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The Forest Brothers

An aggressive Stalinist policy of collectivization was ruthlessly pursued following the communists' creation of the People's Republic in 1947. Despite widespread opposition to this absorption of privately owned land, the collectivization process was completed by 1962. Just 6% of agricultural land remained in the hands of private owners.

Peasants who refused to give up their land were persecuted. Following the arrest of some 80,000 peasants, thousand more fled into the mountains from where they engage in guerrilla warfare against the communist authorities.

Romania's 'forest brothers', who survived in the mountains on wild berries and food parcels smuggled to them by sympathetic villagers, succeeded in outwitting the authorities until as late as 1960 in some region.

Partisan Gheorghe Arsenescu put up armed resistance from his camp in the southern Fagaras mountains until 1952 when he went into hiding. In 1960 he was caught and imprisoned in Campulung Muscel prison where he promptly committed suicide. In the northern Fagaras mountains the partisan fight was led by engineer Gavrila whose mountain stronghold remained unconquered until 1956. His forest brother, Dumitru Moldoveanu, was shot in the intestines during battle and captured. Despite being tortured, he refused to betray his brothers in the mountains. Another camp surrendered only after its families and friends living the low-lying villages were captured and tortured by the communist army.

In the Vrancea mountains the armed resistance was split between the 'juniors' and the 'seniors' (over 40 years old). The two divisions were betrayed in 1949 by a communist spy who infiltrated one of the groups. Just two mountain fighters escaped: one was recaptured and shot, the other imprisoned and executed.

Source: Romania & Moldova, 1998