Today, the 7th of August 2004 we are in Coşoveni  and we will talk to our ounts  Lena and Rijina( Queenie). Live long and be blessed! I trust to find you well!

Rijina: You too, have a long life!

Lena: Be blessed!

Aunt Rijina, I know that you are a well known and well spoken women. I want you to testimony in the name of our Lord, your memory, painfull and full of tears as it is, the story of the Bug, as lived  by you. Kindly tell us and do not forget a thing.

Rijina: I´ll tell. Do not worry, I can not forget.

We left, dear, for a whole year we travelled, onlz the road. We travelled from a village to an other. The Gerndarmes were waiting for us at each end of a village. They would pass us over from one village to the other and there other gendarmes would take us and  guard us, they would guard us and pass us to other gendarmes from the following village. We used to waid for 24 hours, just to make some polenta and nourish the kids.

Did it take so lomg to make polenta?

Rijina: On  the road. We stayed in each village 24 hours.

Lena: one day and one night.

Rijina: One day and one night. If we could, we finished the polenta, if not, we threw the boiling brew away as the gendarme came to take us further.

So they took us on the road, for one year. And they led us to that place, Dumanovca, hills on one side, hills on the other side. So they settled us in a valley as far as from here to Craiova.

Lena: May be larger…

Rijina: Thieves would stay in one place. We would stay in an othe rplace. ‘Slăteaia, slăteaia’. They called us ‘slăteaia’. So as they brought us there, suddenly we see gendarmes comming and taking away our horses , our waggons, taking everything, everything …  tents were left like that on the poles. And they kicked us out of the tents. As they kicked us out, those who could get their golden coins took them, who could not, did not.. by  now they took us, kicked us out, and took the men, they took the men, ours carts and horses to the collectives. After they took them, we were sent home but the Băduleşti entered our tents, the thieves. Thieves came until we got there, they collected everything, they took, they took.

I know, I know.

Rijina:  They took the baconm they took the clothes. They took the planks from the waggons and the gold we hed hidden there, we had gold coins. I took the anvil and hit to brake the planks. When I broke the plank, the gendarmes caught me. They caught me. So I said:  ”The colden coins are mine. ”

„Well then, we take them from you”. They took and counted the coins. As they were counting the coins, we did not have big golden coins, only small ones. So they took them… But then gave them back to me. As they gave them back : „Give them to the clinker”  the clinker they called him.

And I went but he gave them back to me. I went the other day and he gave me mz coins back the clinker.

Lena: He gave them back to you becouse you had nothing to live on.

Rijina: he gave them to me. The tents remained on place, beat me. I walked out of the tent, just as I am now. My man took one kid in his arm and I took an other.

You had two children?

Rijina: Two. Look here they are. Kâţa and Ceandiri.

I forgot to ask you ount Rijină. Whose doughter are you?  How was your father called?

Rijina: Şorkovan.

And your mother?

Rijina: Zânka.

O Dell te ierti le! God rest teir sould!

Rijina:  God rest them!

And it cmae, that thing from above, that …

Lena: Helicopter…

Rijina: Not the  licopter … Helikopter, you call it helicopter now. It came, it cmae…they took us to that valley in order to shoot us. To shoot us, to kill us. And that great one, …. a Queeen she was, she solved it that we were not shut…

Lena: She said we’d better work there.

Rijina: So the great one, she stopped them from killing us.

Whom do you mean with the great one?

Lena: The Queen, the great  queen.

Rijina: Out of the licopter she waved her hands like this, so they would not shoot us.

Now, what was on the other side? There was, there was this you eat,  damn it …


Rijina: Sunflower. There in the sunflower. A child, not taller tehn you, went there to take some sunflower and eat it.

Lena: To eat pour thing, and they shoot him.

Rijina: They shot his arm.

Lena: They shot his arm.

Rijina: Well as they shot him…

Lena: Rădikar’s Cioabă.

Rijina: Cioabă it was?

