Úz Valley Cemetery

Multinational delegation visits Úz Valley military graveyard

Delegations from Hungary, Germany, Russia, and Romania participated in an official on-site counseling meeting initiated by the Romanian National Office of Heroes’ Cult (ONCE) at the Úz Valley military graveyard. The private meeting was organized as a follow-up to discussions held in late June between the Romanian and Hungarian delegations in the aftermath of the Dărmănești mayor, Constantin Toma, and his backers defying Romanian and international law by establishing a memorial to fallen Romanian soldiers in World War II. At the Dărmănești mayor’s office’s order, 50 concrete crosses were erected illegally, along with a concrete obelisk.

After the meeting, Colonel Vilmos Kovács, commander of the Institute and Museum of Military History and leader of the Hungarian delegation, told MTI that no progress had been made in the case since the Romanian and Hungarian delegations met in Bucharest in June. He underscored the Hungarian delegation’s stance: “At least two out of the four lines of concrete crosses were placed on top of the remains of Austro-Hungarian soldiers’ graves,” adding that the Romanian party had doubts about this, since they did not acknowledge that any desecration had in fact taken place.

The only solution to clear any doubts is to exhume the remains of the soldiers lying under the 50 crosses. “If we find soldiers buried under the concrete crosses, they can only be the Hungarian soldiers who fell in the First World War,” Kovács said. “At maximum, five Romanian soldiers are entombed there, but we are still waiting for a satisfactory response to our question asking what the 50 crosses erected in their memory represent,” he added.

ONCE claims there are eleven Romanian soldiers buried in the Úz Valley cemetery, but the Hungarian delegation proved with documents that in fact five of these were Hungarian soldiers, and one, a Russian.

According to Kovács, the German delegation arrived at the meeting to obtain more information about the situation and refrained from formulating a stance. The Russian delegation, however, backed the Hungarian’s proposal and also highlighted the importance of building a new memorial for the 22 Russian soldiers who are entombed in the Úz Valley military graveyard as well.

We’ve reached out to ONCE and the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge for further comment, and we will keep you updated once we receive a response.

As we previously reported, the Bacău prefect, Valentin Ivancea, has filed two lawsuits – one against the Dărmănești Mayor’s Office and the second against the Dărmănești Local Council – confirming what the Hungarians have been saying from the start: The local authority’s move to unilaterally decide ownership of the military graveyard and adjacent land were illegal. In a formal letter sent to TransylvaniaNOW, the Bacău prefect says the lawsuit was filed after the institution initiated an investigation into the decision by the Dărmănești mayor’s office and local council on June 4, 2019 to take over the Úz Valley military graveyard. According to the letter, the investigation ended within the deadline allowed by law in October, which was followed by a request for Dărmănești to “enter into legality” by obtaining the legal authorizations necessary for such procedures.

Title image: The Úz Valley military graveyard on June 16, 2019. Photo: István Fekete

Author: István Fekete