitarismului. A scris un roman despre noaptea poetilor asasinati in urma simulacrului de proces impotriva Comitetului Evreiesc Antifascist organizat de Stalin si clica sa. A facut din apararea memoriei o datorie existentiala. In 2003, Elie Wiesel a prezidat Comisia Internationala privind Holocaustul din Romania. Institutul aflat in subordinea premierului Romaniei care se ocupa de originile, dinamica si efectele Holocaustului din Romania ii poarta numele.
Venea din mica burghezie a evreimii transilvane. O categorie sociala si etnica anihilata de nazism. La Sighet, am vizitat acum cativa ani Casa Memoriala “Elie Wiesel”. Este la doi pasi de Muzeul Memorial al Victimelor Comunismului. Locuri de memorie pe o harta insangerata. Aparator al tuturor prigonitlor, un umanist dintr-o specie tot mai rara, Elie Wiesel a primit Premiul Nobel pentru Pace. L-a binemeritat. Sa-i fie memoria eterna! Omenirea ii va fi de-a pururi indatorata…