Lena: Rădikar’s Cioabă, it was

Rijina: So people took the knife an cut off his arm.

Lena: Cut it off und put it under the trough.…

Rijina: How that? …

Lena: They put his hand under the trough and his hand was writhing there under the trough,   it trembled and jumped up and then they placed some children on the trough. Do you remember?

Rijina: I do not remember, …

Kindly tell me what they did to that child?

Lena: They cut off his hand from here, becouse he went to take some seeds …

How old was he?

Lena:   Sunflower. He was pretty old about fifteen…

Rijina: Fifteen years.

Lena: Ehei and they shot his hand and he could no longer hold his hand, it was bouncing… so they took and cut it off  from up here and put it under a trough and the hand was moving inside there and so they put some children to sit on the trough.

Did you see this?

Lena: I saw…

Did the child live  after this?

Rijina-Lena: He died…

Lena: he lived for a while but in the end he died. There was no medication back then. Maybe if they would have put some medicine there…

Rijina: Where take the medicine from?

Lena: There was nothing.

God rest his soul!

Lena: God rest him!

Tell us more aunt

Rijina: A sister of mine died there. Lepa was her name.

God rest her soul!

Lena: People were dying, children were dying…

Rijina: There were big reedbeds there.” they would make pits and put them in a blanket.

Lena: For some others they didn’t dig any holes, they died behind the huts and there they stayed…

Rijina: This said that queen who came with an airplane,  that they should not shoot us, she wtched us on the window and waved with her arms like this so they would not shoot us, not kill us …you remember?

Lena: I do.

Rijina: Not to shoot, not to kill us, as we are many souls, we are many souls…

Lena: let them work… let them work in collectives …

Rijina: They took us and placed us dear, at the huts. There were huts as from here up to leo… rows. Rows and rows of huts. You’d ask how were those huts?

Lena: The huts were dug out inside and had a roof … Reed roof and on teh top of it earth…we were dyeing becouse of the smoke so our parents cut a hole in it so the smoke would get out.

Rijina: You know what my mother-in-law there said:  „We die here Deordi dear, as the hut will crumble on us. ”

Lena: We die becouse of the smoke! …

Rijina: We die… there were no stoves, no matches, there was nothing, only I found fire,  lit embers and baking potatoes, that is what I found in the hut I entered.

Lena: Those were thrown out…

Rijina: The people who worked at the huts.

Lena: This was the warfield for the army to hide there in those huts.

No, no, those were made for the Roma people.

Lena: For the roma they made them. That was a camp there.

I know , and I will travel there myself.

Lena: A camp was there.

Rijina: Where to go, what will you find there?

I will go to trace the places you have been taken to.

Rijina: They…Camp is there. Why would you go to that camp?

I go, so that these kids can see…

Rijina: Only dead people are there…

For the people who died there, I do wish to build a monument in their names. So these young ones can go there in years and put a flower, light a candle , as many of our kind have died there.

Lena: There were lots of families, there were many. Also from your kindred.

Rijina: dear, they took the Moldavians in a big forrest

 Pollu, Pollu was with them …

Lena: And they shot them, shot them.

Rijina: They shot them in the water, in water they shot them… …

Lena: There was a big lake.

Please aunt  Rijina tell us about as many  Roma people as you remember, dearly please! Remember, see, go back there and tell us about the children who died, the people who died there, tell us about them.

Rijina: To go there?

Only in thought, with your thoughts.

Lena: Only in your mind…

Rijina: dear, those who had golden coins, came on this other side. The ones who did not, were eaten by the dogs up to their throuts.

I heard about that… aunt Lulla told me that too.

Rijina: Which Lulla?

Lulla from Strehaia.

Lena: Aha, Ciomagăs Lulla. Our Lulla.

Rijina: Lulla doughter of Ciomaga.

Lena: Lulla of Ciomaga.

Lulla of Ciomaga also sang for me.

