Friday, October 26, 2007

Sighetu Marmetiei: Elie Wiesel; Museum of Arrested Thought Political Prison, Traditional dress; festival of the cows

Sighetu Marmetij, or Sighetu Marmetiei.
Festival; Elie Wiesel;
Museum of Arrested Thought

1.  Festival of the Cows

This northern town holds vast contrasts.  We were there for the Festival of the Cows, when the cows are brought down from summer pastures in the mountains, to the lower lands.  Traditional dress is usually not seen in the cities, but performers are a common sight.

Dancer, Festival of the Cows, Sighetu Marmetij, Sighetu Marketiei, Maramures, Romania

The Festival of the Cows brings out musicians and musical troupes. There was a large banquet for officials, and music and dancing, to celebrate the bringing down of the cattle from the high pastures for the winter.

Musicians, Festival of the Cows, Sighetu Marmeteie

The skirts are heavy felted wool connected aprons front and back.

2.  Elie Wiesel.  Sighetu Marmetiei, the town in northwestern Romania where Elie Wiesel was born, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, and who now is working with George Clooney (9/06) to promote action to stop genocide in Darfur. For the work and life of Elie Wiesel, see for Elie Wiesel's "Sighet" - a nickname for the town -  1920-1939.

He was Chairman of the International Commission for the Holocaust in Romania. Read his speech regarding the holocaust at Read the full report at

Yad Vashem is the Jewish national museum in Jerusalem.

3.  The Museum of Arrested Thought is here -- one of the chain of political prisons, perhaps one of the black prisons used by the United Statets or others to conduct their "questioning" of prisoners free of on-ground restrictions in the United States itself.  This prison is now open as a museum to visitors. It  is open but guides are guarded in what they say. Guides are not open in responding to questions. Our guide looked over his shoulder and shook his head many times when we asked. But most is self-explanatory.  See prior post on Maramures and WWII.

For more on the prison, and its torture, and a map of where the political prisons are, see Paul's Blog at Map of Russian prisons in Romania/  Enough is visible, however, to put together a great deal. The tools of torture are there, great iron rings in sunken concrete floors, or on the walls, and so on. For its history, see In use?

Here intellectuals and government dissenters and others were kept, tortured and died, and we don't seem to be above it after all. See also "Prison of the Ministers," at

How many of those have been used as US black prisons.

4.  Sighetu Jewish Cemetery.  This is locked, and there was no indication that we could be granted entry across the street, see

The Jewish population here once was sizable.  The town is the birthplace of Elie Wiesel's home, see The Jewish population was decimated, and the cemetery is kept locked. For background on Jewish history in Romania: see They undertook a strong resistance to the Nazis, I understand.

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