Imprisonment

Violations to human dignity

Sisters were imprisoned on trumped up charges and considered enemies of the state. They were constantly interrogated and held under surveillance. In a recent book about the history of the Sisters of St. Basil the Great in Romania, the author quotes a man who was imprisoned with sisters:

“Our group of prisoners included young adults, older women and a large number of Greek and Roman Catholic nuns. The nuns stayed at the far end of the dormitory. They prayed continuously. Everyone loved them. They made no attempt to escape from beatings, from work or from the forced labor or filth of the cell. In spite of everything, their faces remained serene and their work always done well.”

Sister Hildegard Fredericka Raissner, SSS,one of the first arrested in Romania on August 23, 1951, was sentenced to 18 years of heavy labor under accusation of high treason. Sister Hildegard told that she was in many prisons but in one of the hardest she said: “they required a terrible discipline. They counted prisoners every evening at 7:00 and they handed them over to the warden. The changing of the guards was at 7:00 but we were not allowed to go to bed before ten. We spent time between 7:00 and 10:00 telling stories. Those three hours were embarrassing because everyone was very tired. We were not allowed to speak loudly, only with bated breath. If someone had spoken a little bit louder, she was punished and punishment came rapidly. For example we were stood up and we had to stand there until 10:00. We were worn out because we could not endure standing.”