Lena: Floreas sister.

She gave me two songs from the Bug.


Lord, let the winds blow

Let roads come to an end

Beside fences we die

With small children in our arms

With duvets on our backs

Lena: The woman is sick.

Let her tell us.

Lena: Tell and look at the woman.


Lord, let the winds blow,

As You gave us the roads

With small children on our backs

With duvets on our backs

With small children on our arms

Descend God on earth

To see the sorrow you have done

To see the sorrow you have done

To see the sorrow you have done

How many children you killed

How many children you killed

And they died along the fences

With children o their backs

Along the fences how they die

Witch children in their arms


Do not cry, let it…

God bless all their souls!


Descend God on earth

To see God what You have done

How many women you widowed

How many men you widowed

How many children you enpoored

Alai dalai da lala

As this is no story

These are our tears…

I know it ios a great sorrow.

Lena: Hurting… hurting … a lot…

I know there are a lot of tears in this testimony, I know it hurts a lot and for thet we praise the Holy Name of our God as I xould come here and listen to this testimonies.

Rijina: I feel like crying for  Orja …

Lena: Totomokos Orja…

Rijina: he would dance with us in the hbuts to bring us joy „Give me some molasses, give me some potatoes…”

Lena: People would give him…

Rijina: We stayed some time, at the end, in spring, people came and scattered us in collectives. In that place so many people , in the other so many. They scattered us in all winds in collectives. So we went wherever they took us to the collective, some were left behnind as they had no horses or waggons to travel with. They would take about ten, ten, about ten families they took in a collective, ten families.

Were you supposed to work on the fields? Would you harvest ceops?

Rijina:   We picked up potatoes, corn we would cut off the whole plant, bind them into sheaves and put them in a big pile. We made several piles. Potatoes we would pick up and put them in a pit as big as from here up to Craiova. We used also baskets and put them into that pit beets and potatoes.

From the corn we cut the cobs and gathered them in sheaves. We gathered beans in one place and  beat it like this with a bat to unfold the beans from the stalk. The same we did with lentils, as there was lentils there at the Bug.

Did they feed you?

Rijina: We had a ratio, as we were listed, we registered for a ratio, so they gave us… who saw salt? We gathered lentils and beans and put them in the pit.

We were working and eventually we would get back home. Then they divided us to the collectives and it seemed good to us. We were living better. When they divided us to the collectives …

That is how we were sitting there; we’d made our tents.  Out of reedbed, we found some wood and we raised a few small tents outside in that field where they had put us.

Dear, we would go to the village and buy chickens. There were no fences. Where you were going there, you would go out, you’d go out. There was no fence, there was nothing.

We had dug up and made ourselves wells to get water. We would put on a hook and pull out the water. Some kids came and grabbed the hook.

So those kids came and took the hook, they were about ten, fifteen years old. People saw that they came and took the hook.

„Pokoju, po koju

Give me the hook. ”

They came all of a sudden, they rushed and took that, we were taking out the water with it. They took the hook. Then I told them „Aaaaa, that I will tell to the Bulibaşa, the bailiff…”

„This one beautiful, beautiful…”they saw the beautiful woman. Were up to take her, take the woman from my arm. How should I let the woman go? I will not let her go. She was clinging to me, I was clinging to her. Well, the top of the skirt got teared apart in their hands, that heavyly they pulled the woman. „Let the damn skirt be, let her damned be, let her leave with it” And so those guys left. They saw the Gypsies.

These ran after those guys to catch them and beat them, but they did not catch them anymore. So we had made ourelves a good name there, dear, people were coming to seek for us. They called me by my name:

„Rijino haidavai, haidavai. Come to rabotă, come to rabotă (*work). ” You know?

Do you remember the name of that village?

Rijina: What? …

How was that village called?

Rijina: In Dumanevka. Dumanevka: ” Come to  rabotă, come …” that they cut a hen and made “riza “ soup, out of it. „Moloko “, that they will bring milk over there where they called me for work.

