MY SECOND UNIVERSITY by Stanciu Stroia with Dan Dusleag











Free Hit Tracker and Free Web Site Stats by WebSTAT  page hit counter * THE (SEQUENTIAL) MAKING OF A BOOK *

My Grandfather, Dr. Stanciu Stroia, wrote this memoir between 1979 and 1986, more than twenty years after he was released from the Romanian Communist prison system. My foremost gratitude goes to him, for having had the courage to document his ordeal, despite the risk of being detained again. My late father, Dr. Liviu Dusleag, deserves praise, because it was at his suggestion and insistence that this chronicle, the incipient version of which he reviewed before his unexpected death in 1986, came to life.

The manuscript was “deciphered” and organized by my mother, Dr. Lucia Dusleag, in Toronto, Canada, during the spring of 2000. Many thanks go to her for her efforts in getting the project off the ground and for her continuous and inexhaustible support. She was my biggest fan and loudest cheerleader, and without her assistance, the book would have remained a thought.

In the summer of 2000, graduate student Raluca Tudor from the University of Bucharest, Romania, initiated the English translation of a handful of pages under the supervision of Professor Lidia Vianu. I revised and completed the translation between December 2002 and December 2004, in Bloomington, Indiana. The result was not intended to be a verbatim rendition of the original Romanian text, but rather an honest effort at presenting the author’s thoughts without altering their meaning. The subtleties of the Romanian manuscript were at times difficult to reproduce in English, which does not do the author justice.

The italic text included in brackets […] constitutes addenda I have inserted to facilitate the reader’s understanding of historical facts, family circumstances and medical terminology. It also contains excerpts from interviews conducted with other victims of the Communist purge. The dates and descriptions of events added throughout the text are available in the public domain, and every effort has been made to ensure their accuracy.

I am honored that Florin Constantiniu, professor of history at the University of Bucharest and a member of the Romanian Academy, agreed to review the introduction and historical notes during my short visit to Bucharest in September 2004. His invaluable expertise guaranteed their correctness. Romanian historian, former State Chancellor and Presidential Advisor Floricel Marinescu provided further historical advice, for which I am also very grateful. Professor Ioan Ciupea from the National Museum of Transylvanian History in Cluj entrusted me with a list of one thousand names of political detainees, never-before-published and very pertinent to the subject of this memoir. His selfless commitment to giving these victims a voice is admirable, and represents an example for other historians of the period to follow.

Professor Keith Hitchins from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, the premier historian of Romania in the English-speaking world, kindly read the final draft. I cannot express my gratitude for his involvement in this endeavor. Vladimir Tismaneanu, professor of government and politics and director of the Center for the Study of Post-Communist Societies at the University of Maryland, took the time to review the manuscript as well. I am thankful for his generous support.

Ron Marmarelli, a freelance editor and a member of the journalism faculty at Central Michigan University, patiently copyedited the manuscript throughout the summer, fall, and winter of 2004. My sister, Alina Cilnician, did additional editing and proofreading. Her attention to detail, the valuable points she contributed, and her constructive criticism were well received. Dan Piekarsky’s efforts in reviewing and proofreading the pre-press copy are greatly appreciated too. They all made the work fit for the publisher.

The photographs and documents included in the book were collected from family albums and archives and were selected and scanned during the summer and fall of 2004. I designed the two maps to underscore the introduction’s message. The front cover photograph depicts Stanciu Stroia as a first-year medical student and was shot in 1923 by Emil Fischer, the most prestigious interwar photographer in Sibiu, Romania. I am also very indebted to American artist Mel Chin, whose photographic art titled Jilava Prison Bed for Father Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa graces the back cover of this volume. His creation sums up the torments of Communist imprisonment better than any words. It was originally conceived for a 1982 Amnesty International exhibition that called attention to the plight of political prisoners.

Furthermore, many thanks go to Dr. David Damboiu and Alina and Dana Damboiu for being such wonderful hosts and resourceful guides during my Romanian prison-tour. Without them and Dr. Sanda Magureanu, Lucia and Floricel Marinescu, Stefan Andreescu, Lucia Maniu, Maria and Alexandru Ionescu, Dr. Stela Stroia, Ligia Corovei, Father Aurel Harsan, Gabi Chelaru and Onuc Nemes, my trip would not have been worthwhile. Meeting ex-political detainee and author Lena Constante and being able to locate and contact Father Zosim Oancea, Dr. Constantin Diaconescu, Cornel Balaj and Ion Rosca, all former cellmates of my grandfather, was very gratifying. They were graceful in providing details about their prison nightmare.

The following people deserve a mention as well for their advice and help at various stages: Joe Damboiu, Dia Dumitru, Ion Gavrila-Ogoranu, Mioara Dordea, Ovidiu Cilnician, Terry McAdorey, Barbie Jenkins, Miles Flynn, Rachel Krupicka, Irina Eremia Bragin and Lidia Gheorghiu Bradley.

Sadly, the unexpected and premature death of Dr. Bogdan Magureanu, a brilliant mind, a humble spirit, and a dear friend, coincided with the book’s release. One of my great sources of encouragement and support, Bobi was eagerly anticipating reading this volume. An inspiration for everyone who was fortunate to know him, he will be terribly missed. . . .

On a final note, a very special word of gratitude goes to my immediate family. My wife, Kimberly Dusleag-Schill, supplied me with smart ideas and challenging remarks, listened patiently to my constant jabbering about the book, and tolerated the distractions from my household responsibilities. Genuinely trying to grasp the importance of “your grandpa’s book,” my four-year-old son, Jonathan, shared in my enthusiasm.

Creating this book proved to be a task more daunting than I had ever imagined. Nevertheless, it was a rewarding learning experience. No less than twenty-six years have passed between the time my grandfather made the first entry in his note pad and I finished typing the last word of the manuscript. After years of transcribing and translating, correcting and rewriting, researching and scanning, editing and proofreading, with the emotional toll this time-consuming project took on my family and me, I have to let go of this book. It is time for the reader to be the judge.

Dan L. Dusleag, Bloomington, Indiana, March 2005

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Writers Notes Magazine Book Award Winner

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