Glory to the Communist Leaders: the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in Bucharest

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Like everything else during the Communist regime, the Unknown Soldier Mausoleum in Carol Park (Bucharest) has been re-purposed to serve the socialist ideals and propaganda: it has been reconverted into the “Monument for heroes of the fight for liberty and Socialism”, or — in short — a mausoleum for the communist leaders.

Communist Mausoleum
Communist Mausoleum

The monument, rising 48 meters high on top of a hill in the beautiful Carol Park, was built between 1959-1963 by architects Horia Maicu and Nicolae Cucu. The mausoleum replaces an older monument dedicated to all the unknown soldiers who died in the wars fought by Romania, which was dismantled piece by piece and relocated to a different city in Romania (Marasesti). Here is how the original monument (built in 1923) looked like:

The original Unknown Soldier Monument
The original Unknown Soldier Monument

Ironically, the two socialist architects (Maicu & Cucu) recycled the plans for another memorial that was supposed to be built during the Fascist regime in Romania, because they were under pressure to deliver the blueprints. The mausoleum was built with red and black marble imported from Sweden, which is very rare, and resembles the tower of a cathedral. The mausoleum was officially inaugurated on December 30, 1963, and it was initially intended as a funeral monument for three important Communist leaders:

  • Petru Groza
  • Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej
  • Constantin I. Parhon

However, over the years, several communist leaders were buried here:

  • Stefan Gheorghiu
  • Ion C. Frimu
  • Leontin Sălăjan
  • Alexandru Moghioroș
  • Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu
  • Grigore Preoteasa
  • Ilie Pintilie
  • Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea
  • Gheorghe Vasilescu-Vasia
  • Constantin David
  • Ada Marinescu
  • Panait Mușoiu
  • Barbu Lăzăreanu
  • Simion Stoilov
  • Mihail Macavei
  • Ana Pauker

After the fall of Communism, the graves were moved to other cemeteries in Bucharest (1991). The grave of the Communist Party’s General Secretary Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej is now located in Bellu Cemetery. The urn with Ana Pauker’s ashes was taken by her family to Israel. The only communist leader still buried here is Petru Groza. The grave of the unknown soldier was also temporarily removed in October 1991, but was brought back in December 1991.

In 2004, the government led by Prime Minister Adrian Nastase wanted to grant four hectares of the Carol Park to the Orthodox Church as a building site for the largest cathedral in the country. Dismantling of the monument already began, when the Mayor of Bucharest of that time, Traian Basescu, opposed this decision and sued the government. He won the trial, so the monument and the park were saved from demolition.

In 2006, the unknown soldier grave was restored to its original location from 1923. Today, the crypt is closed to the public, and only open on a few special occasions. It hosts a statue of King Ferdinand I and the Nike Goddess.

Statue of King Ferdinant and Nike Goddess
Statue of King Ferdinand and Nike Goddess

The names of the former Communist Party leaders still survive on the sides of the mausoleum, but unfortunately, access near the monument is restricted by guarding soldiers.

 

2 thoughts on “Glory to the Communist Leaders: the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in Bucharest

    […] the Monument of the Unknown Soldier […]

    David said:
    May 17, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    The body of Petru Groza was removed by his family in March 1990 and buried in his home village of Bacia.

    See http://www.e-space.mmu.ac.uk/e-space/bitstream/2173/337322/2/Petru%20Groza%20corpse.pdf
    for an article about Groza and death rituals in Romania (he has been buried in 3 locations since 1958)

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