I would take five rows for myself, five rows at a time I took. Five rows I took to work on. I would take the haulms off the potatoes and then put them in a pile, a pile. Then I would sit down and sort them into another pile and put them in the basket to put them in the stable. The small potatoes I would put back and the big ones I would put them in the basket and take them to a pit and the little ones to another basket to put them in another pit. We sorted them out.

Yeah, we would make a big fire there in the field and put our potatoes to bake in the fire. That’s about how big a potato was. They were big, they were laying in the coals as the stones lay.

We would make fire from the potato stalks and bake potatoes and eat. We had a good living there.

Quite good!

Rijina:  They took our men to weave, to do… they braided the cornbarns, they braided kindling into barns. Putting kindling, weaving them there, for a whole year they did this, one year they worked there.

Yeah, and then the gendarms told them, the ones standing there, as they were guarded by gendarms,

„We leave”…

The whole night we heard the war: „Bum, bum, bum…”

We heard the war. Then a Russian woman, who worked at the collective tolt to the Roma:„Pide, pide, the war is coming, the war is coming, the war is coming now …Pide, pide, pide, now, now, now…It’s coming now”…

At that time, my husband and I were on the village street, we had taken a hen from the village, what do you think we saw…

The gendarmes came and fired into the cars that were on the streets of the village. Then my husband told me:

“This is bad for us, we cannot get back home… as.. we are afraid they will shoot us and kill us”

We did as we did, and we got ourselves home. Well, there at the huts. We came home, when we arrived, Tanasia the old one, Tanasia Ochi-deschis (*open eye), said:” Go and look if there are any gendarmes there where we were braiding, where we weaved those” …

Where they did those…

The barns.

Rijina: The barns. „ Go and llook if there are any gendarmes there: ” They went, three or four people.  When they got there, the gendarmes told them  „ Fu… you’r but, didn’t your highnesses hear what we are doing?”

They were too preparing to escape. They were arranging the tilts on the waggons, they hitched the horses ready to leave. When our men saw what the deal was, they returned home to the huts. Now we were witing to see what they were going to tell us.  „They got teir stuff together , to run away. The gendarmes swore at us, they told us we should run too” You hear?

I hear

Rijina: We stayed , dear, we stayed in those huts one and a half years.

Lena: Two and a half years …

Rijina: Two and a halöf years we stayed there. Who do you think would talk gypsy language or romanian?

You talked russian?

Rijina: Russian

I see you still remember?

Rijina:  Well I know, I remember. Sometimes I don’t sleep, I sit and remember, sometimes… sometimes I cry, and I scream …

Whoever had gorlden coins, returned, those ho did not …

Yeah, that’s how it was dear. We crossed, we kept walking, we went, we went and suddenly we see one guy, Ferdea, that was his name Ferdea he was shot by the Germans in the water. His behind floated above and his head down in the water… he was shot in the water. And the gendarmes, the ones that were with us, were saying: „Do you see you, it’s your Bulibaşa?”

There was war now and the Germans came and took our horses and carts that we had made to run away.

We crossed and came just as we were, only our heads, without anything. My man took one child in his arms and I another one, the younger ones and so we left. We passed the…

Lena: Dniester, Dniester…

Rijina: Dniester or the Prut?

Lena: Dniester.

Rijina: Three waters we crossed, dear

I know

Rijina: Three waters…

I heard, that you were shot by the Germans?

Rijina: They shot me, dear. Look here…


Rijina: Right here

Can you show us?

Rijina: Îhî…Only that the Romanian one does not see it, as I am ashamed…

Do not be ashamed.

Lena: I am ashamed in front of the Romanian…

Do not be ashamed, as we need to see

Rijina: Show it Leano…

Show me.

Lena: Right here.. here she is shot.

Rijina: You see?

Lena: Is shot here.

It is visible… I see it. How did they shoot you?

Rijina: With a gun.

