romanian literary monthly

Alexandru Nemoianu: „Avram Iancu“

We all should ask ourselves why Avram Iancu has remained so famous, so unique, in the collective memory of the Romanian people and especially of the Romanians from Transylvania. It is true that to a certain degree that his very dynamic style, in a time when the Romanians from Transylvania were forced to be passive he was a very vocal and boisterous symbol of activism. But in the meantime, we should not delude ourselves or try to create myths. He was able to preserve for a limited period of time the liberty of those who depended on him and he was able to repel forces that were superior in number and means to his own. But finally he was defeated, he was publicly humiliated and few of his ideals were fulfilled. In other words if we will analyze only the real facts, trying to judge Avram Iancu in terms belonging to the “real politick,” we will be unable to understand the aura of heroism, almost sanctity that accompany his name and personality. What distinguishes Avram Iancu and makes him almost totally unique in Romanian history (as far as I know only one single Romanian personality could be put in this company and that is Dr. Iuliu Maniu) is the fact that he refused to make moral comprises. He strongly believed that his people were right and have a undeniable right to an existence with dignity and a right to assert their personality. Avram Iancu believed that such rights are self-evident and that to defend them is not an option but rather an obligation. In the best understanding, he was a radical, and he continued to believe in all of the above principles, even when he was defeated. This is the real heroism that was understood by his people. They understood what he was trying to do and why, though not always disclosing that to him.

It is hard to determine if Avram Iancu was a religious man, and it is almost sure that his theological knowledge was close to zero. But again, being a man of true convictions, a good man, who was able to separate right from wrong and was one of the first to understand that a nation is not a political reality but a spiritual reality. This reality is put into existence to fulfill a plan and to reveal a truth that is from above.

In his years of need, Avram Iancu came close to the simple and the poor. He realized what, many years after that the great American writer John Steinbeck said: “I am learning one thing good. Learning it all the time, everyday. If you are in trouble, or hurt or in need, go to the poor people. They are the only ones that will help, the only ones” (The Grapes of Wrath).

There is a very beautiful story about the time when Iancu fell from the grace of the world. Some friends of his, who used to serve under his command, came to visit him in the late fifties in his house, or rather his parents house, at Vidra de Sus. There they had dinner and all’were served a good wine, except for Iancu, who received a poorer quality. His friends protested and his mother said, “Oh Iancu, why didn’t you become like one of these gentlemen?” At this Iancu started to cry. But he was not crying for his situation but for those who betrayed their beliefs, those who were “wise” and compromised, those who for vainglory condemned themselves to oblivion. Where are those very “wise” people now, and who even cares to remember their names? But “poor” Iancu is engraved in the hearts of an entire nation, and his “foolishness” is a sign of strength.


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