What were you doing?

Rijina: What?

What were you doing?

Rijina:  I was tying up… I was tying my opinca, as I wore opinci on my feet and I walked for three years with them on my feet. How many years have I walked with them?

Lena: Two and a half…

Tell me how did they shoot you

Rijina: With a gun, with a pistol.

Who did it?

Rijina: The Germans

So tell me what were you doing?

Rijina: I was tying my shoe, my opinca.

You were tying your opinca?

Rijina: I was tying it and thes shoot, wanted to shoot to kill me and my husband told them not to kill me as there is no one to take care of the children.

Lena: Not to suffer on the road.

Rijina: So I do not suffer any longer…

Aaaaaa, that is what they did when someone could not continue walking, the shoot them. Now I undertsand how that happened…

Rijina: What?

Tell us, when he fired the gun, what did you do? How is it that he did not kill you?

Rijina: My husband tied the wound with a skarf … he took the skarf from my had and tied it there.

And he carried you on his back?

Rijina: He dragged me by the hand like this „Walk, you walk? ”.

„I walk”…

Lena: He carried her by her armpits.

Why did he not put you in the waggos? Who was in the waggon?

Rijina: The waggon was taken by the Germans.

His mother, her husband and here children … they were all shot by the Germans.

Did you see this?

Rijina: Germans shot them all. They remaind just like statues.

Lena:  One of them had a loaf of bread and kept it in his arms

Rijina:  One had the bread in his arms… a small infant, seven or eight years  and they shot him. And his mother, and his father … He was dead beside the waggon tongue, at the tongue of the waggon  they shoot him … He was holding on to the tongue.

God rest his soul

Rijina: God rest him!

Tell me aunt Rijină  what else do your old eyes remember?

Rijina: What?

You said that many times you cry when you remember?

Rijina: I cry…should I tell you a song?

Do you know more?

Rijina: What? I tell you the song, the way that woman sang it Totomokos  Orja.. Ehei…

How did she sing?

Rijina: What?

How did she sing? Do you remember?

Rijina: That was the song I told you.

Do you know an other one?

Rijina: I do not know , dear.

The one.: „From the Dniester to the Bug…”

Rijina: “„Walk the gypsies one by one …” I do not remember more, as I am an old woman, I am a trouibeled woman, I can not see any moder. I do not walk any more just around the house, I can not …

Did you get the money from the Bug , too

Rijina: I did.

Medicine, do you take medicine? All your life you had problems with your foot from the shot?

Rijina:  I can not walk for three years.

For three years?

Rijina: Three years. I can not walk any longer…

My grandfather was called Bărkullikă, did you knew him?

Rijina: I know him.

And my grandmother Lullika?

Rijina:  I know them. I heard they died?

They died. My father, Piţu?

Rijina:  I breastfed your father.

Lena: She brestfed him.

Rijina: I gave him my breast. His mother-in-law was from here, from …


Rijina: From Vâlcea. Luba. Urdda  was her husband. Wasn’ that Urda?

That is right. Urdda. Urdda was his name.

Rijina: Your mother, I forgot her name…


Rijina: Luba? Luba was younger.. she had an other girl..

What do you remember about the Bug?

Rijina: I cry enough.

Lena: Some she forgot.

Rijina: Some I forgot…

Why, why are you crying?

Rijina: Why? All I ‘ve been trough…

Lena: We suffered…

Rijina: We suffered… we suffered for almoust three years. We came on the road …. our feet were cracked just löike taht, not like this, , ,

Were you barefoot?

Rijina: Through mud, our skirts were filled with mudbumps, they hang like walnuts those bumbs… our feet were covered in mud we went trough water and through mud. … we went.

Live long and be blessed and God may give you many healthy years and give you strength!

Rijina: I He still giving me… health?What health is there to give to me? …

I thank you deeply for your testimony, may God care for you, His Peace cmay come to you! May he give you peace and tranquility in your heart. !

Rijina: Where you with him, when he died?

I was

Rijina:  Your father died young.

Young man, sixty-two years old.

Rijina: He had.

Lena: Young.

Aunt Lena, tell us please what else you remember?

Lena: What the old women told you, its the same I know as I was little and I heard the stories from them, I was ten, not older.

Do you anything about other people?

Lena: I can tell you the same, as we were all there.

Who’s doughter are you?

Lena:  Of my father Ion. Matas Ion, and of  Dumitru.

 Manta? So you be healthy!

Lena: They all know. We travelled with your grandfather and your father, we were good friends.

With whom have you been at the Bug? With your parents?

Lena: With my mother and my father.

How many brothers were you?

Lena: I had two more brithers, we were three.

All of you have returned?

Lena: Ihad two, one was born there at the Bug.

Did you all returned from the Bug?

Lena: We ded, as our parents were wealthy and they brought us back.

Rijina: They were not poor. The poor ones died. They died.

Lena: The rich ones returned with gold. If our parents would have been poor, we would have died over there. We wouzld have died…

Rijina: My husband was beaten on the ground of the hut by the gendarms as they wanted him to make wooden hooks to pick up dead people by the throat just like this …

Let her, let her tell

Rijina: Ehei, just like this they hooked the dead body by the neck and would drag the poor souls behind them

The one who died?

Rijina: wherever one died…

And would throw them in the pit?

Rijina: Ehei…

In the large pit?

Rijina:In the large pit

Did you see the large pit?

Rijina: How could I not.

How was it?

Rijina: With dead people. One on the top of the other, one on top of the other … just like fish.

Did you go there, at the pit? Were you infected with typhus?

Rijina: No, no.

Were all people suffering of typhus?

Lena: Some got ill, some got ill with typhus  as it was very hot in that train. And it was crowded. We were in train like…

Was this on the way back?

Lena: When we returned

Rijina:  They told us: „The train with wounded people is comming ‘” But those in that train where crying . „Auuuuuu, Auuuu…” That train that…

Lena: They were breaking a plank out of that train so they could see as it was verry hot in that train…

Was it spring when you returned?

Lena: We came back in spring.

Did the Romanians wellcome you as you returned?

Lena: They did. They gave us food.

Rijina: We descended at Bucharest, we got out. When we saw that we were in Bucharest…


Lena: We did this, each of us…

Rijina: When we reached Craiova, the ysaid that for the ones returned from the Bug, they would give food and drnks for free. Then my husband said: „Should I go now to eat anything for free.Not any more, I will go and buy myself whatever I want”. So he wnet and bought -salami and bread and we sat down in the streat and ate: „We come from the Bug. ”

Lena: And they let us, Lumină.

What were people saying, aunt Rijină?

Rijina: Crying… crying…

Lena: Romanians would let us in their yards until we built tents, we took waggons, untiil we recovered some strength. They would give us work, they would give us soapbars, food, hen. When we returned, Romanians hardly saw us.

Where did you live, before they took you to the Bug?

Lena:  We travelled with  Rista the old one, with your father, your grandfather Bărkullika …

I see.

Lena: With Pullika.

Where from did they take you, from here, from  Craiova?

Rijina: Isn´t Lullika your grandmother?

Well yes, my grandmother she is

Rijina: Didn’t she travel with us until almoust yesterday?

I know, but she passed away

Rijina: Didn’t she tell you these things?

She told me, but back then, I did not have the possibility to film it. Now I do interviews with all the old ones who are still  with us. I came all this way to you as my grandmother told me about you,. My father also told me about you.

Rijina: Did your father tell you about me?

He used to talk about you a lot, as you were quite dear to him. Do you know anything else about the  Bug?

Lena:  What else to know? We are old women, some things we forgot.

Well good, live long and be lucky!

Rijinaşi Lena: Have  a long life too!

God may remain in your hearts and  may care for you. Let His peace on you!

Lena: Same to you!